Studies have shown that trails themselves do not generate crime. However in many urban areas, crime and safety are serious, pervasive issues, and even the perception of trail safety may influence trail use. Addressing concerns about crime and violence is particularly important in low-income urban communities where residents, especially children and women, may not be physically active due to violence or fear of violence. Strategies to increase physical activity on urban pathways need to consider crime and safety because they are broader determinants of health-related behavior.
Urban Pathways Initiative (UPI) is a program of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) that advocates for equitable investment in vulnerable communities to promote the health, transportation and environmental benefits of trail use. UPI provides community-based assistance to groups and municipal agencies which promote or develop pathways intersecting low-income communities. This fact sheet examines UPI projects from around the nation which address safety concerns through working with police, creating trail patrols, engaging youth, lighting and designing the trail properly, keeping the trail well maintained, and encouraging trail use through programming to increase “eyes on the trail” and to ensure the trail has a reputation as a safe space.