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Greenways & Blueways are the New Highways

Greenways & Blueways are the New Highways

In recent years, there has been an increase in the popularity of biking and kayaking as alternative forms of transportation. Evidence of this interest is supported by the growing outdoor recreation industry, which is currently the third-largest in the United States (Outdoor Industry Association). When the COVID-19 pandemic led many people outdoors, an additional spike in interest occurred, resulting in increased bicycle sales by 65% and paddle sport sales by 56%.

With this increase in popularity, some businesses strategically choose operating locations with access to outdoor recreation facilities that help connect to communities. Communities are subsequently utilizing  infrastructure like greenways, blueways and parks as an economic development driver that provides these recreational and transportation facilities that companies and their workers desire.  These pathways help create connected communities where people want to live, work and play, while also providing safe connections to those who might not otherwise have access.

Infrastructure that Connects & Fosters Equity

Greenways are trails or shared-use paths that permit pedestrian or bicycle travel, while blueways are water trails that provide recreation or a commuting option via boating or kayaking. Both trail types create alternatives to traveling by motor vehicle. If residents do not have a car by choice or due to financial restrictions, greenways and blueways create a route for them to reach people and places they couldn’t otherwise. These connections can also supplement a city’s public transit network by strategically integrating trails where bus stops exist, providing a safe connection to bus lines.

Parks and their roadway networks also support multimodal mobility, providing a gathering place for the community, enhanced destination-based tourism and placemaking. They can utilize unused space through brownfield development or repurpose existing infrastructure, such as the Bentway in Toronto, which transformed an old underpass into a park. Parks can transform an area into a destination for art, leisure and gathering while providing a free resource for the community. 

Projects that Create Connection

For decades, B&N has connected people to urban areas, entertainment, recreation and parks, including these recent projects in Columbus, Ohio.  

This new trail access connected 30,000 residents to downtown Columbus, Ohio State University and parks. B&N designed this connection along Bethel Road to the Olentangy Trail.

The Arena District Connector Bridge at Confluence Parks connects a new soccer stadium to the downtown Columbus Arena District. Designed by B&N, the park includes reconstructed boat ramps, livery and connects to the Olentangy Trail, providing access to greenways and blueways.