Austin City Council members have decided to delay a decision that would re-close city hike-and-bike trails during the overnight hours.
The city's four-month pilot program to allow night time cyclists on certain trails has proven to be costly, but many council members are reluctant to reinstate the curfew.
Austin police say additional patrols to keep the trails open overnight cost the city about $1 million a year.
"We support the concept of having the trails open for cyclists at night, but I believe we have a moral obligation to have a police presence," Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told council during Thursday’s meeting.
The new city budget does not include the extra money to keep the patrols going after Oct. 1.
"It seems to me there's a huge difference in the level of patrol you're talking about, between having it closed and having it open, even though there's a very small difference in the amount of things for your people to be doing,” Austin City Council Member Bill Spelman said.
The issue sparked debate among council members and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who says the matter is already decided.
"We don't tell the police chief how to deploy his forces,” the mayor said. “He said this is what was needed and the cost is $1 million a year."
Many riders say the trails are safer, specifically for downtown workers who get off work when it’s dark.
"There are a lot of trails that people do use for transportation,” Tom Wald with Bike Austin said. “They're expecting to be able to have them open because they need to get around just like everyone else."
Council members decided to delay reinstatement of park curfews for 30 days.
"In the interim, we will use overtime and other existing resources to actually have a presence," Acevedo said.
Reportedly, only about 10 cyclists use the trails each night.