Best planning and implementation toolbox

Greenway Planning:

Purpose of Tool:
Greenways are linear open space corridors, such as paths or trails, providing connections and access to parks and greenspaces, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and/or shopping centers. The three major functions of greenways include the protection and/or enhancement of natural, cultural and historic resources; the provision of linear open space for compatible human use; and connectivity between conservation lands, communities, parks, and other recreational, cultural, historic and community sites. Recreational opportunities, as well as safe and pleasant travel alternatives, are also expanded when trails are located within the greenways.


Source: Town of Vinton, Virginia
Benefits of Using Tool:
Greenways significantly contribute to the quality of life within a community and have the following benefits:
  • Enhance the sense of place within a community
  • Accentuate the scenic beauty of a community
  • Provide opportunities to protect and manage wildlife, forests, and ecological systems
  • Provide recreation opportunities for families and individuals of all ages and abilities
  • Provide alternatives to automotive transportation, reducing traffic congestion
  • Foster health and wellness

    Steps Involved to Use Tool:
    The following steps describe the greenway planning process:
  • Identify purpose and scope of work
  • Inventory existing data and related plans
  • Involve the public throughout the planning effort
  • Analyze data and develop a proposed greenway network vision
  • Identify and analyze alternatives
  • Develop a Final Plan

    Special Requirements to Use Tool:

    Source: Town of Vinton, Virginia
    Greenways have become a priority for many state agencies that deal with environmental issues, recreation, land use, and transportation. State agencies and local governments are focusing on the planning and implementation of greenways as the need arises to promote better and more efficient land use planning, provide alternative transportation options, reduce congestion, and protect and enhance the natural environment and resources. To be successful, these efforts require a collaborative initiative from local government and state transportation and environmental agencies to channel resources for greenway development.

    Specials Resources Needed to Use Tool:
    Greenway planning requires a broad array of data collected from various sources. Information such as land use plans, zoning, natural resources, hydrology, park and green spaces, and socioeconomic and demographic data are needed. In addition, an understanding of policies at the state and local level, as well as public and stakeholder input, is critical to successful greenway planning.

    Communities / Agencies that Have Used Tool:
  • Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The City of Chapel Hill has implemented a Greenways Master Plan. The Plan includes a balanced set of goals focused on resource protection, recreational use and transportation opportunities.  Contact:

    Parks and Recreation, Greenways Commission
    200 Plant Road
    Chapel Hill, NC 27514

  • Greensboro, North Carolina: The City successfully completed a plan that integrated planning for non-motorized facilities with planning for off-road greenway trails in the Greensboro area.  Contact:

    Greensboro Department of Transportation
    300 West Washing Street
    Greensboro, North 27401

  • Pennsylvania: The State of Pennsylvania has implemented a Greenways program in response to needs expressed by citizens across the State. The program proposes a twenty (20) year implementation timeline for a statewide greenways network.  Contact:

    Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
    Greenways and Trails, ra-pagreenways@state.pa.us 
    400 Market Street
    Harrisburg, PA 17105

    Metrics to Use to Monitor Tool Effectiveness:
    Greenways contribute to the overall quality of life of a community or state and the measurement of the success of the greenways is dependent upon the identified goals of each jurisdiction. For example, the State of Pennsylvania lost much of its agricultural land to urban areas over the last 25 years. This rate has a sizeable economic impact on the agricultural industry, but also threatens some of the unique characteristics of Pennsylvania. The development of the Pennypack Greenway Corridor helped to preserve the rural dairy farm landscape in the areas surrounding the cities of Montgomery and Philadelphia. Other goals, such as linking communities, encouraging a healthier lifestyle, and preserving local heritage were met by the York County Heritage Trail, a “Rails-to-Trails” project in York County, Pennsylvania.

    List of Resources to Obtain Additional Info:
  • “Benefits of Greenways: A Pennsylvania Study”. 2002.
  • Pennsylvania’s Greenway Clearinghouse
  • “Town of Chapel Hill Greenways Master Plan”. 2006. Town of Chapel Hill
  • “BiPed Plan” 2006. City of Greensboro.