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As with any other public use facility, the safety and security of trail users should be a priority of planning. While crime along trails is not common, there are a number of common-sense elements to be looked at in creating a trail security plan.

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Planning for the security of trail users

Following are some examples of how security is addressed in trail development plans. The Truckee Trails plan provides a good example of engaging law enforcement in the actual planning of a trail.

photo of sticker on asphalt trail

Solar-powered lights line the Metropolitan Branch
trail in Washington, DC


Truckee Trails & Bikeways Master Plan - May 2007

Chapter 11 – Maintenance, Monitoring & Security

• Local law enforcement agency staff – Local law enforcement staff must be in tune to the trail and development plans for the trail. As each segment of trail is developed, early involvement of law enforcement staff is critical. Trail projects often do not follow the city grid, and law enforcement staff often have difficulty responding to a call because no one can reference a location along the trail, or local law enforcement staff may think the call site is in someone else’s jurisdiction. To overcome this obstacle, law enforcement staff should be involved early in the design process and give a basic orientation of the trail. They should be invited to join the friends group on any planned events on the site.

• Input should be sought as to the best public safety measures that can be taken along the trail. This might include physical improvements along the trail such as emergency call boxes and lighting, and might also include maintenance practices such as vegetative pruning to allow easy surveillance of “trouble spots” along the trail. Local law enforcement staff may also have key knowledge of unique challenge areas along the trail and then addressed through appropriate design solutions.


Oldsmar Trail Plan (JUly 2004) - City of Oldsmar, FL


Based upon the experience of other existing trails and trail management, several factors contribute to trail security:

• Official City personnel should be designated as trail safety officers. This can be Oldsmar Parks and Recreation personnel, Oldsmar Police Officers, or a combination of the two.

• The trail should be well signed, with clear and concise language and illustrations. Rules of the trail should be posted at key trail head locations.

• Formation of neighborhood groups which will help patrol trail sections and assist with litter control, as well as requesting users to observe trail rules if there are noticeable offenders. They can also report major offenses to the officers in charge enforcing the rules of the trail.

• The placement of emergency phones along the trail should be considered.

• Access for emergency vehicles at major intersections should be included in the design.

• Parking should be kept out of residential areas and placed in designated trail heads which will be easier to patrol.

Albuquerque Bikeways and Trails Master Plan Design Guidelines

3.5.3. Community Involvement with Safety on the Trail
Creating a safe trail environment goes beyond design and law enforce- ment and should involve the entire community. The most effective and most visible deterrent to illegal activity on Albuquerque’s trail system will be the presence of legitimate path users. Getting as many “eyes on the corridor” as possible is a key deterrent to undesirable activity. Good access to the path
Access ranges from providing conveniently located trailheads along the trail, to encouraging the construction of sidewalks to accommodate access from private developments adjacent to the trail. Access points should be inviting and signed so as to welcome the public onto the trail. Trails should provide frequent access points into neighborhoods. Good visibility from neighbors
Neighbors adjacent to the trail can potentially provide 24-hour surveil- lance of the trail and can become Albuquerque’s biggest ally. Though some screening and setback of the path is needed for privacy of adjacent neighbors, complete blocking out of the trail from neighborhood view should be discouraged. This eliminates the potential of neighbors’ “eyes on the trail,” and could result in a “tunnel effect” on the trail. High level of maintenance
A well-maintained trail sends a message that the community cares about the public space. This message alone will discourage undesirable activity along the trail. Programmed events
Community events along the trail will help increase public awareness and thereby attract more people to use the trail. Neighbors and residents can help organize numerous public events along the path which will increase support for the path. Events might include a day-long path clean up or a series of short interpretive walks led by long time residents or a park naturalist. ‘Share the Path’ and other community programs raise awareness of safety and other shared-use path issues. Adopt-a-Path Program
Nearby businesses, community institutions, and residential neighbors often see the benefit of their involvement in trail path development and maintenance. Businesses and developers may view the trail as an integral piece of their site planning and be willing to take on some level of responsibility for the trail. Path Watch Program
Partnering with local and county law enforcement, a path watch program would provide an opportunity for local residents to become actively involved in crime prevention along Albuquerque’s path sys- tem. Similar to Neighborhood Watch programs, residents are brought together to get to know their neighbors, and are educated on how to recognize and report suspicious activity.

