Trails that connect bicyclists and pedestrians to different areas within a city or town benefit state and local economies, a North Carolina Department of Transportation report released yesterday finds.
The study analyzed four shared use paths, also known as greenways, each in a different region across the state. After surveying trail users at different times throughout the week, researchers concluded that these four paths annually generate $19.4 million in business sales, increase nearby property values and consistently support more than 250 jobs.
In Eastern North Carolina, the study looked at Duck Trail, which stretches six miles through the entire town of Duck. That greenway showed the greatest economic benefit – with trail users spending almost $7 million at nearby businesses each year and supporting almost 90 steady jobs.
The study’s authors also estimate the four greenways save $25.7 million in health care costs. That’s because shared use paths lead to increased physical activity, fewer traffic accidents and less air pollution.