How have other communities designed riverfront bicycle and walking trails?

Communities take different approaches to waterfront trails depending on the expected traffic volumes and environmental impacts of constructing trails. In Victoria, British Columbia, trails are sometimes built with landscaping between the trail and a watercourse to absorb runoff from the trail and to preserve more natural landscapes along stream banks or other watercourses. In Portland, Oregon, however, the riverfront trail is built to the edge of the Willamette River. The riverbank in downtown is not always natural; it may be built up. In some stretches, the trail is farther from the river.

Surfacing may be an issue for some trails along watercourses, but paving trails for walking and cycling shouldn't be an environmental concern. Polluted runoff water is more of a concern on paved surfaces where cars drip oil and other contaminants. In the case of trails, surfaces remain relatively free of pollutants. The comparatively narrow trail surface may limit high run-off events, but if this is a concern, a community may wish to consider porous or permeable pavement.