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An Equitable Approach to Trail Development: Circuit Trails Gap Analysis
February 23 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) is working hard to grow the Circuit Trails network, adding trail miles and making the network more accessible and inclusive to more people.
As a Circuit Trails coalition leader, PEC knows that trail development is often opportunistic (the metaphorical “low-hanging fruit”) and is carried out by numerous trail builders. The result is discontinuous trails (gaps), and a lack of trail development in under-resourced communities. For this reason, while it is important to continue to expand our trail networks outward, it is sometimes more important to fill gaps within the existing trail network – gaps that may connect miles of trails to one another; provide trail access to under-resourced communities; and connect users to parks, transit, and jobs.
As a result, PEC developed the Circuit Trails Gap Analysis, a report and online mapping portal that ranks all 250+ unbuilt Circuit Trails segments according to their potential equity impact if constructed. Additionally, the Gap Analysis provides a framework for the buildout of the Circuit Trails network that prioritizes benefits to low-income, racially diverse communities and access to jobs, public transportation, and parks and recreation.
In this webinar, PEC coworkers and co-creators of the Circuit Trails Gap Analysis Zhenya “Z” Nalywayko and Helena Kotala will provide an introduction to the genesis, development, and implementation of the Gap Analysis, including a look at their online mapping portal and recent real-world case studies, hoping to inspire attendees from other trail groups/coalitions across the country who are looking to do the same type of analysis/planning.
For additional details on the Circuit Trails, view this webinar: Study, Action, Reflection: Increasing the Diversity of Trail Users and Supporters.
Similarities between the Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails (this webinar) and the Equity of Access to Trails study (webinar noted above) is that they are both part of the Circuit Trails Coalition’s ongoing efforts to increase access for all and reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, justice, and inclusion.
The differences lie in the intent and implementation of these two plans/tools.
- The Equity of Access to Trails study was an assessment of how low-income/disadvantaged groups interact with the Circuit Trails network and in turn how the Circuit Trails interacts with these groups. The outcomes of this study were the creation of a Circuit Trails DEIJ task force and a commitment to make existing and future trails more welcoming to these groups – but not the construction of new trails based on their potential equity impacts.
- The Gap Analysis of the Circuit Trails, on the other hand, is a planning tool that looks to guide the development of new trails toward areas where the construction of a trail would have the biggest potential impact according to a variety of factors, including access to jobs, public transportation, parks and recreation, and etc. The Gap Analysis is already being used by our non-profit and county partners to identify new trails for advocacy and as priorities for development and funding.
In a nutshell, the Equity of Access to Trails study is theoretically-focused and has resulted in ongoing conversations – some of which have led to the development of the Gap Analysis – whereas the Gap Analysis is a practical tool PEC developed for our partners to use as we push for the equitable development of all 850+ miles of Circuit Trails. You can view the Gap Analysis report here and online mapping portal here.
- Diversity, Equity, Justice, & Inclusion
- Trail Planning & Trail Network Development
- ArcGIS Mapping