Parkway Traffic Jam

As this article from the Sacramento Bee indicates, it just keeps getting worse, a testament to the Parkway itself and also, a clear call for expanding the trail—which we posted on earlier—in addition to enforcing the traffic rules.

An excerpt from the Bee article.

“It’s 8 a.m. on a June Saturday, and the American River Parkway is already getting crowded.

“Runners Katie Tibbetts and Heather Kobza head onto the asphalt trail at Hazel Avenue, heads swiveling to watch for cyclists. Nearby, sweat-drenched Katri Kehraevuo of Citrus Heights steers her bike into the fish hatchery lot following an early-morning ride timed to beat the crowds. Farther down the trail, Heather Raitt of Carmichael sticks carefully to the shoulder as she pushes a stroller carrying her daughter Chloe, 3, on a duck-viewing expedition.

“Life on the parkway has hit peak season. Sacramento County park rangers call it the “hot zone,” when portions of the region’s flowing 32-mile recreation artery can clog.

“There are no solid data on how many people are flocking to Sacramento’s most popular recreation area. but many users say the numbers have risen noticeably in the past few years, prompting complaints that the parkway’s narrow trail – a 12-foot ribbon of pavement with a shoulder that varies – has become overcrowded to the point of being dangerous.

“New leaders in the Sacramento County parks department agree, and have launched a series of crackdowns on some of the parkway’s most problematic activities.

“This month, county rangers announced that they will, for the first time, cite some cyclists for going faster than the posted 15 mile-per-hour limit. Their focus will be on groups of riders that speed through certain crowded areas.

“Officials also recently launched daily raids on homeless camps. They have begun issuing citations for off-leash dog walkers, and plan a series of restrictions on the large commercial running groups that have showed up on the trail in recent years.

“We’re talking about physics here, really,” said Chief Ranger Stan Lumsden. “The more people using the trail, the more conflict.”…

“Parkway disputes are not confined to the paved trail, rangers say. People illegally let their dogs roam off-leash, which can lead to, among other things, the occasional canine vs. coyote scrap. Rafters get in fights. Scores of homeless people camp illegally in the parkway forests near downtown Sacramento, upsetting other users. The Save the American River Association is suing the county for allowing the Gold Rush 100K running race in May to use the horse trails.

“Now, a fight may be brewing on the river itself. State officials recently OK’d spear fishing, but the county bars spear guns on parkway land. Spear fishermen can circumvent county code by entering the parkway on a boat from the Sacramento River. Lumsden said other types of fishermen are upset by the practice. “My fear is there is going to be some sort of confrontation.”

“Lumsden and his boss, county parks chief Jeff Leatherman, have launched a series of initiatives to tamp down the worst behaviors.

“The county increased efforts last year to evict illegal campers and clean up homeless camps on a daily basis. That effort is ongoing.

“This spring, Lumsden’s rangers began cracking down on people who let their dogs run free. They’ve issued 42 citations and 76 warnings in the last two months. They are informing dog owners that leashes in the parkway must be no more than 6 feet long, to avoid becoming a trip hazard for cyclists, runners and others.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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