An issue that comes up frequently when new trails are proposed are concerns about increased crime. After investigating this issue throughly, the overwhelming evidence from studies of hundreds of trails and from sheriff data from local trails are that trails are safe. They do not pose a risk of increased crime to adjacent neighbors or to users of a trail. In fact, in several locales, the rate of crime actually decreased.
It’s unreasonable to expect that no crime would occur near trails at all— trails are not superheroes. Crime that has traditionally occurred in the surrounding area will still occur. Therefore the valid comparison is whether the addition of a trail would increase the amount of crime that homeowners experience in their neighborhood. In fact, in several locales, the rate of crime actually decreased. Here are some key points regarding national, state and local studies:
- Far more crimes occur, on both an absolute basis and per capita, inside the home, on streets or at workplaces than on trails.
- Every major study of trails confirms that crime does not increase with the building of a new trail. This includes all studies which include input from local homeowners, law enforcement officers, real estate professionals and trail managers.
- After the trails are built, adjacent residents of properties and police agree that new trails do not increase crime for them and become enjoyable amenities.
- There are many positive testimonials from law enforcement officers regarding trails. Typically they state that trail users watch out for each other and report crime as that they see it occur, thus helping law enforcement to do its job.
- There is no supporting evidence that trails have led to increased homeowner crime. For example, on the Saratoga Creek Trail, we have had less than five incidents (police calls) on local trails in the past 8 years, and none in the past two years.
- The West Valley Division Head for the Santa Clara County Sheriff has stated he expects the proposed Regnart Creek Trail to be consistent with the extremely low crime incident rate we’ve experienced on other local trails.
For a complete review of all of the studies and more information on Cupertino trails and crime, please click this link:
Trails can be a wonderful addition to communities for safer walking and biking and should be built to make sure that they work for all residents in a safe manner. Based on all evidence, neighbors should be comfortable when a new trail is proposed that crime will not increase due to the construction of a trail.
The vote to continue to engineering drawings and onto construction for the Regnart Creek Trail is on the agenda for the August 21st City Council meeting. If you wish to express your support, please sign our WBC petition (http://bit.ly/Regnart-Trail-Petition), send an email to City Council (firstname.lastname@example.org), and/or contact a Walk-Bike Cupertino Advisory Board member to discuss speaking at this City Council meeting. Information in this post is solely by the author as a resident of Cupertino and does not represent any organization other than Walk-Bike Cupertino.