Some people puzzled by Katy Trail safety blitz

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on February 12, 2011 at 10:54 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 14 at 2:37 AM

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

DALLAS — We're getting our first look at the city's new safety campaign for the Katy Trail in Dallas.

You'll be seeing images of smiley faces and simple pictures popping up in a massive media marketing campaign, but now there's a new concern: Is the message getting lost?

A memorial marks where jogger Lauren Huddleston died on the Katy Trail when she was struck by a bicycle.

It's a somber warning to fellow joggers, but soon the city hopes to heighten the safety message with a new campaign, complete with proposed trail signs that are heavy with smiley faces.

The signs are intended to urge people to slow down and pay attention on the city's 130 miles of trails.

But it's a message that's muddled for Katy Trail regulars like Shawna Wilson. Her initial reaction to the campaign? "It looks like a funny monkey face," she said, adding that she "would have no idea what it meant," if she saw it on a sign.

Other trail users we met found examples of the new signs crowded and confusing.

"I think it is kind of difficult to look at," said Erin Dowdy. "What I see is just a smile the entire time."

A marketing company designed the look, something park directors insist will be effective — especially since the signs will be part of a larger advertising campaign, including jingles and commercials.

All will urge trail users — in a friendly way — to be careful while jogging, walking or cycling. Officials want to encourage change with positive reinforcement.

Extra police officers added to the trails, focusing more on polite suggestions than writing tickets.

In fact, many favor the city's effort to create a safer recreation system, but not everyone is thrilled with the execution.

On Monday, city leaders will get a look at the safety campaign. The city hopes to have new signs it in place on the Katy Trail within the next three months.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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