Plan to open 3 trails at night
Council member says cyclists need safer alternative to roads.
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