People who use the El Dorado Trail no longer have to wonder where to walk or ride.
Kevin Ralphs, a member of Boy Scout troop 859 in Diamond Springs, spent many hours stenciling the county-maintained paved portions of the El Dorado Trail recently. He felt placing proper markers on the trail would be a perfect Eagle Scout project.
“I had spent a fair amount of time on the trail, both running and cycling,” Ralphs said. “The problems with pedestrians and cyclists each on the right was apparent. I also cycled on the American River bike trail; I noticed that they had markers directing pedestrians to walk on the left.
“There were a lot less problems on that trail. When I contacted the El Dorado Trail Advisory Committee they were very much in favor of my project, because there had been accidents and injuries on the trail involving pedestrians and bicycles. There was a need that needed to be filled,” he concluded.
The markings make use of simple directions.The word “left” with a picture of a pedestrian above it indicates that walkers, joggers and runners are to keep to the left side of the trail, facing oncoming traffic, as is the case on city streets.
The word “right” with a picture of a cyclist above indicates that bike riders are to travel on the right.
“There were no markers,” Ralphs said. “We painted mile markers on the trail surface. The materials included paint and a goop provided by DOT to keep the paint from sticking to the stencils. We used brooms to clean the surface before painting and wire brushes to clean up any over spray.”
He’d heard of cyclists and pedestrians who’d been hurt in collisions on the trail and wanted to do something about that.
In May 2012, Ralphs approached El Dorado County to see what he could do to help. The El Dorado County Trails Advisory Committee was already addressing the issue of trail safety and courtesy guidelines.
Committee member Lindell Price compiled a report that included information about guidelines in place on other trails throughout the state, along with photos of signage and trail markings in use, some of which were provided by members of Friends of El Dorado Trail.
The Trails Advisory Committee spent months reviewing Price’s report. Last August, they finalized a 17-page draft Trails Safety and Courtesy Report and submitted it to the county parks and recreation commission.
Safety was one of the biggest concerns of the Trails Advisory Committee, according to Jackie Neau, vice president of Friends of El Dorado Trail, who attended many of the Trails Advisory Committee meetings. “When everyone’s safe, they’re having a better time.”
Vickie Sanders, administrative analyst with the El Dorado County Chief Administrative Office, is the county’s point person for matters relating to the El Dorado Trail.
“It was the concern for pedestrians, especially those wearing ear buds, that led to the investigation into addressing the concerns,” Sanders said.
The supervisors discussed the proposed set of Trail Safety and Courtesy Guidelines, and a motion for approval of the guidelines was approved.
The bicyclists’ guideline relating to direction of travel reads, “Stay to the right; pass on the left.”
The pedestrians’ guideline relating to direction of travel reads “Keep left to face oncoming cyclists.”
The general guideline relating to equestrians reads, “Horses have the right of way. (Greet horse and rider.)”
The directional markings are in use only on the portions of the El Dorado Trail under the county’s jurisdiction. The roughly four-mile long paved section of the trail within Placerville city limits — from Clay Street to Jaquier Road — does not bear the markings.
Ralphs also received permission to add mile markers to the county’s portion of the trail. He added the directional markings on the paved portions of the El Dorado Trail using a set of stencils loaned to the county by the city of South Lake Tahoe.
According to Ralphs, the project took 146 hours and had 10 volunteers who helped in the project.
Ralphs was recently awarded his Eagles Scout badge.
A senior at Union Mine High School, Ralphs will serve a two-year mission for his church. He has a scholarship to attend Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. He plans to major in aviation and engineering.
For more information about the El Dorado Trail visit its Website at eldoradotrail.com as well as the trail’s page on the El Dorado County Website at edcgov.us/Government/Trails/El_Dorado_Trail.aspx.