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"Play. That's the best way kids learn -- doing something they enjoy." Trish Thomas, America's Most Playful Family Contest winner
Not only does a having a city-wide trail system increase access to parks, it makes running, walking, and biking, more feasible and safe for all citizens. A study from the Calthorpe Associates, an urban design firm, found that people living in pedestrian friendly neighborhoods make four times as many walking and bicycling trips as residents living an a community without trails. In addition to increasing the health of the residents, a community that invests in trails will see increased economic benefits. The National Trails Training Partnership reported that homes with a high level of walkability can have premiums up to $34,000 more than homes with average walkability!
Are you interested in getting your community interested in more trails for your community? Check out these tips.
Connect your Spaces: Trails can help connect a community. In the Playful City USA community of Broomfield, Colorado, residents have over 250 miles of trails to enjoy. The city uses the trails to create and connect recreational opportunities and give residents access to play spaces and parks. By providing safe, clean, and efficient trail systems, residents have access to the cities extensive park system. Through the creation of Broomfield’s Open Space, Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan, the city of Broomfield is working hard to increase access to play spaces for citizens. After finding gaps in the trail system, Broomfield pinpointed areas where new trails would open accessibility to the local parks and play spaces. Broomfield is working this year to build even more trails and attempting to connect all of their parks. The trial system offers long routes, short routes, and is used for a variety of reasons. By giving residents a place to exercise and connecting their play spaces, residents have a vibrant and active community that is focused on healthy living.
Make a Race: Chula Vista, California, home of the United States Olympic Training center and a Playful City USA community, makes use of their space by organizing a Community Fun Run race every year. This 5K allows residents to run, walk, or stroll through the Olympic Village. All of the proceeds from the race benefit the Chula Vista Nature Center and the Friends of the Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Library and Animal Shelter. Chula Vista is currently working to implement a Greenbelt Master Plan, which would make a 28-mile trail around the city. While the trail system is in process, a 5K Fun Run is a great way to get citizens fired up about staying active.
Impact Policy: Residents and representatives from communities can pull together to ask their local government for trails that provide safe access to parks. KaBOOM! published a report outlining how to influence local policy. If you would like to read more about how to gain support for trails, playgrounds, and increased access to playspaces be sure to read Play Matters: A Study of Best Practices to Inform Local Policy and Process in Support of Children’s Play.
Photos courtesy of the City of Chula Vista and the City of Broomfield.