Trail users asked to watch out for each other

As the number of walkers and bikers making use of Marietta’s River Trail increases, the chances also increase for potential accidents between bicyclists and pedestrians on the shared use pathway.

Susan Duclas of Marietta was taking 11-year-old daughter, Althea, out for her first ride on the trail at East Muskingum Park Monday afternoon.

“Remember to call out and let them know you’re passing on the left if someone’s walking in front of you,” Susan reminded her daughter as they headed onto the pathway.

Susan’s family also likes to take walks along the trail together.

“This river walk is so wonderful. But sometimes bikers can be riding pretty fast, and we always appreciate it when they tell us they’re coming around,” she said.

Marietta Councilman Tom Vukovic, a regular on the trail as a bicyclist and pedestrian, recently expressed concern that trail walkers are put at risk when bikers coming from behind don’t give an alert before passing.

“Bike riders are not always aware that their bikes are very silent when coming up on pedestrians,” he said. “They should always announce before they pass someone or have a bell they can ring mounted on the handlebars.”

Vukovic said when riding he normally notifies pedestrians ahead at least twice that he’s going to pass.

“Then I call out ‘bike, passing on the left,'” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone hit by a bike, but I’ve seen some near misses.”

Walkers have a responsibility for safety on the trail, too, Vukovic said.

“People are often wearing earbuds in their ears, and they can’t hear if a biker calls out to them from behind,” he said. “Whether you’re a pedestrian, bicyclist, skater or skateboarder on the trail, you have to be able to communicate with one another.”

Margaret Lazer of Devola said her family also makes regular use of the River Trail and she’s working to have the pathway extended into the Devola area.

“We love the trail and want to make it longer and longer,” she said. “And we want everybody to enjoy the trail and be safe. Bikers need to give a wide berth to people walking on the trail who may not be paying attention or watching for bicycles.”

Patrick Harper of Marietta agreed.

“It’s a little scary when people are listening to music and they can’t hear you say you’re going to pass them on the left,” he said. “But you should always try to let them know.”

The River Trail isn’t the only place where bikers and pedestrians could collide. City code does not directly prohibit riding bicycles on sidewalks, so riders have to be especially cautious in those areas.

Ryan Smith, owner of the Marietta Adventure Company and an avid bicyclist on both paved and off-road trails, said the best advice for River Trail riders is to use the same rules as when driving a vehicle on the roadway: Stay in the right lane and make sure you signal walkers before you pass.