While some people may be nervous about using the trails after a string of attempted sexual assaults in August, the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department says it has done a lot in recent years to make them safer.

Better lighting

Trail lights are now L-E-D

Parks planner Maeve Nevins Lavtar said better lighting is one improvement.

The city has switched to an LED smart lighting system that ensures that trails stay well lit. The lighting switch on the Chester Creek Trail was just completed this summer.

Emergency locator plaques

New locator signs can tell dispatchers where someone is located on the trail

Another recent project the department has been working on is adding emergency locator plaques on trail markers.

The markers are located every half mile on city bike trails and are also posted on bike trails on the Hillside and Kincaid Park. Nevins Lavtar said if something happens on the trail, numbers on the plaques can help dispatchers know exactly where a person is located.

“If you don’t know where you are and you didn’t read the whole sign, just pay attention to whatever number this is and what trail you are on,” Nevins Lavtar said. “And you’ll be able to relay that information to not just to your friends to meet up, but, most importantly, to the emergency responders if there is an incident.”

Clearing brush

Parks and Rec is clearing more brush from the sides of trails to increase visability

Parks and Recreation is also doing more clearing of brush around the trail to make potential problems more visible. Nevins Lavtar said 50 to 100 yards are cleared on either side, as well as 10 to 20 feet vertically.

“The goal is to be able to look through, you want to see through. So anyone who is playing off in the woods or exploring can feel secure that there’s nothing right next to the trail that’s going to jump out at them," she said.

The department is also inviting more people into the woods to try out new single track mountain bike trails along Chester Creek.

It’s called “activating” the trails and it's part of an effort to get more people out enjoying public spaces, which Nevins Lavtar said would make them safer for everyone.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated trailside assaults took place in April 2019.

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