About a month after a student was stabbed near campus, plans for the proposed ‘L Trail’, a safe walkway for students, are beginning to come together in the SGA safety committee.
President Ramsey’s leadership team first announced plans for a walking path on campus called the ‘L Trail’ in a Sept. 9 email. The email defined the ‘L Trail’ as “safe walking areas on our campuses that will be particularly well-lit and patrolled to enhance security.”
In the weeks following this announcement, SGA Services Vice President Morgan Cooksey has worked with ULPD officers and SGA’s safety committee to create a plan for the ‘L Trail’. Student representatives from the safety committee walked through campus with ULPD to identify areas of safety risks.
“As of now we plan to have the ‘L Trail’ reach from Ekstrom library, through the Life Sciences breezeway to the College of Business, across 3rd Street, extend past the Ville Grill to Kurz Hall, then finally reach and end at Bettie Johnson Hall and the Chevron Lot,” said Cooksey.
The safety committee found that this path was the most trafficked route after dark. The committee foresees the pathway from Ekstrom to the Chevron Lot as Phase 1. Phase 2 will extend to walkways between Ekstrom and Speed School and create a second ‘L Trail’ at HSC.
The current plan is to install brighter bulbs in existing light posts and build new, taller structures in the future. The safety committee also advocates cutting back trees along the ‘L Trail’ that may block these lights.
“I understand that sustainability is important,” said Cooksey. “We almost have to choose the lights that might use a little bit more energy, but if they are brighter and safer for students, it is a sacrifice.”
SGA is modeling their plans for the ‘L Trail’ off of a similar initiative at the University of Kentucky, called the Cat’s Path. The Cat’s Path has been on UK’s campus since 2005. According to UK’s Police Department website, police patrol the Cat’s Path in golf carts and on foot. The pavement of the Cat’s Path is also marked with blue paw prints.
Members of the safety committee contacted UK’s SGA about the long-term success of the Cat’s Path.
“They said initially when it was first installed it was more popular, and it has not really been up kept,” said Cooksey.
Cooksey said financial solutions like adding a line item to the budget or a having a contract with an outside funder would contribute to the long-term success of the ‘L Trail’. She is also working with ULPD to see how U of L can reallocate funds from the blue lights to the ‘L Trail’.
“In the past 10 years, they (the blue lights) have been used a total of five times,” said Cooksey. “One suggestion ULPD has offered to us is taking out the phones from those poles, because the maintenance of those phones is about $50,000-60,000 a year.”
Until there is further research about costs and funding, the plans for the ‘L Trail’ are tentative.
“We are still in the development stages, but students will hopefully see the completion of Phase 1 on the Belknap campus by May,” said Cooksey.
The ‘L Trail’ is one feature of the safety committee’s Student Safety Resolution. SGA also plans to bring students a user-friendly safety app, education about sexual assault prevention and better outreach about safety resources on campus.
The safety committee will present the Student Safety Resolution to the SGA Senate on Tuesday, Oct. 21.