Evaluation of Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities

User Satisfaction and Perceptions of Three Shared Use Trails in Texas

Texas Transportation Institute, Federal Highway Administration

Public and community input on transportation projects is often mentioned as a necessary step in the planning process but seldom performed. The opinions and perceptions of facility users are immensely valuable in improving conditions at current trails as well as in the development and design of new trails. In this study, the research team developed on-site and mail-back survey instruments that were distributed on three shared use trails in Texas: the Brays and Buffalo Bayou Trails in Houston, and the Shoal Creek Trail in Austin.

The responses to the surveys were analyzed to determine consistent themes and trends in user satisfaction and perceptions. The study found that several trail attributes contribute significantly to user satisfaction and higher levels of trail use. Adequate separation from motor vehicles was noted as a positive attribute that should be provided whenever possible on shared use trails. Trail surface quality and width was also noted as an important attribute, particularly in cases where numerous user types (e.g., bicyclists, joggers, walkers) were using the same trail. The study also revealed that many of the trail users felt that the shared use trails significantly contributed to harmonizing transportation and community goals. The survey responses indicated that the trails were used for a variety of purposes, including transportation, recreation, social interaction, and enjoyment of the natural environment. The researchers concluded that user surveys (such as those conducted in this study) are a valuable addition to other traditional transportation planning tools, and as such, can provide more and better insight into roadway and trail user behavior and motivation.

Filed in: Community Problems and Solutions, Plans and Policies

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