TRAIL RULES

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cowchip
Member
#

Trail sign @ Waterfront by flyover Bridge / Marcegaglia ( Blue Bldgs )
where you enter Trail

TRAIL RULES
Trail Open from Dawn To Dusk
SPEED LIMIT 15 MPH
No Motor Vehicles -except Wheelchairs
and Electric Assist Pedal Cycles
Cyclist Under 12 Must Wear Helmet
Leash or Control Pets
Remove Pet Waste
Keep to the Right / Pass on the Left
Sound Warning Before Passing
Signal Before Turning or Stopping .

I have a problem with the 1st Rule ,
The trail should be OPEN 24 / 7
and posted Travel at your own risk .
I assume it is a Don’t ask Don’t Tell Policy with Pittsburgh Police
I know they could stop you but would they > ?
I know I am not ALONE in my Love for Night Rides and just got done Breaking and Disregarding Rule # 1 It is safer for me to Travel on the Trail with Lights than in the Traffic anywhere I need/ want to GO !


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I agree, but more importantly, what process was used in determining those hours? Who made this decision, and what justification did they have in coming up with only having it “open” during daylight?


Swalfoort
Participant
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I suspect it is a question of liability. Authorized 24/7 use probably requires the installation of lighting. Just my guess. Paul H. will certainly know.


paulheckbert
Keymaster
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I actually don’t know why the rule is that way (and I should, since I’m part of Steel Valley Trail Council). I’ve never heard of that rule being enforced. I’ll ask around.

I wish that rule didn’t exist — we should be encouraging bicycling. We don’t ban cars from roads at night, do we?


Steven
Participant
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I read once that the Montour Trail had a similar rule because when they made deals with property owners to give them an easement to let the trail go on their land, that was part of the deal. That trail goes right past people’s backyards in some spots (with no fence). I guess it’s not surprising some rural homeowners would rather not have people shining lights through their backyards at 2 AM. But that logic shouldn’t apply to that part of the Steel Valley Trail.

I agree that trail groups should try to make trails open 24/7, but if their insurance company requires such a rule, they may be stuck.


cowchip
Member
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This rule needs changed, I am upset to see it in print RULE #1
even if it is never enforced it is still wrong .


Vannevar
Participant
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I’m sure that if the ATA (parent GAP organisation) was told that one segment of the GAP was daylight only, they’d be verklempt.

The significance is: say you get injured on the trail at dark. Does your (health/life/damage) insurance policy cover you if you’re using the trail illegally? That aspect in itself is a reason to review/remove the restriction.


Steven
Participant
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I think they know already. The ATA’s own web site says “Trail open daily, dawn to dusk. No overnight use, excepted in authorized areas. Reservations are required for groups of 10 or more.” I think the only authorized areas are the official campgrounds.

The insurance issue might work the other way too. If you’re injured in the dark and sue a trail organization for negligence, their insurance carrier can point out that you were using the trail illegally. Their carrier might not want to provide coverage for night-time trail use, or might want too much money to provide such coverage.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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A serious question related to a legal concept or distinction I do not understand:

I am pretty sure my property deeds state that I own out to the centerline of the streets abutting them, and that the taxable areas include that paved area and the adjoining shoulder. It is generally accepted that the public can traverse that right-of-way.

So, let’s say I had a trail traversing the rear of my property. In what ways is that trail right-of-way different from the roadway in front? If someone wrecks or gets ill on the street, I am not in any way liable, so how would I be for the trail in back?


Vannevar
Participant
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thank you, @steven, great points.


Ahlir
Participant
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Parks seem to have the same rule: “closed from dusk to dawn”. I had always thought this had to do with providing a legal basis for chasing out rowdy teenage partiers and rousting sleeping vagrants.

@Steven’s quote seems to imply as much. If you’re doing something reasonable (like, say, the cycling part of a 24h pentathalon), it would be ok. You’re not making inappropriate use of the facility; you’re just using the trail for its intended purpose, albeit at an unusual time.

In a more enlightened society there would simply a bicycle cop riding through on a regular basis, making sure everything was ok.


buffalo buffalo
Participant
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As I recall from when similar questions have been asked in the past, the trails (at least in the city) are closed at night because the police can’t/won’t patrol them…which supposedly is because they aren’t lit…


Steven
Participant
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So, let’s say I had a trail traversing the rear of my property. In what ways is that trail right-of-way different from the roadway in front? If someone wrecks or gets ill on the street, I am not in any way liable, so how would I be for the trail in back?

