Commissioners: Light this trail!

Installing lighting along a trail is another effective way to enable safe night use. Trail lighting that is well placed, properly installed and frequently maintained can improve visibility, increase overall trail access and convenience and give trail users a sense of security while passing through at night. Rails To Trails Conservancy

If you haven’t been to the Grove Street neighborhood recently, you’ve been missing something special.

This is especially true on Monday evenings, when the neighborhood has its farmer’s market. As many as 70 vendors attract scores of customers. There’s food and produce and music and kids running helter skelter.

And of course beer.

But there is one exception to the glittering lighting that makes an evening at Grove Street seem so enchanting: Once the sun goes down the 6th Street Rail-Trail gets dark and not a little bit scary.

The thing is, a lot of folks use the trail to get to and from neighborhood businesses and activities. Even at night.

Which is why neighborhood boosters and businesses are petitioning the city to provide lighting along a “dangerously dark” section of the trail between NW 2nd St. and NW 8th Ave.

Check it out. And please sign their petition.

The trail is part of a multi-use path system that connects Grove Street to downtown, Depot Park and the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail. And in a city known for its lively night life, a lighted trail system ought to be a no-brainer.

But Monica Albert, owner of Mo’s Garage Salon and Godmother of the farmer’s market, has been told that there is no funding available for trail lighting.

Say, didn’t voters just renew the Wild Spaces and Public Places sales tax initiative? Thought so.

Mo’s frustration is understandable. Many of the vendors on farmer’s market night set up shop right on the trail where it borders the C&G Brewery. The lighted booths stand out in eerie contrast to the darkened trail that stretches out on both sides.

I happened to be at C&G on Sunday night for the Gainesville Cycling Club Xmas Party and later decided to ride the trail to its end at NW 16th.

My bike had lights, but riding the trail at night can still be a sinister experience. At one point another rider without lights passed me with inches to spare. You can’t see the condition of the trail’s surface, and the trail edges are shielded in darkness, so goodness knows what, or who, is lurking in the shadows

“The extreme darkness increases the possibility of crime to persons utilizing the path and burglary of adjacent businesses, which has already occurred,” the petition notes.

Listen, Grove Street, with its shops, restaurants and food trucks and activities is fast becoming an after-dark destination for a lot of people…many of whom would choose to use the trail if they felt it safe to do so.

Light this trail, commissioners! It’s the, um, light thing to do.

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