West of Atlanta, Georgia, the Silver Comet Trail plans to double its 61 miles. This is expected to bring more than 500,000 new tourist visits and $30 million in new spending to the area, while also generating substantial new tax revenues for the state through taxes on sales, income, and newly developed residential properties near the trail.
This large study of U.K. residents finds that those who walk or bike to work have significantly lower incidence of and mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease. Those who incorporate cycling into their commute had the greatest reduction in risk of disease incidence and mortality.
A formal walking program for children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) finds that low-intensity walks in an urban park are associated with significantly greater improvement in cognitive function than similar walks in residential or downtown settings. The improvements measured are on par with improvements associated with the most typical medications prescribed for ADHD, and cognitive performance for participants after walking is comparable to the average performance of children who have not been diagnosed with ADHD.
A daily afterschool program in Miami-Dade County, Florida observes significant decreases in body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure between the beginning and end of the school year. Findings from this research suggest consistent, long-term afterschool programs can effectively reduce childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk.
In this large-scale study of participants in a formal walking program in the U.K., researchers find that participants in nature-based group walks are less likely to report experiencing depression, perceived stress, and negative affect, and report greater overall mental well-being. By comparing a large sample of participants and non-participants over time, the authors overcome some inherent challenges in measuring the effectiveness of these types of programs.
In Taos, New Mexico, Hispanic residents and low-income residents are less likely to have used trails during the previous year, but those who have used trails during the previous year use them just as often as other (non-Hispanic) residents. Among low-income residents, those with a park or trail within a 10-minute walk of their house were 50 percent more likely to have used trails during the previous year.
Research has established that low-income people tend to have higher mortality rates than high-income residents. This study across all of England demonstrates that this gap in mortality rate is about half the size in areas with the most green space compared to areas with the least green space.
At a sample of recreation centers in southern California, researchers find that several measures of facility condition and amenities are better in high-income neighborhoods relative to low-income neighborhoods. The likelihood that a child uses the recreation center increases 23 percent for each $10,000 increase in neighborhood income, but the authors do not find a relationship between the quality of the facility and participation rates.
A large study of 50 urban parks in Southern California measures park use by nearby residents and other users across high-, medium-, and low-poverty areas, finding that parks are used less in high-poverty areas. Those who do use parks in high-poverty areas, however, on average use the parks more per week, are more likely to see familiar people in the parks, and use the parks more when there are more staff present.
In Burlington, Vermont, a lakefront trail is visited mostly by locals, who use it for both recreation and transportation. Closest to downtown Burlington, non-locals use the trail as much as locals and non-local day trips account for the greatest spending in the community.
In rural Nova Scotia, a proposed trail is expected to increase substantially the amount of physical activity of local residents, with over half of respondents predicting increased physical activity due to the trail. For every dollar spent constructing the trail, it is expected to generate at least $2 in avoided health care costs.
In eastern Pennsylvania, the D&L Trail receives approximately 283,000 visits annually, nearly half of whom report using the trail at least once a week. Although the economic impact estimates likely are significantly overstated, the trail’s effect on nearby residents’ health is a substantial, valuable asset.
In rural Bonner County in northern Idaho, trails are used by three-quarters of residents an average of every day in the summer and every other day in the winter. Trail use is high for all residents, even accounting for differences in the length of residence in the county, income, and age. Business owners are more likely to identify trails as an important factor in their decision to move to the county.
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.
A media campaign to promote a trails information site in Las Vegas, Nevada appears to have significantly increased trail use across most trails studied. The size of the gain in trail use appears to be independent of trail lighting, landscaping, and trail length.
The Erie Pittsburgh Trail, a network of six connected rail trails in rural northwest Pennsylvania, draw 158,507 users each year. Nine of ten trail users are from Pennsylvania and more than half of all users are riding bikes.
Across upstate New York, the 277-mile Erie Canalway Trail is associated with 1.6 million annual visits, only three percent of which come from outside the region. However, because those non-locals spend large amounts on lodging, the trail generates more than $55 million in spending annually.
Visitors to walking trails in rural Ireland are likely to spend more to visit flat or valley trails, as well as trails that have signage and maps. The authors use the results to evaluate a set of proposed trails to identify those most likely to bring the most visitors and generate the greatest economic impact.
In Durham, North Carolina, a bicycle-pedestrian bridge was built to connect two previously separate segments of a regional trail, leading to a 133 percent increase in trail use after its construction. This new connection allows the researchers to demonstrate a substantial increase in physical activity attributable to the bridge, with significant public health benefits for trail users.
This thorough study of a 111-mile regional trail network around Columbus, Ohio found that trail users travelled roughly 11.9 million miles in 2014, mostly by bicycle. Higher population density, easy access from neighborhoods, connection to other trails, and longer trails are associated with greater use.