Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

July 2016

Trail-Oriented Development Eases Congestion, Encourages Activity

By David Mumpower

Urban traffic congestion is a seemingly unavoidable part of everyday living in major metropolitan areas. In collaboration with real estate developers, city planners have started implementing new solutions to this age-old problem. They've noticed a surge in commuter usage of alternative transportation methods such as biking and walking. Their data analysis has led to new innovations in city and neighborhood construction.

Trail-oriented development celebrates the myriad benefits of active commuting options in lieu of private and public transportation. Rather than build a mixed-use development that favors passive ride systems such as cars and buses, trail-oriented planners offer infrastructure that caters to cycling and walking enthusiasts. By adding nearby trails to communities, health- and budget-conscious residents can reduce their carbon footprint while burning calories and saving on the cost of fuel. Statistics indicate that millennials in particular relish this movement away from reliance on cars.

From a business perspective, trail-oriented development is a strong investment. Research about biking and walking trails underscores this notion. Well-positioned neighborhoods featuring trail-oriented development claim stronger resale value. They also sell at a dramatically faster rate than trail-less developments. According to the Urban Land Institute, homes located near the Atlanta Beltline's multi-trail "have started selling within 24 hours." Demand is that great for forward-thinking communities.

Once you decide to turn your development into a biking-friendly one, there are several considerations involving functionality. Many of the most popular trail facilities emphasize convenience for their residents. Their onsite facilities run the gamut of biking and walking needs. After all, if someone's bike tears up, they won't have the ability to use the accompanying trail.

In bike-friendly communities, a repair store and a community mechanic are recommended options. The latter person doesn't have to work full-time. Instead, you'll simply need someone who can provide such services in a timely manner. A bike cleaning station is also a must, and a bike valet, a sort of coat check for bikes, will reduce the clutter around the buildings. The professional you hire to park the bikes will transfer them to and from a less visible storage lot.

Since a strength of trail-oriented development is its communal nature, residents who don't own bikes should have options as well. A bike rental service represents a monetization opportunity for the developer while providing utility to inhabitants. Alternately, a ride-sharing service gives everyone who lives in the neighborhood the same opportunity to embrace the available trails.

The next generation of professionals isn't as attached to cars. The communities you build today can appeal to the homeowners of today and tomorrow. The key is to move away from reliance on automobiles and public transportation. The strategy to fill that void involves the addition of trails to neighborhood developments. Simply by giving residents the option, homes will sell faster and at a higher value. Trail-oriented development is the future of close-knit neighborhoods.

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