Infrastructure investments often focus on roads, bridges, and water and sewer utilities. However, trails and greenways are also essential infrastructure components. Trails help protect ecosystems and connect humans and nature, fostering increased physical activity and improved health. But the impacts of trails extend far beyond their recreational or environmental aspects.
Quality trails can boost the tourism industry, attracting visitors with hiking or biking opportunities. According to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, outdoor recreational activities contribute a total of $730 billion annually to the economy. This supports 6.5 million jobs and stimulates 8% of all consumer spending. Hiking and biking trips can require expenditures on food, gas, and outdoor gear, spurring an added investment in communities.
Pedestrian Safety Enhancers
Protected trails provide a safe mode of transportation for everyone. They also can enhance the overall quality of life, providing a reliable way for children to safely walk or bike to a neighbor’s home, to school, or to a park. Adults also benefit from safe trails for recreation as well as transportation. Trails promote livability in communities and reduce injury by providing safe spaces for people to play and exercise.
Trails promote alternative modes of transportation and act as a transit corridor for residents. According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, people make 127 million walking trips and 9 million bike trips in the United States every day. Commuters looking for more eco-friendly ways to get around have prompted nationwide efforts to connect safe and reliable routes for bicyclists, pedestrians, and all users. For example, a system of connected trails and greenways called the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop is the longest multi-use loop through Florida. This trail provides residents and visitors a scenic and safe mode of transportation as an alternative to Florida’s busy highways and streets. Ayres Associates recently completed four out of the six segments of the River-to-Sea Loop that now connect Vermont Heights to Spuds and Hastings to East Palatka. More about the project is available in the latest edition of our TRENDS magazine.
Trails are fun for all age groups and abilities, and you don’t need any special equipment – just grab some sneakers, and you are ready to go. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or expert; there are trails for all skill levels. This makes greenways and trails optimal for family time or even bigger groups.
Ayres Associates’ trail experts are dedicated to providing resources to plan and develop trails that will accommodate all users. We have completed designs for about 195 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout the nation.
For more information on trails and trail design, check out our previous blog posts: