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Frequently Asked Questions

Expanding choices for safe, affordable and sustainable travel modes has a positive impact on our environment. By making transit, biking and walking realistic options, we encourage families and residents of all ages to reduce car trips and the reliance on cars. Reduction in motor vehicle trips positively impacts our air and water quality, as well as our quality of life. A recently survey of Austin citizens showed that 80 percent are more likely to ride bicycles more often if more separated paths or trails were available. 

All current environmental protections in the City Code will be applied to the construction and design of Urban Trails. The Urban Trails Program recognizes that many proposed Urban Trials may be located in greenfield development areas. Therefore, significant care will be taken to promote the utmost sensitivity for environmental concerns. If environmental concerns are not met to the satisfaction of City of Austin staff, the community, or appropriate boards and commissions, a "no build" option may be considered. 

An Urban Trail is a hard surface, all weather path for active transportation and recreation uses. Urban Trails are designed to accommodate users of all ages and abilities. In general, the standard width of an Urban Trail is 12 feet and the standard surface is asphalt or concrete. A 12 foot wide hard surface trail accommodates two-way bicyclists and pedestrians. Urban Trail width may vary based on the context of the trail, projected trail usage and surrounding environmental opportunities and constraints. 

The City of Austin defines an Urban Trail as a citywide network of non-motorized, multi-use pathways that are used by bicyclists, walkers and runners for both transportation and recreation purposes. 

Our goals for Urban Trails are to:

  • Provide easy access to Urban Trails for both transportation and recreation users from all parts of the City
  • Link all Urban Trails to the on-street bicycle and sidewalk network around them.
  • Ensure that all Urban trails are adequately sized to accommodate both recreation and transportation uses.
  • Incorporate trail amenities and features that transform them from a paved surface into unique greenways that reflect the City around them. 

Keeping Austin's urban trail system free of debris and trash is one of our top priorities. Please call 311 to report excessive trash and debris on a trail. Be sure to include the trail name and location of the trash and debris. 

A comprehensive literature review of trails and their impact on property value, nationally and internationally, show no negative impacts. Studies as far back as 1978 have demonstrated that traisl either increase or retain property value. More recently, a 2011 study by Rainer vom Hofe and Olivier Parent demonstrated that, "investment in infrastructure and public amenities [such as trails] is a solid investment that will resulte in a positive return for communities." These positive benefits are more than quantifiable economically, as they are desirable by home owners who are willing to pay a premium for convenient access to healthy, active transportation options.