Report from the Bike Trail
Great Resource, Not Good Grooming
By Edward Shanahan
Thoughts while spending a couple of hours picking up trash along the sunny and very busy Northampton Bike Trail:
Cigarettes are not only bad for your heath; they debase the environment as well.
I wonder why tossing a butt on the ground, sidewalk or in the street is not considered littering and, thus, a punishable offense.
Why aren’t tobacco companies required to pay into a fund to finance some of the cost to municipalities of having to clean up debris left behind by smokers.
And that goes for the state Lottery Commission as well. Most losing lottery tickets are angrily torn up into itsy bitsy fragments that are especially difficult to recover from a macadam surface or when buried in leaves and weeds. Probably a big chunk of the lottery funds returned to cities and towns is actually spent sweeping up scattered tickets rather than on more productive local services.
Empty plastic liquor nip bottles (vodka is favored) are discarded in great numbers, especially along the section of the trail between Chestnut Street and Straw Avenue.
And, of course, I had to be careful of the small shards of glass, the residue of bottles thoughtlessly tossed off as a biker or runner or pedestrian traverses the trail.
Peskiest of all to recover are the candy, gum, snack wrappers, plastic bags and cardboard boxes that wind up clinging to branches and grasses all along the trail. They say something about what we eat, too.
On the section between Bardwell and Bridge Road there were very heavy items to be retrieved, three automobile tires, an old Kenmore vacuum, twisted, rusted pieces of metal, and, lastly, an abandoned car or truck carcass that has defied removal for years. And there it remains. None of us was up to that challenge.
I wonder also why there are no trash receptacles installed along sections of the bike trail, which might allow for the possibility that some of the debris could be disposed of responsibly.
And furthermore why are there no posted notices that dog owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets, as is the practice at Look Park, which has prominent signs alerting visitors that a city ordinance requires that dog owners clean up the “dog doo” as our kids might say.
And there would need to be trash containers available for the disposal of this material too.
Finally, in the section between Bardwell and North Maple Street, there is the problem of gravel strewn all over the bike path as a result of cars driving over the trail, because of a lack of any barrier or signage between the trail’s right of way and the adjacent Florence Casket Co. and the AMR ambulance service and other businesses on the south side of the trail.
That section is subject to plan old-fashioned abuse, not by bikers, runners or pedestrians, but by motorists. That should not be tolerated.
The city is doing a great job of keeping the trail open during the winter months, a practice that began a few years ago.
The bike trail is a fabulous transportation and recreational resource and from my experience heavily used and enjoyed. But there are problem areas that need more attention and better housekeeping from the city, neighbors and absolutely from those who use it.
downstreet.net©2001. All rights reserved.