Benefits of Greenways

General Overview:

  • Greenways make our communities more livable; improve the economy through tourism and civic improvement; preserve and restore open space; and provide opportunities for physical activity to improve fitness and mental health (
  • Trails and greenways provide countless opportunities for economic renewal and growth. Increased property values and tourism and recreation-related spending on items such as bicycles, in-line skates and lodging are just a few of the ways trails and greenways positively impact community economies (
  • In communities across the country, people do not have access to trails, parks, or other recreation areas close to their homes. Trails and greenways provide a safe, inexpensive avenue for regular exercise for people living in rural, urban and suburban areas
  • Tourism and recreation-related revenues from trails and greenways come in several forms. Trails and greenways create opportunities in construction and maintenance, recreation rentals (such as bicycles, kayaks, and canoes), recreation services (such as shuttle buses and guided tours), historic preservation, restaurants and lodging.
  • Each year, approximately 250,000 people use the Greenways to walk, run, ride, rollerblade, horseback ride, explore their environment, bond with nature, search for animals and their habitats, take photos, or identify trees and birds. (


  • They lead to greater tourism along the routes people take to get to the trails or in the region where the trails are.
  • In 2002, the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Buyers conducted a joint survey. In a list of eighteen community amenities, trails were chosen as the second most important.
  • The study also found that ‘trail availability’ outranked 16 other options including security, ball fields, golf courses, parks, and access to shopping or business centers. Findings from the Trust for Public Land’s Economic Benefits of Parks and Open Space, and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Economic Benefits of Trails and Greenways
  • Increase in property values:
  • Apex, NC: The Shepard’s Vineyard housing development added $5,000 to the price of 40 homes adjacent to the regional greenway – and those homes were still the first to sell
  • Front Royal, VA: A developer who donated a 50-foot-wide, seven-mile-long easement along a popular trail sold all 50 parcels bordering the trail in only four months.
  • Salem, OR: land adjacent to a greenbelt was found to be worth about $1,200 and acre more than land only 1000 feet away
  • Oakland, CA: A three-mile greenbelt around Lake Merritt, near the city center, was found to add $41 million to surrounding property values
  • Tallahassee, FL: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection Office of Greenways & Trails estimate an economic benefit of $2.2 million annually from the 16-mile (close to the Wilma Dykeman mileage!) St. Marks Trail
  • San Antonio, TX: Riverwalk Park (great reference park), created for $425,000, has surpassed the Alamo as the most popular attraction for the city’s $3.5-billion tourism industry
  • Dallas, TX: The 20-mile Mineral Wells to Weatherford Trail attracts 300,000 people annually and generates local revenues of $2 million
  • They may lead to new restaurants, grocery stores, bike shops, motels, camping areas, and suppliers/ renters/repairers of recreation equipment, and increase the traffic these businesses get.
  • In early 1996, the Company of Pilgrims surveyed 6,000 households represented at the Indianapolis Home Show. One question, directed to those considering buying or building a house in the near future, asked people about recreation. The results: 55% wanted nearby playgrounds, 73% wanted nearby basketball or tennis courts, and 83% wanted nearby hiking or biking trails.


  • Preserve critical open space that provides natural buffer zones to protect rivers, streams, and lakes from run-off caused by fertilizer and pesticide use on yards and farms
  • Trails and greenways help improve air and water quality. For example, communities with trails provide enjoyable and safe options for transportation, which reduces air pollution. By protecting land along rivers and streams, greenways prevent soil erosion and filter pollution caused by agricultural and road runoff.
  • Greenways also serve as natural floodplains. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, flooding causes over $1 billion in property damages every year. By restoring developed floodplains to their natural state, many riverside communities are preventing potential flood damage.
  • Trails and greenways are hands-on environmental classrooms. People of all ages can see for themselves the precious and intriguing natural world from which they often feel so far removed.
  • Greenways protect important habitat and provide corridors for people and wildlife. The preserved Pinhook Swamp between Florida’s Osceola National Forest and Georgia’s Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge protects a vital wildlife corridor. This important swampland ecosystem sustains numerous species including the Florida black bear, timber rattlesnake and the Florida sandhill crane.
  • Alternative Transportation
  • Surveys by the Federal Highway Administration show that Americans are willing to walk as far as two miles to a destination and bicycle as far as five miles
  • Offer effective transportation alternatives by connecting homes, workplaces, schools, parks, downtown, and cultural attractions.
  • Helps communities mitigate costs associated with water, air pollution and flood control

Preserving Our History and Culture:

  • Trails and greenways have the power to connect us to our heritage by preserving historic places and by providing access to them.
  • They can give people a sense of place and an understanding of the enormity of past events, such as Native American trails and vast battle-fields.
  • Trails and greenways draw the public to historic sites. The six-mile Bethabara Trail and Greenway in Winston-Salem, North Carolina draws people to the birthplace of the city, the original Moravian Christian village founded in the late 1700s.
  • Other trails preserve transportation corridors. Rail-trails along historic rail corridors provide a glance at the importance of this mode of transportation. Many canal paths, preserved for their historic importance as a transportation route before the advent of railroads, are now used by thousands of people each year for bicycling, running, hiking and strolling.
  • Many historic structures along canal towpaths, such as taverns and locks, have been preserved.

Create Greenways and Trails; Build a Better Life:

  • As new development and suburbs are built farther and farther from cities, open spaces have disappeared at an alarming rate. People spend far too much time in traffic, detracting from time that could be better spent with their families and friends.
  • Through their votes, thousands of Americans have said ‘yes’ to preserving open spaces, greenways, farmlands and other important habitat. During the 1998 election, voters in 44 states approved over 150 conservation-related ballot initiatives. Trails and greenways provide what many Americans seek – close-to-home recreational areas, community meeting places, historic preservation, educational experiences, natural landscapes and beautification. Both trails and greenways help communities build pride by ensuring that their neighborhoods are good places to live, so that children can safely walk or bike to a park, school, or to a neighbor’s home. Trails and greenways help make communities more attractive and friendly places to live.
  • Creating walking- and bicycle-friendly places and connecting schools, neighborhoods, and work sites, helps promote healthy kids as well as healthy communities
  • It is recommended that Americans accumulate at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) of moderate physical activity most days of the week. More may be needed to prevent weight gain, to lose weight or to maintain weight loss.

Greenways enhance our lives in many ways by:

  • Providing a recreational amenity for walking, jogging, and bicycling in a natural setting remote from traffic;
  • Preserving pristine open space to enhance quality of life;
  • Linking our neighborhoods with parks, schools, community centers, and other neighborhoods;
  • Helping control stormwater runoff, curb erosion, and minimize flooding which can damage our property;
  • Improving water quality by buffering streams, filtering pollutants, and recharging our groundwater; Adding value to our property by merit of proximity.

RiverLink is dedicated to creating greenways in the French Broad watershed, linking you to walking and biking trails and getting you outside into the natural beauty of WNC.

Benefits of Greenways

General Overview: Greenways make our communities more livable; improve the economy through tourism and civic improvement; preserve and rest[...]

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