CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation unveiled new signs they’re starting to put up along the county’s greenway system to show runners, cyclists and walkers exactly where they are in case of an emergency on the greenway.
Mecklenburg County is home to greenways stretching miles across the city, having recently extended one to 16 total miles. So if someone has an emergency and calls 911 and just tells them the name of the specific greenway, that’s not often enough for first responders.
They need more information, and the path to make the greenways safer is uphill.
“Try and be active instead of reactive, because when you’re reactive, it’s too late,” said Jesus Delatorre, a volunteer with Run CLT Run.
There have been several attacks along the greenways in the last year.
“Anything to help make people feel safe, it’s always going to be good,” said Rajesh Subbaiah, who exercises on the greenways almost every day.
On Friday, the county unveiled new signs they say will provide faster responses to greenway emergencies.
“This signage will really help increase the level of quickness and communication that goes to our first responders,” said Capt. John Gallant with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.
The new signs going up will show either the exact mile marker or a street address for the nearest neighborhood “exit.”
“Having the actual locations on the signs is just something great to see,” said Delatorre.
Officials say they’ve been working for about a year to use GPS technology to locate the mile markers along the greenway system. That information is then uploaded into the 911 system to create corresponding signs along the greenway to pinpoint the exact location of pedestrians during an emergency.
“We’ve had incidents in the past from CMPD to Medic to Charlotte Fire, ‘I’m on McAlpine Creek Greenway, I’m on Clarks Creek Greenway,’” said Greg Clemmer, Park and Recreation Division Director of Park Operations. “They (first responders) come in from a whole other side and they’re trying to find you.”
When every second counts, officials say these signs will help.
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“People can just be able to not have fear while they are running and just be able to run safely,” said Delatorre.
At a press conference Friday, reporters asked Mecklenburg County officials why they don’t add call boxes and more lighting along the greenways. They said it doesn’t make sense because parts of the greenways are in a floodplain
Officials say they are working to install cameras at trailheads around the parking lots.