Improving Safety on Rail Trail

By Haley Burton

September 17, 2012 Updated Sep 17, 2012 at 6:22 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Do you use Vestal's Rail Trail?

Police are looking to improve safety after an elderly woman was hit by a bicyclist.

On September 3, Vestal Police said Julia Murphy, 67, Illinois was walking with her sister on the Rail Trail and was struck from behind from a racing bicycle. Chief John Butler says she was knocked down and taken to Lourdes Hospital for her injuries.

After an investigation by police, James A. Murphy, 60, of Oak Street, Vestal, was charged with assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor.

"He was charged with basically operating the bicycle in a very negligent manner" said Butler.

Chief Butler says there have been other problems on the Rail Trail in regards to racing bikes and rollerbladers.

"A lot of people enjoy the Rail Trail and they shouldn't have to feel like they are always watching behind them for someone who is going too fast for the trail itself," he said.

The Town will be imposing a 10 mile per hour speed limit for those on wheels. Signs posting the speed limit will be put up along the Rail Trail.

"I think this is a positive step and the Board agrees it should be safety first. The Chief of Police acted on it immediately," said John Schaffer (D), Town of Vestal Supervisor, "We love having people on there. We just want to keep them safe. We want people to enjoy it, exercise and not be in fear of their safety."

Vestal Police have stepped up their presence on the Rail Trail. They have had an officer on a bike patrolling over the last few days.

Chief Butler says it will probably be hard to enforce the speed limit. Vestal Police cannot write tickets but Butler says they can order people off the trail. If they return, he says they can be charged with trespassing.

"If you're going at an excessive speed, you're going to be asked to leave the trail. You have to make it safe. That's what we're most concerned about," said Butler.

James Murphy was issued an appearance ticket to appear in Vestal Town Court on September 27 at 5:30 p.m.