Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Black-Eyed Susan along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Saturday, September 9, 2017

On which side of the trail should walkers be?

Occasionally I have a discussion with walkers about which side of the trail they should be on Should they be on the right with the bikers or on the left facing oncoming bikers? As children, we learned that when we walk on a road, we should walk toward traffic to make sure cars are not driving over the edge of the road where we are walking. We might, therefore, assume that we should do the same when walking on a trail. 

However, a trail is not a highway, and the safest way for bikers and walkers to interact is for both to use the right side of the trail. 

Here's the general rule.

Walking (and biking) on a multi-use trail like the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail (no motorized vehicles):  Walkers (and bikers) use the "keep right except to pass" rule. When a walker or cyclist wants to pass (just like driving), they use the left lane and only pass when no one is coming and there is no curve. 

In addition, bikers need to signal their approach to walkers with a bell or a verbal warning like, "Passing on your left," and walkers should acknowledge that they've heard the warning by raising their left hand -- not a law but a gesture I'm promoting -- and moving right, if necessary. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pumpkinvine one of Indiana's longer trails

I'm always surprised at how many people travel from a distance to ride the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. They come from Detroit, Indianapolis and Chicago and all points between.

Then the other day I was looking up something about the B&O Trail west of Indianapolis on, the website where the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has a listing of all U.S. trails. I noticed that Indiana has 110 trails listed on the site, but most of them are fairly short, like five miles or less. A quick look through the list showed that the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail at 17 miles is actually one of the longer trails. Here's a list of all trails 10 miles or larger.

  1. Cardinal Greenway - 62 miles
  2. Nickle Plate Trail - 36.9 miles
  3. Rivergreenway, Fort Wayne - 30.1iles
  4. Monon - 24 miles
  5. Panhandle Pathway - 21 miles
  6. Erie-Lackawanna - 17.7 miles
  7. Pumpkinvine Nature Trail - 17 miles
  8. Columbus People Trail - 15.7 miles
  9. Vandalia Trail - 16 miles
  10. Milwaukee Road Transportation Trailway - 10.3 miles
  11. Prairie Duneland Trail - 10.3 miles
  12. Delphi Historic Trails - 10 mile
So it's possible people come to ride the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail for its length, as well as its natural features. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

July 14 Elkhart Truth article on Krider Garden

Article from Elkhart Truth

Krider Garden is one of the gems along the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, and this article explains some of its history and significance for the town of Middlebury.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Stephen Breyer, Supreme Court Justice on biking

"The advantages? Exercise, no parking problems, gas prices, it's fun. An automobile is expensive. You have to find a place to park and it's not fun. So why not ride a bicycle? I recommend it."

Not sure of the source.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Walking versus running

The potential health benefits of staying active are well documented but is walking strenuous enough to do much good?  . . . Actually, yes -- walking and running are both good ways you can get a cardio workout . . . Researchers studied the health of 48,000 runners and walkers and found that mile for mile, brisk walking lowers the risk of diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure as much as running does, reported . . . But you would have to spend more time walking to enjoy the same benefits as running because runners cover the same distance in less time. . . . Walkers can boost their calorie-burning efforts by mixing in a few short sprints. - From the Everence Toolkit newsletter

Friday, June 9, 2017

Jim Brotherson tribute -- June 3, 2017, Pumpkinvine Nature Trail, Goshen

On June 3, 2017, The Michiana Pay It Forward Foundation planted a weeping cherry tree in the grassy areas of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail north of SR 4 in memory of James R. Brotherson. They asked me to say a few words on the occasion. Here's what I said.

I’m honored to speak about the legacy of Jim Brotherson, a person who “paid it forward” many times over.  

Today we’re standing on land that Jim helped change from an overgrown, unsightly tangle of weeds, scrub trees an
In Memory Of James R. Brotherson an attorney for the Friends
 of the Pumpkinvine and a dedicated cyclist, who used
his time and talents over two decades to help transform
an abandoned railroad corridor into the Pumpkinvine
Nature Trail. Donated by The Michiana Pay It
Forward Foundation
d prickly multiflora rose bushes into a beautiful linear park that is used by thousands of families, birdwatchers, wildflower enthusiasts, bikers, joggers and people out walking their dogs. What a transformation of the landscape and of our opportunities for healthy recreation and active transportation that he helped put in motion!

How did he do it? At a time when opponents of the proposed Pumpkinvine Nature Trail were saying that our title was worthless, he recruited other lawyers -- Jim Byron, Chuck Grodnik and later Doug Mulvaney – to prove that they were wrong. He recognized immediately that proving the Friends of the Pumpkinvine owned the old Pumpkinvine corridor would mean tracing the chain of title of 120 deeds from the 1890s to the present, and that that task was too big a job for his firm to do, working pro bono. Through eight lawsuits and  
The Brotherson family with the weeping cherry tree:
daughter in law,
Linda Brotherson holding grandson William James;
son Andrew Brotherson; wife, Patricia Brotherson,
father, Richard Brotherson; brother in law, John Banks;
sister, Nancy Banks; daughter in law,
Sarah Holstine Brotherson; and son Spencer Brotherson.
mediations, this team of lawyers wrote the briefs and devised the strategies that successfully defended our title100 percent of the time. That’s right: they never lost a case about a disputed parcel, mainly because they studied the deeds and were smart enough to defend only parcels with strong titles.

The second quality that made Jim so valuable to the Friends of the Pumpkinvine was that he was a great teacher. Most of us on the Friends of the Pumpkinvine board found the legal system very intimidating. We were unfamiliar with motions for summary judgments, discovery, case consolidation, temporary restraining orders and rulings with prejudice and without prejudice. Jim patiently explained these legal terms in a way that we could understand and that gave us confidence that we were on the right track.

Finally, I remember Jim as a wise counselor. At many points, our Friends of the Pumpkinvine board had to decide what to do next, and we found Jim’s advice to be invaluable. He always had time to listen to our concerns and help us devise a plan of action. Personally, he calmed me down when I thought the sky was falling, and in the process, I learned that a lawyer’s role as a counselor can be just as important as his ability to write a brief.

I think it is very fitting that the Pay It Forward Foundation decided to plant a tree here in Jim memory. A tree provides shade on sunny days, gives shelter for small animals and birds and displays a blast of color in the fall. These qualities are obvious. It is not as obvious, that they put oxygen into the air, giving us life.

Jim’s contributions to the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail were like that less-obvious oxygen – an inventive, steady force behind the scenes that gave life to the process of creating a controversial public park.

As lawyer, friend, teacher and counselor, he made Elkhart County healthier and more livable. This tree and plaque are a reminder that we are all in his debt for the beautiful park we see around us today.

--  John Yoder, President, Friends of the Pumpkinvine