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Mysterious marks warn cyclists of trail's dangerous conditions

Far too often people are injured because of a dangerous condition on someone's property. But, unsafe conditions on bike and running paths are especially discouraging for those who just want to get outside and get some exercise.

The Olentangy trail, which runs through Columbus, Ohio, has some serious hazards that could cause crashes and injures. But an unknown good Samaritan is trying to make sure this doesn't happen. Mysterious color-coded markings are popping up on the trail and roadways to warn cyclists about dangerous bumps and cracks. One particularly large bump is spray-painted red and white with "danger" written on the path.

Metro Parks is in charge of maintaining the trail, along with other trails in the area, and is unaware as to who is doing the marking. Although spray-painting the public property is technically vandalism, no one is really worried because the marks are protecting riders from getting hurt.

Property owners and property managers have a legal duty to keep the area safe for anyone on the premises. The duty includes upkeep and regular maintenance of the land. Property owners also need to post adequate warnings where they know of any hazards.

As the group in charge of maintenance, Metro Park acknowledges that it has some work to do to improve safety on the trail. It has plans to increase repairs once other things like storm repair and mowing are less of a priority. As of now, volunteer ambassadors travel the paths and report problems, but some feel that there needs to be a better way to report hazards on the trail.

The "maintenance vigilantes" are helping prevent cyclist injuries with their markings. But in the meantime, anyone injured on the trail due to the property owner's failure to maintain the path or repair dangers may be able to recover damages.

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, "'Maintenance vigilantes' paint warnings on trails' trouble spots," Dean Narciso, Aug. 25, 2012

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