WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) – After a long winter, many people may be ready to get outside and enjoy Mother Nature. For some, that means hitting the trails.
The Cedar Valley has more than 100 miles of trails. Runners, walkers and cyclists use them every day.
Rhonda Weber is a Waterloo police officer. She’s also an avid runner. Weber said trail attacks are more common now than they were 10 years ago. That’s why she said her biggest piece of advice is be aware of your surroundings.
Weber said if you listen to music, make sure the volume is low. She said some people will only use one earbud.
If you plan to go out on the trails, Weber said it’s important to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Some running apps will even allow other people to track you.
Most trails have maps. Weber encourages you to pay attention where you are and what landmarks are near your route.
“Tell people your route, so even if you had something medically wrong, people would know where to look for you because there are so many trails out there,” she said. ‘It’d be like a needle in a haystack if no body knows where you’re at.”
Waterloo police also advise people to bring their cell phones on the trail. If you need to call 911, look for personal ID numbers posted on shelters and benches. You can give the number to dispatch so they know your location.
When you’re out on the trails, police say run, walk and bike on the right side. If you need to pass someone, always give a verbal cue. They also said it’s never a bad idea to bring a friend.
“You know, if you are afraid, get somebody. Even if you’re walking. Have a buddy system,” Weber said.
When it comes to visiting the trails at dusk or dawn, Weber stressed the importance of wearing reflective gear, such as a vest, shirt or shoes, so otheres can see you.
Weber said be ready to defend yourself on the trails. Some people choose to carry pepper spray with them.