RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

Cyclists ride past stenciled safety rules for pedestrians and bikers on the American River trail near River Bend Park. Boy Scouts are painting the rules on Folsom's part of the trail to make it match the portions maintained by Sacramento County.

Scout project aims to keep walkers, bikers safe on trail in Folsom

Published: Sunday, Sep. 4, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Sunday, Sep. 4, 2011 - 1:57 pm

It's hardly anarchy on the American River bike trail, a tranquil oasis in an otherwise busy suburban landscape, but some Boy Scouts and the city of Folsom are striving to make it even safer.

The two-lane trail that winds among the gray pine and oak trees close to Willow and Humbug creeks can be dicey when bicyclists and pedestrians pass one another.

To keep the wheeled and walking a safe distance apart, a simple remedy is planned: Boy Scouts will stencil rules of the road on the bike trail.

The painted advisory will say:

"Runners Walkers Keep Left" in the left lane.

"Bikes Keep Right" in the right lane.

"The eye contact is critical," said Jim Konopka, a senior park planner for trails in Folsom's Parks and Recreation Department. "With pedestrians on the left, bikes on the right, walkers and joggers can see bikes coming at them and cyclists can also see the pedestrians."

Once the words are printed on the trail, Folsom's portion of the trail will be consistent with segments to the west of the city that are maintained by Sacramento County. The county has had the stenciling for many years.

The stenciling in Folsom began about a month ago on one section of the Humbug-Willow Creek trail. A Scout looking to complete an Eagle Scout project stenciled the first section, which is about 1.5 miles.

More stenciling will be done by other Scouts along the 16 miles of Humbug-Willow Creek, which starts at Lake Natoma, Konopka said. In all, about 32 miles in Folsom will have the rules painted on the pavement, including trails in the Broadstone area and American River Canyon.

John Havicon, a park ranger supervisor for Sacramento County, said it is important to have the rule in place.

"The pedestrians can see the bikes coming so they can step out of the way," he said. "The bikes are coming pretty quick sometimes. Just one wrong step and there can be a pretty serious injury."

The stenciled pavement advisories last only about a year, fading from weather and wear.

Longtime bicycle advocate Lea Brooks applauds Folsom and the Scouts for undertaking the job of getting the word out about proper use of the bike trail.

"To have consistent courtesy rules that are clear to all users is really important," said Brooks.

She said there has been an increase of bike trail use, which is a good thing. But with that increase comes more potential for conflict.

"That means more chance for crashes," she said. "I see bad behavior all the time: pedestrians on the wrong side, pedestrians three and four abreast, big groups of runners, big groups of speeding cyclists."

The more information about courtesy rules, the better, she said. A board member of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, Brooks would like to see the stenciled advisories every quarter-mile.

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