Friday, May 25, 2012

Who/What Belongs on Multi-Use Paths?

Lately, I have had a recurring incident on a local multi-use/greenway path that I use to travel by bike to my kickboxing class. The first time it happened, I didn't think much about it, but it has become nearly a daily occurrence now, so I'm curious what others think about the situation. If you are so inclined, I would love to hear your thoughts.

About three weeks ago, I noticed a woman sitting and smoking on a bench that sits just beside the greenway I use regularly. Her smoking, however, was not what immediately caught my eye, but rather the fact that she had a larger, motor-powered scooter (moped?) sitting next to her. I remember thinking it was a bit odd to see a motorized vehicle on the path, but then thought that perhaps she had been on the road (a fairly busy road is just 20 feet or so from this spot) and just pulled over to take in a view, or for a break. Later in the week, I saw her at a different location farther down the path that wouldn't be particularly convenient for a motorized vehicle to get to without some effort. I have seen her several times since then with the scooter on the path, and I couldn't help but wonder why she takes it on the multi-use path.
*Image from Honda
This is not the scooter, but it is similar-looking to this vehicle.
It has always been my understanding that multi-use paths and greenways were to be used by walkers, runners, skaters, bikers, dog walkers, etc, but I had always been taught that motorized vehicles of any sort shouldn't be used in these areas. While it hasn't been obtrusive to me personally, I have to wonder 1) If it is bothersome to others on the path; 2) If it's even legal for her to be on these paths with the scooter; and 3) What anyone would be able to do about it if in fact this isn't a place for her to be running her scooter. I know I wouldn't want to be the one to confront someone about it, but at the same time, I may be completely out of line and these are completely acceptable to be on the paths. While I realize it isn't exactly the same as a high powered vehicle or even a motorcycle, It can still travel (generally) faster than a bike or a person running, which seems as though it could create a dangerous situation.

Does anyone have any knowledge about this sort of thing, or perhaps you routinely see these types of vehicles on your multi-use paths? I'm genuinely curious to know if this is typical and it's just not a behavior I had noticed prior to the last few weeks.

15 comments:

  1. Grr. GRR. I own a scooter much like the one pictured here, and now I'm seeing them all over the seawall and bike paths in Vancouver as well. Some people say that they're e-Bikes, but if your 'e-Bike' can do 50 km/h, then it belongs on the street, not the bike path! GRR!

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    1. That's what I was thinking, but maybe it is becoming the new trend? It's very confusing to me.

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  2. I don't know about your state, but in TN any gas powered motorized vehicle (not battery powered, like Segways and motorized mobility chairs) including scooters, must be licensed, tagged and insured like a car, so our local greenways specifically outlaw any gas powered vehicles on the multi-use paths. This might be a state thing, or Parks and Rec. Whoever it is that has control of your greenways.

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    1. Interesting, Amy. I'll have to look into it a little more deeply. I'm assuming the scooter she was on was one that is under the 50cc mark (it wasn't huge like a motorcycle), but I'm still confused as to why she'd be on the greenway.

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  3. I would imagine it depends on the municipality, but I also can't imagine many municipalities that would allow any kind of motorized vehicle (except maintenance vehicles) on multi-use trails. Plus, when you get into the design aspects of these types of facilities you're most often looking at a 10-20 mph design speed.

    What that means is that sight distances, curve radii and such, all are built or signed or marked for speeds lower than what that Hog can do.

    I once tried to yell at a kid who was rocketing through the greenbelt on what looked like a homemade mini-motorcycle. I bet he was doing thirty, and barely hanging the curves. I saw him twice, but both times he was going so fast, and the thing had no muffler so it was so loud, that I couldn't catch him/get his attention. But I think he wanted it that way.

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    1. Wow! I can't help but wonder what possesses a person to do this? I suppose young people (holy cow... am I sounding old?) find themselves rebelling against whatever authority could be present. I'm all for being your own person, but not at the cost of potentially injuring someone (especially those on foot).

      I think I'm going to look into what the actual laws are... I'm not sure what I would do if I see the woman again, or how to even broach that subject with someone without offending them or creating some kind of scene, but I would like to know if it's appropriate (legal) or not.

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    2. I appreciate that your first instinct would be to approach her as opposed to just reporting her to the authorities (assuming you discover the behavior illegal). I think most people would avoid confrontation at any cost and just go tattle.

      You're thinking of at least giving her the option to comply with the laws of her own accord.

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    3. Well, I try not to be a complete jerk (though I know I have my moments). :O)

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  4. she's doing it to bypass car traffic! her scooter does not belong on the greenway. in chicago i've seen cars driving on the paths to avoid traffic. this is illegal and dangerous! scooter drivers in the bike lane are especially annoying.

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    1. I have kind of assumed this, but it's not as though our traffic is horrible, and being on a scooter, I would think it would be pretty easy to maneuver around any stopped traffic. I'm still a bit perplexed by it, but I am determined to figure out what the actual local laws state.

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  5. That is absurd and I doubt it would be legal. No motorized vehicles, beyond an e-bike or maintenance truck, should be on a multi use path.

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  6. It's not legal. It's a motored vehicle and is only allowed on roads.

    If it's over 50cc (which refers to the size of the engine in cubic centimeters) it requires a motorcycle license to drive. It could be a 50cc (which generally doesn't require a license -- what most people get if they loose their license to a DUI or the like) and only goes up to around 30-40 mph. She may have been under the impression that since you don't need a license to operate it, you can take it wherever you want.

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    1. Lauren, I'm fairly certain it's one of the under 50cc models (though it would be difficult to tell in passing)... I'm still unable to find actual laws on the subject, so I think my next stop is going to be to visit the city offices just to find out once and for all. At this point, it's merely curiosity that has gotten the better of me and I really want to know.

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  7. I know my favorite trail in the Springs has clearly posted signs stating that no motor vehicles are allowed on the trail... but that doesn't stop scooters. According to the Bicycle Colorado site, there aren't state-wide laws on multi-use trails (http://bicyclecolo.org/articles/colorado-cycling-rules-pg27.htm). It recommends checking local regulations, but I wasn't able to find it in the Springs city code.

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    1. Thanks for the link! I haven't been able to find local regs either for the trails online, so I think I will have to find an alternate source. Still on a mission to find out if these are allowed on the trails though. :O)

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