Safe Trails: Telltale Tracks


by Erick Wikum

Spend some time on the Little Miami Scenic Trail and you will soon realize that our trail truly is multi-use. The figure shows tracks for three popular uses of the trail. What are these uses? The first and third are easy—footprints are left by walkers or runners and tread marks are left by bicyclists. But what about the second? What activity creates such odd-looking, v-shaped tracks? The answer is roller blading (aka inline skating) or roller skiing.

Roller bladers propel themselves forward using a side-to-side motion, which is why their tracks may cross the center line. Roller bladers also seek firm pavement, since small wheels do not roll well over gravel, sticks, cracks or grass. As a result, roller bladers stop short of the right-hand-side of the trail and may veer suddenly across the trail to avoid obstacles.

When overtaking a roller blader on the trail, announce your presence by saying “on your left,” wait to allow the roller blader time to adjust his or her path, and then pass, allowing the widest possible berth. When roller blading on the trail, stay right and glide straight when being passed. Wearing protective equipment, especially a helmet and made-for-purpose gloves is highly recommended, since even experts can encounter unexpected circumstances, including those involving other trail users.

When it comes to sharing the trail with roller bladers, the proof is in the tracks. By understanding the path roller bladers take and why, you can act appropriately and stay safe, no matter what type of tracks you are making at the time.

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