Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail Safety and Mobility Study Results Are In

Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail Safety and Mobility Study Results Are In

Mar 09, 2021 03:09 pm

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department partnered with The Trail Foundation and the Austin Urban Trails Program in the Public Works Department on a year-long process to develop the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail Safety and Mobility Study.
 
Two virtual meetings will be held to present the Study's findings and answer questions from the public:
 
March 10, 12 p.m.
March 11, 6 p.m.
 
The overarching goal of the Safety and Mobility Study was to understand how growth in Austin, and increased use of the Trail, has impacted the Trail experience for residents and visitors, and to establish a vision to ensure the Trail will continue to be a natural sanctuary for all of its users.
 
Trail width and surfacing emerged as the top two concerns of the public, according to the surveys conducted during the community engagement phase.
 
The Study addresses pathway concerns, including erosion, surface issues, compaction, pinch points, unstable material such as loose gravel, shoulder paths, and low water crossings. Current trail conditions contribute to safety issues for both pedestrians and cyclists on the Trail, and can limit the accessibility of the Trail.
 
The Study also outlines lighting issues and opportunities and identifies areas of the Trail that have lighting issues, including excessive light glare and trespass, as well as areas that have low headroom that are unlit and where users have reported feeling unsafe.
 
"This is a very important document that will help guide us far into the future," says Heidi Anderson, CEO of The Trail Foundation. To accomplish the vision outlined in the study, as recommendations from the study are funded, designed, and implemented, TTF will continue to focus on the following guiding principles, Anderson says, including:
 

  • Maintaining the Trail as place of respite
  • Caring for the natural habitat and ecology along the Trail
  • Supporting accessibility for all
  • Integrating the Trail into the larger mobility ecosystem
  • Expanding the sense of safety, welcome, and place
  • Aligning with national trail design standards and practices

 
Community members are invited to learn more details and ask questions at either of the two virtual meetings.
 
Background
Density around the Trail has doubled in the past 10 years and is projected to double again by 2040, according to regional growth models, which will continue to increase demand for Trail use.
 
As part of the Study process, Wikimaps and a storymap were developed to engage the community around improving mobility and safety related to network connections, trail access, surface conditions, trail width, lighting, and wayfinding.
 
Participants were asked to rank six categories featured in the storymap. Trail width and surface conditions were a first or second priority for the majority of participants69% of respondents indicated that it is more important to focus on smaller and more numerous projects that address issues across a larger area than to solve multiple issues with a few large projects.
 
In considering which projects to do first, the Study authors recommend that The Trail Foundation first invest in slope stabilization and erosion projects that will address surface conditions to avoid more costly and environmentally sensitive projects later. While these projects are being scoped, funding should be pursued for projects that address trail width concerns, starting with locations east of I-35.
 
Some work that addresses the community's priorities is already ongoing, including erosion work started at Festival Beach, and the Rain Garden at East Avenue which helps to reduce erosion in that area.
 
The lead consultant for the Study is Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates and additional partners are Studio Balcones and Scott Oldner Lighting.
 
To see the Study in its entirety and for more information, go to:

 
About The Trail Foundation
The Trail Foundation's mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Butler Hike-and-Bike-Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all. The Butler Trail is the 10-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin that gets more than 4.5 million visits every year. Since it was founded in 2003, The Trail Foundation has achieved restoration and beautification projects to the Trail's infrastructure and environment, while honoring the original vision of the Trail's founders and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come. For more information, please visit TheTrailFoundation.org.

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