AUSTIN -- City Council member Chris Riley rides his bike everywhere, including work, on a daily basis. Riley said it’s his connection to the biking community that pushed him to propose 24-hour access to bike trails at Lady Bird Lake, Shoal Creek and Johnson Creek Greenbelt.
Riley is also concerned about the rise in bike and pedestrian accidents on Austin streets, an issue he thinks can be avoided if the City will lift the 10 p.m. trail curfew.
“We need to fix that, but in the meantime we can also create other opportunities for people to walk and bike safely to their destinations,” Riley said.
Opening those trails, however, comes at a price. A pilot program for the last six months of 2013 would cost the city an estimated $400,000 for additional park rangers, dispatchers and administrative support, plus $1.6 million to cover overtime costs for police officers.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told the Austin City Council Tuesday it would cost an annual $3.1 million to patrol the trails overnight, if they decide to eliminate the curfew.
Not included in the cost estimate is lighting costs, an issue Riley wants to address as well.
"We absolutely need to continue the conversation and see if there are ways that we can get appropriate lighting in place that doesn't distract from the character of the trail,” he told KVUE.
The Austin City Council will make a decision on the 24-hour trail proposal on Thursday, January 30th.