Sounding the alarm about poor trail maintenance



I have been reading a number of postings on Facebook and other social media from fellow bike commuters and others who are noticing that non-motorized trails and sidepaths are not getting the necessary and routine maintenance they should be lately. Examples include bushes and shrubs elbowing into the route, grass/weeds edging further and further onto the pavement/concrete, weeds growing through the surface, pavement edges breaking apart, and other general disrepair. This is not only discouraging and aesthetically unpleasant, but a big potential safety hazard that increases long-term costs and could present liability issues to the greater community. Every inch of pavement lost to “vegetation creep” pushes bicyclists, joggers, strollers, roller-bladers, and walkers closer and closer to one another, thus increasing the chance for more accidents along the trail.

Just a little be of routine care, like trimming and edging, can prolong the life of a trail or sidepath and keep it in good condition for many years. Otherwise, the vegetation creep starts to weaken and damage the surface. It also looks unkept and presents a poor impression of the greater community as if we have little pride in its appearance.

Unfortunately, maintenance often tends to get the short end of the budgetary stick. It’s sad that the bean counters seem to solely fixate on immediate, short-term expenses versus long-term costs. As loyal users of trails and pathways; bicycling, jogging, and walking advocates need to speak up early and often about their concerns over the condition of the trails and sidepaths they use. For there is no one else who is more impacted by the lack of care and there is no one else who observes the deteriorating conditions on a regular basis. Sound the alarm, my friends to anybody and everybody who will listen and who has a stake in the overall well-being of the community (that’s all of us folks). Sound the alarm!

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4 Responses to Sounding the alarm about poor trail maintenance

  1. John Mercurio says:

    I have done just that (sound the alarm) in a number of venues in California. Limited response is now being seen, but this is a large problem. You don’t even touch upon the lack of asphalt maintainence which, if not done, requires a costly total reconstruction later, which takes capital funds that could be used to construct new trails and trail bridges. I am sure that some agencies will not construct paved trails because of the cost to maintain them. And those that do build them and don’t maintain them are simply risking an unpleasant experience for trail users a few years later.


  2. Therese Kline says:

    Take ownership of the problem! Equine trail users have “Work Bee” days where we go out and trim trail as a group. It’s fun. It’s educational. It’s healthy! Make new friends! Pointing and complaining will result in trail closures – instead of whining be part of the solution! IMBA and MMBA host multiple work bees – and they teach trail maintenance. Take your nippers next time you ride and snip and clip as you go. You;ll be proud of yourself, and you’ll be taking part in the effort for solutions – instead of pointing out the problems and whining. Better yet, choose a bit of trail as your own – 3 miles or so – and decide that YOU will be the difference and keep that 3 miles in tip top trimmed condition. A little personal responsibility will bloom into others doing the same! Better yet, involve the local girl and boy scouts in your efforts. Invite them to come and trim and teach them valuable trail maintenance skills. Pay it forward!


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