Inline skater Natalie Houde moved swiftly along the Warren County Bikeway with her 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in the sport stroller in front of her.

"It's easy to Rollerblade when you have stability," she said, gripping the stroller's bar.

Houde uses the bikeway almost daily for exercise, "as long as the weather is decent."

On this morning, she was approaching Bay Street, on her way from her Glens Falls home to the Cool Beans coffee shop on Quaker Road in Queensbury, a trip that would include the shoulder of Everts Avenue for much of the trip. Other times, the Hannaford store is her destination, or she will go to Country Club Road and turn around.

It's always a positive experience, except when she uses the bikeway for dog-walking, which is the one non-motorized activity that signs along the trail warn against.

A local law adopted by Warren County in 1984 prohibits dogs on the bikeway, and the law holds for the entirety of the county-owned trail, from the village of Lake George to Platt Street in Glens Falls.

On Mother's Day, before the summer season was in full swing, Houde ran-walked her doberman the entire length of the bikeway without conflict, she said.

But other times, the live-and-let-live attitude that exists among the different bikeway users - cyclists, skaters, pedestrians, runners, stroller-pushers, ice-cream eaters and the occasional chalk artist - evaporates when dogs enter the trail.

" ‘Do you know that there are no dogs allowed on the bike path?' " a passing cyclist told her.

"You only get it in the summer from people who come up here for bike trips," Houde suggested.

Further north on the bikeway, Joe and Sharon Connell of Queensbury were nearing the top of the bikeway bridge over Quaker Road. With them was Bismarck, their German shepherd.

They routinely move off the bikeway onto the grass to allow others to pass, and they see nothing wrong with dogs on the bikeway as long as they are leashed and the owners clean up after their animals.

"Lots of people don't pick up," one of the Connells said, with the other offering quick agreement.

There have been times where cyclists have sought to remind the Connells of the law, such as when one gestured to a "no dogs allowed" sign near the couple.

Warren County Sheriff Bud York said enforcement of the "no dogs" law is up to local animal control officers.

York found only one record of a dog complaint along the bikeway in recent years. In 2006, the Sheriff's Office received a report of a dog snapping at a boy who was inline skating with his mother. There were no injuries, but the parents complained because "they felt dogs were not supposed to be on the dog path," York said.

Jim Fitzgerald, Queensbury's uniformed animal control officer, walks sections of the bikeway several times a week. The major problem involves dog owners not cleaning up after their pets, he said.

Fitzgerald has never ticketed dog walkers on the bikeway, though he has the authority to do so.

"I'm pretty friendly about it," he said, adding that he reminds dog walkers of the law and notes the signs along the trail.

Glens Falls Police Capt. William Valenza said if police officers (who handle animal control complaints for the city) see someone walking a dog on the bikeway, "they're not going to kick them off."

Valenza said he can't remember a dog-related incident on the bikeway, which city police patrol using bicycles and a Segway.

Enforcement of the law would be complaint-driven, such as in cases involving bites or threats, he said.

Despite the lack of complaints some point to the potential hazards that exist when fast-moving cyclists approach leashed dogs.

There is a fear factor involving cyclists approaching an unfamiliar dog, Fitzgerald said.

For Gregory Hewlett, a Queensbury cyclist and runner, the main problem involves leashes.

"I am guessing they think it is harmless if they clean up, but the issue with dogs on leashes on the path is high-speed bikes," Hewlett wrote in an e-mail. "We ride 20-plus mph and are mostly silent as you approach someone from behind, so a leash crossing the trail with a dog on the other side is a momentum killer."

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Comments will not be posted if any of the following rules are violated:
- Comments must be contained to the topic of the articles only.
- Comments must be civil in tone and cannot contain personal insults directed toward another reader.
- Profanities cannot be used, including abbreviations or acronyms.
- Comments critical of crime or accident victims, or imply guilt are not allowed.
- Comments that are potentially libelous, including those that contain accusations not supported by facts are not allowed.
- Comments that appear to be taunting others who comment are not allowed.
- Comments should be brief and never more than 1,000 characters.