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Assessing Spatial
Equity and Accessibility to
the Little Sugar Creek Greenway
By: Ray Atkinson
Table of Contents
1. Introd...
Atkinson 2
1. Introduction
Charlotte was mostly built after the introduction of the automobile. Its heavy reliance on
the ...
Atkinson 3
A greenway is a corridor of protected open space that urban and rural areas create for the
enjoyment of local r...
Atkinson 4
they were then forced to depend on their automobile to reach the greenway. The greenway
survey conducted by CAB...
Atkinson 5
planners in evaluating how effective the current greenway system is and what needs to be
changed for future gre...
Atkinson 6
Accessibility refers to the ease with which a site or service can be reached or obtained
(Gregory, 1986). Spati...
Atkinson 7
greenways. Even though the study did not inquire about how far the users traveled to reach the
greenway, it did...
Atkinson 8
Proximity was determined from the population density within a 10-minute walking, bicycling
and driving-trip roa...
Atkinson 9
Mark’s Trail in Tallahassee, Florida was used 81% by bicyclists and 9% by walkers and the
Lafayette/Moraga Trai...
Atkinson 10
Studies evaluating potential accessibility are often used to assess whether or not access to
such public facil...
Atkinson 11
may not be built within an accessible distance of people with low incomes (Scott and Munson,
1994). However, b...
Atkinson 12
Figure 1
Atkinson 13
For the second, revealed access aspect of this study, I focused on the Little Sugar Creek
Greenway from Centra...
Atkinson 14
It should be noted that CABA did not include the other sections of the Little Sugar Creek
Greenway in its reve...
Atkinson 15
are directed onto the sidewalk, which should only be used for walking, this section is considered
an overland ...
Atkinson 16
Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance (CABA) Greenway revealed-preference survey and user count
conducted on Saturda...
Atkinson 17
greenway network in an area where pedestrians can realistically enter the greenway. For
instance, the sidewalk...
Atkinson 18
point in a Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation approved parking infrastructure and
connected the greenway ...
Atkinson 19
or have a selection of eateries within a 5- to10-minute walk (approximately ¼ mile) may choose
to walk as oppo...
Atkinson 20
users, I narrowed the study area down to the previously mentioned 5, 10, 15 minute drive and
walk time service...
Atkinson 21
Figure 5
Unlike automobile accessibility, walking accessibility has nowhere near as far of a reach.
As Figure ...
Atkinson 22
Figure 6
In order to understand how similar or different the revealed users of the Little Sugar
Creek Greenway...
Atkinson 23
surveys indicate in Figures 7 and 8, users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway come from
throughout the Charlot...
Atkinson 24
Figure 7
CABA's February 9, 2013 greenway survey, which differed from the 2012 survey by
asking Little Sugar C...
Atkinson 25
and Independence Blvd. As with the 2012 survey, a few users traveled to the greenway from
outside Mecklenburg ...
Atkinson 26
Understanding what mode of transportation revealed greenway users took to reach the
greenway is critical in gr...
Atkinson 27
With a good understanding of the revealed greenway users, one can now look at the
potential greenway users.
Fi...
Atkinson 28
system so walking is made easy. On the other hand, as one travels away from uptown, one will
find fewer people...
Atkinson 29
Figure 12
Atkinson 30
5. Discussion
Given the previous studies, the following research questions emerge for Mecklenburg
County. The ...
Atkinson 31
Figure 13
Atkinson 32
The sidewalk network only covers the City of Charlotte so greenways located outside the
City of Charlotte but ...
Atkinson 33
research because it would be interesting to research how well the current bike lane and signed
bike route syst...
Atkinson 34
The survey only asked for home zip codes so the data was too aggregated. Even though
zip code data is limited,...
Atkinson 35
times of use during the day and week” (Maslow et al., 2012). “Intercept surveys were conducted
quarterly from ...
Atkinson 36
Charlotte City Council has expressed interest to CABA and I to conduct an economic impact
study of the greenwa...
Atkinson 37
blacks who walk to work is not near the greenway so they are forced to rely on the automobile to
reach the gre...
Atkinson 38
Furuseth, O. J., and Altman, R. E. (1990). Greenway Use and Users: An Examination of Raleigh
and Charlotte Gre...
Atkinson 39
Mecklenburg County. Parks and Recreation Department. (2003). Little Sugar Creek Greenway
Master Plan. http://c...
Atkinson 40
Scott, D., and Munson, W. (1994). Perceived constraints to park usage among individuals with
low incomes. Jour...
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Assessing Spatial Equity and Accessibility to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway

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Ray Atkinson's senior honors thesis at UNC Charlotte.

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Assessing Spatial Equity and Accessibility to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway

  1. 1. Assessing Spatial Equity and Accessibility to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway By: Ray Atkinson Table of Contents 1. Introduction................................................................................................................................. 2 1.1 Significance of Problem........................................................................................................ 3 2. Literature Review........................................................................................................................ 4 2.1 Research Questions............................................................................................................. 10 3. Study Area and Methodology................................................................................................... 11 3.1 Study Area........................................................................................................................... 11 3.2 Methodology....................................................................................................................... 15 4. Results....................................................................................................................................... 20 5. Discussion................................................................................................................................. 30 6. Limitations ................................................................................................................................ 30 7. Future Research......................................................................................................................... 35 8. Conclusion ................................................................................................................................ 36 9. References................................................................................................................................. 37
  2. 2. Atkinson 2 1. Introduction Charlotte was mostly built after the introduction of the automobile. Its heavy reliance on the automobile has resulted in a sprawling community of wide roads with numerous cul-de-sacs and high vehicular speeds. These roads, especially as one travels further from the Central Business District, often lack sidewalks on both sides of the road, marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals. Not providing this safe pedestrian infrastructure increases automobile dependence and discourages active transportation. To make matters worse, the sprawling nature of our community dramatically increases the distance it takes to travel anywhere in the city. While it is nice to arrive at destinations quickly, residents have also expressed a strong desire to have places to recreate and exercise. “The results of the 2008 Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Master Plan clearly reveal the public’s appreciation for natural areas and their desire for a trail system. Echoing results found in Charlotte Department of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian survey results, residents desired and supported the development of an interconnected trail system. From a list of 28 parks and recreation facilities, the top requested by the public was walking and biking trails (74%). The national average was 68%" (Mecklenburg, 2008). Further results indicated that "93% of all residents felt the role of greenways as a connected network of walking, biking and nature trails was very important (75%) or somewhat important (18%)" (Mecklenburg, 2008). Greenways are one aspect of how Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation is offering residents of and visitors to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County the ability to live an active lifestyle.
