Plan to open 3 trails at night

Coun­cil mem­ber says cy­clists need safer alternative to roads.

Austin American-Statesman - - B METRO & STATE - By Benwear bwear@states­ Trails B

Look­ing to ad­dress a re­cent spike in pedes­trian and cy­clist deaths from auto col­li­sions, Austin City Coun­cil Mem­ber Chris Ri­ley will ask his col­leagues Thurs­day to le­gal­ize use of three main city hike­and-bike trails 24 hours a day as a tem­po­rary ex­per­i­ment.

Ri­ley’s pro­posal does not in­clude any money for light­ing or any ad­di­tional po­lice pres­ence on or near the three trails. The pro­posal gen­er­ated con­cerns Wed­nes­day about its po­ten­tial ef­fec­tive­ness, and about a pro­posal from a lead­ing city of­fi­cial that it be lim­ited to just one of the three sug­gested trails.

Ri­ley’s pi­lot pro­gram, set to last for a year start­ing Jan. 1, would ap­ply to the But­ler Hike and Bike Trail around Lake Bird Lake, the Shoal Creek Trail from the lake to West 38th Street, and the John­son Creek Trail from the lake to En­field Road.

“There are many cy­clists who have been us­ing the trails at night for years, and many of them feel the trails of­fer a safer alternative to the streets,” Ri­ley said. “And this mea­sure would sim­ply al­low them to con­tinue do­ing that legally.”

Austin parks, in­clud­ing the trails, are closed be­tween 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. The overnight parks clo­sure in one form or an­other has been in place since at least 1919, ac­cord­ing to city or­di­nance records.

City of­fi­cials were luke­warm about the pro­posal. Parks and Recre­ation De­part­ment Di­rec­tor Sara Hens­ley, ac­cord­ing to a de­part­ment spokesman, could sup­port a

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