Rosemary O’Hara wrote “Old rules new to many on the Trail” recently in the Dunedin Beacon, informing readers that the Pinellas Trail has changed the flow of trail users from walkers/runners on one side and wheeled travelers on the other, to the “new” pattern of all trail users on the right, only moving left to pass. Apparently, this has been the official pattern for nine years, yet most trail users are not aware of this and are only now starting to hear about the “new” traffic pattern.
The folks planning and governing the trail are many, including the Department of Public Works, Pinellas County, the Sheriff’s Department, multiple municipalities along the trail, Parks and Recreation, Forward Pinellas, Friends of the Pinellas Trail, Pinellas County Parks & Conservation Resources and many others.
It appears none of the stakeholders have the accountability for change management – which would create a plan to transition from one traffic pattern to another. This change plan should have included posters stating the new rules, flyers, newspaper articles, new trail signage, handouts, information sent to bicycle shops and even materials given as handouts to food and beverage shops on the trail. It’s almost impossible to over-communicate when a change impacting a very large audience takes place.
Since there is very little published material describing this change, I believe the most important stakeholders (trail users) should take ownership of managing this transition, and become trail coaches and change agents, keeping right on the trail and politely letting folks know about the new traffic pattern.
If we don’t, who will? It may take another nine years before everyone understands the new rules.