"Few actions can do more to make urban areas safer, healthier, prettier and more environmentally balanced than setting aside corridors or trails for walking, biking, wildlife watching, and just plain breaking up the monotony of cars and concrete."
-- James Snyder
According to Outdoor Recreation in American Life, more than 100 million Americans enjoy walking two or three times a week, making it the most popular recreation movement in the United States.
By adding activities like jogging, biking, skating or rollerblading, and in some instances horseback riding, a compelling need for developed trail networks throughout any city is evident.
In providing designated pathways, a community's quality of life is richly enhanced. Trails offer a dimension in mobility that is both affordable and convenient. The American Heart Association believes that the establishment of pedestrian and bicycle facilities pay large dividends in improved public health. Trails provide convenient, alternative transportation, for example, that results in the reduction of traffic congestion and thus improves air quality.
Community walkways and bicycle paths can also improve safety, particularly when the facility is separated from streets and highways.
Other more indirect benefits associated with trails are increased property values, aesthetic beauty, flood prevention (when trails are constructed within an established flood terrain), and preservation of habitat in natural spaces.
The importance of coordinating trail planning with surrounding jurisdictions can't be ignored. There are trails which cross city boundaries, and maintaining a working relationship with municipal neighbors is critical to the overall success of such trails.
Cases in point are trails in Layton that continue directly into neighboring communities: The Bonneville Shoreline, Davis/Weber Canal, the Old D&RG Train Corridor, the Rocky Mountain Power Corridor, and the Legacy/West Davis Corridor.
The trails, pathways, and bicycle routes should be signed with an easily recognizable sign system. The signs would be distinctive and direct pedestrians and bicyclist to major destinations and tell them where they are. The sign system would also provide distinctive mile markers which are often referred to as "wayfinding."
Urban pathways are another vital aspect of an overall trails system. An example of this is the pathway scheme that has been devised to link commercial and service uses in the area from the Layton Hills Mall, north to Antelope Drive. This type of union becomes an important economic development tool by connecting related uses together such as a conference center to hotels and restaurants. It is also important to link the urban pathway system to the overall trails system to give residents access to the commercial hub, and to give out-of-town visitors an opportunity to see the more pristine parts of the city as they walk or jog.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at email@example.com.