• Cheryl Wright

Light the Night and Light the Trails

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

by: Lizzy Frasier

Columbus currently boasts over 27 miles of trails, sidewalks, and roadways designated as being part of the People Trail System. This impressive collection of pathways has contributed to the promotion of a more active community with a focus on creating high quality lifestyle accommodations.

However, as the People Trails grow in popularity, they are seeing a growing shift in their purpose from recreation to transportation. More than ever before, the Columbus community is opting to walk or bike to their destinations rather than driving. Positive as this changeover is for the economic and physical health of the community as a whole, we are now encountering a major problem that was never before considered—the 27 miles of people trail are unlit.

To the average recreational user, this is insignificant, but for those dependent on the trails for transportation, the hazards of the dark are widespread. While following these trails in biking to morning practice every day over the summer, I became personally aware of the extent of this darkness. After further investigation revealed the city had no immediate plans to act on this issue, I decided to take the project on myself. To do so, I designed “The People Trail Project,” an initiative for installing emergency phones and illuminating all 27 miles of people trail.

A partnership with the Columbus Park Foundation, this project essentially entails raising money to increase trail safety and encourage greater community appreciation for the services the People Trails offer. In this way, I hope to not only promote a healthier community by encouraging recreational people trail use but also provide support to those who must utilize the People Trail system as their primary transportation method.

As with any such project, this endeavor is no small financial undertaking. Thus success will depend largely on generating longer term community awareness for the dangers of unlit people trails. For this reason, I have planned several community presentations as well as a Light the Night” 5K walk/run for the evening of November 4th wherein members of the community can enjoy fun, prizes, and fellowship while simultaneously gaining insight into the depth of the issue that dark People Trails present.

Photo from: Foundation for Youth's Glow in the Park 5k

Beginning in Mill Race Park at 6:30 P.M., this event will follow the People Trail that extends along Jonathan Moore Pike. At different locations along the course, different glow-sticks will be handed out along with information on the illumination of the people trails. Additionally, businesses will have the opportunity to set up booths along the route in order to advertise goods (i.e. bike lights and glow-in-the-dark clothing) or giveaway prizes. Completing a 5K is not necessary but for each 1K covered, additional prizes can be received. However, all participants have the ability to turn back whenever they choose. Again, the goal of this event is simply to encourage the community as a whole to come out, have fun, and realize just how desperately the People Trails are in need of lights.

So grab your friends, family, kids, and even pets to join us for a bright night of fun! There is no cost for participation but donations will be greatly appreciated. Dress in your “glowiest” clothes and you will not be disappointed!

#HealthyCommunities #ColumbusRegionalHealth #PeopleTrailProject #safety #illuminatingpeopletrails #emergencyphones #MillRacePark #ColumbusParkFoundation #LighttheNight5KWalkRun #ColumbusIN

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