Mountain View ramps up creek trail safety

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
A bicyclist rides past the new emergency call box at the Stevens Creek Trail Sleeper Avenue trailhead last week. Early last month, Mountain View city officials installed the box and another at Yuba Drive while simultaneously replacing existing boxes at La Avenida Street and Central Avenue.

The installation of two new emergency call boxes along the Stevens Creek Trail should provide peace of mind for trail users concerned about crime along the corridor.

The Mountain View Police Department announced the addition of the new towers, located at the Yuba Drive and Sleeper Avenue trailheads, June 20.

“While we hope you never have to use them, please know that they are there if you ever need them!” wrote police spokeswoman Katie Nelson in a department press release.

The two new call boxes were installed in early June as two existing boxes, located at La Avenida Street and Central Avenue, were simultaneously replaced for a total project cost of approximately $30,000. The original La Avenida Street and Central Avenue boxes were erected in 1996 and 1999, respectively.

“As technology changed over the last few years, the city saw an opportunity to install more visible call boxes along with adding new units to ensure coverage of the length of the Stevens Creek Trail,” said Steve Achabal, city recreation supervisor.

The call boxes are strategically located between a mile and a mile and a half from each other at popular trailheads, he said. In the past, walkers, joggers and bicyclists without cellphones or adequate cell service have used them to report medical emergencies and criminal activity.

Marketed as “Blue Light Towers,” the solar-powered boxes are manufactured by CASE Emergency Systems of Irvine. When users press the “Help” button on the tower panel, a cellular phone module inside automatically calls the Mountain View Police Department dispatch center on a dedicated incoming number. The caller ID of each box is known to dispatchers, so they are readily aware of its location. A bright-blue strobe near the tower top illuminates the surrounding area so responding authorities can quickly find the site and render assistance.

“These boxes are just one more way for us to effectively and efficiently serve our community and keep everyone safe,” Nelson wrote.

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