The urban environment of Compton, Los Angeles, provides a strong example of why Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) Urban Pathways Initiative is such urgent and important work.
With less than one acre of open space per 1,000 residents, well below the national recommendation of 10 acres per 1,000 residents, the people of Compton have few opportunities to incorporate physical activity in their day-to-day lives - to ride a bike, to jog, to walk to the store or even to take a relaxing stroll with friends.
Improving access to trails and pathways, and the appeal and usability of those pathways, has been one of the focuses of our work in Compton since first getting involved there in 2009.
Running through the center of Compton, the 5.3-mile Compton Creek Bike Path (right) passes schools, parks, businesses and neighborhoods, offering a valuable resource to the community for physical activity and active transportation.
Unfortunately, concerns about safety and maintenance on the trail are keeping people from using it as often as they could. It is a cycle that can repeat itself - with less activity on the trail there is less impetus to improve its condition, less community ownership, and so it goes.
In order to address these issues, the City of Compton has started an initiative of hosting community volunteer days to clean up and beautify the bike path. We are very pleased to report that the first event of that program was held early this month, thanks to volunteers from the excellent Hub City Teens (below). The Hub City Teens Trail Ambassadors are all graduates of an RTC Earn-a-Bike program, and are now trail champions in their own right, helping to educate other local students about the importance of the trail, the creek, and of regular physical activity. More cleanup events have been scheduled for December and January.
"It is terrific to see a community of people who use and care about the trail slowly coming together," says RTC's Manager of Trail Development in the Western Region, Barry Bergman. "As we have seen in our other urban project areas across the country, building this kind of lasting ownership takes time. But in the long term this is how you build a community pathway that is loved, cared for and well-used."
As part of RTC's ongoing Urban Pathways Initiative work in Compton, our western region staff have started collaborating with the City of Compton and local groups to produce monthly calendars of trail-related events and outdoor activities in the greater Compton community. To keep updated on Cleanup Days, and other trail-related events, check the events calendar on the City of Compton's website, or contact RTC's Western Region Office at email@example.com, or 415-814-1100.