  3. 3. Atkinson 3 A greenway is a corridor of protected open space that urban and rural areas create for the enjoyment of local residents and visitors. Through the creation of greenways, Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation is providing residents of and visitors to Charlotte and Mecklenburg County with numerous benefits that they can enjoy year-round. Some of these benefits include providing local residents and visitors with a scenic location to recreate, a space to walk or bike that is separated from automobile traffic, and a reduction in vehicular congestion. It is important to ensure during the planning stage that access to greenways does not favor one particular group over another. The purpose of this research is to discover whether greenway users are forced to rely on the automobile or can walk to access a greenway and whether a diverse group of users can access a greenway. This research has two components: a GIS-based assessment of spatial equity to greenways by both motorized and non-motorized transportation throughout Mecklenburg County. To better understand who actually utilizes greenways, the second component consists of a revealed-preference survey of users of one particular greenway, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Together, these two aspects provide an assessment of who potentially has access to greenways, and who actually utilizes these facilities. The remaining structure of this paper is as follows: the significance of problem, literature review, research questions, study area and methodology, results, discussion, limitations, future research, and conclusion. 1.1 Significance of Problem Greenways provide a safe space to recreate, exercise and commute that is separated from automobile traffic. Unfortunately, reaching the greenway is not always safe because there may not be sidewalks, marked crosswalks, pedestrian signals, or safe neighborhood connections to the greenway. Local residents probably noticed this phenomenon and realized
  4. 4. Atkinson 4 they were then forced to depend on their automobile to reach the greenway. The greenway survey conducted by CABA revealed that most greenway users, even those living within a mile of the greenway, arrive by automobile (Beaupre, 2012; Beaupre, 2013). The greenway survey conducted in 2012 collected 108 surveys and 2013 collected 151 surveys. Since there were a minimum of 100 surveys collected, both surveys are considered reliable (Gobster, 1995). Due to the reliance on the automobile, those who do not live within walking distance of the greenway and cannot afford an automobile do not have access to the greenway. This is problematic because these people may not have access to other safe locations to exercise so may be limited in their ability to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle. 2. Literature Review Greenway planning has existed in the United States since the 1800s with Frederick Olmsted being the father of the greenway movement in America (Fabos, 2004). However, research on the actual users of greenways does not have a long history. Furuseth (1991) stated that "while the number of greenways is expanding, our understanding of users and their behavior is limited" (329). This quandary impacts the planning efforts of park and recreation planners because they rely on the data to "make rational planning and locational decisions concerning future greenways" (329). To make matters worse, "few, if any, studies have examined multiple trails within an area" (Gobster, 1995). A study on the impacts of rail-trails, which are trails built from former rail lines, was "the first extensive study to examine the benefits and impacts of rail- trails and the first, to our knowledge, to systematically examine both the trail users and nearby property owners of the same trail" (Moore et al., 1992). It is important to study individual greenway users and the entire greenway system because the results can assist park and recreation
  5. 5. Atkinson 5 planners in evaluating how effective the current greenway system is and what needs to be changed for future greenways. Even though practically every city, county, or state government in the United States has created a greenway master plan, the number of academic greenway studies that survey actual users of the greenways does not have as long of a history and is not as widespread. Greenway studies have been conducted in several urban, suburban and rural locations throughout the United States, including: Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, Washington (Zacker et al., 1987), North Branch Bicycle Trail in Chicago, Illinois (Gobster, 1988), Elroy-Sparta State Trail between Elroy and Sparta, Wisconsin (Schwecke et al., 1989), McAlpine Creek Greenway in Charlotte, North Carolina and four segments along the Capital Area Greenway System in Raleigh, North Carolina (Furuseth and Altman, 1990) (Furuseth and Altman, 1991), Missouri River State Trail in Missouri (Bhullar et al., 1991), Heritage Trail in eastern Iowa, St. Mark’s Trail in Tallahassee, Florida and Lafayette/Moraga Trail in San Francisco, California (Moore et al., 1992), Raccoon River Valley Trail in rural Iowa (Robertson, 1992), thirteen trails in Chicago, Illinois (Gobster, 1995), twelve sample sites along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina (Moore and Barthlow, 1998), Brays Bayou and Buffalo Bauou Trails in Houston, Texas and Shoal Creek Trail in Austin, Texas (Shafer et al., 2000), seven trails in the Indianapolis Greenways System in Indianapolis, Indiana (Lindsey, 2001), trails in Sumter County, South Carolina (Reed, 2004), North Country Trail in Battle Creek, Michigan and Lansing River Trail in Lansing, Michigan (Coutts, 2008), Cattail Trail in West Lafayette, Indiana and Three Rivers Greenway in Columbia, South Carolina (Troped et al., 2009), Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail in Spartanburg, South Carolina (Reed et al., 2011) (Maslow et al., 2012), and Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina (Price et al., 2012).
