The Mohawk Towpath Byway is a wonderful place to visit. It’s a driving route that follows the historic Erie Canal route from Waterford, Cohoes and Schenectady, NY. That said, my passion is to get people out of their vehicles to discover the history along the Byway and our many recreational assets.
The thought that follows is traffic safety where bicycles and pedestrian are more common occurrences. Pedestrians should always walk facing traffic: stay on the left of oncoming traffic. Cyclists should always stay to the right and travel with traffic. This safety rule applies even on our more rural segments of the Byway. Perhaps I should say especially on our more rural segments of the Byway.
But how do we get this message across to our residents and visitors alike? Just a small, simple sign at pedestrian eye level, “RIDE RIGHT; WALK LEFT” on way-finding sign-sets appropriately placed. But the argument is, “we have too many signs, each obstructs the view,” or “the people we want to reach with the message can’t read,” or “this is only one message in thousands that we want to get across. It gets lost in the delivery to the pedestrian.”
NYSDOT has “SHARED ROADWAY” signs and those crossing signs with the silhouette of a pedestrian, but these are intended for drivers, giving the cyclist or pedestrian a false sense of security.
Ride your bike with a helmet and with the travel lane even on a low trafficked road. If you are involved in a crash at least you have a chance of survival. Pedestrians or cyclists dressed in dark colors or camouflage are not safe around travel lanes. Think of what a driver sees, “…before (s)he runs over your shadow,” as Larry Syzdek points out. Wear bright clothing. If close to dusk carry a bright light or large reflector. “It is good to be seen,” is my mantra. Larry’s mantra is, “Make sure I see you before I run over your shadow.”
What ever you do on the Mohawk Towpath Byway be mindful of what’s going on around you. Be safe. Walk toward oncoming traffic so you can get out of the way of an errant vehicle.