Craig Ashton is an avid outdoorsman and exercise enthusiast, so it’s unsurprising that during last week’s show, he took a moment to tout the beauty of the American River Parkway.

He described the main trail in the Parkway, the Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail, as a “gem of a park area that [runs] for 30 miles, going from the Sacramento River all the way to Folsom Lake,” and urged Sacramento residents to take advantage of it: “If you haven’t gotten on that trail, do yourself a favor.”

However, before you head out to the trail, you have to know what to do in order to stay safe. Given Craig’s many hours spent on the area’s trails, and his personal knowledge of what can go wrong when safety rules aren’t adhered to, he was quick to explain what potential visitors to the parkway should know ahead of time:

“Now, there’s certain rules. When you’re walking, stay to the left. The reason is, is that, we have iPods and everybody’s listening to music, so you can’t hear what’s going on, so it’s important that you’re on the left-hand side when you’re walking or running so you can see bikes coming.

“The thing is… when you’re on a bike, if you’re out there for a while, and you’re slightly oxygen deprived, your brain’s not really working 100%… your brain is a little bit foggy. So it’s really important when you’re on a bike that you, when you’re looking ahead, that you know what side that person’s on. And you always want to be able to anticipate that they’re going to be on your right side…

“Because if they’re on the wrong side of the road, and you may have someone coming from behind you, and maybe someone’s coming from behind them. And then what can happen is, the bikes now are trying to get around pedestrians who are on the wrong side of the road who don’t see what’s coming, they step out, get hit by the bike, or the bicyclists go around, and you cause the potential for a head-on collision with the bicyclists.”

While some may be quick to dismiss Craig’s caution as being unnecessary, accidents on the trail do happen, sometimes with tragic results.

Early last year, a Folsom firefighter was running on the trail near Folsom when he was struck by a bicyclist. He was in a coma for two weeks, and while he ultimately survived, he is still in therapy for the traumatic brain injury he suffered.

At the end of his safety lesson, Craig Ashton summarized by saying: “Bikes stay to the right, pedestrians stay to the left. Bicyclists yield to pedestrians and horses. Pedestrians yield to horses, horses have the right of way.”

Additionally, it should be noted that the trail has a speed limit of 15 mph. This limit is enforced, and being caught speeding can result in a $50 ticket for a first offense, and $100 for a second offense. So bicyclists need to be careful to keep their speed down, while pedestrians should do their best to stay off the paved areas of the trail, and to walk in single file, rather than creating an obstruction for bicyclists and horse riders. Everyone on the trail is responsible for making sure not to create an unsafe situation.

Spring is coming, so we certainly hope that everyone in the Sacramento area takes advantage of the beautiful scenery available to us, thanks to the continuing preservation of the American River Parkway. Just remember to stay safe. Visit the county’s website here for information on the trail’s safety rules and regulations.