  6. 6. Atkinson 6 Accessibility refers to the ease with which a site or service can be reached or obtained (Gregory, 1986). Spatial accessibility can be broken down to potential access, which refers to the availability of a service and realized access, which refers to actual usage (Aday and Andersen, 1974). These concepts are important to greenway planning because planners must understand who the revealed and potential users of greenways are and whether these users have safe and convenient access to the greenways. In the greenway access literature, Lindsey et al. (2001) studied seven trails in the Indianapolis Greenways System and defined access as the populations that live in census tracts at least partially within one-half mile of each greenway (338). This study utilized the notion of proximity to assess accessibility. Proximity to a greenway is an important aspect of many greenway user studies because greenway planners must understand where and who the potential users of a planned greenway are and how they may travel to the greenway. This information is important to them because they need to provide sufficient sidewalks, crosswalks, automobile and bicycle parking spaces, bicycle lanes, and transit from near the greenway user's origin to where he/she may enter the greenway. However, understanding where and who the potential and revealed users of greenways are and how they may travel to the greenway will allow this infrastructure to be focused in areas where the greatest need is. As many of the following studies show, the closer greenway users are to the greenway the more likely they will chose to arrive by a mode other than the personal automobile. One of the first greenway studies was done by the City of Seattle’s Engineering Department. While the study did not look at the users of the greenway, it did study the effect the Burke-Gilman Trail has had on property values and crime affecting property near and adjacent to the trail (Zacker et al., 1987). A National Park Service study done on the North Branch Bicycle Trail in Chicago, Illinois may be the first greenway study to survey the actual users of
  7. 7. Atkinson 7 greenways. Even though the study did not inquire about how far the users traveled to reach the greenway, it did make use of a bicycle traffic counter and an intercept survey (Gobster, 1988). Closer to home, a primary service area extended in a 5 mile radius from the McAlpine Creek Greenway in Charlotte and four segments along the Capital Area Greenway System in Raleigh (Furuseth and Altman, 1990; Furuseth and Altman, 1991). A study completed on thirteen greenway trails in Chicago found that the median distance to reach the trail was 4 miles. However, this distance fluctuated dramatically when the trails were classified as a local, regional or state trail. Local trails attracted more than 50% of users from a distance of 5 miles or less. Regional trails attracted more than 50% of users from a distance of between 6 and 20 miles. State trails attracted more than 50% of users from a distance of more than 20 miles (Gobster, 1995). A study of similar size was conducted in rural Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina using 12 sample sites along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. The distance users traveled in miles to reach one of the sample sites ranged drastically. For instance, 45% of users entering at the Wataugans site traveled 10 miles or less while only 2% of users entering at the Cowpens site traveled 10 miles or less (Moore and Barthlow, 1998). Even though populations may have access to a greenway, they may not be aware of a greenway being located nearby or may not use it. A telephone survey was administered in Sumter County, South Carolina to measure agreement between awareness and presence of trails. The survey found that 56% of the respondents reported having trails and only 33% reported using the trails (Reed, 2004). A different approach to determine how many people use greenways was applied in a study of the North Country Trail in Battle Creek, Michigan and Lansing River Trail in Lansing, Michigan. The study looked at proximity, opportunity and greenway users, of which proximity and opportunity are directly comparable to potential and revealed access.
  8. 8. Atkinson 8 Proximity was determined from the population density within a 10-minute walking, bicycling and driving-trip road network distance of each greenway access point. Opportunity was determined by the mixture of land uses that could be reached from a given greenway segment. Greenway users were observed and recorded by making multiple bicycle passes over the entire length of the greenway (Coutts, 2008). An intercept survey administered on the Cattail Trail in West Lafayette, Indiana and Three Rivers Greenway in Columbia, South Carolina found that a majority of trail users could travel to the trail in less than 15 minutes (Troped et al., 2009). Another intercept survey revealed that the users of the Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail in Spartanburg, South Carolina resided on average 2.89 miles from the greenway (Reed et al., 2011). Just down Interstate 85 in Greenville, South Carolina, another intercept survey was administered on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. The average distance users traveled to reach the greenway was 9.2 miles (Price et al. 2012). Since greenway users must reach the greenway somehow, transportation is a key element of greenway studies. One of the first studies to look at this was a National Park Service study done on the North Branch Bicycle Trail in Chicago, Illinois. Even though bicycle use along the trail can easily exceed 3,000 cyclists per day, 40% of users drove to the trail via automobile so the trail is primarily used for recreation and not for commuting (Gobster, 1988). These findings are similar for the McAlpine Creek Greenway in Charlotte, North Carolina and Capital Area Greenway in Raleigh, North Carolina, which are used primarily for walking, jogging or running, and bicycling. Since both of these greenways lack accessibility to city-wide travel destinations, extensive use of either greenway for transportation is unrealistic (Furuseth and Altman, 1990). A National Park Service study of greenways in Iowa, Florida and California reported similar trail uses. The Heritage Trail in eastern Iowa was used 65% by bicyclists and 29% by walkers, the St.
