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LARM Member News

Trail Use Safety

A 28-year-old woman was jogging on the famous Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas, when she turned into the path of a bicyclist. She suffered severe head injuries that ultimately claimed her life. With trails becoming more prevalent in many Nebraska communities, citizens must also understand there are rules to be adhered to when using them.

Trails are considered an essential aspect of a community’s quality of life. As citizens of all ages look for opportunities to exercise and enjoy the outdoors, they’ve also asked for increased community trails. Many municipalities regularly include trail construction and maintenance in their budgets.

The Village of Dannebrog has a three-mile trail popular with residents and others visiting the Danish Capital of Nebraska. The City of Hickman maintains four miles of trails throughout its community. The Village of Arlington has invested in trails that encircle Bell Creek Park and its sports complex. Avid walkers, parents with strollers, pet owners walking their dogs, runners, bicyclists, and people on rollerblades love to use the trails in their communities but do these users all follow the rules of the road on the trails?

Here are some rules that municipalities may want to post along various points of the trails they have in their towns.

1. Stay on the trail. This rule is essential when private property abuts the path, as some users consider all the areas along the trail open for picnics or pets.

2. Keep right. Pass on left. Warn before passing. Most people adhere to the standard rules of the road that they use when biking as they would when driving; however, they need to communicate to other people when they will be passing them. They can’t take for granted that the pedestrian knows they are approaching and passing them on their bike.

3. Dogs must be leashed. Many pet owners feel their dog is well-trained and doesn’t need a leash. An unleashed dog isn’t a problem until another trail user comes along with their dog or someone who isn’t a dog lover encounters a loose dog on the trail.

4. Pick up pet waste. All trails should provide bags for picking up pet waste and trash receptacles to place the waste.

5. No motorized vehicles are allowed. Many communities allow motorized vehicles on public streets, so those vehicle drivers may think permission to ride on the roads includes the trail system. It should be clear that the trails are reserved for pedestrians, bikes, and other non-motorized vehicles.

6. Trail hours are from dawn to dusk. Consider limiting the hours of use of municipal trails, as safety may be an issue when there isn’t enough light.

7. Alcohol is prohibited. Although alcohol is banned in most municipal parks, it may be necessary to remind citizens that alcohol is also prohibited on the trail system.

8. No horses are allowed on the trail. Many small communities have trails that extend out of town, so trail users must be reminded that horses are not permitted.

Trails are some of the most essential amenities in a community, and in order for people to be safe using them, municipalities need to make the trail rules easily accessible.