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Pending the results of a informal survey by park rangers, a one-mile stretch of the Riverwalk soon may exclude bikers.
Suggestions from pedestrians prompted officials to survey park visitors for information that could be used in a decision to make the trail along the Tennessee River pedestrian-only from the Chickamauga Dam to the park maintenance buildings.
That part of the trail is eight feet wide rather than 10 feet wide, said Scott Schoolfield, administrator for the Hamilton County Human Services Department.
“It is almost an impossible thing to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction, but we have to keep trying,” he said. “We can’t just quit.”
Ron Priddy, director of parks for Hamilton County, said park rangers stopped cyclists last weekend to ask them about the potential change.
“There was no organized method to it,” Priddy said. “It was just as they came upon someone they could talk to without interfering too much.”
Possible changes would include posting signs to designate the trail as pedestrian-only and taking down the speed limit signs that were previously posted for cyclists, Priddy said.
Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Tony Bennett, right, and Andrew Dingman ride along the Riverwalk near the Chickamauga Dam Wednesday afternoon.
After the results are analyzed, park officials will decide if there is enough data to prompt any action. However, there is no set date when — if ever — that will come, Schoolfield said.
Park visitors on both sides of the issue said they could understand the measure.
Scott Lillard, 50, bikes at Riverwalk and said he understood why the county would be looking at taking such a measure after seeing other cyclists riding fast.
“As a biker, I would hate to lose part of the trail,” Lillard said. “But as the father of four boys, I can empathize with those who have small children.”
Tony Bennett, 52, describes his rides through Riverwalk as “mentally stimulating,” and said autumn on the trail “looks like something out of a storybook.”
“I think the first thing they should do is put speed bumps through the heavily congested areas of the trail,” Bennett said.
While the suggestions stemmed from pedestrians, some walkers like Robert Gunther, 59, and his son, Caleb, 7, said they occasionally come to fish at the trail and never had a problem with cyclists.