City: Designs not final on whimsical safety signs for Katy Trail

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on February 15, 2011 at 2:44 AM

Poll:
What's your reaction to the new Katy Trail safety signs?

DALLAS — The Dallas City Council member who is behind a push for better safety measures along the Katy Trail says she's not convinced that new "smiley face" signs will help promote the important message.

Angela Hunt likes the idea, but she and others fear that trail users may not understand the signs.

Now the city concedes that the lighthearted campaign could change before any of the proposed signs are posted.

Every morning and night, you'll find Ted Barker walking the Katy Trail — always with an ear open.

"I can hear the hum of bicycle tires, and they don't let you know they're coming," he said.

Barker is concerned that the new safety campaign featuring whimsical signs with smile-oriented designs will simply fall on deaf ears.

"The thought is absolutely stupid," he said. "It's not going to work. I know the riders, I know the runners, and they're not going to do it."

Over the weekend, the City of Dallas released early sketches of the signs planned to be part of its new safety push that follows the death of a jogger who was struck by a bicycle on the Katy Trail last year.

The safety campaign is light-hearted, with trail signs flashing smiley faces as part of the design.

"It looks like a funny monkey face," said trail user Shawna Wilson after being shown the preliminary artwork. She added that she "would have no idea what it meant" if she encountered one of the signs on the trail.

Other trail users found the proposed campaign cluttered and confusing.

Even City Council member Angela Hunt wants the city to do more homework before spending tens of thousands of dollars manufacturing and installing the signs.

"If it's confusing people, it's not doing the job," she said. "It needs to be effective over being cute and clever."

But Park and Recreation Department Assistant Director Willis Winters insists the new signs will work — especially in the context of a larger marketing campaign planned in the spring.

"When they have all this in their mind, and they get out on the trail and see these, it'll make complete sense," he said. "We're trying to more or less deliver, you know, a happier message."

But Ted Barker worries that it's the wrong message. "They're not going to pay attention," he said.

Barker and others feel the city should focus on creating trail speed limits and ticketing violators, an approach the city is not pursuing.

Still, city leaders do plan on following Hunt's advice. They will seek reaction to the proposed signs directly from trail users, and now say that the designs may still be changed.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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