What Impact do trails have on Neighbors and the Local Community?

A study was done on impacts of the Pinellas Trail in Pinellas County
(Tampa/St Pete), Florida. Some information on the study (from Whit Blanton
of Renaissance Planning Group, which conducted the study) is included below:

In 2000, the Pinellas County MPO commissioned Renaissance Planning Group of
Orlando to conduct a study of the community impacts associated with the
Pinellas Trail, a 34-mile converted railroad in the St.
Petersburg/Clearwater area of Florida. The MPO was planning extensions of
the trail and connections to it from other communities, and had encountered
opposition from homeowner groups and others about potentially negative
impacts on property values, noise and crime. The study was intended to
evaluate economic impacts in terms of residential property values, business
investment, and crime statistics, and included a household survey of
residents living within 1/4 mile of the trail. The trail was divided into
segments to better capture the effect of surrounding land use and crime
characteristics. A national literature review was also completed.

Major findings:
The literature review concluded that trails have a deterrent effect on
crime, a neutral or slightly positive effect on property values, and bring
new money into the local economy. This was borne out by the local analysis.

For all trail segments studied, the median home sale prices adjacent to the
trail are escalating faster than countywide. The rate of increase was
particularly high in certain areas. The results indicated that the trail
does not negatively impact property values and suggested that it may help
increase property values by roughly 2 percent to 3 percent annually over

In St. Petersburg, it was determined that crime rates for “trail tracts” were not statistically
different from citywide crime tracts. Accordingly, the Pinellas Trail does
not contribute to crime rates. Peaks in crime rates seem to be related to
the character of the area rather than to the existence of the Pinellas
Trail. Generally, the 1993, 1995, and 1999 crime statistics support the
finding that the trail has not exacerbated criminal activities. Factors
external to the trail are better indicators of crime rates.

There were several important findings from the residents’ survey. The most
negative perceptions of the trail are held by the 5 percent of residents who
have never used the trail. Even though infrequent users gave the Pinellas
Trail a negative overall rating, their composite score was not as low as the
score given by residents who had not been on the trail. Infrequent users
were primarily concerned about the trail’s adverse impact on crime, privacy,
and noise. As a group, they still rated the trail as having a positive
impact on property values, accessibility, and neighborhood acquaintances.
Daily users had the highest composite rating of the trail; however, they
were still marginally concerned about crime (0.09) and privacy (0.05). The
single strongest indicator of trail perception is trail usage and, because
of the high use of the trail (66%), the overall perception of the trail is

While the trail is generally seen as a community asset, the neighborhoods
that are the most concerned about the Pinellas Trail are those who perceive
inequities between communities in the way that the trail is constructed,
maintained, and policed.

Realtors were surveyed as well, and 90 percent said that home sales had
increased significantly or increased somewhat in areas near the trail versus
other areas in the market.

The business survey revealed that a majority of businesses near the trail
were expanding their facilities or experiencing increasing sales, and
generally reported positive impacts from their proximity to the trail.

Copies of the report can be obtained by contacting Al Bartolotta of the
Pinellas County MPO (727-464-8200; abartolo@co.pinellas.fl.us
). RPG contact is Whit Blanton. (wblanton@citiesthatwork.com

Jennifer Z. Carver, AICP
Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Planner
Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency
300 South Adams Street
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 891-8090 S/C 280-8090
Fax: (850) 891-8734