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Keep right: Courtesy on the Pinellas Trail

Veronica Brezina

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City trail sign. File photo.

The rise in the popularity of e-bikes and continued user growth of bicyclists on the Pinellas Trail is calling for some improved signage and messaging.

During a Thursday Pinellas County Commission work session, Whit Blanton with Forward Pinellas, Joan Rice with Public Works and Paul Cozzie, the parks and conservation resources director, presented an update on the user status of the trail and changes. 

To date, the 67-mile trail attracts over 2 million visitors annually. With the high usage, issues have surfaced such as trail courtesy, speeding on the trail, and the somewhat lack of the common pedestrian and biker knowledge to “keep right except when passing.” 

When the trail was first developed, the cyclists and pedestrians were separated on the trail, which the trail markings can still be seen today, but over the years, the county said the standard “keep right” knowledge is what’s used today but needs to become more prevalent. 

Commissioner Dave Eggers said it may be “culturally morphing” but it’s evident that not enough users are courteous of others while on the trail and the rules must be clear. 

“The ‘keep right’ philosophy is used in lots of trails not just in the State of Florida, but nationwide. We do have segments where the pedestrian area splits off to one side. Until those areas are resurfaced and the grass is removed, and it becomes the same width everywhere, we suggest the pedestrians still use that, but keep right,” Rice said. “Just like in a two-lane roadway and you have oncoming traffic, you need to slow down and wait your turn and then go around. There’s common courtesy and you have to realize the trail is for everyone and not just the bicycle.” 

As a result, Rice said there will be new pavement markings and online tools. 

The update comes as a new 6.7-mile section was completed that runs through the Countryside area of Clearwater to John Chestnut St. Park in Palm Harbor. Meanwhile, construction will start next year for a pedestrian bridge over the Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal that would be completed in the summer of 2024. 

The presentation by staff also included the increase of e-bikes on the trail. 

The county conducted a three-week survey in April about the types of bikes used on the trail and discovered the following from 2,000 respondents: 

  • 52% use traditional bikes 
  • 20% use e-bikes only 
  • 19% use both types of bikes 
  • 9% are non-bicyclist 

The survey found that the majority of people use e-bikes due to physical disabilities, limiting their mobility, and they are used to commute to destinations quickly, and are a clean energy alternative when compared to traditional vehicles.

The survey showed 80% of the non-e-bike users cited safety concerns as to why they don’t utilize e-bikes. 

“It is embraced [e-bike usage], but just like how pedestrians are upset by the traditional bike rider, they [e-bikers] can fly by them and not have the courtesy to forewarn them they are passing,” Rice said, highlighting the concerns that people have voiced such as the e-bikes being so quiet that it’s difficult to know if they are about to pass them. 

Blanton said e-bikes are the fastest growing market of bicycle sales and the county, as well as neighboring municipalities, allow e-bikes. 

However, whether it be e-bikes or traditional bikes, the county staff shared the unified message – the trail is for everyone, and everyone must follow the rules. 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Fred Moshy

    August 11, 2022at4:58 pm

    Keeping to the right is the law on trails all over the United States. I am an avid biker and have a biked trails in most states in our country. Keeping to the right is one of the most basic rules of any bike trail and essential to safety. Many trails have a posted speed limit of 20 miles an hour or under. The E bikes for the most part can pass that speed and often do creating a bit of a hazard for all pedestrians. I am not sure how this can be monitored or enforced.

  2. Avatar

    Rob Quarles

    August 12, 2022at8:35 am

    Try telling that to joggers and (sometimes) bicyclists on the sidewalks around Coffee Pot Blvd that get in their little cliques and run 2-3+ wide and think they own the sidewalk…

  3. Avatar

    M Hynes

    August 12, 2022at10:09 am

    What if anything can be done about users on e type scooters or bikes speeding on trails pushing a baby stroller. I saw this on one occasion and was shocked.Baby strollers are not designed to to go over 20mph and the dude was going so fast there was no time to react or turn this person in for child endangerment.
    is this a wave of the future?

  4. Avatar

    MarkD

    August 12, 2022at11:02 am

    The “keep right” needs to be detailed more or remarking of the trail. The right side going North is marked for pedestrian traffic, so the bike lane is actually narrower than the pavement. Keeping right means within the bike path. Because the lines have faded and there are so many new riders that don’t see the clarity of the lines, they often don’t yield to the pedestrian traffic and I’ve had some shout at me when they have been completely oblivious of the marking.

  5. Avatar

    Larry Smith

    August 12, 2022at12:36 pm

    My wife and I are primarily walkers although we do ride regular bikes some times. There are areas of the trail that are painted with a white line and have an image of a walker on one side and a biker on the other. This means you are only walking on the right side one direction. This is confusing and should be covered up if its not to be followed.

  6. Avatar

    Cheryl Small

    August 12, 2022at3:34 pm

    Whoever thought of this has never been on the Trail (at lease for a long ride).This absolutely does not work! What a mess this has become. When you have bicyclists together with the pedestrians on the same side, it’s ridiculous due to the different speeds, etc. they go. The bicycles end up having to pass the pedestrians on their left because they go faster anyway (then run into the people walking in the other lane on the right). For many, many years there were signs that designated different lanes for bikes and walkers. Walkers one side, bikes on the other and it worked great. Common sense alone will tell/show you this.

  7. Avatar

    Cheryl Small

    August 12, 2022at3:35 pm

    Whoever thought of this has never been on the Trail (at lease for a long ride).This absolutely does not work! What a mess this has become. When you have bicyclists together with the pedestrians on the same side, it’s ridiculous due to the different speeds, etc. they go. The bicycles end up having to pass the pedestrians on their left because they go faster anyway (then run into the people walking in the other lane on the right). For many, many years there were signs that designated different lanes for bikes and walkers. Walkers one side, bikes on the other and it worked great. Common sense alone will tell/show you this.

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