It is a good problem to have because community use is the intent behind the Greenway’s evolution.
Yet, user congestion — especially during the early morning and early evening periods — also points to obvious safety concerns.
Once the connecting Phase 5 is completed, the people-friendly Greenway will stretch approximately four miles. But it is only a few feet wide — a standard width for community fitness trails — and this creates the potential for hazard when pedestrians occupy the same space as bicycle riders and skaters.
To help minimize the threat of injury to its users, the Greenway board of directors is partnering with a Cleveland business — Scott’s Bicycle Shop — to offer a unique gift to bike riders who use the Greenway regularly. It is pegged a “Bike Bell Giveaway” and it is being held Sunday, July 31, from 2 to 5 p.m.
During this time frame, or while supplies last, Scott’s employees and volunteers will install bells on every bicycle brought to the Greenway. The giveaway and set-up will be located at the Harlen Painter trailhead at the northern bend of Harris Circle.
Those hoping to receive one of the 150 free bike bells will be required to have their bicycles with them. Although the trailhead area offers 18 parking spaces, bikers are encouraged to ride their bicycles from another access point along the Greenway in order to avoid excessive congestion at the trailhead.
Cameron Fisher, chairman of the Greenway board, is unaware of any serious accidents involving bikers and pedestrians since the exercise trail’s opening; however, growing crowds increase the potential risk for personal injury. It is a common issue anywhere when bicycles and pedestrians share the same route — not just the Greenway.
The biggest potential for incident occurs when bicycles come upon pedestrians without being heard.
“We don’t get a lot of complaints about safety issues, but bikers coming up behind pedestrians without their knowledge is a concern,” Fisher told our newspaper when announcing Sunday’s giveaway. “Sometimes bikers are not aware of how quiet they are as they approach pedestrians. A bike going 10 miles an hour colliding with a pedestrian walking at 3 can have some dangerous consequences.”
Such a risk can be greatly reduced if the bicyclist will provide a warning — such as with a bell or by yelling out a warning that they are passing.
The bells are being installed on-site because Scott’s and Greenway board members want their maximum benefit. Fisher worded it appropriately when he explained, “The key to this event is your bike has to be present to win and the bell has to be installed on site. It doesn’t do any good to give away something and it end up in a drawer. These high-quality bells are simple to install on any bike and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.”
The “Bike Bell Giveaway” is only one measure being taken to promote safety.
Soon, new signs will be installed along the Greenway providing instruction on proper etiquette while using the fitness trail. The signs will include rules for bicycles, pedestrians, skates and pets.
Some might question the need for such actions when no serious accidents — to date — have occurred. While personal injuries have not been reported, we are concerned by the number of “almosts,” as is the Greenway board.
We borrow on the popular adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
And still another, one that is borrowed from a local manufacturer ... “Safety is no accident.”