The D&L Blog

Delaware & Lehigh - Using trails for active transportation + Trail etiquette

By Lauren Golden, Trails and Stewardship Manager

With a background in preservation, I often talk about the D&L Trail as one big adaptive reuse project. In layman’s terms, we are not building “new trail” but rather modifying an existing transportation route for our modern world. Currently, a majority of our trail users are out for recreation. However, there isn’t really a difference between transportation and recreation in terms of D&L Trail design. The same goes for roadways. People still go for a scenic “Sunday Drive” on the same roads that many people use to get to work.

Earlier this month, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission finalized their WalkRollLV Plan. WalkRollLV is the Lehigh Valley’s first active transportation plan. As a result, it supports D&L’s efforts to close our Lehigh Valley Gap and to remediate increased traffic on the trail. Thank you to LVPC for leading this effort, and for all the municipalities, organizations, and residents that participated in the plan! A similar effort is underway in Luzerne County and we’re working to help ensure trails are designated as part of the transportation system there, too.

How to use trails for transportation

Viewing trails as transportation means that trail users, myself included, need to start using the trail the way we use our roads. There are rules of the road we all learn as we are getting our driver’s licenses. Stay to the right. Pass on the left. Use turn signals. Slow down or stop at intersections. Pull off the road if you need to stop. Be aware of other traffic around you. These are all rules we know and accept that also apply when using the trail.

The D&L Trail is a multi-use trail, which means it’s designed to accommodate a variety of modes of traffic. Like a highway is designed for motorcycles, cars, and large tractor trailers, the D&L Trail is designed for walkers, runners, bikers, and anyone rolling along without a motor/engine. Some sections of the D&L Trail even allow horses (also non-motorized!). Although we don’t go through a permit or license process as trail users, sharing the trail and being a responsible user are the only ways that we can ensure everyone has a safe and pleasant time on the trail.

Teach others trail etiquette

If you are a seasoned trail user and you’ve heard all this before, I have one final request. Please help us teach all the new trail users that the pandemic stay-at-home order has brought. This is our chance to grow support for the trail as public infrastructure and we don’t want to miss out! If the opportunity arises to share your knowledge with someone new, please do. If not, that’s ok, but please remember to be patient and kind. You were a new trail user once too and someone likely took the time to teach you.

If you’d like more information on trail etiquette please visit the Rails to Trails Conservancy’s Share the Trail page and start by following these 5 simple rules:

  1. Use safe speeds
  2. Keep right, pass left
  3. Standing still? Stand aside
  4. Mind your pets
  5. Be alert (listen for other people)