Monday, February 27, 2012

Multi User Paths

I live next to the Minuteman Trial, which is a MUP built in place of an old commuter rail. This strip of asphalt starts in Somerville and ends in Concord and is usually full of bikers, pedestrians, dog walkers, etc. especially on weekends.

And that's where the problem is. Minuteman is used by "Sunday bikers" and families with kids and dogs. This means, it is difficult to predict its users' behavior. Kids like to run all over the place, dogs feel free to run across the path and many parents and dog owners simply don't pay attention to this or just don't care. This makes places like Minuteman Trial a path for only a very relaxed riding. My Schwinn works well here. I am afraid to ride too fast on Minuteman on weekends as I never know what those that I pass would do. Ironically, when I am on my Poprad, I feel safer riding on streets between cars than on the fully-loaded Minuteman Trial. Cars seem simply more predictable (I keep telling Elka this).

However, to my surprise, there is a large number of lycra-clad bikers on fast road bikes who treat this path like a racing strip. When me and Dr. J. take a stroll on Minuteman we are passed by legions of those bikers yelling only "On your left!", like they would want us to just dissapear or at least leave them more space on their racing strip.

Another, similar path is the Canal Service Road on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal (especially its northen bank). Same rules apply here. This MUP becomes really crowdied on summer weekends and riding too fast there may not be the smartest idea.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, this is a drawback to MUPs everywhere. The Powers That Be don't want to designate a path just to bikes. They get wider approval if people can walk on them too. I live in an area where there are lots of Mexican families. In general, they bring their whole family to these MUPs and are all over the place. When they do ride, they are riding old, rusty mountain bikes and stay in low gear all the time.

    But even with these unpredictable pedestrians using the MUPs, I still believe it is safer than our streets. The main streets don't have a shoulder or sidewalk to speak of. There are big curbs everywhere. Not many people ride on the street, and as a result, motorists aren't looking for cyclists.

    So although an accident is more likely on the MUP, (especially when riding fast) said accident is less likely to be fatal or crippling. Hit a pedestrian, and we both get hurt. Get hit by a car, and it is likely to be lights-out for the cyclist, with the motorist likely not even bothering to stop.

    I take the MUP and make prodigious use of my bell. Also, I'm sure to thank the more courteous pedestrians; positive reinforcement and all that. ;)

    Great blog. Keep it up!