Commitment, Connectivity and the Neighbors: Greenway Trail Placement in North Carolina Towns Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Bowman, Dilys
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • Greenways - linear parks that usually include walking and cycling trails - are increasingly popular throughout the country because they offer an opportunity for exercise and the potential for bicycle and pedestrian transportation to practical destinations. There is limited and conflicting information about whether greenway trails are distributed equitably within towns. This dissertation examines the distribution of greenway trails within 11 towns in North Carolina and tries to answer two questions: 1) To what extent do African-Americans have equitable access to urban and suburban greenway trails in North Carolina towns? 2) What factors in the planning process have contributed to the placement of greenways within a given area that have led to their equitable or inequitable distribution? Population and economic data from the 2000 Census, town greenway plans, information from planning and parks and recreation departments, and other data were used to select the towns in the study. GPS and GIS were used to map and analyze greenway access points in the 11 towns and the population demographics of the neighborhoods around those greenways. The GIS analysis was complemented by interviews with 41 people knowledgeable about planning greenways in North Carolina. The results indicate that there is not spatial inequity overall in access to greenways within towns, but that some towns do have inequitable access for African-Americans. The priorities of the town, and land and other constraints, influence greenway route distribution. A commitment to equity and/or a commitment to connectivity were more likely in towns that had at least equitable access for African-Americans. Equitable access may be less likely where trails are built solely for recreational purposes. Rail-trails' potential to promote equitable access is eroded by fragmentation of rail corridors. Developers often benefit from greenways and may influence their route. Neighborhood input, often unsupported by facts, frequently opposes greenways, in part because they may connect diverse neighborhoods. Opposition can derail plans for trails when there is not a firm commitment from the town. Objections almost always subside after a trail goes in.
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  • In Copyright
  • Meade, Melinda S.
  • Open access

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