As you venture onto Forest Preserve District of Will County trails this summer, make it a point to slow down and look around so your outing doesn’t end with an injury or worse.
Police Sgt. Dan Olszewski, who has been on the Forest Preserve police force for more than 16 years, said police will be out in force this summer patrolling in cars, on foot and on bikes to get the word out about obeying trail safety rules.
Forest Preserve police officers recently completed 32 hours of bike patrol training to increase the effectiveness of this patrol method. One of the goals is to get bicyclists who zoom through preserves in a reckless manner to slow down, Olszewski said.
“We try to explain to them the dangers of going too fast,” he said. “We’ve been called to a lot of bike accidents through the years and have seen a lot of injuries, from minor scrapes and bruises to broken bones, dislocated shoulders and knees and a few fatalities.”
Going too fast and not loudly announcing an intention to pass pedestrians is a recipe for disaster, he added.
“They’re going to get in an accident,” he said of those who do not heed the rules. “Our trails are not designed for fast speeds. They’re designed to help you enjoy nature, get some exercise but not endanger anyone.”
Bicyclists also must stop for stop signs, Olszewski added. Failing to do so could cause significant accidents with vehicles.
Pedestrians also need to do their part, Olszewski added. Walkers and joggers can’t block both sides of the trail and dog walkers can’t have their pets’ leashes stretched across the path, which could trip up a bicyclist.
Other trail safety measures include: do not block the trail; proceed at a slower pace when paths are in heavy use; slower traffic should stay to the right; faster traffic should pass on the left by announcing, “On your left,” loudly; bicyclists should wear helmets; and dog leashes can be no longer than 10 feet.
For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.