NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require a password.
Trails and Greenways: The Basics
What are Greenways and Why are They Important? (CRSA)
“Often called a linear park, a greenway is a long linear system of public open space, established along either a natural corridor, such as a river, stream valley, or ridgeline, or overland along a railroad converted to recreational use as a scenic route. Greenways are usually planned for environmental protection, and they often provide opportunities for recreation and active transportation.”
A New 58-Mile Bike Trail Will Connect Chicago to Michigan (Crain’s Chicago Business, Oct. 26, 2022)
“The Marquette Greenway Trail Project will stretch 58 miles and connect Calumet Park on the city's Southeast Side to downtown New Buffalo, Mich. The project is funded in large part by a $17.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, in addition to millions of dollars in other federal, state, local and private grants.”
Benefits of Trails and Greenways (Rails to Trails)
The benefits of trails and greenways are numerous, some more tangible than others. According to Rails to Trails, trails and greenways support economic development, promote healthy living, provide environmental benefits and help preserve history and community.
Pros & Cons
This 3,000-Mile Trail System is Benefitting Communities in 15 States (Bicycling, Apr. 11, 2023)
“The East Coast Greenway is a multi-use, car-free path that stretches 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. The project was hatched in 1991, by a group of eight bicycle advocates. And now, more than 30 years later, the greenway is truly coming to fruition.
The goal for the trail system was always to link the states along the East Coast, going through all major cities, and connecting rural areas.“
Can Cities Combat “Green Gentrification”? (Bloomberg, Nov. 10, 2022)
“It’s an issue with deep roots in the US, where a history of redlining and segregation created wide gulfs in access to parks, recreational facilities and tree canopy coverage. Those amenities create value, and when added to existing neighborhoods, they tend to draw the attention of developers, who can market housing with a message focused on sustainability and wellness. Melissa Checker, an anthropologist at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center, coined the term “pernicious paradox” in 2011 to describe how neighborhoods are put in the position of saying no to a new amenity because of fears of displacement.”
Want Equity and Prosperity? Invest in Urban Public Spaces (Governing.com, Nov. 4, 2021)
“Our parks, streetscapes, community centers, trails and libraries are critical missing pieces of our public policy, even though investment in them can markedly advance equity and prosperity. As communities focus on recovery and economic growth, we should seize the urgent and unprecedented opportunity to prioritize these shared assets to deliver on social, economic and environmental goals.”
Trails, Greenways, and Your Property Value
Landowners Affected by Proposed Bonita Estero Rail Trail Debate About Values to Home and Community (WGCU, Apr. 21, 2023)
“But Largent said the most difficult aspect of this case is that ownership rights are not the same for every property owner on the right-of-way. If the rail line obtained rights to the land through a deed, or permission from the landowner, the current property owner has a right to the soil under the tracks. Brinton contends that the property value will decrease after the rail trail is built, and some homeowners agree.“
Study Finds the “Green” in Montgomery County Open Spaces (The Mercury, Nov. 2, 2022)
“Ask most people what value they place on the preservation of open space and they will talk about the peace and beauty of the woods or an open field; the view it offers from their window or perhaps even the preservation of habitat for native species. But what about cold hard cash? As it turns out, open space in Montgomery County has a monetary and economic value in the billions of dollars (yes, “billions”) above and beyond what was paid for the land or the development rights — more than $4 billion, annually.”
The Impact of Trails and Greenways on Property Values (Parks & Recreation, Apr. 23, 2020)
“The emergence of much more advanced electronic technology in the late 1990s enabled these issues to be addressed by using more sophisticated research and statistical processes, and databases comprised of sales transactions. We identified 20 studies that investigated the impact of trails on residential property values. The results indicated that a small positive premium of between 3 percent and 5 percent was the most widespread outcome for a single-family home located next to a trail. However, there were outliers that suggested the premium might be as high as 15 percent in some cases, while in other contexts there may be a small negative impact.”
Multi-Use Trails And Greenways As Economic Development Engines (Economic Development Journal, Jan. 1, 2020) E
It is hard to quantify the economic effects of the outdoors, but a growing body of literature demonstrates “economic benefits through increased business spending and expenditures for capital projects and operations.” One of the things that make the economic element hard to measure is the cost of building trails, which can vary greatly.
Bicycling and Walking in the United States: Benchmarking Progress (The League of American Bicyclists, 2018)
East Coast Greenway
Rails to Trails
eBooks & Other Resources
Parks & Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities (eBook)
Cycling for Sustainable Cities: Urban and Industrial Environments (eBook)
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