Greenway use and preferences in diverse urban communities: Implications for trail design and management

Samuel J. Keith, Lincoln R. Larson, C. Scott Shafer, Jeffrey C. Hallo, Mariela Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Greenways represent corridors of benefits with a unique capacity to contribute to sustainable urban development, yet more research is needed to understand the extent to which greenway-related benefits are realized and distributed across diverse populations and settings. Using intercept surveys of greenway users during summer 2015, our study explored use patterns and preferences along two trails traversing diverse neighborhoods: the Eastside Trail in Atlanta, GA (n = 505), and the Leon Creek Greenway in San Antonio, TX (n = 429). Descriptive statistics and regression-based analyses revealed that exercising and escaping the stress of city life were the top motivations for visiting both trails, and safety and security were rated as top concerns among visitors (particularly women and racial/ethnic minorities). On the urban Eastside Trail, where more users accessed the trail by foot or bicycle and engaged in a variety of trail-based activities, cultural benefits linked to social interaction and community connectivity were more widely acknowledged. On the suburban Leon Creek Greenway, where most visitors tended to travel longer distances to access the trail, typically for physically-active recreation, experiential benefits stemming from outdoor recreation in natural settings were more strongly recognized. Both trails attracted substantial numbers of racial/ethnic minorities, with Hispanics and other non-white users representing about 55% of Leon Creek Greenway and 32% of Eastside Trail visitors. Social and nature-based motivations were more common among these user groups. Planners and managers can utilize these results to identify strategies for maximizing greenway-related benefits among diverse groups of potential trail users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-59
Number of pages13
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Benefits
  • Constraints
  • Green infrastructure
  • Motivations
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Recreation
  • Trails

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Greenway use and preferences in diverse urban communities: Implications for trail design and management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this