Strange markings have begun showing up along Mount Airy’s greenway trails — not due to activity by space aliens or vandals, but for safety purposes.
If a person now gets injured, encounters another medical problem or some other emergency occurs on the city’s two greenways, public safety personnel might not know exactly where to respond. After all, the two trails — the Emily B. Taylor and Ararat River greenways — cover more than four miles altogether, including some isolated sections of town.
Mount Airy Parks and Recreation officials say a solution has emerged for this dilemma, initiated by a safety committee of the municipality which addresses such issues on a citywide basis.
The committee’s idea for the greenway safety improvement involves painting a series of dashes in different colors, such as yellow and orange, to provide a means of identification for different segments of the trail system. These resemble the broken lines that designate passing zones on a two-lane roadway, but are being placed on the side of the trails instead of in the center.
Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander said the new markings, which might be causing greenway users to scratch their heads and wonder what is going on, will become part of an intricate color-coded mapping system.
“It’s kind of a neat little safety idea,” Alexander said of a concept that has been used in other localities.
Through the striping effort, which began Monday, the colored dashes will correspond to mapped routes and access points for rescue purposes.
So if an emergency situation occurs, someone reporting it would simply refer to the color of the dashes on the section of trail involved.
The county 911 communications center, Mount Airy Police Department or city fire department, which runs medical calls on a first-response basis to assist the Surry County EMS, then would refer to the mapped routes and access points, allowing prompt intervention.
“And I think that will improve things greatly,” Alexander said of dealing with emergency situations along the two greenways.
The parks and recreation director added that the series of stripes, or color coding, will be continuous along the sides of each paved trail, in segments of about a quarter-mile each. She is unsure at this point how many different colors will be involved altogether.
There is also no word on when the project will be completed, which will depend on the weather.
Alexander said the same color-coding system will be applied to a greenway connector under construction to link the Emily B. and Ararat River trails, as well as future additions.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.