Found in the Times-Union, "Something needs to be done to regulate the traffic on Jacksonville's multimillion-dollar Riverwalk before somebody enjoying a peaceful stroll on the magnificent walkway gets hurt by speeding bicyclists. Or the area should be renamed Riverside Bikeway instead of a treacherous walkway. The beautiful walkway was built for the taxpayers and tourists to enjoy in a quiet, family-oriented, park-like environment. But somebody had the bright idea to set up bicycle stations all along the river as an open invitation for bicyclists to race without giving strolling residents, playing children and exercising runners any warning, leaving them scurrying to safety at times."
I have been fearing the day that this became an issue. Although this little blurb is far from making it an issue, I'm surprised that it has taken this long for people to start complaining. I have seen and been embarrassed by the total lack of regard for other users of the Riverwalk by certain cyclists. On far too many occasions I have felt the need to extend apologies for guys wearing their sisters pants on fixed gear bikes and mullet headed lycra covered dillweeds that think they are actually impressing someone by scaring the hell out of them.
Yes, ipod wearing joggers and walkers are an unpredictable hazard. Yes, rampaging unsupervised kids are yet another hazard. Yes, the lunch walkers walking five abreast deep in office gossip without thought or consideration for other users of the path are a major pain in the ass. But they all have the same right to enjoy their time on the Riverwalk as us cyclist do.
You would be surprised what a simple bike bell will do for you in clearing a path and creating a positive impression. The ringing of a bike bell is such a universally recognizable sound that literally every single person on this planet understands what to do when they hear the sound of an approaching bell.
Don't have a bell? Get one. Until you do, try a friendly "On your Left/Right". If you take the Left/Right approach, please don't wait until you are 5 feet away and start screaming at the people in front thus scaring the crap out of them. Start calling out 15 to 20 feet back in loud but friendly tone. A smile and polite "thank you" as you pass will gain you major positive karma points in the eyes of those you've just passed.
The biggest issue that the person in T-U had was speed. And he is totally correct when stating that "the Riverwalk isn't a speedway". If you need to get Downtown or to Riverside in hurry, keep your ass on Riverside Ave. It has perfectly functional bike lanes that are considerably faster for reaching Downtown or Riverside than the Riverwalk is.
On the road we are the little fish that is at the mercy of automobiles. Countless amounts of money is spent on awareness campaigns so that drivers will look out for our safety. On the Riverwalk we cyclists are the big fish and just as we hope that drivers are looking out for us. We cyclists need to be aware of how our actions effect the other Riverwalk users. Florida has a 3 foot passing law on the roads and we should also make every effort to afford the same to other users of a multi-use trail.
When you are lucky enough to find yourself riding a bike along one the most beautiful rivers in this country and into the most beautiful skyline in this state. Slow down and enjoy the ride.