Author Topic: Another Snowmobile Fatality on the Erie Canal Trail, Is the Canal Corporation Doing Enough?  (Read 29 times)

Doug K

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It doesn't take long into the winter "snow season" in Upstate NY, for this type of sad & tragic news to make our headlines:

MAN DIES IN SNOWMOBILE ACCIDENT ON THE ERIE CANAL TRAIL

It appears yet another winter user in our section of the Empire State Trail, aka: The Erie Canal Towpath Trail, has had an accident while snowmobiling along the Erie Canal Trail (ECT for short). The story is covered in a local TV & Internet news site.


https://13wham.com/news/local/man-dies-in-sweden-snowmobile-crash





It may be the first canal trail snowmobile death of the 2021 season, but this is not the first time that snowmobiles on a hiking & biking trail have had their issues. Snowmobile accidents occur quite frequently it seems. In fact, it's become enough of a problem for NYS Parks & Trails, that they have covered some of this issue in past reports .


https://parks.ny.gov/documents/recreation/snowmobiles/SnowmobileAccidentSummary20162017.pdf


And here's just a few of the past issues snowmobiles on the ECT have had, from "Hit & Runs" to more people losing their lives riding a trail that was not meant for "motorized vehicles" as much of the NYS Canal Corporation signage states along the Empire State Trail system.

https://cnycentral.com/news/local/snowmobile-driver-hits-pedestrian-flees-from-scene-in-canastota

https://romesentinel.com/stories/woman-hurt-in-snowmobile-accident,51635

https://www.oneidadispatch.com/news/rider-killed-on-canal-path/article_2b4d9c3d-3071-579e-a71b-5c6665bc7a7c.html

https://apnews.com/article/81643e9fcfc64939af9547f12f3f54a6




And every so often some news organization will post a story or news piece to remind snowmobilers of the safety issues, speed limits and best practices for using NYS Trails, including the Erie Canal Trail, like this one:




https://www.newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/2016/12/10_things_ny_snowmobilers_should_know_for_the_2016-17_season.html




Note the allowed speed on the Canal Trail... 25 mph


Sadly though some of the fault for these accident issues on the ECT are directly related to the desire for the NYS Canal System to make a profit, and to do that it needs to get used as much as possible. That means four season use, and that results in snowmobilers having to share the trail with winter trail Hikers, X-Country Skiers, and also private homeowners & neighbors to the canal, that have sledding hills in their backyards, those slopes also known as Erie Canal Embankment Dams. To do that safety of trail users appears to be compromised more in the winter, than in the warmer months.


The New York State Canal Corporation, it's parent company the New York Power Authority, and also New York State Parks & Trails have reports about how "speed" is the biggest factor to these accidents but has anyone ever seen a speed limit sign on the Erie Canal Trail? The article above stated that there is a 25 mph limit on NYS Trails, but as a neighbor, I have seen bicycles going faster than that at times.

It seems like MORE could be done to remind Canal Trail Users of the rules for using the trail, especially when it comes to speed.

The allowed speed on the waterway during summer months is 10 mph in our section and we have boats sending wakes over the top of the embankment dams routinely. Never once have we seen the STEWARDS of the Erie Canal, the NYS Canal Corporation (NYSCC), enforce their speed limits, in fact we have never seen any watercraft owned by NYSCC even patrol the canal for speed violations.

So if they can't monitor & limit the speed for boats, what makes us believe the trail can be controlled any better?

Snowmobiles routinely drive by our house, which is only 40 feet away from the trail. doing better than 50-60 mph. And again, the OWNERS of the Canal, and it's trail, are not monitoring their allowance of snowmobiles to use the trail system, even though many signs along the towpath trail state clearly: NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES ALLOWED.

Not sure what the best answer is to curb these safety issues, but it certainly isn't doing nothing at all, which seems to be what the current owners are doing about NYS canal system speeding... absolutely NOTHING!

I will post a video of just how fast these snowmobilers are running the Canal Trail system, you can judge for yourself it you think it's 25mph.

« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 12:25:02 pm by Doug K »

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Doug K

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Here's that promised video of speeding snowmobiles on the Erie Canal Trail, outside Brockport, just so it's clear that Erie Canal Neighbors do have issues that need to be resolved, like those still absent privacy screen plantings to separate us from the Erie Canal Trail mayhem.



https://youtu.be/Lgo4NYJf-lk


Based on the video, these snowmobiles covered the 400' of the trail frontage we have, in just about 8 seconds... putting their speed at 50 feet per second. And because my background is in Engineering, and particularly "time studies", this is an easy calculation to see just how fast these 3 snowmobiles were travelling on the Empire Trail.




Doing the math... it looks like they were doing 34 mph on a 25 mile per hour NY Canal Trail. Not that it matters, the owners of that canal property are seldom around to monitor their guests, and have decided that what happens on the Empire Trail is someone else's problem it appears.

Basically the new owners feel it's their neighbors issues to resolve problems locally, or move away if you don't like the way the New York Power Authority is managing the NY Erie Canal system, now that they have asked for a turn at the helm.

Or perhaps we will learn that the better description is... Mismanaging the Erie Canal?
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 02:26:37 pm by Doug K »

Doug K

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Yet another case of a snowmobile rider on the Erie Canal Trail who died, but this one is a bit different than the latest fatality.

One big difference, this snowmobiler hit a TREE that was "on the Erie Canal Towpath". By the picture shown in the news article it was on a raised embankment section. The same embankment dams that the Canal Corporation is trying to clear trees from because they say those trees pose a danger. No kidding... maybe another reason in a LONG list of why trees do NOT belong near the Erie Canal Trail, or on Erie Canal Embankments

We are most certain the tree didn't move into the path of the snow rider






https://www.oneidadispatch.com/news/rider-killed-on-canal-path/article_2b4d9c3d-3071-579e-a71b-5c6665bc7a7c.html




And an even more strange death on the Erie Canal, this one was when someone decided to use the Erie Canal & towpath to commit suicide. A story that most of us never heard about when it happened, even though the Erie Canal is our neighbor.

It's amazing what you find when you type "deaths on the Erie Canal".





https://www.lockportjournal.com/news/crime/erie-canal-death-ruled-a-suicide/article_04403700-1304-11e9-8902-17027ed77b63.html


Overgrown TREES are a BIG PROBLEM along the Erie Canal, that's not a statement that can be debated. If it's not from trees causing leaks onto neighboring properties or increasing the potential to cause a canal embankment breach & flood, it's from falling branches that block the Empire Trail or cause havoc in the waterway.

And yes, those overgorwn trees along the Trail are also obstacles that can even cause the deaths of those trying to use the trail for snowmobile riding.