Impact of All-Terrain Vehicle Access on the Demand for a Proposed Trail

Benefits studied:
Place: Annapolis Valley


In rural Nova Scotia, a proposed trail is predicted to attract 160,000 users per year. Because motorized vehicle use is expected to diminish the quality of non-motorized users’ experience, allowing all-terrain vehicles on the trail is predicted to cut the number of total visits in half.


This research is relevant for those considering different user management strategies and potentially competing uses.


This study is based in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada. Roughly 10,000 people live within 1 kilometer of the proposed trail.

Trail Type

The proposed 15 kilometer trail would run next to an active rail line, through rural agricultural land and small towns.


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the compatibility of motorized and non-motorized uses on a proposed trail, looking specifically at how allowing ATV access might affect the experience and use levels of non-motorized users. This study complements related research on the potential health benefits of the same trail.

The authors are university faculty; no specific sponsor or funding source was identified.


  • The model predicts approximately 160,000 trips on the trail each year.
  • Allowing ATV use is predicted to decrease trail use for a person living near the trail from one or two times per week to one or two to once per month.
  • Those living far from the trail, both urban and rural, are predicted to take relatively few trips. Their overall number of trips would be only slightly affected by allowing ATV access.
  • Any ATV access is predicted to decrease non-motorized use, regardless of whether it is unrestricted or allowed, but restricted.
  • A paved trail is likely to increase bicycle and pedestrian uses, and decrease ATV use.


The authors used a mail survey, sent to a random sample of Nova Scotia residents. They broke the sample into three groups: local residents near the trail, rural residents up to 200 kilometers away from the trail, and urban Halifax residents.

The survey used a “contingent trip” method, which asks respondents to estimate the number of trips they would take to the trail under different ATV management scenarios: a complete ban, restricted access, or unrestricted access. Respondents were also asked questions related to current ATV use, demographics, and physical activity. The authors used statistical models to identify the effect of ATV management strategies on predicted levels of use, holding demographics and distance from the trail constant.


Janmaat, J. and B. VanBlarcom. 2009. “Impact of all-terrain vehicle access on the demand for a proposed trail.” Managing Leisure 14(1): 57-70.