BY JOE WESSELS
Loveland Local News
MIAMI TOWNSHIP (CLERMONT COUNTY), Ohio — When trying to get around a closed road, using the bike trail with your motorized vehicle is a bad option, police say.
That’s the loud-and-clear message from Miami Township Police Department officers at the scene of an accident near 521 Branch Hill-Loveland Road in Miami Township around 4:45 p.m. Thursday. An officer left to chase down motorists using the Little Miami Scenic Trail, also known as the “Loveland bike trail,” as a quick way to get around the accident. The road had been closed to pull a car out of a trench.
“It is illegal and unsafe for motorists to utilize the bike trail,” Miami Township Officer Staci Miller said in an email. “It is a designated bicycle path, and motor vehicles or any other all-purpose vehicle found utilizing the trail can be issued a citation.”
The road closed after Reanua Anderson, 18, of Cincinnati, drove a 2005 Toyota Corolla into the culvert. She was the only person in the vehicle and said her steering alignment must be off, which caused her to have the accident along the narrow roadway stretch. She said she was working for Instacart at the time and was just returning from delivering a customer’s groceries.
“It sort of happened in slow motion. I just went off the road, and then I just slowly slipped,” she said. “And I just hung there. Those seat belts are strong.”
She said she had just purchased the car and did not have insurance but was planning to get coverage that day. Anderson was cited for failure to maintain control and will be required to show a court proof of insurance at a later date. Not having insurance will result in an automatic license suspension, police said.
Officers closed the road for about an hour while a Sora’s Towing driver carefully winched the car from the ditch. Miami Township Fire Department firefighters were concerned the car’s gas tank could rupture, leaking fuel into the stream that was just feet away from entering the Little Miami River. Firefighters stood nearby with an absorbent tube-like sock called a “pig” in case they needed to quickly clean up any spilled fuel before it reached the river.
Fortunately, after pulling the car from the ditch, it was undamaged, and Anderson could drive it.
Officers could not locate the drivers who drove on the bike trail during the accident clean-up, but officials and neighbors at the scene said it is not an uncommon occurrence. Officials also said even though photos exist showing the vehicle on the trail – with their license plates visible – drivers could dispute whether they were the actual driver, thus making conviction difficult. They said they would instead catch drivers in the act and cite them.
A pedestrian standing along the bike trail who spoke to one motorist on the path said he told the driver it was unsafe.
“He told me he just lived up over there, so it would be real quick,” the path walker said. “I told him that didn’t matter, but he just kept going.”
In the Loveland area, the bike trail is regularly patrolled by the Loveland Police Department, Miami Township Police Department, Hamilton Township Police Department and Ohio Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officers.