Benefits of a Shoreline Greenway Trail
The Benefits of Active Connections
At its core, the Shoreline Greenway Trail is about balancing transportation and reducing our dependence on motorized vehicles—making it easier, safer and more enjoyable for people to travel actively to the places they want to go. This is why we’re working with communities to build a trail and enhance connections among neighborhoods, parks, schools, community and recreation centers, downtowns and other business districts, transit stops and tourist destinations, as well as to other cities and towns.
Whether within a single community, across town lines or from New Haven to its suburbs—whether with greenway trail or a network of bike lanes and shared roadways—the more connections we make, the more opportunities people have to get where they’re going without cars.
People will get more exercise and become more healthy. They’ll connect with nature, use less gas and create less pollution. They’ll spend more money at local businesses. In places with good bike and pedestrian facilities, property values rise, tourism increases, businesses grow, jobs are created, and communities become ever more vibrant and livable.
Safe Walking & Biking: Reducing the Casualties
Most communities on the Connecticut Shoreline are characterized by busy state roads, country lanes with blind curves and no shoulders or sidewalks, and hilly terrain with short sight lines. It can be a dangerous place for walkers and bikers, people with disabilities, children and seniors, parents with strollers and others who prefer non-motorized travel.
Only 10% of Americans meet U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines, and 26% of New Haven County’s population had no leisure-time activity in 2010.
Obesity costs the nation some $147 billion a year, while sedentary living accounts for 250,000 premature U.S. deaths per year.
Physically active people have about 30% lower risk of premature death than inactive people.
The projected health benefits of a completed Naugatuck River Greenway in Connecticut are monetized at between $259 million and $1 billion, and include preventing between 70 and 138 premature deaths.
Miami-Dade County projects $2 million in direct medical cost savings, 6,000 new exercisers and at least 32,000 pounds shed or not gained from expansion of a single trail.
Leaving your car behind when you travel cleans the air, lowers gasoline consumption and helps reduce global warming. According to the South Central Region Council of Governments (SCRCOG), more than 80% of all trips made in the four Shoreline towns east of New Haven in 2013 were taken by a lone individual in a motorized vehicle—and there’s a cost.
Motorized transportation accounts for 27% of all U.S. emissions and is the fastest-growing source of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Transportation contributes about 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Connecticut.
Nationally, the health cost of motorized transportation is $10 billion per year.
5% to 15% fewer vehicle miles are driven in communities with good bike and pedestrian facilities.
Trails and improved bike/pedestrian facilities consistently prove their worth by contributing to direct and indirect consumer spending, business growth, employment and wages. They help invigorate downtowns, draw visitors who frequent shops, restaurants and hotels, raise property values and help homes sell more quickly.
Studies in the U.S. and Europe show that pedestrians and bicyclists spend about the same amount of money per trip downtown as drivers—but because pedestrians and bicyclists visit more often, they spend more per month than drivers.
Louisiana’s Tammany Trace Trail generates an average $3.4 million in direct consumer spending annually.
Bicycle tourism to the Virginia Creeper Trail contributes $1.6 million per year to the local economy and provides the equivalent of 27 full-time jobs.
Properties adjacent to Connecticut state parks, forests and trails realize a green space value bonus of $41,961 to $50,124.
Homes along portions of the Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts sold nearly twice as quickly on average as homes that are not on the trail.
One third of property owners near the Clear Creek Trail in Bloomington, Indiana, said they willingly paid a premium to live close to it.
Liveable Communities: Bringing People Together
Bike and pedestrian trails add to a community’s social, recreational and cultural fabric. They give people a way to travel actively around and between towns. To exercise, commute, recreate and reflect. To gather, connect with neighbors and meet new friends. Trails also make natural classrooms for all kinds and ages of students, and welcoming destinations for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Trails increase towns’ appeal to young families and help build and sustain communities.
Louisiana’s 31-mile Tammany Trace Trail connects the centers of five towns and provides a vibrant site for community fairs, festivals, concerts, farmers’ markets and other events—while generating business for nearby merchants.
Many homeowners near the Clear Creek Trail in Bloomington, Indiana, cite convenient access to recreation, mobility, physical fitness and nature, and spontaneous meetings with neighbors as reasons why they paid a premium to live near the trail.
The additional eyes and ears of people using trails contribute to lower crime rates. A Rails to Trails study of 372 trails in 38 states showed major crime rates vastly below national averages, and a National Park Service study showed vandalism and break-in rates at trail-adjacent properties well below neighborhood averages as long as motorized vehicles are prohibited.
Help Make the Shoreline Safer, Healthier and More Liveable!
It’s often said that the success of a project like this takes a village. We are all part of the Shoreline village, and the success of the Shoreline Greenway Trail depends on people like you.