That’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer. But my limited understanding is that you could be liable for stuff that happens in the street if your negligence caused the problem (say, if you removed the city’s Danger Sharp Curve signs because they clashed with your begonias), just the same as if your negligence caused an accident on a sidewalk (say, by not shoveling snow) or on a trail.

I think in general the property owner, or maybe whoever maintains or controls the property, has to be negligent in some way in order to be held liable. In some areas, unlike Pittsburgh, the city is in charge of shoveling sidewalks. If you slip there, you sue the city. Since the city/county/state maintains all roads, I guess you’d almost always sue them, not the property owner, except perhaps in rare cases like the begonia example when you can prove the property owner is at fault.

So who’s liable for a trail in your back yard? Maybe the trail organization, if they maintain it. But what if your tree falls across the trail and hits someone? Maybe you then.

PA has a Recreational Use of Land and Water Act to protect owners from liability when they let their lands be used for recreation. But it only applies to undeveloped land. It’s not clear if a trail would count. (The link has a case that suggests it might not apply.) Trail organizations in Oregon got the state to pass a law specifically protecting land owners who permit trails, as well as trail organizations. I don’t know if we have any similar law in PA, or if there’s any effort to make one here.

If you’re doing something reasonable (like, say, the cycling part of a 24h pentathalon), it would be ok. You’re not making inappropriate use of the facility; you’re just using the trail for its intended purpose, albeit at an unusual time.

That’s not how I read it. I think the ATA rule is saying that you can use the campgrounds overnight (plus any other areas, if any, specifically designated for overnight use). But you can’t use any other part of the GAP at night. However, I assume the ATA has the power to waive its own rules whenever they want, and they probably do so for any event like a marathon that asks for permission.


gg
Member
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Just attorneys making it safe for us cyclists. They prefer us to be on the streets at night, not the trails. Thanks attorneys for looking out for us and creating a wonderful world!


neilmd
Member
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Speaking of trail rules, I came back from riding the North Shore DD hills yesterday via the Jail Trail and Greenfield Ave / Pocusset, so I took the opportunity to roll up the famous Pocusset Dr. Trail. Note that I had an email exchange with Lynette Lederman earlier in the month as well as a brief chat with Corey O’Connor. I had not actually gone up the trail before. Some observations (several of which have already been made on the other thread).

1. The trail is obviously, manifestly, open, and equally obviously closed to cars. There are candlesticks at the base and a guardrail at the top of the trail prevents cars from starting down it. In fact, from the bottom it is far more inviting than Pocusset itself because it is Pocusset and not the trail that has a big “ROAD CLOSED” sign, which more or less obviously applies to cars and not bicycles. You would have to be a medium or some other form of seer to suss out that the trail is supposedly closed “per order of the police”, as the police have not seen fit to post any indication of this supposed order.

2. I am not really sure that closing a trail would mean anyway. As far as I know the parks imply free public access, at least between 6:00 am and 11:00 pm. Actually, the park rules on the Pittsburgh city parks website state that bicycles must stay on paved roads or paths designated for cycling. Pocusset is paved. Bikes are to be “pushed by hand over any grassy area or wooded trail or on any paved area reserved for pedestrian use”. Implicit in that (and only that as far as I can tell) is that non-grassy wooded non-trails are off limits.

3. There is no sign of manhole covers needing attention. There are two storm drains to the right (going up), one mid trail and one just at the top, but as far as I can tell they are in better shape than drains on my own street that any 3-year old could easily slide into.

4. My conclusion is that Ms. Lederman is a Pocusset neighborhood resident who happens to work for our representative on council and who also has taken it upon herself to assert a particular position. I decided against sending these observations to her or O’Conner because it might inspire unwanted consequences. That is also why I am posting this here and not on the other thread — a teeny bit of security by obscurity.

