Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012 12:06 PM EDT

While a rural walking trail can seem inviting on a beautiful day, there’s no denying that there is some risk involved in taking the “road less traveled.” Part of what gives trails their charm is the fact that they are removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and from the view of the general public. That means trails offer some privacy, and can therefore be a draw for those interested in illegal activities. It also means that if you find yourself in peril on a trail, there are fewer passersby to notice your distress.

Sanford resident Jennifer Copper found this out the hard way when a nice walk through the woods with her young twins turned into a painful ordeal after she slipped and broke her ankle.

Copper got lucky, however, since another trail walker happened by and was able to come to the rescue. Mike Laurendeau deserves kudos for carrying Copper out of the woods and lending her his cell phone so she could get in touch with family.

Those using the Eastern Trail in Biddeford, who might not be lucky enough to have someone like Laurendeau cross their path when they need help, can now take comfort in knowing that the police department is stepping in. Thanks to a recent grant, Biddeford Police have dedicated a bicycle patrol to the stretch of the Eastern Trail that goes through the city – making sure it doesn’t become a haven for hooligans and assuring trail users that the area is monitored so they won’t be without help for too long if something unfortunate should occur.

Biddeford has eight bicycle patrol officers who take turns patrolling the trail several times each day. So far, they say they’ve encountered no problems, but people “feel more safe” just knowing they’re out there. And that’s the key. If people feel comfortable enough to use the trail, it’ll become more popular; and if those with criminal intentions know that it’s monitored, the trails won’t become unsafe for families and singles who want to recreate there.

Read the entire article online here.

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