  9. 9. Atkinson 9 Mark’s Trail in Tallahassee, Florida was used 81% by bicyclists and 9% by walkers and the Lafayette/Moraga Trail in San Francisco, Florida was used 20% by bicyclists and 63% by walkers (Moore et al., 1992). Possibly the first greenway study to evaluate an entire greenway system was conducted on thirteen greenway trails in Chicago. The greenways were classified as a local, regional or state trail. The users of local trails most frequently reached the trail by bicycle or on foot, with only 24% of respondents arriving by automobile. The opposite was true for users of regional and state trails, of whom 54% and 77%, respectively, arrived by automobile (Gobster, 1995). One way to encourage greenway users to arrive by bicycle or on foot is to make the greenway and street systems more connected. This was noted in a study of the Brays Bayou and Buffalo Bauou Trails in Houston, Texas and Shoal Creek Trail in Austin, Texas. “Access to the greenway through good connections from work to home and connections among trail segments through grade separations at intersecting roadways help determine intensity and types of trail use” (Shafer et al., 2000). A study done in Sumter County, South Carolina found that of the individuals reporting having trails, only 33% reported using the trails. Among these individuals, 49% used the trails for walking (Reed, 2004). When comparing South Carolina trail users to Indiana trail users, a much higher percentage of Indiana trail users walked, bicycled, or ran to the trail than did South Carolina users. Overall, about 52% of trail users from both South Carolina and Indiana drove to the trail (Troped et al., 2009). Unlike the previous study, which asked trail users how they reached the trail, a study of the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina reported 91% of trail users using the trail for exercise, 2% for commuting and 7% for both exercise and commuting (Price et al. 2012).
  10. 10. Atkinson 10 Studies evaluating potential accessibility are often used to assess whether or not access to such public facilities is equal across all segments of the population, including but not limited to race, ethnicity and income. Even though equity may appear to be an easily defined concept, there are numerous ways to define it. Talen (1998) identified four categories including everyone receives the same public benefit regardless of need, distribution of public benefits according to need, distribution of public benefits according to demand, and willingness to pay for the public benefit. Unfortunately, “few authors have integrated the evaluation of accessibility and equity within a single study” (Nicholls, 2001). For those who do study equity of access to public facilities, the results are inconsistent and inconclusive: some show inequity while others do not, and some results are surprising (Lindsey et al., 2001). A study of the park system in Bryan, Texas found no evidence of inequity. Instead, it found non-Whites, especially Blacks, as well as those with lower housing values or rents to have significantly higher levels of access to parks than their White, higher income neighbors (Nicholls, 2001). A similar result was found during a study of seven trails in the Indianapolis Greenways System. This study found that the poor and minorities have disproportionately high access to the greenway trails (Lindsey et al., 2001). However, this is not always the case. The opposite was true in Cleveland, Ohio where people with low incomes were far more likely than people with higher incomes to state they do not use parks more often because parks were located too far away, they had no way to get to parks, and public transportation to parks was unavailable (Scott and Munson, 1994). 2.1 Research Questions One of the goals of this research is to find out who does and does not use the greenway. Even though "there is a general belief among park and recreation professionals that people with low incomes have a greater need for government park and recreation services," these services
  11. 11. Atkinson 11 may not be built within an accessible distance of people with low incomes (Scott and Munson, 1994). However, building something does not mean people are going to use it. “It is well documented that people with lower incomes use recreation facilities less than other sectors of the population” (Lindsey et al., 2001). Given the previous studies, the following research questions emerge for Mecklenburg County. The first deals with the equity of access to the greenway network throughout the county. Is the greenway equally accessible by both pedestrians and motorists? The second question focuses on revealed vs. potential access to the greenways. How do revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway compare with those who may potentially have access to the Mecklenburg County greenway system? 3. Study Area and Methodology 3.1 Study Area My research consists of two study areas so I can effectively answer the research questions. These study areas are the Mecklenburg County greenway system and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, which is a section of the Mecklenburg County greenway system. At the time of this study, the Mecklenburg County greenway system, which is shown in Figure 1, has 37 miles of developed and 150 miles of undeveloped greenways.
  12. 12. Atkinson 12 Figure 1
  13. 13. Atkinson 13 For the second, revealed access aspect of this study, I focused on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway from Central Piedmont Community College's Main Campus to Freedom Park (Figure 2). While I hope a comprehensive revealed-preference survey of the users of every greenway in Mecklenburg County is conducted someday, the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance (CABA) took the initiative to get the process started by conducting two revealed-preference surveys of users along the urban section of Little Sugar Creek Greenway from Central Piedmont Community College's Main Campus to Freedom Park. In addition, as the below map indicates, CABA conducted two user counts at the Metropolitan and Freedom Park. Figure 2
  14. 14. Atkinson 14 It should be noted that CABA did not include the other sections of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in its revealed-preferene surveys or user counts. Possible reasons why the other sections of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway were not included in CABA's study area are because the Cordelia Park to Alexander Park Section is disconnected from the Freedom Park to 7th Street Section by Independence Blvd and I-277. The section south of Freedom Park forces users onto the sidewalk along Jameston Drive to reach the greenway further south. Since users
  15. 15. Atkinson 15 are directed onto the sidewalk, which should only be used for walking, this section is considered an overland connector until the greenway splits from the sidewalk at Westfield Road. Lastly, the Huntingtowne Farms Park Section is totally disconnected from the rest of the greenway. The urban section, which is included in CABA's study area, opened in April 2010. As the name implies, the Little Sugar Creek Greenway is a riparian greenway because it was built along the Little Sugar Creek. CABA's revealed-preference surveys and user counts were conducted on two Saturdays, November 3, 2012 and February 9, 2013 from 11am-3pm. CABA surveyed 108 users and counted 514 users at the Metropolitan and 371 users at Freedom Park on November 3, 2012. With a few changes to the survey instrument, CABA surveyed 151 users and counted 585 users at the Metropolitan and 588 users at Freedom Park on February 9, 2013. A Saturday was chosen for the survey because many of the volunteers who helped conduct the survey had to work during the week. CABA has expressed interest in doing a weekday survey during the morning or afternoon, particular during rush hour so it can capture those who use the greenway to commute to work during normal business hours. The 11am-3pm time frame was chosen to capture those who may use the greenway to get lunch or recreate along the greenway. Some of the reasons why the Little Sugar Creek Greenway was chosen over another greenway in Mecklenburg County are due to its length (nearly 6 miles), high usage, grade-separated road crossings, and proximity to economic centers of activity. 3.2 Methodology Table 1. Data Sources Source Data
  16. 16. Atkinson 16 Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance (CABA) Greenway revealed-preference survey and user count conducted on Saturday, November 3, 2012 and Saturday, February 9, 2013 from 11am-3pm Charlotte Department of Transportation Road, sidewalk, marked crosswalk, unmarked crossing layers Mecklenburg County GIS Mecklenburg County land use layer Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation Greenway layer 2010 U.S. Census Bureau Total population, sex, race, age groups, high school graduate or higher, median household income, below poverty line, travel to work I used ArcGIS 10 and the data found in Table 1 to complete the methodology for both research questions. I appreciate the assistance from all the sources I worked with to complete my research. In order to determine whether the Mecklenburg County greenway system is accessible by both pedestrians and motorists, I created pedestrian and motorist entrance points and lines for each greenway in ArcGIS 10. As Figure 3 demonstrates, the pedestrian entrance points are located where pedestrian entrance lines intersect with the sidewalk network and the motorist entrance points are located where motorist entrance lines intersect with the road network. The pedestrian entrance lines are needed because the sidewalk network rarely intersects with the
  17. 17. Atkinson 17 greenway network in an area where pedestrians can realistically enter the greenway. For instance, the sidewalk in Figure 3 travels over the bridge while the greenway travels under the bridge. Even though the sidewalk and greenway intersect, it is not possible for a pedestrian to enter the greenway from this point. Figure 3 A similar issue was found and resolved with the motorist network. The motorist entrance lines are needed because the road network rarely intersects with the greenway network in an area where motorists can realistically enter the greenway. For instance, it is not realistic to park an automobile in the middle of the road where the road network intersects with the greenway. Instead, motorists must park their automobile in a parking space so I placed the motorist entrance
  18. 18. Atkinson 18 point in a Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation approved parking infrastructure and connected the greenway to the road network through the motorist entrance lines. Not all parking infrastructure is approved for use by greenway users so I only included approved parking infrastructure. Once I had the motorist and pedestrian access worked out, I applied Figure 4 to create 5, 10, 15 minute drive and walk time service areas from each greenway in Mecklenburg County. Network analyst, which is the tool I used to create the service areas, is outlined in red. Figure 4 I chose the 5, 10, and 15 minute time range because people may choose walking over driving when the distance to the greenway is under ten minutes or a quarter mile walk. Even though fifteen minutes is stretching this limit, it is still possible that some people may choose walking over driving. “Residents of neighborhoods who can walk to a corner store for groceries Motorist Greenway Access Point (Parking Lot) Pedestrian Greenway Access Point Sidewalk, Marked Crosswalk, Unmarked Crossing Network Road Network Network Dataset Network Dataset 5, 10, 15 Minute Drive Time Service Area 5, 10, 15 Minute Walk Time Service Area Network Analyst Network Analyst
  19. 19. Atkinson 19 or have a selection of eateries within a 5- to10-minute walk (approximately ¼ mile) may choose to walk as opposed to drive a car. If these same establishments were a 20-minute walk (more than one mile), driving would be more likely” (Frank, 2000). The road layer provided the speed limit, minute travel, and shape length in meters fields so drive time was already provided. The sidewalk layer provided the shape length in meters field. However, it did not provide the speed limit or minute travel fields since sidewalks do not have a speed limit. I calculated the walk time by “assuming a pedestrian can walk at 3 km/hour” (ESRI). The walk and drive time service areas were helpful in comparing the revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway with the potential users of the Mecklenburg County greenway system because I needed to select the populations who live within the walk and drive time service areas. However, before I reached this point I needed to display the revealed and potential users. Since CABA conducted two surveys along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, I have access to two sets of revealed greenway users. Both survey results include socio-economic data so the revealed greenway users can be compared to the potential greenway users. The results from the 2012 CABA survey were joined to the North Carolina zip code layer so the greenway user's home zip code could be displayed. The results from the 2013 CABA survey had to be displayed through a different method because the survey asked for the nearest street intersection to the greenway user's home instead of just their home zip code. I used BatchGeo to obtain GPS coordinates for the street intersections. These coordinates were added to a spreadsheet, which included the socio-economic data of the revealed greenway users, then added to ArcMap. With the location and socio-economic data of revealed Little Sugar Creek Greenway users in hand, the location and socio-economic data of potential Mecklenburg County greenway users can be compiled. Even though there isn't point data for the location of potential greenway
  20. 20. Atkinson 20 users, I narrowed the study area down to the previously mentioned 5, 10, 15 minute drive and walk time service areas. This allows me to discuss the potential for people living within these service areas to drive or walk to the greenway. The socio-economic data for the potential users comes from the 2010 census. In order to display this data in ArcMap 10, I joined the census data to the Mecklenburg County census tracts. 4. Results The following results explore whether the Mecklenburg County greenway system is equally accessible by both pedestrians and motorists and how similar or different the revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway are to those who may potentially have access to the Mecklenburg County greenway system. As Figure 5 shows, nearly the entire county is accessible to at least one greenway within a fifteen minute drive. The drive time access is improved when interstate highways or other major roads are located near the greenway parking and reduced when there is limited road connectivity or minor roads located near the greenway parking. For instance, Interstates 77 and 85 provide excellent automobile accessibility from the greenways located near uptown Charlotte. This accessibility is reduced the further one travels along minor roads between the interstate highways because minor roads have lower speed limits than interstate highways.
  21. 21. Atkinson 21 Figure 5 Unlike automobile accessibility, walking accessibility has nowhere near as far of a reach. As Figure 6 indicates, some greenways appear to not be accessible to walkers. While this does not mean there are no walkers on these greenways, the pedestrian infrastructure may not be sufficient within the pedestrian service area to make the walker's route to the greenway feel safe and convenient.
  22. 22. Atkinson 22 Figure 6 In order to understand how similar or different the revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway are to those who may potentially have access to the Mecklenburg County greenway system, one should first understand where revealed users are coming to the greenway from so one can better understand where potential users may come to the Mecklenburg County greenway system from. As the home location result from CABA's 2012 and 2013 greenway
  23. 23. Atkinson 23 surveys indicate in Figures 7 and 8, users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway come from throughout the Charlotte region and outside North Carolina. Due to the large catch basin and central location near uptown of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, the revealed home locations should be a good representation of the potential users home locations of other greenways in the Mecklenburg County greenway system. CABA's November 3, 2012 greenway survey, which asked Little Sugar Creek Greenway users for their home zip code, showed a concentration of greenway users near the greenway and to the east in neighborhoods such as Plaza Midwood (Figure 7). However, some users traveled from as far away as Gastonia to use the greenway. Since Gastonia and locations in other parts of Mecklenburg County also have greenways, people are traveling out of their way to use the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. To make matters worse, it is highly unlikely people will walk to the Little Sugar Creek Greenway if it is further than a half mile away. This means that most, if not all, of the greenway users are arriving by automobile. “If distinct land uses are separated, if the distance between them are great, and if roads are more available than sidewalks and paths, then people shift from walking and bicycling to driving. Accordingly, the U.S. is a nation of drivers, in which only 1% of trips are on bicycles and 9% are on foot” (Frumkin, 2002). Gastonia and other parts of Mecklenburg County could reduce the number of users arriving at their local greenways via automobile by making the local greenways in Gastonia and other parts of Mecklenburg County more attractive to walking. Some ways to do this is to install sidewalks on both sides of the road and ensure there are marked crosswalks and pedestrian signals on all sides of an intersection.
  24. 24. Atkinson 24 Figure 7 CABA's February 9, 2013 greenway survey, which differed from the 2012 survey by asking Little Sugar Creek Greenway users for the nearest street intersection to their home, also showed a concentration of greenway users near the greenway then (Figure 8). While there is less user density, many users are also located south of the greenway between Interstates 77 and 485
  25. 25. Atkinson 25 and Independence Blvd. As with the 2012 survey, a few users traveled to the greenway from outside Mecklenburg County and even some from outside North Carolina. These users actually found the home street intersection question on the CABA survey confusing because they didn't know whether they should provide their home street intersection. Instead, some participants only wrote out of state or the city they came from. Future greenway studies could be improved to reduce this confusion. Figure 8
  26. 26. Atkinson 26 Understanding what mode of transportation revealed greenway users took to reach the greenway is critical in greenway planning because the infrastructure needed to support walkers varies greatly from the infrastructure needed to support motorists. As Figure 9 indicates, a majority of the revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway drove an automobile to the greenway. This makes sense because the automobile can be used at nearly any distance. However, the same cannot be said for walking. Due to the limited distance most people are willing to walk, it should not be surprising that walkers are concentrated near the greenway with the number of walkers dropping off drastically the further one travels from the greenway. Figure 9
  27. 27. Atkinson 27 With a good understanding of the revealed greenway users, one can now look at the potential greenway users. Figure 10 Even though people do not just use the greenway to walk to work, the Census Bureau's journey to work data provides a reliable method of understanding how many people walk in an area (Figure 11). This data shows that most people who walk to work are located in uptown. This is not surprising because people who live in uptown usually also work in uptown. In addition, uptown is filled with skyscrapers built in a highly dense area and has a well-connected sidewalk
  28. 28. Atkinson 28 system so walking is made easy. On the other hand, as one travels away from uptown, one will find fewer people walking to work, less dense development and less connected sidewalks. Only the northern section of the greenway is located close to uptown so it is likely that only those living in or near uptown will walk to the greenway. Everyone else will likely drive an automobile to the greenway because they usually do not walk to work. Figure 11
  29. 29. Atkinson 29 Figure 12
  30. 30. Atkinson 30 5. Discussion Given the previous studies, the following research questions emerge for Mecklenburg County. The first deals with the equity of access to the greenway network throughout the county. Is the greenway equally accessible by both pedestrians and motorists? The second question focuses on revealed vs. potential access to the greenways. How do revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway compare with those who may potentially have access to the Mecklenburg County greenway system? 6. Limitations The lack of sidewalks in Charlotte, especially the further one travels away from uptown, resulted in greenway entrances not being located near the actual pedestrian entrance to the greenway. One of many examples of this is shown below in Figure 13. Several of the pedestrian entrance points are located over a mile away, along a euclidean distance represented as the pedestrian entrance line, from the actual greenway entrance. I chose to place the pedestrian entrance points at these locations because the nearest sidewalks are located there. This said, however, it is possible that the streets that do not have sidewalks have low traffic volumes and speed limits and are located in a neighborhood with dead end cul-de-sacs. If this is the case then the City of Charlotte may decided that sidewalks were not needed to provide safe and convenient pedestrian access to the greenway. Instead, the City of Charlotte may have felt the local residents could walk along the neighborhood streets to access the greenway. To resolve this limitation and improve the pedestrian service area, I could have edited the City of Charlotte's sidewalk network to include artificial sidewalks near the greenway access points.
  31. 31. Atkinson 31 Figure 13
  32. 32. Atkinson 32 The sidewalk network only covers the City of Charlotte so greenways located outside the City of Charlotte but within Mecklenburg County were not included in the pedestrian service area. To resolve this issue, I should have contacted every municipality within Mecklenburg County to ask for their sidewalk layer. Strangely enough, municipalities were not the only entity that I needed to contact. The City of Charlotte sidewalk layer does not include the UNC Charlotte pedestrian network, which includes on-campus sidewalks and paths. While I have access to the UNC Charlotte pedestrian network, I was not able to redo the pedestrian service area to include the UNC Charlotte pedestrian network. This is due to the facts that this network also included the UNC Charlotte road network and the attribute table for the network did not separate the pedestrian network from the road network. Since these networks were not separated, I was unable to select the pedestrian network from the road network. This oversight by UNC Charlotte and miscommunication between UNC Charlotte and the City of Charlotte has resulted in the greenways surrounding UNC Charlotte to appear lower than they should for their walking accessibility. The road network only includes roads located in Mecklenburg County because one of my study areas was the Mecklenburg County greenway system. This impacted the drive time service area because greenway users can reach some greenways within fifteen minutes from outside Mecklenburg County. However, since the road network from outside Mecklenburg County was not included in my study, a more accurate drive time service area was not calculated. Walking and driving are not the only modes people could use to reach the greenway. I chose to exclude bicycling and transit users for a variety of reasons. The largest reason is time constraint. Other reasons include the limited bicycle network connectivity and the variety of modes transit users can start or end their trip with. I would like to include these modes in future
  33. 33. Atkinson 33 research because it would be interesting to research how well the current bike lane and signed bike route systems increase access to the greenway. In addition, B Cycle, which is a bike share system, has several stops along the greenway and there are several bike racks located on or near the greenway. It would also be interesting to research how well the Blue Line light rail system and connected bus system improve access to the greenway. With several bus stops located near the greenway, it would be interesting to see how much transit has improved access and equity to the greenway. I included equity because not everyone has access to an automobile. Even though I used areal interpolation to gather the socio-economic characteristics of the potential greenway users, there are limitations to using it. Areal interpolation is a generalization of the population that lives in the census tract. It also assumes the population is evenly spread throughout the census tract so if the densest area of the census tract is outside the study area then the data may not be true. The CABA survey was only conducted on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. There are currently sixteen other greenways in Mecklenburg County with several more planned. By researching the other greenways, I could find out if the revealed socio-economic characteristics of other greenway users are similar or different to the revealed socio-economic characteristics of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway users. Several questions on the CABA greenway survey were changed between the 2012 and 2013 surveys. The November 3, 2012 CABA greenway survey was limited by several factors. These factors include only asking for home zip codes, only being conducted on one day, only conducted on the weekend, and excluding some socio-economic characteristics.
  34. 34. Atkinson 34 The survey only asked for home zip codes so the data was too aggregated. Even though zip code data is limited, there were ways for me to incorporate it into my study. The Feature-to- Point Tool allows me to get the zip code centroid. However, a few limitations of using the centroid are that it makes the assumption that everyone from the zip code lives at the centroid and aggregates the socioeconomic characteristics of everyone living within the zip code. This is a large concern due to the large size of zip codes. In addition, gathering socioeconomic data from the Census Bureau is difficult because it does not provide much zip code data for 2010. While I knew the survey was asking for home zip codes, I did not recognize the issue with zip code census data until after the survey was conducted. Another issue with zip codes is that it does not provide me with point data. I need point data to show how people potentially could travel from their home to the greenway. The most obvious way to accomplish this is to ask for the person’s home address. However, due to privacy concerns and risk of few responses, it may be better to ask for the nearest intersection. Other greenway surveys have asked respondents for their nearest street intersection. “Each randomly selected respondent was asked for the nearest2 cross-streets of their primary residence (survey respondents reported traveling to the rail/trail from residence only)” (Reed et al., 2011). I plan to work with CABA to request that future surveys ask for the nearest intersection. The survey was limited because it was only conducted on one day and only on the weekend. “In an effort to obtain a representative sample, time of day and day of the week (weekday, weekend) for data collection were systematically varied” (Troped, 2009). My literature review found several other surveys that were conducted over more than one day. “Each year, interviewers attempted to intercept trail users at 4 times of the day for 7 consecutive days during each of the 4 seasons, to capture a representative sample and variations in seasons and
  35. 35. Atkinson 35 times of use during the day and week” (Maslow et al., 2012). “Intercept surveys were conducted quarterly from June30th, 2010 to July 1, 2011; a total of 1,148 intercept surveys were administered. Interviewers positioned themselves at access points along the trail to collect data over 4 days (i.e., Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday) each season (i.e., winter, spring, summer, and fall) for a total of 16 days, 4 times per day (7:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 3:30 pm and 6 pm)" (Price et al., 2012). This literature review suggests that the CABA survey needs to be conducted over several more days. In addition, it was limited because it was only conducted on the weekend. It needed to be conducted over at least one weekend day and week day so it could intercept a range of different users from weekday commuters to recreational users. My literature review introduced additional socio-economic characteristics and other questions to consider. Furuseth and Altman (1991) asked Capital Area Greenway users about "educational attainment, income, employment characteristics, home ownership, and environmental group membership” (332). However, I may not be able to include these questions because it is important to keep the survey as short as possible. The longer the survey the more likely responders will become exhausted and not complete the survey. After all, they are using the greenway to do something or go somewhere so their time is valuable. Since I needed to spatially locate the greenway users from both of the CABA surveys, I was limited on how much data I could use from the surveys in ArcMap because not every participant provided their home zip code or street intersection. 7. Future Research I am currently working with CABA to provide Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation and Charlotte City Council with the results of the greenway study. Specifically,
