The April 26th Regional article “Cross County Trail study in Montgomery County highlights safety, equity, connectivity” by Rachel Ravina was an exciting piece to read about Montgomery County’s plans to expand public trails.
As a public health minor, I’ve taken interest in learning of projects that focus on involving public green spaces that allow for means of exercise, better health, and decreased carbon emissions. Although project manager Matt Ludwig and senior trails and open space planner Brian Olzsak discuss the importance of safety, accessibility, and equity in making these new trails, the lack of effort taken to gather input from residents within the community can only aid the project’s downfall. With an interactive map for people to add comments and responses about location safety or landscape obstacles, participation has been low and contradictory and therefore cannot give planners an accurate picture.
This lack of interaction can maybe explain why the majority of the currently proposed new trails run through areas with the highest income in the region and with the greatest public green space already available. Accessibility and equity would involve creating paths that reach more underserved areas of the county as public green spaces are only so accessible if they require transportation to take advantage of them.
Therefore, the project leaders and community members must raise significantly more awareness of this project to ensure that residents who don’t already have access to green spaces can get more involved in the proposals to ensure genuine accessibility and equity.