Now that our A-train Rail Trail is complete it’s time to talk about safety! Trail safety should be a vital part of your routine when using our rail trail as it is a shared space for all community members to enjoy. Now that you can walk, bike or run from downtown Denton to Lewisville and connect to many scenic views, fun destinations and more through the 19-mile trail, be sure to keep these important rail trail safety tips top of mind!
General Safety Tips
- Look before you cross
As my mom used to say, it’s safest to look left, right, up and even down! Always look both ways when crossing an intersection for cars or trains when on the trail. For bikers, dismounting before you cross any intersection is the way to go to stay safe. It is much easier to hop out of the way of an oncoming car if you are not on a bike. To help with this, we installed z crossing fences to encourage bikers to dismount and look both ways before crossing any intersection. The z crossing fences are also useful for pedestrians as it reminds them to also look both ways before crossing an intersection or over train tracks. As always, stay off the tracks at all times.
2. Be aware of your surroundings
While this is a good tip for anywhere you go, it is especially important while on our A-train Rail Trail as you pass through some wooded and secluded areas. Some of the areas on the rail trail are not as well-lit as others, so bring a flashlight or reflective gear when on the trail in the dark.
I know we all like to listen to music on headphones as we exercise, but make sure you can still hear what is happening around you, such as when our train horn blows its whistle. It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a train engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks will likely be unable to stop in time. A good rule of thumb is any time you are by our train tracks, stay alert even if you don’t think our A-train is running. And don’t forget, stay off the tracks at all times.
3. Stop for flashing red lights
Flashing red lights indicate a train is approaching from either direction. You can be fined for failure to obey these signals. Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing, and DO NOT cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it’s safe to do so. And in case I haven’t said it enough, remember to stay off the tracks at all times!
Want to learn more about our 19-mile A-train Rail Trail? Check out our blog below!
How to Use the Rail Trail Safely
There are lots of activities to do on our rail trail. You can walk, bike, run, rollerblade or push a stroller, just to name a few! When the trail gets packed with people enjoying all methods of trail travel, it can get confusing to know who yields to who. A good way to remember when to yield is to keep in mind the phrase “wheels yield to heels.” Meaning, if you are on a bike, skates or pushing a stroller, you should yield to those on foot.
For those on foot
As walkers are usually the slowest on the trail, always stay to the right of the path to allow faster methods of travel space to pass by. Runners are usually faster than walkers, but not always faster than those who use wheels. Runners should stay to the right until it is time to pass someone. When passing, make sure to call out “on your left” so the person you are approaching knows you are there.
For those on wheels
Trail users who are on wheels, whether it’s a bike, skateboard or even a unicycle, should practice the same safety tips as those on foot and always be aware of your surroundings. Make sure to watch out for rough spots in the sidewalk or obstacles on the ground that could cause wheels to get stuck. Wheels usually mean speed — so make sure to call out loudly “on your left” to the person in front of you as you approach them to let them know.
There are lots of benefits to utilizing trails, and we want you to be able to enjoy those benefits. Keeping safety top of mind when on the trail will ensure everyone has a great time. And most importantly, have fun! Do you have any safety tips to recommend to fellow rail trail-goers? Let us know in the comment section below!