You may think you’re safe on Denver’s wonderful network of multi-use paths (MUP), and you usually are, but the exceptions are the Cherry Creek MUP and the Platte River MUP. Crime is not the danger — there’s little of that — but there is a lot of danger arising from the disparity between the slow and the fast. Numerous bike/bike and bike/pedestrian crashes have occurred on both MUPs, and in one case a death and serious injury happened on the Platte River MUP.
There are a couple of 15 mph speed limit signs on the Platte, but they are unenforceable and usually ignored. There are none on Cherry Creek. A legislated speed limit is not practical anyway. Police resources have better things to do than patrol a problem that can be mitigated with common sense. What common sense is applicable here? First of all, users of these two MUP’s have to acknowledge that the rules of the road/street apply. To ignore them is at your peril.
Here’s the common sense:
- Pedestrians: Keep right, no more than two abreast. More than two abreast forces passing cyclists into oncoming traffic. Do not wear head phones, which prevent you from hearing warnings from cyclists overtaking you. Be predictable as you walk/run, look both ways before crossing the path. Keep your pet on a short leash. A small child’s hand should be in your hand, or you are inviting tragedy. Tell older children the same things about the MUP that you’d say about dangers in the street. It’s a shame you have to do that on a MUP, but if you want them safe.
- Cyclists: Hold your speed down. It’s a real rush to be at speed on a fast road bike, but do it in the road — that’s why they call them “road bikes.” Let pedestrians know you are coming up on them. Give them an “on your left” and it wouldn’t hurt to say “thanks” when you go by. Pass when oncoming traffic permits, and don’t ride more than two abreast. Beginning cyclists stay right. For learners, an MUP is not the place for learning to ride. For “roadies,” don’t stretch out on a Time Trial (TT) bike or use an Aero Bar extension while on the MUP. These bikes look cool parked at Starbucks, but they respond with all the agility of a covered wagon. The TT bikes are a bit safer, since the rider can get to the brakes, but with the Aero Bar extension, the rider’s hands are a long way from the brakes — useless at a time when split-seconds may count. TT bikes and the Aero Bar set-ups are for pure, straight-line, unadulterated speed, and you shouldn’t be going that fast on the MUP anyway.
Can the slow and the fast live with each other on these MUP’s? Maybe. It all depends on common sense.
Image Source: Richard Masoner.