Northwest Arkansas Non-profit Details Equity on Trails & Active Transportation
Bentonville, Ar–Trailblazers, a non-profit organization whose core work is trail development and consulting and community outreach and advocacy, is pleased to announce the publication of the Northwest Arkansas Trails and Active Transportation Equity Report. This comprehensive report provides a detailed analysis of the perceptions, use, and potential barriers to access for the region’s current state of trails and active transportation infrastructure.
The report was created through a collaborative effort with Equitable Cities, an urban planning, public policy, and research firm working at the intersection of transportation health, and equity, and Bike.POC, a community organization that creates intentional spaces for Black, indigenous, and people of color (Bike.POC), and other marginalized people to explore cycling in Northwest Arkansas, with funding from the Walton Family Foundation and Wal-Mart Foundation, it involves input from diverse stakeholders, including community members. It is part of Trailblazers’ ongoing efforts to promote active transportation options and elevate the quality of life for residents of Northwest Arkansas.
The Northwest Arkansas Trails and Active Transportation Equity Report emphasizes the importance of providing equal access to active transportation options for all community members, regardless of their socioeconomic status or background.
Additionally, the report identifies areas where improvements can be made to ensure that trails and active transportation infrastructure and culture are accessible, safe, and convenient for everyone.
“The Northwest Arkansas Trails and Active Transportation Equity Report represents a step towards establishing a more equitable and sustainable transportation system in our region,” stated Trailblazers’ Community Organizer, Prentis Grayson. “We trust this report will be a valuable resource for community leaders, policymakers, and advocates as we work collaboratively to create a more connected, healthy, and vibrant Northwest Arkansas.”
A culmination of both quantitative and qualitative data, the three-part research includes:
The NWA Trails & Active Transportation Equity Map is a user-friendly visual map highlighting the areas within NWA where access to trails and active transportation infrastructure options could be improved and may need interventions for improved active transportation equity.
This online interactive map uses recent census data of NWA trails and the active transportation network to examine patterns of inequity in the network.
Trailblazers hired Equitable Cities, an urban planning, public policy research firm, and partnered with Bike.POC to conduct a series of focus groups about barriers to shared-use paved trail use and active transportation in NWA.
Through these focus groups, Trailblazers heard the invaluable insights of local NWA residents who voiced concerns about road design, personal safety on trails and transportation, and lack of representation in active sports publications and advertising.
Trailblazers created and distributed an inclusivity survey, informed by results from the focus groups, to better understand the use of the Razorback Greenway and other NWA shared-use paved trails.
In efforts to address the trail and active transportation issues that surfaced in the NWA Trails and Active Transportation Equity Report, Trailblazers has recruited a diverse team to its newly formed Trails, Cycling and Active Transportation Advisory Council – a group of 13 compensated residents impassioned to reduce barriers to trails and transportation in the area.
Based on the discoveries from the equity map, focus groups, and inclusivity survey, Trailblazers and the NWA community can implement several recommendations and considerations to encourage and increase ridership, diversity, and inclusion on the Razorback Greenway and other shared-use paved trails in the region. This will help to reduce barriers and expand access for underserved populations, specifically those marginalized due to race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, and annual household income.
- Create outreach programs, education initiatives, and targeted marketing campaigns to increase awareness and engagement with the trails.
- Increase the use of images in media that showcase people with diverse backgrounds, abilities, body types, etc. This could help to create a more inclusive and welcoming atmosphere on the trails and promote the idea that the trails are for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, or ability.
- Create programs or events that directly engage with marginalized and/or underserved populations to promote trail use and increase awareness of the benefits of active transportation.
- Increase diversity in bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations (members and staff) to better represent diverse perspectives and needs. This could be achieved by actively recruiting members from diverse backgrounds and creating leadership positions for individuals from underrepresented groups.
- Address personal safety concerns on trails, notably where Asian respondents reported the highest percentage of barriers faced in this category.
Planning and Design
- Improve ADA accessibility and universal design treatments on the trails to ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully participate in trail activities.
- Increase the inclusion of diverse populations in the trail planning and design decision-making process. This could be achieved by actively seeking input from underrepresented groups and creating advisory committees or focus groups that include members from diverse backgrounds.
- Incorporate multiple languages in trail wayfinding signs to make the trails more accessible to non-English speaking individuals. This could include translating signs into Spanish, Marshallese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and other commonly spoken languages in the region.
- Focus on creating more programming and events that appeal to lower-income individuals and families, such as free fitness classes or community bike rides.
- Tailor messaging and outreach efforts for maximum impact considering the specific preferences of different racial and ethnic groups, such as emphasizing fun and nature for White users and practicality for Hispanic/Latino and Native American/Indigenous users.
To learn more about the Northwest Arkansas Trails and Active Transportation Equity Report and obtain a copy, please visit Trailblazers’ website.