Opinion: The dirty secret of the Truckee River Legacy Trail
This is a My Turn opinion column that was submitted to the Sun for publication.
One of the greatest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in this town was the Truckee River Legacy Trail. Connecting Glenshire with Downtown and getting cyclists off a dangerous road while creating a scenic byway seemed to be worth every cent it cost to build that trail.
As an avid cyclist myself, I thought the trail was a great idea. It would enable people to commute to and from the east side of town without getting into their cars.
Unfortunately, the Legacy Trail’s use has turned into something I for one would not have imagined. The trail has become a dog park, plain and simple.
When I ride to and from Glenshire from the west side of town, I have to stop on multiple occasions to avoid hitting dogs all along the way.
People give me dirty looks, as if I have no right to be riding a bike on the trail. I have been chastised, yelled at, and frowned upon for cycling on the Legacy Trail by irresponsible dog owners who let their pets run wild all across the trail.
No leashes are required, and as such, the dogs are in complete conflict with cyclists back and forth across the trail.
It’s not uncommon for a pack of dogs to be roaming the trail as the owners block the trail, walking shoulder to shoulder across the asphalt, acting as if a cyclist is nothing more than an inconvenience and nuisance to their entitled use of the trail as a dog park.
There is the environmental impact of these irresponsible dog owners too. There are “brown land mines” everywhere along the trail. Then there are those who bag their dog’s waste, only to drop the bag on the trail for somebody else to pick it up – talk about a sense of entitlement.
The snow has pretty yellow markings for miles on end. If this was your road, you’d be disgusted by what lines it from one end to the other.
We the taxpayers need not spend up to $2.5 million per mile constructing trails for the sake of them being used as dog parks.
The Truckee Trails & Bikeways Master Plan specifically states that a purpose of the trail is to “…increase the bicycling and walking mode share, increase safety and mobility for pedestrians and bicyclists, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, enhance public health…” in accordance with the State Active Transportation Program consistency. Further, the Trails & Bikeways Master Plan clearly outlines etiquette to maintain adequate separation between users.
In addition to the shortcomings as a result of selfish conduct, there is the inadequate maintenance of the trail. Immediately east of the trail head on East River Street is a dangerous area of ice that is no less than an inch thick and approximately 75 feet long across the entire trail.
The Trails & Bikeways Master Plan states that: “…deicing and traction control material applications will occur periodically as necessary.”
Two weekends ago, I witnessed an accident on this stretch of the trail. Yet the town of Truckee can’t seem to do anything about this serious hazard in accordance with its very own plan.
As a “live and let live” person, I am all for shared use of the trails. However, the town of Truckee is misrepresenting its goals, intentions and responsibilities if it fails to maintain the trail in accordance with its very own plan.
The next time you as a taxpayer are asked to fund a program of this nature, take a ride down the Truckee River Legacy Trail from one end to another and ask yourself if this is how you want your hard earned money spent by government bureaucrats.
While it is beautiful, and it looks good on paper, unless the town of Truckee maintains it in accordance with its very own plan, the consequences of inadequate maintenance and unintended uses limit the intended potential.
Michael Golden is a Truckee resident.
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