Riverdale is a small city. But the bike path is a big deal.
And we’ve had more than a few residents express their concern and point out the safety hazards of how the MRT (Mississippi River Trail) crosses Manor Drive and, to a lesser extent, the Scott Community College Entrance on State Street.
I’ve also had a few “close calls” with bikers on the trail as they crossed my driveway – hidden by shrubs and scrub trees until the last possible moment. I’ll try to get that vegetation removed (it’s not mine), but the fact I’ve almost hit a biker or two makes the concerns raised by our citizens emphasizes the problem.
I also walk the bike path through Riverdale and Bettendorf several times a week and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later …
… nobody seems to know what they’re doing when it comes to riding or walking on the bike path.
I remember learning in elementary school (and Cub Scouts) that you were supposed to walk against traffic. That was true whether it was a city street or a private drive. By walking on the left-hand side of the street, you could see the on-coming traffic and avoid it if you had to. You also didn’t have to worry about having people come up behind you on bikes and startle you with a friendly “passing on your left” or, as I’ve more recently experienced, a not-so-friendly “hey, move over.”
The problem is, most people don’t seem to follow this rule when they walk or jog on the bike path. I suppose it’s possible they’ve never been taught the rule in the first place. But every time I walk my 5.4 mile route, I play a slow motion game of chicken with other walkers and joggers two or three times an outing.
Sometimes I get a friendly smile and nod, but usually people look put out that I’m on their side of the bike path.
It’s a little ridiculous.
Why is this a subject worth debating? I don’t think you have to look any further than the incident on the MRT in Davenport last June, when 76 year-old Ruth Morris was ridden down and killed by a bicyclist from behind.
So, what can we do about it?
I’d say the first line of defense (or offense, depending on your perspective, I suppose) is to re-evaluate the signage we have along the MRT. We have other issues with regard to directional signage, too, and I think all those can be addressed with some deliberation and creativity.
We can then take our ideas and put them into action with new signage along the MRT and other bike paths and by taking our work to Bettendorf to see if they would be interested in doing something along the same lines. Let’s face it, by working together, Bettendorf and Riverdale can make the entire community safer and more “citizen-friendly” whether you’re on a bike, walking or jogging along the trails.
But I suspect I’m only touching on a few of the possibilities. Let me know what YOU think we could do to make the bike trails safer for everyone who uses them by commenting below.