When: West Hempfield Township supervisors meeting, May 4.
What happened: Supervisors were presented with a proposal from the intermunicipal committee that oversees the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail to establish speed limits for bicyclists using the popular trail.
Background: The multiuse river trail along the Susquehanna River stretches for 14 miles and spans five municipalities, including Columbia and Marietta boroughs, and West Hempfield, East Donegal, and Conoy townships. The trail also crosses onto property owned by the Lancaster County and the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. Representatives from each of the five municipalities meet as a committee to discuss matters related to the trail. Supervisors Naomi Martin and Robert Munro represent West Hempfield on the committee.
What prompted this: Township Manager Andrew Stern said the popularity of the trail, especially among bicyclists, and those using “e-bikes,” or electric bikes, has increased, which prompted discussion from the committee to establish a 15 mph speed limit on the trail. No mention was made how fast it is believed bicyclists are actually going on the trail. However, according to wearethecyclists.com, a website and blog dedicated to assisting bicycle enthusiasts in navigating and researching the vast electric bicycle market, several models of electric bicycles can exceed speeds of 50 mph.
Quotable: “The speed of people on motorized e-bikes on the trail can be dangerous to other people on the trail, especially children,” Stern said in a follow-up conversation the day after the meeting.
What’s next: Supervisors did not take any action on the proposal and it is unknown when the committee would address the proposal again. It is also not known what enforcement actions would be instituted with the proposed speed limits, but Stern added that it wouldn’t be feasible for police to actually monitor trail speed limits.
In other happenings: The supervisors meeting had to be temporarily adjourned for about an hour when a resident at the meeting suffered a medical incident requiring the Zoom feed to be blacked out. The resident was stabilized in the meeting room by emergency personnel using a defibrillator and transported to a local hospital. After the meeting resumed and the Zoom feed restarted, Stern said he received a text from a family member of the resident, indicating the person was breathing on their own and alert at the hospital.