Bike path: Citizen tells Council problems should be headed off at the pass

October 21, 2011
Santa Paula City Council

A concerned citizen told the City Council the bike path is an asset, but one that presents problems that should be headed off at the pass.

Barry Cooper offered his observations at the October 16 meeting.

Acknowledging the path is not yet officially open - but still heavily used - Cooper said the recreational trail “will be a real asset” to the city although there are items of concern.

Cooper said the trail - which hugs the railroad tracks from 12th Street to Peck Road - has a “peculiar design” and its east end has features that need explanation, such as occasional black poles about four feet high with a yellow diamond. The poles are of dubious purpose, and Cooper said bicyclists would likely crash into them. 

He noted the path turns into the sidewalk, then again the sidewalk to the path. “Pedestrians and bicyclists traditionally are uneasy bedfellows,” and Cooper said he has observed groups of walkers taking up the entire path, strollers, children supervised and otherwise, as well as “dogs on leashes, not on leashes and on retractable leashes” that make “a perfect tripwire.”

Roller skaters, skateboarders, electric wheelchairs and more are creating a walkway “free for all, and I worry about the safety” of those utilizing the path. “Everybody that sets a foot or a wheel” on the trail “has to be watchful and safe and observant (of others)... that goes without saying,” but Cooper said he knows that is asking a lot.

Bicycles using the path should have bells, and Cooper suggested a painted line in the path’s middle to denote sides for walkers and those on bikes, who can travel up to eight times faster than the speed of pedestrians. “I just ask consideration for everybody using that path,” he said.

Mayor Fred Robinson thanked Cooper for bringing up his concerns, and noted the city must “move on the safety issues there.”

City Manager Jaime Fontes said planned signage would address right-of-way and other issues that will be highly publicized to bring awareness to trail users. Fontes added he has spoken to Police Chief Steve MacKinnon about a “blind area” of the path from 4th to 7th streets where users are “not visible... and I thank Mr. Cooper and am glad he didn’t mention the horses. I’ve already seen several” on the recreational trail as well as “the evidence” left behind.

Councilman Rick Cook said another problem is that users “aren’t aware they don’t have the right-of-way” where the trail crosses 8th Street. “They just cross,” without even looking, and Cook added he has also seen “evidence” of horse and dog traffic on the trail and owners are not removing messes.

Fontes said the city is working with area veterinarians and other animal related businesses - pet food manufacturers or pet stores for example - on sponsorship of waste bags “that would advertise their business” for disposal of the dog’s business.

Robinson noted the trail is a “wonderful asset to the city,” but comments made by Cooper and others will be “taken to heart” to address safety and other issues.

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