Suit based on Trail wreck

Injured bicyclist claims city failed to mark fire hose

PEYTON NEELY The Marietta Times Michael Uhl, 50, of Williamstown, passed through some cones marking a crack in the Marietta River Trail along the Ohio River during a bike ride on Friday afternoon.

In the wake of a bike accident that broke five ribs and punctured her lung, Marietta resident Dee Standish has brought the safety of the Marietta River Trail into question in a lawsuit against the City of Marietta.

According to a complaint filed in Washington County Common Pleas Court, the case arises from the bicycle crash that occurred on June 16. Workers employed by the city were washing the levee and had pulled a fire hose across the bike path to use, according to the complaint. Standish rode her bike down the grade and hit the inflated water hose. Standish stated in her complaint that had there been ample warning directing bike riders on the path away from the danger then the accident would have been avoided.

“This is the third injury in a little over three years that I had heard about that could have been completely avoidable,” Marietta Councilman Roger Kalter said. “The hose should have been marked with cones, that’s just a basic standard rule of work.”

According to Kalter, he has addressed the safety of the River Trail to committees and heard little response.

“The city should be making our residents and visitors safe,” he said. “There’s no excuse for people to get unnecessarily hurt.”

Standish declined to comment about the lawsuit as did her lawyer, Ethan Vessels.

The case is being handled by Judge Mark Kerenyi. A non-oral civil motion is in the process of being filed after Kerenyi went over the complaint on Thursday. A date for pre-trial has yet to be determined. In the complaint, Standish doesn’t ask for a specified amount of money.

Marietta’s River Trail runs for a little more than three miles along the Muskingum River through the city and along the Ohio River toward Pike Street. Running downtown, the trail connects residents with shops, restaurants and parks.

Williamstown resident Michael Uhl, 50, has been riding the path for years, and said he feels it is safe.

“I’ve noticed it’s becoming used for more walkers and runners than cyclists but everyone is very respectful in sharing it,” he said. “The city does an excellent job keeping the trail well-maintained. I’m usually aware of any service or construction going on when I’m riding.”

Uhl has been in several bicycling accidents including being hit by a car in 2012 on Route 2 in Williamstown.

“The city does just an awesome job of keeping the bike path clean,” he said. “Best part is, it’s somewhere to ride with no traffic.”

Marietta Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp said in his tenure with the city, he’s been aware of two major accidents on the River Trail.

“A few years ago, a minor went off the bike path and wrecked into a storm drain,” he said. “Then the other is this situation. We take every complaint and evaluate the situation then respond to them. Honestly, the amount of accidents that have happened over the duration since the River Trail has been around, it has a pretty good record.”

Marietta City Council passed a law in October 2004 stating anyone riding a bike under the age of 14 must wear a helmet, the same year the River Trail opened.

“We try our best to keep the River Trail as safe as possible and it’s very unfortunate to hear of any accident,” Hupp said.

Tanner Huffman, public facilities superintendent, documents any work that goes on with the trail.

“I take pictures with my phone so there is a time noted,” he said. “We are also constantly pulling signs from the river bank because people will throw them over the hill.”

Huffman said he and his crew strive to keep the bike path as safe as possible.

“I’ve lived here my entire life and worked for the city when the bike path was being paved,” he said. “I’d like to take care of it.”


About the River Trail

¯ Marietta’s River Trail runs for more than 3 miles along the Muskingum River and the Ohio River.

¯ The River Trail passes the eastern access point for the Harmar Railroad Bridge.

¯ The paved trail passes through Marietta’s downtown, connecting residents with shops, restaurants and parks.

¯ Recent extensions have brought the trail farther east to the city’s strip of department stores along Pike Street.

¯Parking for the River Trail can be found at Indian Acres Park, in East Muskingum Park on Front Street or at Ohio Riverfront Park on Ohio Street.