20+ miles of mostly uninterrupted trail that hugs along the lakefront for the sole use of pedestrians, runners, and bikers. In the city this is one of the only trails for people to enjoy and what I once thought was the safest place to run because it avoids contact with cars, buses, and manic taxi drivers. But this summer I have felt more so than ever in the 10 years I've been using the path that safe has become a relative term.
This summer I've seen:
Last week I was hit by a child that couldn't have been more than 7-8 years old as I was running with a plastic bat. He was walking on the incorrect side of the path swinging a blue bat, so I scooted over to avoid bumping into him. But as I passed he decided it would be funny to whack me with his bat to which I more than likely over reacted by calling him a "little s***" where his mother had no reaction whatsoever to the situation. I'm sure she would have had a reaction if I hit her son with that blue bat.
I thought it would be fun to bike all the way south to where the path ends, which is a 32 mile round trip from my home. Within the first 10 minutes as I was slowly crusing along on my fancy-schmancy Target Schwinn bicycle, I was slowly coming up on an older lady who was weaving from one side of the path to another. She almost looked like she was biking under the influence. I alerted her that I was approaching "on her left" to let her know that it would most likely be a good idea to bike in a straight line so we don't collide, where she than completely lost her mind. The woman somehow lost control of her wheels while spewing out every curse word from A-Z at me as she crashed to the ground. Thinking this woman was crazy, I continued on even though she spilled all over the pavement. Yes, I'm a model citizen.
I know we all do it, I'm guilty of running in the middle of the path during the winter months when I'm the only one out there or spacing out at times not realizing how much of the path I'm taking up. But I never get angry when someone says on your left, and realize that it's just a cautionary warning to stop being an idiot and think about the safety of others that are using this same shared space with me and shove over. However, my feelings are that if you can't comply to these rules and feel like you need to run on the wrong side of traffic or that it is impossible for you to scoot over for passing traffic, than you should lose your rights to the public space.
Do you think that rules should exist for trail use?
In case you're wondering, the city of Chicago does actually have rules in place for the trail. If you're curious as to what they are, you can check them out here .