The 90-mile Genesee Valley Greenway (GVG) State Park in western New York is an open-space corridor that passes through woodlands, wetlands, valleys, farmlands, glacial gorges, and historic villages as part of an interstate trail system. This HIA focused on the northernmost 50-mile portion in Monroe and Livingston counties. Addressing current issues related to public access, infrastructure, and safety could help to maximize the greenway’s potential health benefits.
Key obstacles preventing equitable enjoyment of the greenway include trail surface conditions, safe road crossings, and access barriers for older adults, individuals with disabilities, low-income and at-risk populations, and residents reliant on public transit.
The HIA found that portions of the northernmost 50 miles of the trail are not easily accessible or do not meet the needs of all potential users, which may contribute to health disparities. Recommendations were focused within four social determinants of health and included enhancing physical activity, social cohesion, food access, and safety. They include changing trail surfaces from dirt to stone dust to boost accessibility for all users, including cyclists and people using wheelchairs; improving the roads throughout two counties; expanding social programs to better reach and serve individuals with disabilities, older adults, and vulnerable populations; and establishing trail evaluation and monitoring protocols to identify the number and types of users on the greenway.
The Genesee Valley Greenway State Park enacted recommendations that called for counters to be installed at access points near population centers to measure trail usage. Further, the greenway received $6.5 million in funding from The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the state Department of Transportation, and the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation to make the trails compliant with standards set in the Americans with Disabilities Act.