We took a bike ride today. Surprise!
Lancaster, Ohio has certainly got some forward thinking people. The bike trail right now is small. As in, not very long. It is called The Fairfield Heritage Trail #mce_temp_url#. It meanders from behind Ohio University Lancaster campus, through town and connects numerous parks. All wonderful things to do. It has covered bridges to go through which makes for a wonderful treat. It goes by Dairy Queens and stores and close to quite a few bathrooms. The trail is often riding along a creek, and possibly a river by definition. It goes past schools. Through neighborhoods. Easy access to a Krogers (with a Starbucks inside), Wendy’s, Carnival (grocery store), and other food places if you know how to access them by using the streets. But without going on streets you can get ice cream which should be a pre-requisite for all bike trails.
The proposal for the entire trail is encouraging to those of us hoping to drive less, ride more, and be more self sufficient. It’s moving in that direction. It has incredible potential. Far reaching trails that could some day rival the trails branching out of the Xenia Station hub in more southern Ohio.
Unfortunately not everyone is in favor of bike, or multi-use trails. Some people do not care. Some people do not want to get involved with the development, planning, or even use of the trail. That’s okay.
My experience today was pretty typical of bike trail riding. But sadly there was one problem I have never come across of the magnitude I did today on this trail. Often when riding trails you come upon people who do not know how to use them. Like today, runners who run on the wrong side of the trail. They run it like they are running on the road, facing traffic. This causes ALL kinds of problems. Run with the traffic ! People who walk the trail three and four abreast so no one can go around them. Though most do move if you yell “ON YOUR LEFT” loud enough. Some problems are more sad than problems: trash. Why people why?
But today I was dumbfounded. I have been on many trails that go through parks and ball parks. Today we came up to a ball field and there was a baseball game being played. People had their chairs and blankets on the trail totally blocking the trail. Maybe a hundred feet of it or more. Not just one or two. About fifty to seventy people. Not one, not one single person said “I’m sorry” or moved. The trail is paved. On one side of the trail is a grass covered bank that rises from the trail, it was not possible to go that way. On the other side of the trail is grass, on a bank sloping down to the ball field.
I was totally surprised. And saddened. There were other bikers approaching, others behind us. Not one person offered to move or apologize. We managed to stay on the trail but it was a horrible cluster of standing and sitting people. Forty five minutes later, maybe even an hour or more later, we had to come back. I dreaded it. Sure enough, not only were they still there, there was more of them, even more of the trail was obstructed. They were using the trail as a bleacher. It might have left a more pleasant feeling if people had tried to move or offered an apology. Nothing. They were put out by us, and the other runners and bikers trying to come through. I had to take my bike on the grass on the down ward slope towards the field. I hoped the tires didn’t slide out from under me or hit a soggy spot.
I was so taken aback by the thoughtlessness that I dread going back on that trail. Because I know if I go during a game on that field, the same thing is going to happen.
We drove out of our way to go to that trail and check out its growth and expansion. We rode through the neighborhoods. We rode the graded but not yet paved sections to connect with the other sections. It was exciting to us. We were even taking phone numbers of properties for sale because we love the idea of living on a bike trail. We have been reading about how to join the trail association and are willing to pay fees to do so, and to join the people helping to work it.
I don’t mean to sound like I have a sense of entitlement. The trail is there for every one to use. But that’s the idea. In using the trail for yourself it should not mean that someone else can not use it. It is not a sitting trail. It is a multi use run, bike, walk, roller blade kind of trail. If I have to stop on the trail I try to be very mindful of pulling off to the side so other’s don’t have to try and go around me and between others who may be coming towards us. I don’t throw trash on the ground. If I’m riding next to someone I drop back to single file if someone else is coming at me. I don’t assume I have any more right to the use of the trail than anyone else.
And I don’t park on it to block all other’s from using it.
Share the trail people. Make it a moving monument to the forward thinking community of Lancaster.