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The Regional Multi-Use Trail Safety Forum

Proposal for a discussion group to address the issues of safety, liability, crime, and management of urban trails.

By Bob Searns and Bill Woodcock

Map of Colorado Dear Denver Metro Area Trail Planners, Managers, and Public Safety Officials:

The Metro Area has an outstanding greenway and trail system. This has become a major asset to our communities and a model for others around the nation. However, with the increasing popularity, concerns and challenges have emerged.

While not frequent, there have been accidents and crimes on the regional trail system: Several sexual assaults and a tragic head-on bicycle collision resulting in a fatality that occurred last year have underscored the need for both better information and the benefit of information sharing among the communities in the area.

While these events appear to be extremely rare, we believe it is important to expand the knowledge base regarding accident, incident and crime information. This is important both to find any feasible ways to reduce accidents and crime and to assure that there is the best possible data that can be shared with concerned citizens, planners, agency officials, the media and others.

With thousands of miles of multi-use trails in North America and hundreds of miles in the Metro Denver area, it is important that a good, objective data base be put together that hopefully can lead to, if indicated and where appropriate, enhanced policy guidelines that can supplement the current AASHTO and MUTCD references.

Some of the kinds of information sought include:

1. Location, type, and other causal information about accidents, crimes, and incidents on multi-use trails going back at least ten years or more where data is available;

2. Accident, crime and incident rates when compared to other factors such as levels of use, design, crowding and other variable factors;

3. Studies of the benefit, if any, of attempted mitigation factors such as paving stripes, safety signage, enforcement, and bicyclist education; and

4. Recommendations for improving trail user safety based on local solutions and solutions nationwide.

We believe this information is important to all of us for two reasons: Hopefully, to reduce hazards and incidents on trails; and to be able to provide a factual perspective on accident and crime rates that may be very important in the planning and promotion of future trail development.

In pursuit of this, we are inviting you to participate in an informal forum to be held on June 4, 2004. For this workshop we request you bring, if available, the following:

  • Any data, formal or anecdotal, you have regarding accidents, incidents or crime in your jurisdiction
  • Any information you have to share on reporting methods or policies for record keeping between you agency and local public safety officials
  • Any design or regulatory solutions you have implemented and how successful they have been
  • Most importantly, your ideas and suggestions as to ways to improve reporting and safety.

Please confirm your participation by contacting Donna Shepherd at 303-795-6531 or email: DonnaS@sspr.org. We look forward to seeing you at the forum.

Sincerely,

Bill Woodcock, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Tel. 303/795-6531, BillW@sspr.org

Bob Searns, Urban Edges, Inc., Tel. 303/904-9415

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