The Effects of Activity Differences on Recreation Experiences Along a Suburban Greenway Trail
Keywords:Recreational experiences, trails, greenways, and recreational conflict.
AbstractThis study examined the influence different groups of recreationists had on one another along a paved greenway trail near Cleveland, Ohio. Using on-site contacts and follow-up mail questionnaires, we sampled 438 walkers, runners, in-line skaters, and bicyclists to explore the effects of each activity upon the experiences of those engaged in the others. The most typical finding was that all of the activity groups had little or no effect on the enjoyment of other all purpose trail (APT) users. However, some trail users reported positive and negative effects (i.e., conflicts), sometimes serious ones. Users were most positive about sharing the trail with others engaged in their own activity. Conflicts between activities were activity-specific and asymmetrical, with runners causing the least conflict for all groups and skaters having the greatest negative impact on the other groups. The biggest problems attributed to walkers and runners were traveling two or more abreast and not allowing enough room for others to pass. The most common complaints about in-line skaters and bike riders were their traveling too fast and failing to give adequate warning when passing from behind. There was also concern regarding skaters being unskilled and out of control.The findings of this study contain both good and bad news for greenway trail managers-good news in the sense that conflict does not appear to be a major problem overall, but bad news in that there may be a sizable minority experiencing serious problems with otl1er users. Managers of suburban and urban trails need to be conscious that conflicts are occurring and attempt to minimize them. When multiple users share the same trail, managers need to examine each use and each style of use (e.g., race walking and walking a dog) with two questions in mind. The first is "what impacts is this type of use likely to have on the other uses on this trail?" and second, "what impacts are the other activities likely to have on people engaged in this one?" Both require an understanding of the various goals and physical requirements of participants. This requires manager interaction with these users and, better yet, actual experience in the various styles of each activity. Managing the potential impacts of different users on one another will require various combinations of trail design, user education, user involvement, regulation, and enforcement.
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