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Do bike paths need stop signs?

Mark Brooky • Oct 5, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Bob of Spring Lake asks who puts up and regulates the stop signs seen along the bike paths of Northwest Ottawa County. He thinks they sometimes pose a hazard to bicyclists.

Here’s Bob’s full question: “I ride around Spring Lake (the lake itself) generally using the bike path, but encounter frequent stop signs wherever they cross a street. It is also possible that private parties with driveways put up stop signs. Most of these same streets do not have stop signs at the same locations as the bike path. You can imagine such frequent stop signs on the street would be very irritating to drivers. They are doubly so for bike riders who build up momentum and may slow at streets to check for cars, but a full stop means losing balance, taking shoes out of pedal clips, etc. This and other factors prompt bicyclists to use the street for riding. Who regulates and put up these stop signs? Do they acknowledge the problem that this presents even for casual bicyclists? I find most drivers are very courteous and back up or wave me on by as I slow to cross. In many situations, I divert to the street and return to the bike path to avoid groups of pedestrians, small children, bridges or blind bush/tree lined driveways for downhill runs. I can well understand why more serious bike riders than myself avoid bike paths in built-up areas.”

Answer:

At least in Spring Lake Township the bike path stop signs are installed at intersections by the municipal government.

“Like any other stop signs, they are to warn people there is an intersection and to be alert to and stop for crossing traffic, which has the right of way,” Township Supervisor John Nash explained. “As for signs at driveways — no, we do not install such signs or permit them through our office.”

Nash refutes Bob’s claim that bike path stop signs may be hazardous to a bicyclist’s health. If a stop sign avoids an accident, it is well worth it, he said.

“I am a very avid road bike rider,” Nash said. “Two weeks ago, in Muskegon, a pickup truck driver ran right through a red stop light. Had we not been conscious of that intersection, we would both be badly injured or dead.”

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