ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Trail is one of the county's most popular outdoor recreation offerings. Roughly 90,000 people use some part of the 75-mile loop each month.
But what happens if someone is injured or needs help along one of the trail's more remote stretches?
Until now, if that person had a cell phone, they'd call and say they're somewhere on the trail. If they remembered the last street they passed, that might help, but otherwise, 911 dispatchers would have only a vague idea of where the person in distress was calling from.
St. Petersburg officials hope to change that June 5. That's when the city will start affixing oval decals every 200 feet along the trail, or 26 per mile. Emblazoned on the yellow stickers will be a number that cell phone users in trouble can give to 911 dispatchers to better pinpoint their location. The dispatcher would find the location by using GPS.
"People can be riding on the trail and not know where they are," said Joe Kubicki, the city's transportation and parking director. "But with the stickers, people will know exactly where they are, making it easier for emergency response to find them."
The numbers will be sequential, starting out from Demens Landing on the downtown waterfront. That sticker's number will be 1. About 200 feet from there, the next sticker would be 2, and so on. The stickers will start in St. Petersburg's part of the trail, but ultimately will cover the entire stretch.
Kubicki said the stickers were modeled after a similar program in Hillsborough County. St. Petersburg officials worked with the police, 911 dispatchers and the county to create the new program.
The decals will adhere to the trail and will have a nonslippery surface. Kubicki said they will be hard to peel off and are expected to last about 10 years.
It'll cost $6 to $7 for each sticker, but Kubicki said grants will offset the costs.
Kubicki discussed the program last week with City Council members, who raved about it.
"This program is going to make it better for our constituents and anyone else who uses the trail," said Herb Polson. "This is cool."
"It's a good idea," said Jim Kennedy. "I like it."
Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or email@example.com.