How Communities can benefit from Greenways
Long and linear, greenways are grassy or vegetated areas that can be created and cultivated or reclaimed and improved for public recreation use. Unlike a typical park, greenway trails are designed to get people somewhere, so they may connect parks, link communities or even create a regional or statewide network for non-motoroized transportation. They can follow the path of natural features in existing landscape, such as a stream, river or be developed along unused railway corridors.
What Greenway Trails Can DO:
Trails are typically more successful in areas where there are destinations or stopping points along the way to give the community a reason to travel. These can be recreation or functional reasons. Connecting downtown areas or assorted parks via greenway trails provide a pleasant alternative to driving and will encourage visitors to walk or bike instead, improving both their health and the environment. Runners and cyclists will appreciate the new opportunity to “go many miles and never see the same things,” rather than circling the same one-to-two-mile loop at a park. A trail also increases safety for cyclists and pedestrians, away from vehicles.
We’ve developed several city,county, or state-wide trail-planning projects to connect trails in various areas all together. With the master plan in place, “you can bike 30 miles on a trail to the next community without crossing a road, and then go on to the next one,” states Scott Crawford, senior partner and landscape architect.
Practically speaking, trails may proved easier access to schools and grocery stores without a car, and may be welcome in communities that have limited public natural spaces. Other trail users are likely to be the four-legged variety, as wildlife appreciate the opportunity to “get somewhere” in safe, familiar environment as well. You’ll see a broader diversity of wildlife than you would in a single park, which cane be isolated. SO greenways are great for wildlife enthusiasts.
Greenway trails may also go a long way toward improving the health of waterways and natural areas in the community. When a trail follows the path of a stream, its presence prevents development from coming too close. Or, the decision to create a greenway may reclaim previously developed land and return it to a more natural state – over time allowing native plants and wildlife to return, improving drainage in the areas and decreasing pollution.