As far as I can tell, people should feel free to bike up that path. If impeding fallen branches are removed, I strongly recommend quiet tools and being as discrete as possible, so that the status quo (which seems to be to be satisfactory) remains in effect until the trail is somehow or another “officially” designated open.


jonawebb
Participant
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@neilmd, ++
BTW, I can remember seeing similar “rules” about trails being closed from dusk until dawn on pretty much any trail I’ve ridden on that had a sign listing rules. E.g., the Ohio & Erie Canal Trail from Akron to Cleveland has a sign like this, as do other parts of the GAP. It’s a normal thing. I think it’s basically because the trail is not lit at night. Riding an unlit trail at night isn’t particularly safe, after all, unless you have really good lights or don’t go that fast. You could easily run into a pedestrian wearing dark clothing, or an animal.


cowchip
Member
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Riding an Unlit trail with good lights front and back is much safer than any stretch of road . I would like to see the sign say
Lights and or reflectors mandatory for travel after dusk , Travel at your own risk .
I will continue to use the trails whenever I choose.
Some rules are just dumb ?


reddan
Keymaster
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For what it’s worth, the portion of the GAP that goes through Ohiopyle State Park is patrolled by park rangers: they have historically been very clear that they don’t want through-riders late at night on that segment of the GAP without prior notice.

That’s a State Park regulation, not an ATA one, AFAIK.


jonawebb
Participant
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@cowchip, really, you want lights, not reflectors. Reflectors won’t help you see a pedestrian walking in front of you, or a deer or dog, or, for that matter, another bike without a light. For trail riding at night, you want nice, bright lights.


ericf
Participant
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@cowchip,
Lights and reflectors are required by PA law, wherever you happen to be riding, after dusk.


jonawebb
Participant
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I know, BTW, that @cowchip uses lights. I’m just objecting to the wording of his fictitious sign. Which wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t see cyclists riding without lights in the pre-dawn darkness these days. Please get some lights!


Benzo
Participant
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The ‘Park’ closes at night.

This is why having on street bike infrastructure is important, It’s not a park, it’s a street and it’s open 24/7. This is especially important for commuters who actually ride year round and bike to work in the dark and bike home in the dark.

I find it interesting that poccuset st has a ‘ROAD CLOSED’ sign on one end, but doen’t indicate at all that it’s open to cyclists and pedestrians. It should really be unambigous as to whether we’re allowed or not. There really should be appropriate signage indicating ‘NO MOTOR VEHICLES’ instead of road closed if it’s legitimate cycling infrastructure.


cowchip
Member
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To be clear I never ninja !
I run two tail lights one on blink one steady
also flash be seen light and my headlight is a crazy bright cree LED
the one with the green glowing on button , my fictitious sign should say Lights and reflectors mandatory >
ON the trail at night I am almost alone but it is still important to stay in my lane because of joggers ect in ninja mode , ( no reflectors )
I feel it is much safer, I am a seasoned road rider and believe there should be flawless , seamless transitions between trail and bike lanes to use as a transportation bike highway , unlike Hot Metal bridge intersection


TheNom
Member
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Shame the rules go against the state regs :( MY moped is able to use any facilities as a bicycle, (per it following pedalcycle regs under 75 PA.C.S.,Chapter 35 Special Vehicles and Pedestrians) but the useful trails (speedlimit mind you) say I can’t use them. :\


Steven
Participant
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TheNom, I’m not sure you’re correct about that.

I believe a moped would be classified as a “motorized pedalcycle” (defined as a “motor-driven cycle equipped with operable pedals” with various restrictions on speed and such), not a “pedalcycle” (“a vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals”). See definitions here. The term “motor-driven cycle” is defined to include motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds.

Because of the way they’ve defined the terms, if a regulation mentions only pedalcycles, it doesn’t apply to motorized pedalcycles. If a regulation mentions motor-driven cycles, it does.

There are only a few places where “motorized pedalcycles” aka mopeds are mentioned in the law. Mopeds are exempt from the helmet law that applies to motorcycles, and prohibited from limited-access highways. Apart from that, PA law treats them the same as motorcycles.

I don’t see any law that would classify mopeds with bicycles as far as bike lane use goes.


Steven
Participant
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E-bikes were in this same boat as mopeds, treated basically as motorcycles, until earlier this month. A new law changes the definition of pedalcycles (i.e. bicycles) to include e-bikes, specifically “a vehicle weighing not more than 100 pounds with two or three wheels more than 11 inches in diameter, manufactured or assembled with an electric motor system rated at not more than 750 watts and equipped with operable pedals and capable of a speed not more than 20 miles per hour on a level surface when powered by the motor source only.”

