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!