Predicting Motivations and Attitudes of Users of a Multi-use Suburban Trail
Keywords:Trails, walkers, runners, bicyclists, in-line skaters.
AbstractThis study examined how demographic characteristics, intensity of involvement, and activity type related to motivations and attitudes toward trail conditions among users of a paved trail in a suburban context. Data were collected from users of the All Purpose Trail (APT), a four-mile-long, eight foot wide, asphalt paved suburban trail near Cleveland, Ohio. Overall, we found that demographic characteristics were not very good predictors of APT users’ motivations. Intensity of involvement and activity type, on the other hand, were valuable predictors of why people used the trail. Each of these constructs was significantly related to 7 of 12 motivation items examined in the study. The three sets of independent variables did not effectively predict APT users’ attitudes about trail conditions, however. One conspicuous exception to this pertained to how activity type related to attitudes about trail design.Our results also indicate that there is a core set of benefits embraced by APT users in general. Two of these—relaxation and appreciation of nature—were among the most highly sought after benefits for the sample as a whole and neither were significantly related to the independent variables included in this study. One implication of this finding is that promotional strategies, on the whole, should emphasize the natural beauty of the trail and its restorative properties. Other motives, however, were more or less important to different groups of APT users. Thus, promotional efforts should accentuate the benefits sought by particular groups (e.g., the excitement, enjoyment, and opportunities for skill development to in-line skaters in this study).This study also provides insight about in-line skaters, a group of recreationists that has, until recently, received scant attention in the recreation management literature. In-line skating has increased dramatically over the last decade, and it shows every indication of remaining a popular trail activity for years to come. Because they are often paved, such multiple-use trails may soar in popularity among skaters. Results from this study suggest that skaters, more so than other trail users, may have higher expectations in terms of how trails are designed. Skaters in this study were far more likely than walkers and other users to regard the APT as rough, narrow, and having dangerous intersections. This result is not all that surprising given the setting attributes required for skating. Most paved trails were designed long before in-line skating became popular. Time will tell whether or not skaters will pressure park districts and agencies to retrofit multi-use trails according to their needs. Time will also tell whether or not such changes will impact other types of trail users.
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