MRT biker and walker count is underway

MRT biker and walker count is underway

 

At the request of the City, the Bi-State Regional Commission has installed counters on the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) to count bike and foot traffic along the trail for a four-week period. The counters will be able to discern between the two which will and provide counts by the hour which will help to identify the kind of traffic on different parts of the trail and peak traffic periods.

This is all part of a larger effort to improve the way traffic is managed on the MRT in order to make it safer (for those on the trail) and less intrusive (for those whose homes are located near the trail).

Among the issues the City Council is currently facing with regard to MRT traffic:

1. How can the City reduce the risks faced by bikers who fail to stop at major traffic crossings, most notably at Manor Drive and at the State Street entrance to Scott Community College?

2. How can the City reduce the number of bikers who ride through the Haven’s Acres neighborhood to get from the bike path that terminates in Peggy’s Park to the MRT’s riverfront trail?

3. How much MRT traffic entering Riverdale on the riverfront trail continue on through the rest of the City, exiting near the trailer park on State Street?

4. What sort of signage improvements need to be made along the MRT to create a safer experience for walkers, joggers and bike traffic?

5. What visual barriers can be removed to improve visibility for MRT traffic as they turn corners or approach blind hillsides?

6. What other landscape issues need to be addressed to restrict MRT traffic from leaving the path and driving through people’s yards or driveways in order to “cut through” to another destination?

If there are other bike path-related issues that you think the Council needs to consider/address, please leave them in the comments section below.

Rules of the road – or, at least, the bike path.

Rules of the road – or, at least, the bike path.

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.

 

Are bike riders on the MRT a traffic hazard?

Are bike riders on the MRT a traffic hazard?

Over the past few weeks, we’ve received comments and requests from citizens asking the City to do something about riders on the Mississippi River Trailthe bike path that runs through Riverdale from Bellingham to just past Valley Drive.

The concern is that these bike riders rarely stop at cross streets (like Manor Drive) and could cause or be involved in a traffic accident.

Adding to the concern are the facts that Manor Drive doesn’t intersect the bike trail at a 90-degree angle, making it difficult for cars and bikers to see oncoming traffic and the hill to the east of the intersection with the Scott Community College entrance limits sight lines for motorists.

To the casual observer, both situations seem dangerous.

The City of Riverdale has already posted “Yield” signs at these intersections, but bikers don’t seem to pay attention. The question asked at a recent Council Meeting raised the question of changing those signs to “Stop” signs, but similar signs on the bike trail in Bettendorf (along Devils Glen Road) seem to have no effect.

Would changing the “Yield” signs to “Stop” signs make a difference with regard to legal liability should there be an accident? The City is currently investigating that issue, but the initial research seems to indicate it won’t make a difference.

So, what to do?

What kind of signage would make a difference? Should the City be more aggressive in notifying, educating and possibly citing bike riders who don’t follow the traffic controls?

We’d like to know what you think. Contribute to the conversation on our discussion board by clicking here.

City moves forward with bike path solutions.

City moves forward with bike path solutions.

In a report to the City Council on July 24, City Administrator Tim Long reviewed a discussion he had with members of the Bi-State Regional Bike Trails Committee with specific regard to problems experienced with bikers riding through Riverdale’s Havens Acres neighborhood in order to get from the Crow Creek bike path to the riverfront bike path.

The committee is a working group of the Bi-State Regional Planning Authority, a multi-governmental body with representatives from large and small communities on both sides of the river. Thanks to Bi-State, the Quad Cities is able to coordinate major, municipal projects ranging from the I-74 bridge replacement to the Mississippi River Trail which runs through Riverdale.

Three key points were made in Mr. Long’s report to Council:

1. Bi-State is willing to provide trail counters to help establish rates of usage on the trail and at the various entry and exit points to the MRT. The City will coordinate setting those counters up and managing the process in late-July/early-August.

2. Mr. Long will look into the use of “elephant grass” as a screening device to help restrict bikers from riding through residential properties to get to the bike trail. Other communities in the region are using it and Bi-State can help put Riverdale representatives in touch with them.

3. The Scott County Health Department can provide a consulting service to the City to assist with blending in bike and pedestrian trails with the community – which will help balance the “public health” concern with existing neighborhood streets and walkways. Mr. Long will help get the consultant on-board and working with the community.

Once the City has traffic count information and has explored the other items listed above, the Mayor and members of Council will meet with residents of the Havens Acres neighborhood to talk about options available to address their concerns.