Trail advocates sometimes use the old mantra, “Build it and they will come,” to describe the immediate success of new trails. But complexities of the built and social environments in urban areas present factors that may affect trail use and require programmatic interventions to encourage use once the trail is constructed. Research indicates that strategies to “increase perceived trail safety, accessibility, and awareness about trails may result in a higher rate of trail use and more time spent on urban trails.” Hosting trail events and activities, whether frequent or one-time, big or small, can extend the benefits of the trail into the nearby community.
Urban Pathways Initiative (UPI) is a program of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 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. Cities across the US are finding innovative ways to promote and program their trails through outreach, events and activities.