Ledger Inquirer: Slick surface makes RiverWalk bridge a danger to cyclists

June 9, 2013 

MIKE OWEN/mowen@ledger-enquirer.comThe wooden surface of the so-called "covered bridge" on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk presents a slippery problem for cyclists when it's wet.

MIKE OWEN

I was reminded this week of an expression one of my more rural cousins uses to describe something that is very slippery.

"Man, that's slicker'n deer guts on a doorknob!" he'll say.

The expression came to mind when I visited this week's Inquirer site -- the "covered bridge" on the Chattahoochee RiverWalk just north of Rotary Park. It's actually covered in only a couple of short spans, but that's what they call it when they're not calling it things I can't print in the paper.

The expletives usually fly when someone's bicycle tire slips out from under them and deposits them on the splintery wooden surface of the bridge.

One young lady recently took a tumble there and suffered a pretty severe multiple ankle fracture, I'm told.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should report that Mrs. Inquirer is a frequent bicyclist on the RiverWalk, so I have something of a personal stake in this week's problem. (And if my wife busts a leg on that bridge, I'm getting on Columbus Council's public agenda

and I'll make Paul Olson look like Winston Churchill.)

But I digress.

The good news is that some people have brought the problem to the city's attention, and they have erected signs at both ends of the bridge warning that it's slippery when wet.

I'd heard about the signs, and a couple readers told me they were afraid that's all the city has planned for the situation.

Not so, I'm glad to report.

"I know the engineering department is looking at the possibility of a different kind of surface for the covered bridge itself, but there's no further information on that yet," said Parks and Recreation Director James Worsley.

I'll check in with Donna Newman, the city's director of engineering, and see what they've got working.

I suspect whatever has to be done will be expensive. In the current budget climate, things like this can fall through the municipal cracks.

But when you have citizens doing face-plants on a splintery wooden surface, maybe it's time to look between the sofa cushions or hold a bake sale or something.

Or how about dipping into some of that TSPLOST discretionary money? They're spending some TSPLOST funds on the north RiverWalk, so why not use some of the discretionary funds to make one of this city's most popular amenities safe?

In the meantime, Cycling Readers, you can detour around the bridge by cutting over to Lumpkin Boulevard for a couple of hundred yards and then back to the RiverWalk.

And if you see Mrs. Inquirer pedaling around out there, tell her I said hey.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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