In partnership with Eco El Paso, PdN Trail organization has been working on implementing Safe Routes to Parks in El Paso. The aim of Safe Routes to Parks is to raise awareness about the importance of safe, accessible, and walkable/bike-friendly routes to parks. Eco El Paso was awarded a grant from the Safe Routes Partnership to create a Safe Routes to Parks Plan and implement an early action to promote safety.
To understand the challenges people face when accessing parks, we organized community engagement events, created an assessment survey, and hosted various events at the trail. The three main barriers people reported for safe park access are: (1) traffic and driver behavior, (2) unsafe intersections, and (3) lack of shade. Taking into consideration the barriers identified, we have come up with three main goals for our Safe Routes to Parks initiative in El Paso:
Calm traffic in neighborhoods and along main streets connecting to parks;
Increase safety at intersections; and
Increase shade and tree canopy coverage within neighborhoods.
As part of this grant, Eco El Paso planted 40 trees in the neighborhoods surrounding the trail, directly addressing the lack of shade. We also purchased traffic cones and traffic cone toppers warning drivers of pedestrian activity; the cones were placed at the eight intersections along the trail during a bike ride event at the Playa Drain Trail segment of the PdN Trail.