Ledger Inquirer

Inquirer: Readers list gripes about the Chattahoochee RiverWalk

Today we gather to address an array of complaints regarding our beloved Chattahoochee RiverWalk, that as-yet-unfinished linear park that stretches from Lake Oliver to Fort Benning.

It is a centerpiece of the city's recreational life, especially among those of us who embrace downtown living and/or working.

But a couple of our Concerned Readers have addressed me recently with gripes about the place, so we'll look at some of those today. And while there is wildlife (some of it human) addressed here, there will be no further discussion today of the alleged Florida panther sightings.

You're welcome.

"This Monday morning we had horse manure on the Riverwalk, which is not pleasant to hit at six in the morning when it's still dark," writes Lorrie. "It seems like there should be a law that requires horses to wear a diaper or makes it the responsibility of the owner to clean it up."

Believe it or not, they do make horse diapers. One such model, known as the Bun Bag (www.bunbag.com, and I'm not joking) goes for $60-$90 per, so one hopes they're reusable.

Lorrie also has a problem with people not keeping their dogs on a leash, which creates a real hazard to cyclists.

"I've been bitten, gone over the handlebars, and I have friends who have had broken bones and concussions due to loose dogs," Lorrie wrote. "Unfortunately the bike cops can't ticket owners of loose dogs. They tell us to call Animal Control, which could take over an hour to show up."

I will check with the police to see if indeed they cannot ticket owners of loose dogs.

Another Concerned Reader/Rider named Gabe has a few beefs about the RiverWalk. Gabe is a very serious cyclist, so he knows what he's talking about. How serious, you ask? When he and his wife went to Macon, Ga., recently to visit their son, Gabe rode his bike. (Did I mention he's a bit nuts, too?)

Anyway, Gabe says it's beyond time that the entire RiverWalk be linked into one unbroken stretch. He said riders were promised a connection between the stretch, which ends at the base of North Highland Dam and the spot where it picks back up in Bibb City, but have yet to see any work being done there.

The good news on that, Gabe, is that the recently passed T-SPLOST includes funding to make all the connections needed, and the connection over the dam is in the works. It's in the conceptual stage right now, but engineers will soon produce a final plan and work is supposed to begin fairly soon, city sources tell me.

As you can see from the picture, that involves taking walkers and riders up over the dam to an elevation about 50 feet higher. I'm told it will likely involve a series of switchback bridges, so the grade won't be ridiculously steep.

Stay tuned.

Gabe also gripes that the north end of the RiverWalk, from downtown to Lake Oliver, gets much less use because of the disconnections and because of the presence of homeless people, who take up residence in rest areas, picnic shelters and bathrooms along the way. That can be intimidating to lone riders, especially women, he said.

"My point here is that the RiverWalk is for all citizens, not just vagrants," Gabe says. "If my wife wants to walk alone on that end and needs to use the bathroom, then she ought to be able to use the expensive bathrooms the city built."

Gabe points out that riding the South Columbus end of the RiverWalk is much safer than the north end. The reason there are so few problems is because it gets so much traffic. So if the city would do the things that would attract riders north, there would likely be less need for heavy policing on the north end.

"If the city would just recognize that, bikers could really get to see rafting action and the gorgeous part of the river that is marquee to Columbus," Gabe said.

OK, Concerned Readers, I will look into your concerns and get back to you. Until then, if you see a loose dog on the RiverWalk, throw one of those road apples at it.

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