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Teton Valley guide promotes community pathway systems

Excerpts from the handbook on "PATHWAYS: how they are important how they help sell homes how to build them."
Also see "Teton Valley grows a trail system" with community support

From Teton Valley Trails And Pathways (2007)
Download the full 32-page handbook (pdf 2.3 MB)

Pathways provide safe recreational opportunities and practical alternative transportation routes. Pathways also have a significant positive economic impact on real estate values and local business sales.

"While pathways are sometimes built by developers as desirable amenities to speed sales and raise values, pathways are much more than mere amenities."

Good community design for biking and walking should be comprehensive and integrated into overall community planning. It's not enough to just build a pathway and call especially if it doesn't lead to a place people want to go. The national advocacy group America Bikes encourages communities to build Complete Streets— streets designed for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as cars and trucks. A well-planned pathways system ties into well-designed safe streets, allowing people of all ages to travel and play. Such a system functionally ties together people's homes with real destinations.

Trails and pathways bring many benefis to a community— functional transportation, support for good development and tourism, healthy recreation, tourism and opportunities for children to explore the world safely. A pathways system is used by a broad cross-section of nonmotorized users— individuals of all ages and abilities. By no means the exclusive domain of hard-core athletes, a paved pathway attracts children, mothers pushing strollers, seniors out for a morning walk, casual tourists, joggers and others drawn by the safe route.

Positive benefits of a trails and pathways system:

  • Safe travel routes for children and adults
  • Enhanced quality of life and health for all ages
  • Good business for developers and homeowners
  • Increased traffic for local businesses
  • Increased sense of community
  • Access to the National Forest trails system

Pathways Sell Houses!

"Trail availability outranked 16 other options, including security, ball fields, golf courses, parks, and access to shopping or business centers," according to a 2002 National Association of Realtors/National Association of Home Builders survey. Only highway access was ranked as a more important amenity by the 2000 homebuyers surveyed.

Pathways are Good Business for Land Development

A pathways system is highly desirable for the residents of a community, and it makes good business sense for individual developers, homeowners associations and local government agencies to support and contribute to the system. Pathways help accelerate real estate sales and increase the sales price of properties benefiting from a well-planned community. Numerous studies undertaken in the past 15 years support this statement, but the most compelling evidence can be gleaned by looking at successful neighborhood projects in Teton Valley today, such as Teton Springs and Mountainside Village.

Building Community

While pathways are sometimes built by developers as desirable amenities to speed sales and raise values, pathways are much more than mere amenities. Pathways are critical infrastructure that facilitates non-motorized transportation and recreation— biking and walking— and fostering vital face-to-face interaction between neighbors, promoting community.

Friendly, unplanned interactions between neighbors are a key part of creating and sustaining community. These chance meetings happen constantly on pathways, sidewalks, Nordic ski trails and forest trails. A well-planned and designed community encourages and generates these opportunities while meeting transportation needs. The concept of community is intangible yet profound; it is the heart of a good place to live and something tourists sense and relish immediately when they visit a walkable, bike-friendly town.

Many U. S. Communities are Leading the Way!

Communities such as Boulder, Colorado; Bend, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Palo Alto, California; Berkeley, California; Washington, DC; and Jackson Hole have led the way in creating walking and bicycling friendly infrastructure. These cities have followed European examples such as in Holland, Denmark, France and Germany.

In Driggs, Idaho, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP) has sustained efforts on two major projects: to redesign Main Street and make it more pedestrian and bike friendly (and therefore better for business)and to create a NorthSouth Pathway through town connecting all the schools and ballparks with neighborhoods. Both projects have been selected for funding by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD)in 2010 and 2011. This is exciting news: a $4 million Main Street redesign and a $400,000 pathway for our town! TVTAP also helped write a grant that funded the Driggs transportation planning effort.

Oregon's transportation plan of 1995 illustrates that state's progressive commitment to diverse transportation. "Successful bikeway and walkway plans are integrated into the overall transportation plan of a city, region or state. They reflect the mobility and access needs of a community and are placed in a wider context than simple movement of people and goods. Issues such as land use, energy, the environment and livability are important factors. "Bikeway and walkway planning, undertaken apart from planning for other modes, can lead to a viewpoint that these facilities are not integral to the transportation plan. If bikeways and walkways are regarded as amenities, bicycling and walking may not receive sufficient consideration in the competition for financial resources and available right-of-way ...ODOT [Oregon DOT ] has adopted a comprehensive concept in designing bikeway and walkway systems based on the premise that the public right-of-way should serve all users; people riding bicycles or walking need to use the same facilities that provide access and mobility to motorists."


It is far easier to integrate trails and pathways into the design of a neighborhood before it is sold and built out. Once boundaries, fences, roads and landscaping are set, easements and permissions are tough to come by. If a public pathway route is designed into a development at the planning stage, the overall costs are reduced and the question of permissions eliminated. Prior pathways system planning allows local governments to identify appropriate routes and solutions, alerting developers to the reasons for them to plan pathways that connect to the growing network in Teton Valley.

Designing neighborhoods and communities for walking and biking while adequately accommodating cars and trucks creates better communities that work for developers, residents, local government and visitors. This handbook is a guide to helping design and create healthy communities!

Download the 32-page handbook (pdf 2.3 MB)

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