Chain across trail alarms cyclists

When the city of Sioux Falls placed a chain across a bike trail shortcut last week, it was meant to curb vandalism and illegal dumping, but those in the bicycling community pointed out that the chain was not well marked and posed a serious hazard for cyclists.

The chain was removed as of Tuesday morning and the city is revising its plans to keep vehicle traffic at Riverdale Park from reaching the dumpsters where people have been leaving trash illegally. Don Kearney, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said that along with illegal dumping, they’ve had problems with vandalism at the sewer lift station there.

The access road is an extension of East 24th Street, which runs through the parking lot at Riverdale Park to a dead end at a line of dumpsters. Trail users can use the road to cut through the parking lot to the bike trail and the bridge that crosses the Big Sioux River, leading to Rotary Park.

Kearney said the city will probably move the chain back 10 to 15 feet behind the trail spur.

The chain that was installed originally between two No Parking signings, was marked with 10 reflectors in both directions, according to Kearney. A poster who reported the problem to the South DaCola blog, however, said the reflector

s hanged horizontally as the chain twisted, making the barrier nearly invisible.

It couldn’t be confirmed whether anyone had run into the chain before it was removed.

Michael Christensen is involved with several local bike groups and rides a few thousand miles each year within the city limits. He rarely has bad experiences, he said, and that parks department is usually responsive to issues like the chain hazard. He advocates for riding predictably and with proper equipment.

“The best way to make the city more bike friendly for local riders is for local riders to become involved in making the city more bike friendly,” he said.

Sioux Falls received the Bronze Award from the League of American Bicyclists a few years ago. The city is in the process of applying for renewal. The local cycling community is invited to comment on the application.