Safety & Mobility Study

The Trail Conservancy has partnered with the Austin Parks & Recreation Department (PARD) and the Austin Public Works Urban Trails Program for a Safety and Mobility Study for the Trail to focus on how recent growth in Austin and increased use of the Trail has impacted the Trail experience for residents and visitors. The plan will also project how future growth in the city may impact the trail to help prepare and plan for the coming decades. This study process will establish a vision to ensure the Trail will continue to be a natural sanctuary for all Austinites and visitors.
A key goal of this process is to identify and outline the
feasibility of key projects to help the Trail Conservancy
implement its vision.

Lead consultant:
Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

Team Members:
Studio Balcones
Scott Oldner Lighting

Existing Conditions

Community Engagement Results

  • The second online survey portion of the study received 662 responses from community members. In the closing survey, participants were asked to rank six categories of project improvement categories related to Trail safety and mobility issues. Trail width and surface conditions emerged as the top two areas of concern.  


    ·       Trail Width. During the study, Trail width was consistently raised as an issue through online mapping and focus groups. It was the issue with the most interest in solving in the Fall 2020 story map engagement. Obstacles or narrow sections along the Trail create pinch points that can cause conflicts between people walking or biking. Conflicts may also arise when there are many people using wider parts of the trail due to overcrowding or speed differences between people walking and bicycling. However, in areas where people are using the trail as part of a longer ride, widening may lead to higher and more dangerous speeds. Additionally, widening the trail may only be an option in some locations due to adjacent barriers, the likelihood of erosion, and/or ecological factors.

    ·       Surface Conditions. Rapidly increased use of the Trail has strained maintenance resources. This has led to erosion, exposing tree roots and creating sharp edges along the Trail, among other challenges. Systematic and programmed trail maintenance projects will prevent erosion and slippery conditions from becoming a safety or environmental risk. 

    ·       Potential Safety and Mobility Projects. Potential project locations were identified through a combination of daytime and nighttime field review, existing and future conditions analysis compared to trail safety and access best practice, and public and stakeholder input.

    ·       Concepts for the Southeast Quadrant. Formalizing Trailhead Connections at Pleasant Valley & Lakeshore Boulevard 

Guiding Principles

  • Maintain Trail’s character as a place of respite
  • Steward the natural habitat and ecology along the Trail
  • Use universal design to support accessibility for all
  • Accept crowding at locations where more capacity is needed, but the park width and slope prohibit widening, and alternative routing options are not possible
  • Maintain slow speeds on the Trail
  • Integrate the Trail into the larger mobility ecosystem
  • Expand the sense of safety, welcome, and place
  • Align with national trail design standards and improvement practices

Study Area

Project History

The Safety and Mobility Study efforts launched in early 2020 and were disrupted by COVID-19 health restrictions on public gatherings. The study was completed in March 2021.

Community Engagement Event #1

March 4- June 30, 2020

On-Site Activity Counts

March 4- June 30, 2020

Community Engagement Event #2 

October 16- November 13, 2020

Online Survey

  • Survey to rank proposed project improvement categories across the Trail
  • Summary Report


Community Engagement Event #3

March 10, 2021 @ 12:00pm  &  March 11, 2021 @ 6:00pm

Virtual Meetings

  • Share what we heard and present final report and recommendations
  • Video Recording