  36. 36. Atkinson 36 Charlotte City Council has expressed interest to CABA and I to conduct an economic impact study of the greenway. Surveys can always be improved so I have been working with CABA to find ways to improve the survey form, new strategies to conduct the survey, and additional strategies to reach both uses and non-users. One way the survey can be improved is to conduct the survey over at least one week day and one weekend day. The greenway surveys only reached revealed users. One of the goals of this study is to research the non-users and why they are not using the greenway. This could be accomplished through a random telephone survey of residents located within a certain distance of the greenway. It would be interesting to compare the proximity of greenway users to non-greenway users. In addition, the non-greenway users could provide valuable input into why they don’t use the greenway. 8. Conclusion Given the previous studies, the following research questions emerge for Mecklenburg County. The first deals with the equity of access to the greenway network throughout the county. Is the greenway equally accessible by both pedestrians and motorists? The second question focuses on revealed vs. potential access to the greenways. How do revealed users of the Little Sugar Creek Greenway compare with those who may potentially have access to the Mecklenburg County greenway system? The sprawling development found in Charlotte has resulted in a strong dependence on the automobile and an inability to walk for many trips. Due to the location of whites who walk to work near the greenway, they have greater access to the greenway. Unfortunately, the location of
  37. 37. Atkinson 37 blacks who walk to work is not near the greenway so they are forced to rely on the automobile to reach the greenway. In addition, families living in poverty have less access to the greenway because they do not live near the greenway and probably do not have enough money to afford an automobile. 9. References Aday, L. and Andersen, R. (1974). A Framework for the Study of Access to Medical Care. Health Services Research, 9(3), 208. Beaupre, H. Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance. Intercept survey of Little Sugar Creek Greenway users. November 3, 2012. Beaupre, H. Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance. Intercept survey of Little Sugar Creek Greenway users. February 9, 2013. Coutts, C. J. (2008). Greenway accessibility and physical activity behavior. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 35(3), 552-563. ESRI. Network Analyst Tutorial. 1-119. Frank, L. D. (2000). Land Use and Transportation Interaction Implications on Public Health and Quality of Life. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 20(1), 6-22. Frank, L. D., and Engelke, Peter. (n.d.). How Land Use and Transportation Systems Impact Public Heath: A Literature Review of the Relationship between Physical Activity and Built Form (Working Paper #1). http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/pdf/aces- workingpaper1.pdf December 12, 2012. Frumkin, H. (2002). Urban sprawl and public health. Public Health Reports, 117(3), 201-217.
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  39. 39. Atkinson 39 Mecklenburg County. Parks and Recreation Department. (2003). Little Sugar Creek Greenway Master Plan. http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/ParkandRec/Greenways/ LittleSugarCreekGreenway/Pages/Masterplan.aspx December 9, 2012. Moore, R. L., Graefe, A. R., Gitelson, R. J., and Porter, E. (1992). The Impacts of Rail-Trails: A Study of Users and Nearby Property Owners from Three Trails. National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program. Print. Moore, R. L., and Barthlow, K. (1998). The Economic Impacts and Uses of Long-Distance Trails: A Case Study of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. National Park Service. http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/12000/12200/12275/12275.pdf March 30, 2013. Nicholls, S. (2001). Measuring the accessibility and equity of public parks: a case study using GIS. Managing Leisure, 6(4), 201-219. O'Neill, W. A., Ramsey, R. D., and Chou, J. (1992). Analysis of transit service areas using geographic information systems. Transportation Research Record, (1364). Price, A. E., Reed, J. A., and Muthukrishnan, S. (2012). Trail User Demographics, Physical Activity Behaviors, and Perceptions of a Newly Constructed Greenway Trail. Journal of Community Health, 37(5), 949-956. Reed, J. A., Ainsworth, B. E., Wilson, D. K., Mixon, G., and Cook, A. (2004). Awareness and use of community walking trails. Preventive Medicine, 39(5), 903-908. Reed, J. A., Hooker, S. P., Muthukrishnan, S., and Hutto, B. (2011). User demographics and physical activity behaviors on a newly constructed urban rail/trail conversion. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8(4), 534-542.
  40. 40. Atkinson 40 Scott, D., and Munson, W. (1994). Perceived constraints to park usage among individuals with low incomes. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 12(4), 79-96. Shafer, C. S., Lee, B. K., and Turner, S. (2000). A tale of three greenway trails: user perceptions related to quality of life. Landscape and Urban Planning, 49(3), 163-178. Talen, E. (1998). Visualizing fairness: Equity maps for planners. Journal of the American Planning Association, 64(1), 22-38. Talen, E., and Anselin, L. (1998). Assessing spatial equity: an evaluation of measures of accessibility to public playgrounds. Environment and Planning a, 30, 595-613. Taylor, W. C., Floyd, M. F., Whitt-Glover, M. C., and Brooks, J. (2007). Environmental justice: a framework for collaboration between the public health and parks and recreation fields to study disparities in physical activity. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 4, S50- S63. Troped, P. J., Whitcomb, H. A., Hutto, B., Reed, J. A., and Hooker, S. P. (2009). Reliability of a brief intercept survey for trail use behaviors. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 6(6), 775-780. U.S. Census Bureau. 2010. Accessed December 9, 2012. Zarker, G., Bourey, J. M., Puncochar, B., Lagerwey, P. (1987). Evaluation of the Burke-Gilman trail's effect on property values and crime. Seattle Engineering Department. http://www.mrsc.org/govdocs/s42burkegilman.pdf March 30, 2013.

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