I’m assuming your moped isn’t electric, but if it is, and it meets the other restrictions above, then you can ride it in a bike lane, as soon as the legislation goes into effect (May 1 2015; also see legislative history here). Note that many online copies of Title 75 don’t have these changes yet, since the law was only signed on October 22 2014.


TheNom
Member
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Ah. But I was clarified about this a few times and I simply clarified again to check Pittsburgh laws. See http://www.imgur.com/YoW4U2d.png thats the vehicle enforcement officer.


TheNom
Member
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This is the primary reason mopeds cant touch the highways. Otherwise we would be unregulated.


TheNom
Member
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All that bill states is it deregulates electric bikes since most are unregisterable anyways. It doesnt change the rules they follow however


Steven
Participant
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It looks like Officer Herndon may be misinformed about PA law regarding mopeds, though I can’t tell for sure since you posted her answer but not your question. I already explained why. Here’s a page specifically about mopeds under PA law (though it doesn’t entirely match what the law says). Some ways in which mopeds are treated differently from bicycles: They require annual registration, proof of insurance, and a license plate. You must have a driver’s license to operate one.

All that bill states is it deregulates electric bikes since most are unregisterable anyways. It doesnt change the rules they follow however

It moves them from being classified like motorcycles and mopeds to being classified like bicycles. As a result, they will eventually be able to legally use bike lanes, while motorcycles and mopeds may not.


erok
Keymaster
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Also, according to the trail rules, posted on the Friends of the Riverfront website, all internal combustion engines, except authorized vehicles, “have been and will remain prohibited.”

http://friendsoftheriverfront.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/TRHT-Mobility-Device-Policy-2011.pdf


TheNom
Member
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The question included I have a registered and insured motoized pedalcycle. If I was regulated as motorcycle id need a helmet could take a lane entirely and use limited access highways. However as he and penndot both had informed me the fact that it still is a moped with working pedals I was to follow bike rules as traffic laws specifically seperate mopeds and motor driven cycles.


TheNom
Member
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Mind you I only contacted the 311 due to the state regulating as a bicycle but cities and townships sometimes rule otherwise. The biggest thing is parking since a moped does have pedals and is comparably light to scooters and motorcycles and we require a proper locking place.


Steven
Participant
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The question included I have a registered and insured motoized pedalcycle. If I was regulated as motorcycle id need a helmet could take a lane entirely and use limited access highways.

Yes, those are the key differences between motorcycles and mopeds in state law (also, you’re not required to wear eye protection as motorcyclists are, inspections aren’t required). Apart from those, mopeds are treated as motorcycles. In fact, they’re defined as a type of motorcycle.

However as he and penndot both had informed me the fact that it still is a moped with working pedals I was to follow bike rules as traffic laws specifically seperate mopeds and motor driven cycles.

That doesn’t seem to match state law. I think I’ll email Officer Herndon and see if we can clear this up.


Drewbacca
Participant
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ugh… mopeds. Ran across one on the Gap a couple of weeks ago, and I can still taste the black smoke that came out of the engine. I have no problem with the electric ones but the poorly tuned polluting and noisy ones shouldn’t be allowed off of private property.


TheNom
Member
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You cant even see the exhaust from mine as its properly tuned. But mine is also a epa registered and approved one.


TheNom
Member
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However he wont be riding it long with it running like that. So think positive :P


Benzo
Participant
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cowchip
Member
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I Thought the bunnies would be the first to bitch :P
It is funny that they say they want to encourage biking
but don’t use it as transportation in the dark are you crazy


Steven
Participant
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Last week I emailed Officer Herndon about her response to TheNom, and she “spoke to one of the commanders who contacted a source”. Today she confirmed that a moped may not use bike lanes or bike paths, like I said above. But she noted “Of course if he gets cited then the magistrate at traffic court would have the last word.”

I was wrong about one thing, though it’s not related to mopeds. I said above that the law will be changing for e-bikes effective May 1 2015, and they will then be treated as bicycles and can go anywhere bicycles are allowed. I had the wrong date.

Only the part of the new law regarding “neighborhood electric vehicles” (defined as four-wheeled electric vehicle that has a maximum design speed of not less than 20 miles per hour and of not more than 25 miles per hour) was delayed until May. The law change for e-bikes goes into effect in 60 days. The governor signed it October 22, so I guess e-bikes become bikes legally on December 21.

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