October 24, 2017
We want to share an email exchange from our John McDowell and Sam Tobias, Fond du Lac County’s Parks and Planning Director. All of us that enjoy the Loop, and all of the other accessible trails and roads in Fondy County are grateful to have these two gentlemen help make it possible:
To: Sam Tobias, Fond du Lac County Planning and Parks Department.
1. What is the situation regarding the situation of weeds eating into the Prairie trail edges? Can this problem be treated more frequently?
2. The Peeples trail has been enhanced a great deal this year since most of the low spots have been raised and drainage improved. One on-going debate been between those who would like to see the trail eventually resurfaced with asphalt, and those who like it ‘as is’ has generated this question: Can this situation be looked into regarding costs and (possibly) a future vote on who would be pro or con on this.
Friends of The Loop
We do keep the Prairie Trail mowed on a regular basis. Yes, there is some week creep onto the trail pavement. On occasion the guys do apply herbicide to weeds growing through cracks in the pavement but we try to keep chemical use to a minimum. Short of trimming the edges of the trail with a weed eater (7 miles X 2= 14 miles), I don’t know what else we can do. 14 miles of week trimming would be very labor intensive and that is labor we just do not have. Keep in mind too that we maintain 49 miles of recreation trails and 888 acres of county parks. As a cyclist’s opinion, I believe that the upkeep of the Prairie Trail is more than adequate.The Peebles Trail with its limestone screenings surface is one of a very few runner friendly surfaced trails here in town. Runners appreciate the forgiving surface and the surface is a nice change from the typical asphalt and concrete that we have here to run on. In winter, the screenings surface tends to hold snow longer and that is a plus for our winter silent sports folks. Granted, in the spring the Peebles Trail is often wet and soft. Early spring right after the thaw is the worst. However, cyclists have the luxury of a second option for completing a ride of the Loop and that is Winnebago Drive. The 7-8-foot paved shoulder all along Winnebago Drive makes an excellent bicycling facility. As a cyclist, I know that paved shoulders often become covered with broken glass and other road debris. In this instance though, both street department and highway department staff make an extra effort to keep glass and other debris off of the Winnebago Drive shoulder. Both departments know and understand that the road is part of the Loop.
To make Winnebago Drive work better as part of the Loop, there is something you folks could do to help increase safety on this portion of the Loop. Loopers could and should stress the cyclists by law and by best practices should ride with traffic on the right side of the road. Riding against traffic is both unexpected by motorists and it is extremely unsafe, even for cyclists that are riding with traffic; think head on collisions between cyclists. This nearly happened to me as I was riding home from a long training ride east of town. I was riding west and into the sun near the intersection of Prairie Road. With only a few feet of notice, here comes an entire family on bicycles, riding east in the north shoulder of Winnebago Drive. My only option was to swerve out into the traffic lane, which is never a good option. Thankfully, traffic was lignt at the time. As you have heard me say before, Wisconsin bicycle law treats bicycles and cyclists pretty much the same as motorists. Both are considered vehicles. This link to WisDOT’s bicycle safety is a great resource for cyclists.
Enjoy the Loop and all of our great country roads. I’ve been using these county maps since the early 1980s. Each county map is easily printed on standard letter sized paper. Another great cycling resource in case you’ve never seen it.
We would welcome all feedback and comments on this, and any other ideas you may have for our Loop. Jump on our Facebook page and let us know what you think!