What are the Benefits of Greenways?
Knoxville and Knox County greenways are designed to create connected networks of open space that also include more traditional parks and natural areas. This combination of greenways, parks and open spaces offers a powerful strategy for helping to maintain ecological integrity in human-dominated landscapes, especially in regard to preserving biological diversity and maintaining high-quality water resources.
For example, Knoxville's Will Skelton Greenway in South Knoxville is located within Ijams Nature Center and is a direct link to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's 300-acre Forks of the River Wilidlife Management Area and the City's Island Home Park. Will Skelton Greenway is surrounded by nearly 800 acres of public open space and offers a majestic, scenic route along the Tennessee River. These large corridors along greenways are rare in urban areas and work to protect wildlife and filter sediment for water quality protection.
In addition to providing scenic and ecological benefits, greenways fufill a vital need as links to places where there are no sidewalks for pedestrians or streets safe for cycling. By creating safe places for pedestrians and cyclists, greenways add to our transportation choices. And for those too old or too young to drive, transportation options are essential to truly independent living. Neyland Greenway, located on the downtown waterfront of Knoxville, is an example of alternative transportation in a heavy-traffic area with little parking.
Additionally, transportation options give us the opportunity to reduce the amount of driving we do, which can save us money and pollution, so less driving means improved air quality.
Research supports the benefits of greenways, as well. Studies of public health and development patterns find that walkable communities lead to higher levels of physical activity and lower levels of obesity. As the epidemic of physical inactivity spreads to children, the need for areas where children can walk to school or bike to a friend's house becomes a greater necessity. Greenways will help to fulfill this need.
Overall, greenways do more than link us to scenic places. They move us closer to being a healthier, more vibrant community.