Runners say improvements needed to increase trail safety after attacks

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AUSTIN (KXAN) – Runners using Lady Bird Hike and Bike Trail say safety improvements need to be made, especially after three different attacks in just the past month.

Sunday afternoon, there was no shortage of people along the trail, but when the sun sets the trail is off limits for many.  “I look around, and if it’s to dark, I’ll wait for other runners to show up so there’s a group of us,” said runner Andy Gallegos.  He hopes lighting is considered as a safety measure.

Runners pointed out that there’s lighting from the street and some buildings, but along the trail it’s pitch black.  Elizabeth Agho uses the trail often, “There’s nothing around here except nature so there’s no light source.  There’s street lights by Riverside, but it only lights up a small portion,” said Agho “Once you are deep in the trail you can’t see anything.”

Austin police already stepped up patrols after the most recent attack.  Park officers are also looking for poorly lit areas and overgrown trees and bushes.   They will be taking any safety recommendations to the city.

If funding is needed then the Trail Foundation, which was formed to protect and enhance the trail,  would need to get involved.  The foundation tells KXAN that right now there are no plans to add lighting to the trail.

The foundation is  working on making an area under the Congress Avenue Bridge safer.  The stretch will fix a blind spot and a narrow passageway, which has been a safety concern for runners and cyclists trying to round the corner.   It’s expected to be completed in two years.

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