What Are Some of the Benefits of Having a Greenway?
Trails and greenways are enormously popular facilities. According to a new study by the National Association of Realtors, trails are the number one residential amenity sought by homebuyers, more popular than golf courses, security gates, and dog parks. Richmond residents identified, among others, the following reasons to support the Richmond Greenway:
Health Benefits: Studies show that where trails are built, people are more active. Trails provide opportunities for safe, enjoyable, convenient, close-to-home recreation. The California Department of Health Services calls obesity California's "other energy crisis" Inactivity and poor diet are responsible for 300,000 deaths nationwide every year, second only to tobacco, which they will soon surpass as the leading cause of death in our country. Public heath officials are trying desperately to get their communities to be more active. Trails provide a direct solution. A 1996 Surgeon General report found that only 20% of Americans engage in the recommended amount of daily activity - 30 minutes of exercise every day of the week. An alarming 25% of Americans are totally inactive. Trails are places for free, leisurely exercise to realize public health goals.
Environmental Benefits: Trails can be used as outdoor classrooms. They provide places for educating students about nature and native cultures, and can also be used by wildlife as migration corridors. By encouraging residents to replace short car trips with walking and biking trips, trails can help reduce local emissions of both harmful greenhouse gases and local pollutants that contribute to poor air quality.
Transportation Benefits: Traffic congestion is perhaps one of the most serious factors threatening the quality of life of Californians today. Time spent sitting in gridlock is time lost with family, or engaging in recreational activities. Research indicates that many people will not commute by bike unless safe, separate pathways are provided.
Land Use Benefits: Old railroad corridors often are the last undeveloped parcels of land left in urban communities. With California's burgeoning population and the increasing demon on our land, trails are often the only opportunity to keep open space access that is so important to preserve high quality of life in our communities.
Community and Social Benefits: In an increasingly fast paced world, trails create shared public space for a return to neighborly conversation and slower paced, relaxing interactions. These casual social interactions enhance a feeling of community.
Economic Benefits: Trails can revive local economies by increasing tourism. Trails attract people, and people spend money. A National Parks Service Study found that the average economic benefit of rail-trails was $1 million per year, with users spending 4 to 11 dollars per day per trail. Trails and open space also increase property values. Businesses cite parks and trails as the number one factor they use in choosing new location, with good quality of life.