Letter: We’re all responsible for a safer bike path

Posted 6/20/24

We all have a responsibility in sharing a safer, more enjoyable experience on the bike path.

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Letter: We’re all responsible for a safer bike path

Posted

To the editor:

I have enjoyed the East Bay Bike Path for the past 19 years, first as a walker, then as a runner, and now as a biker and a runner. It’s a joy to see the baby bunnies, hear the red-winged blackbirds, and watch the ospreys carrying fish in their talons. Deer, foxes, muskrats, and turkeys also make the occasional appearance. I also love seeing the same human faces every morning. We don’t know each other’s names, but we nod, smile, and comment on the weather. We all appreciate the experience of being active and in nature.

The bike path handles all sorts: athletes trying to get a good workout, commuters heading to work, kids going to school, people walking their dogs, folks socializing with their friends, and parents teaching their kids to ride bikes in a safe, car-free environment. And it should be that way – it’s a multipurpose public space.

With this in mind, I understand the arguments for and against allowing e-bikes on our beloved path. Some folks need to commute or are unable to enjoy physical activity without some support. At the same time, many of those bikes are heavy, fast, and dangerous. I’ve been involved in one crash with another bike and missed a few others only by veering off the pavement. I can only imagine how much worse these incidents would have been with the speed and heft of some of the e-bikes.

That said, e-bike riders are not the only culprits when it comes to distraction or recklessness. Not everyone who traverses the path knows (or cares about) the rules or has the skill and experience to navigate it safely, especially during busy times. Perhaps the state could post guidelines at each big intersection, similar to those at the Bristol Beach soccer field. As the self-appointed East Bay Bike Path Sheriff, I would suggest: Pay attention to other bike path users in front of and behind you; Don’t stop in the middle of the path; Refrain from cell phone use; Be courteous.

In addition, we regulars can use our knowledge and let others know if they are causing safety issues. Nobody likes being told what to do, especially by someone who is rude. Patience and humor could go a long way to encourage people to be aware of their surroundings and how their actions impact others. We all have a responsibility in sharing a safer, more enjoyable experience on the bike path.

Janet D. Johnson
Bristol

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