Rider safety a top priority on city's Greenway trails

Trail safety programs make sure trail users aren't alone

By Tim Gerber - Reporter/Anchor

SAN ANTONIO - Planning to work off some of that extra food you'll be eating later this week?
The city's Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail System is a great place to burn some calories.

Nearly 50 miles of trails run along creeks and through natural areas all over the city. Keeping an eye on the 1,200 acres of linear park space is a tough task made a little easier with the help of paid Trail Stewards and Trail Watch Volunteers.

Parks and Recreation manager Meredith Tilley came up with the trail safety programs a few years ago.
"I modeled this program after some other cities that have similar trail programs," Tilley said. "They wear bright green shirts and they're there to provide people with directions and very importantly to observe and report."

The Trail Stewards are paid employees of the city who work specific hours with a partner to cover a portion of the trail. "It's really very helpful for the different kinds of things that can happen when you have a very large scale trail system like this," Tilley said. "They help people every day single day."

Summer months are some of the busiest as trail users are frequently overcome by the intense heat.
"The summer is a totally different dynamic on the trail than in the winter," said Trail Steward Marika Misangyi. "If you see somebody stopped on the side of the trail, especially in the summer, 9 out of 10 times they're not okay. They think it's a loop. A lot of them will get three miles out, don't have water and say, 'Oh I have to go back,' so we try to let people know it is an out and back. It is not a loop."

Stewards and volunteers carry extra water, first aid kits and even bike repair tools just in case they run into someone who needs help. "Yesterday we did help one person out who ran through a bad patch and had four flats," said volunteer Frank Trevino. He had four different holes in one tire so it's nice to be able to help."

Unlike the paid stewards, volunteers like Trevino work as much as they like and spend hours on the trails lending a helping hand. Trevino said he's seen just about everything in the 600 hours of volunteer work he's put in on the trail, including fighting crime.

"A lady stopped me and says, 'Those kids stole a bike!', and they had tree bikes, one on a cart," Trevino recalled. "We were able to recover the bike, unfortunately the kids got away but we got the bike back and everything was fine."

Not all the action happens on the trails. Just recently Misangyi helped out a victim of a hit-and-run near one of the trail heads.

"We saw a hit and run on the corner of the road, we're not exempt just because it's not on the trail, we help," Misangyi said. "It didn't even occur to her to call the police so we were there for her and waited until police got there to assist her."

It's all in a days work on the trail.  

While they never know where the road will take them, they love the appreciation they get from those they help along the way.

"I enjoy this because of the exercise, and helping folks out," said Trail Steward Barbara Shea. "They say 'Hey, thanks for being out here,' and we're like you're welcome, I mean it really does make you feel good."

To learn how you can get involved with the Trail Steward and Volunteer Watch programs check out the link.

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