St. Croix Bike Path Management and Operations Plan (April 2005)

Safety and Security

Safety is a duty and obligation of all public facility managers, therefore, as the construction documents for the St. Croix Bike Path are completed, appropriate local and federal agencies should review these plans and specifications to ensure that they meet all current safety regulations.

Cruzan Bikeways, Inc. should work in cooperation with the US Virgin Islands Government to develop and implement a safety and security program for the St. Croix Bike Path. This program should consist of well- defined safety and security policies; the identification of trail management, law enforcement, emergency and fire protection policies; and a system that offers timely response to the island residents and visitors for issues or problems related to safety and security. Important components of the safety and security program should include:

1) Establishment of a safety committee and/or coordinator,
2) Preparation of a pathway safety manual,
3) Establishment of user rules and regulations,
4) Development of pathway emergency procedures,
5) Preparation of a safety checklist for the pathway,
6) Preparation of a pathway-user response form,
7) A system for accident reporting and analysis,
8) Regular maintenance and inspection programs,
9) Site and facility development and review,
10) Public information programs,
11) Employee training programs for safety and emergency response, and
12) Ongoing research and evaluation of program objectives.

Police Patrol and Emergency Response System

In order to provide effective patrol and emergency response to the needs of trail users and adjacent property owners, the consultant recommends that Cruzan Bikeways, Inc. work with the US Virgin Islands government to develop a specific patrol and emergency response plan for the St. Croix Bike Path. This plan should define a cooperative law enforcement strategy for the bike path based on the capabilities of different agencies and services typically required for the facility. The bike path will go through numerous phases before completion. All phases should illustrate: points of access to the pathway; approved design details for making these access points safe, secure, and accessible to law enforcement officials; and potential locations for a system of cellular- type emergency phones.

Cruzan Bikeways, Inc. and the US Virgin Islands government should also define an emergency response system in conjunction with appropriate local fire and paramedical units in order to define which agencies should respond to 911 calls, and provides easy-to-understand routing plans and access points for emergency vehicles. Local hospitals should be notified of these routes so that they may also be familiar with the size and scope of the project. The entire pathway system will be designed and developed to support a minimum gross vehicle weight of 6.5 tons to allow emergency vehicle access.

City of Wilkes-Barre Trail / Greenway Feasibility / Master Plan

8.3 Trail Security

Although this study shows that rail-trail crime is rare, it is nonetheless a legitimate concern for residents and trail users and should be treated accordingly. There are several methods for addressing such concerns and minimizing the potential for crime. Encouraging trail use is one way to help ensure trail safety, as the presence of other users helps to minimized undesirable behavior. In addition, trail users should exercise common sense when using trails after dark and remain aware of their surroundings at all times. Several other mitigation strategies help suppress criminal behavior and lessen the impact of incidents that do occur. In particular, trail design features and trail patrols are useful to keep in mind and recommendations for their implementation are included in this section. However since every rail-trail environment is unique, trail managers should assess the need for these strategies on an individual basis.

Good trail design is an effective way of promoting trail safety. In most cases, the design of the trail should eliminate overgrown vegetation and tall shrubs in order to minimize hiding places along the trail and maintain long sight lines for users. Trail managers may also choose to place security lighting at trail heads and in parking lots to improve trail safety. Emergency phones or call boxes and emergency vehicle access are also important safety features for some trails. Additionally, keeping all trail corridors clean and well maintained increases the feeling of community ownership of the trail and reduces the incidents of minor crime such as litter, graffiti and vandalism. Prohibiting motorized use of the trail deters property crime.

Two-thirds of trails report vandalism of their signs, including graffiti, damage and theft. You should expect this to happen and be prepared. Here are some tips for combating vandalism:

• Repair or replace vandalized signs quickly to send a message that vandals will not deter the trail effort.
• Anchor signs and sign posts securely.
• Use materials less subject to vandalism, such as metal versus wood posts.
• Limit signs in remote areas or other areas where vandalism is a concern.
• Cover unique or intricate signs with Lexan to protect them from direct contact.

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