Saturday, November 03, 2012

Parks, Trails and favorite bike roads likely unsafe and closed this weekend

Stay out of the parks!  Stay off the trails!  And be careful when you ride your bike on the road this weekend!

Most state parks are closed due to storm damage mostly in the form of downed and dangerously hanging trees.  D&R Canal State Park (includes Six Mile Run) and Allaire are on the list.  Both parks are popular with mountain bikers and casual cyclists alike who ride on multi-use trails.

Many county parks are likely in the same condition.  Checking the Monmouth County Parks Department webpage didn't find any mention park closures but its hard to imagine that they are in any better shape.  Hartshorn Woods reaches several hundred feet in elevation only a half mile from the Atlantic.  With such exposure to the brutal winds of Sandy, it's easy to imagine that the forest receive significant damage there.

Elsewhere in Monmouth County, it is highly probable that the Henry Hudson Trail will also have tree as well as flooding damage.  The exceptionally scenic Bayshore Trail portion of the Henry Hudson (between Highlands and Atlantic Highlands) was damaged by storm surge in the March 2011 Nor'easter.  With stories coming in of catastrophic flooding damage in many Raritan Bay communities the trail must be in much worse condition after Sandy.

Scenarios like these are sure to be repeating themselves in many parks throughout the state.  If you haven't been specifically informed that the park and or trail is safe for you to walk, hike or bike, you should stay out!  There is no need to put more demands on our strained emergency management systems.

The same amount of caution applies to us road cyclists too.  While the roads may be open to traffic, hazardous conditions remain.  Tree and other debris still liter roadways, particularly on the edge of the roads that cyclists frequent.  Not only could one crash into unexpected hazards deposted at the side of the road but branches, leaves and other litter can cause one to slip and crash, particularly when riding a bike with narrow tires.

Again, be safe and maybe wait till next weekend to go out and have fun.  We got too much cleaning up to do this weekend anyway.


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