Hector Amezcua / Bee file, 2011

County parks rangers are vowing to crack down on speeding cyclists on the American River Parkway. Some cyclists say that all users need to be more sensitive, including dog walkers. That would include first lady Anne Gust Brown, shown here with first dog Sutter Brown straying across the trail. Gov. Jerry Brown is in the background.

Editorial: Can't we all just get along on parkway?

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 14A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 - 4:54 pm

The American River Parkway is one of the region's treasures, to be shared and enjoyed safely by joggers, families and people walking their dogs, as well as recreational and hard-core cyclists.

But all is not well on the parkway.

You can see that with the visceral reaction, pro and con, to Sacramento County's plans to more consistently enforce the bicycle speed limit on the multi-use trail.

Last Friday, county rangers started warning cyclists exceeding the posted 15-mph speed limit. If the problem persists, rangers will hand out citations. A first violation carries a $50 fine; a second violation within a year will cost $100.

Regional Parks Chief Park Ranger Stan Lumsden says he's focusing on public education and hopes no citations will need to be issued at all.

If and when they are, rangers should show some discretion.

The biggest problem is on the weekends, when the trail gets the heaviest use and packs of speeding cyclists – practicing the peloton – can endanger walkers, joggers and other cyclists. Citations are appropriate in such situations, but perhaps not on a weekday afternoon when a cyclist or two is slightly over the speed limit.

Lumsden says he has instructed his 12 rangers, who are sharing one radar gun, to use their common sense. "There's a lot of gray area in traffic enforcement," he told The Bee's editorial board Tuesday.

Lumsden, who became chief ranger in September 2011, says he has received numerous complaints about cyclists hitting 30 mph and says there have been some serious speed-related collisions. The county, which oversees the portion of the trail between Discovery Park and Hazel Avenue, took another safety measure last week by removing most stop signs for bicycles and adding them for vehicles.

Cyclists can't be the only ones held accountable for safety. If the speed limit is more strictly enforced, other trail users have to do their part as well. For instance, pedestrians need to heed the suggestion to walk facing traffic and keep pets tight on the leash.

Many of the conflicts could be avoided with just some common courtesy. That is far preferable to lots of cyclists getting pulled over for going too fast.

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