AUSTIN (KXAN) — On any given day Austin’s hike-and-bike trails are packed with runners, walkers and bikers.
Hemant Makan is a regular. “I’ve been running here since I came to UT … 1991,” he said.
Makan said he was hoping to see safety improvements along the trail after several sexual assaults last year. “It’s been disappointing and I think we all should get a safer hike-and-bike trail.”
Runners were hoping by now lighting would be added to the trail along with installing call boxes similar to ones on the UT campus. They said the city should continue the stepped-up police presence.
“When we do see officers, we feel safe. But since I’ve been on the trail, I haven’t seen any officers lately,” said Cassandra Gallardo, who was out for a run with her cousin Sunday afternoon.
KXAN talked to one officer walking the trail. He said they weren’t patrolling as much because they were busy with the Trail of Lights over the holidays.
In October after the sexual assaults, the police department said officers were making note of areas along the trail that are poorly lit or have overgrown trees and bushes. The list was supposed to be turned over to the Parks and Recreation Department, but a spokesperson said they have not gotten any formal recommendations yet.
The Trail Foundation does have multi-million-dollar projects in the works, but no plans to add lighting to the trail. There are 15 projects set to be completed over the next five years. Some of those include waterfront overlook decks, new bathrooms at Festival Beach and Pleasant Valley trails and re-aligning the trail along the river.