Bicyclists And Drivers Express Concern Over Safety Signs On Hawthorne Trail

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Richard Rahal rides his bike down the Gaineville-Hawthorne trail four or five days a week. Rahal welcomes the trail's expansion but has concerns over a lack of traffic signs.
Richard Rahal rides his bike down the Gaineville-Hawthorne trail four or five days a week. Rahal welcomes the trail’s expansion but has concerns over a lack of traffic signs.” credit=”Sabrina Alvarez / WUFT News

Riding 28 miles a day may seem excessive to some, but for Richard Rahal, it’s a regular day down the Hawthorne Trail.

Rahal could even increase the intensity of his workout now that the city plans to extend its 16-mile bike trail.

The new project, which is overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation, will add .7 miles from State Road 20 to Palatka. The Gainesville-Hawthorne trail currently stretches from the city of Gainesville’s Boulware Springs Park through the Paynes Prairie Preserve Park.

Even though Rahal is excited about the renovation, he is concerned about the lack of stop and yield signs for drivers at intersections. Rahal said bicyclists do have a stop sign when crossing but thinks there should be caution from both ends.

“I think what irritates drivers about bicyclists more than anything is just the failure to observe the traffic laws,” Rahal said.

This also concerns drivers like Monica Griffis who only see a bike sign before crossing over the bike trails.

This bike sign is the only sign a driver sees before approaching the road and trail intersection on the Hawthorne Trail. The expansion project includes new signs, according to Mayor of Hawthorne Matthew Surrency.
This bike sign is the only sign a driver sees before approaching the road and trail intersection on the Hawthorne Trail. The expansion project includes new signs, according to Mayor of Hawthorne Matthew Surrency.” credit=”Sabrina Alvarez / WUFT News

“The biggest problem that we have is that bikers never stop right here,” she said. “So, if there was a bigger intersection for the cyclists and the drivers, and it’s more clear cut what to do, I think that would help. There is always lots of pretty close accidents right here,” she said.

Griffis, who lives near the area and has to cross over the bike trail daily, said adding more specific safety precaution signs could help avoid accidents.

Mayor of Hawthorne Matthew Surrency said the logistics of new project will cost $420,000, and the project list includes adding signs and other safety precautions for both bicyclists and drivers.

Surrency said the additions will include “pavement signage as well as regular signage” to improve safety as part of a “comprehensive transportation plan.”

The project will also widen the trail for bikers and drivers to share going into the downtown area.

FDOT spokesperson Rebecca White said even though the project is expected to start in summer 2016, people are still welcome to submit comments and suggestions on the trail extension and how to make the trail better and safer for the community .

If you have any ideas or comments on the project you can visit www.nflroads.com/goto/hawthornetrail.com

 

About Silvia Rueda

Silvia is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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