The Rights and Wrongs of Trail Use

On Vancouver’s ‘North Shore’ an extensive recreational trail system has been blazed these past few years.  The North Shore municipalities, together with the federal and provincial governments, First Nations, and other agencies have been working together to create this “unique, waterfront-oriented, multi-use and fully accessible greenway [that] will provide pedestrians, cyclists, inline skaters and people with wheeled mobility aids access across the entire North Shore” from Horseshoe Bay all the way to Deep Cove.

This facility adds considerably to the general welfare.  And, on a sunny day in sleepy West Vancouver, whatever the season, it can seem as if the new trail is a major attraction.

There are controversies regarding the trail.  One is the usage by a variety of people with perfectly fine but differing intentions.  Slow pedestrians and hyper cyclists may not mix well.  Reportedly close calls – near collisions – may be more the norm than the exception.

Cyclists do not always give warning ahead.  Tingly traditional bells are not highly thought of these days.  Cyclists sometimes appear to operate on the basis that dogs will follow predictably next to or behind their owners.  All dog owners know that Rover has a mind of his own.

Electric motor scooters, indeed electric-powered mobility devices of whatever sort are essentially silent.  Most pedestrians cannot hear them coming.  And the speeds at which these devices can travel are not insignificant, especially compared with pedestrians enjoying their walk.  This combination offers lots of potential for trouble.

The common sense rules of the road apply to both pedestrians and any kind of wheeled transportation.  A standard of due care is pretty easily identifiable.  Basically, what would a jury of reasonable people say about the rights and the wrongs of trail use?  Not really a difficult issue.  We know this in our bones.

One of the more interesting developments, though, is usage of the North Shore trail by people who may be up to no good.  There are now some suspicions that at night some cyclists may be using the trail to probe the security systems of nearby homes and apartment blocks.  Reportedly, security cameras are recording people entering buildings in the middle of the night to which they do not have keys, calling the elevator with their bike-in-hand, and then looking around from top to parking garage bottom while owners and occupants sleep unaware of the invasion underway.

Police are on to this and have apprehended a number of such trespassers.  The police are willingly providing advice on keeping premises secure against such predation from users of this new byway.  Well intentioned nocturnal cyclists and pedestrians might also want to keep this somewhat new development in mind.  Nighttime has never been the ideal time for a trail walk.