City of Dallas to release 'Trail Safety Action Plan'

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by CYNTHIA VEGA & JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on December 13, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 13 at 7:49 PM

DALLAS - The City of Dallas' Park and Recreation Department will soon be releasing a "Trail Safety Action Plan" that focuses on answering problems like those on the Katy Trail.

The Katy Trail, which runs 3.5 miles from Victory Park in downtown up and into the Southern Methodist University campus, has become extremely popular for runners and cyclists. However, with its increase in popularity, safety hazards have also risen.

In October, 28-year-old Lauren Huddleston was fatally injured after she was hit by a bicycle while jogging on the trail. She fell, striking her head and later died at Baylor University Medical Center.

Her death highlighted the problems that have come with the heavy traffic on the trails.

The city's Trail Safety Action Plan immediately calls for more police during peak hours, more signage and lane markings and creating safety guidelines for the trail, read a statement released by the City of Dallas Park & Recreation Center Department.

Another safety idea includes speed radars, which are common on busy roads. It's one idea some hope would slow down biker speeds.

"It's not something you come in and say, 'Let's put a few signs up,'" said Greg O'Neill, who rollerblades on the trail. "It's something that will have to be long-term monitored, and I do believe space, of course, is always going to be an issue."

"I don't walk with headphones and I keep very far to the right," said Susan Bright, who walks the path.

Speed limits are also being considered. However, enforcement of such a rule has puzzled city leaders.

"To put a speed limit on the trail, it would mean all the bikers would have to have speedometers on their bikes," said Willis Winters, with the Park and Recreation Departmen.

In the short term, Dallas will be re-striping the pavement and adding signs to 17 miles of trails.

Most city officials said they are aware widening the trail would help. However, they said it is not an option.

Other long-term plans include a campaign to raise awareness and promote proper trail etiquette, which is scheduled to launch in the spring. The campaign will urge bikers to slow down and wear helmets. It will also warn joggers to be on alert.

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