Multiple studies show that trails provide significant economic benefits to communities, including increases in property values, tourism, and business investment.
Increased Property Values
Studies have shown that property values for homes and businesses near trails can increase between 4% and 20%, benefitting owners and resulting in greater property tax revenue for those communities. According to the National Association of Realtors in a recent survey, walking and biking trails are the most desired amenity by homeowners (2008).
Trails can also increase the amount of spending at local shops and restaurants. This is especially seen in “trail towns”, or communities that are not only located alongside trails but also advocate and support trail development. In Elkin, the Elkin Valley Trails Association has had great success in branding Elkin as a “trail town” working with partners and local businesses to create trails and greenways, resulting in many positive impacts on their local economy.
Putting a Dollar Value on Trails
Studies confirm that every dollar spent building multi-use trails returns a multiple of that yearly. In Greensboro, for example, the Downtown Greenway has demonstrated a $30 return for the construction and development of their project. (Source: Downtown Greenway). The American Association of State Highway and Transportation officials conducted a study where it was found that 17 new jobs are created per million dollars spent on greenways, sidewalks, and biking trails.
Appealing to Businesses
Companies and businesses are finding it more beneficial to reside in communities that offer a wide array of opportunities to their employees – especially outdoors. This is a vital tool in recruiting and retaining employees with a high performance level and better work ethic.
A survey done on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh, PA revealed that the average amount spent per trail user on “hard goods” (i.e. bikes, footwear, clothing, stroller, etc.) and “soft goods” (i.e. snacks, water, soda, lunch, etc.) per trip were $444.77 and $16.53, respectively.