Why Greenways Matter

Greenways are an essential part of a sustainable, connected community

There are hundreds of greenways across the country, including successful ones in Chapel Hill along Bolin Creek, in Hillsborough, in Durham and Raleigh and Charlotte and Asheville and up and down the East Coast. Many of them are alongside creeks. 

Greenways can help with erosion and creek restoration

The proposed 10-foot-wide paved Bolin Creek Greenway would go along a 30-foot wide OWASA sewer easement. It is kept clear so OWASA’s trucks can routinely roll over and perform maintenance, and to stop tree roots from infiltrating poop-filled pipes. 

But the sewage easement was not designed to be the incredibly popular recreational trail that it has become in the last several decades. The resulting land is hard-packed, causing significant erosion and sedimentation and contributing to the degradation of the creek. 

Greenways can be designed to provide habitat for birds and other wildlife. They can improve water quality — green space created by these natural corridors helps to mitigate storm-water runoff and encourage water table recharge. Greenways can also serve as natural floodplains. By restoring developed floodplains to their natural state, many riverside communities are preventing potential flood damage. (Greenways don’t prevent flooding, but can help mitigate their damage depending on how they’re constructed.)

Intrusive human activity along the existing Bolin Creek trail in Carrboro has created informal or “braided” trails along an ever-widening network of mud puddles. The footpaths we create to keep our shoes from getting muddy have been expanding into the forest and up to the creek’s edge, which degrades vegetative buffers and increases runoff into the stream. Increased sedimentation from human activity has been noted for the past decade.

Providing a durable surface for feet and wheels along the existing sewage easement contains human activity to a small path while making it possible to reclaim and re-vegetate the land that has been damaged over the past several decades.

Users walk around the mud and damage vegetation near Bolin Creek

Runoff is not slowed down on the impacted easement, causing erosion in the creek bank 

Greenways provide greater equity and climate resilience 

We know that hundreds of cars idle in car lines outside of our elementary, middle, and high schools each day. Surveys show that more kids would bike and walk if safe, protected, and accessible routes existed. A greenway across Carrboro would provide an opportunity to replace the short, 1-3 mile car trips that pollute our air with clean, safe, and fun bicycle rides, and provide more options for children to get places and visit friends on their own without the parent chauffeur. 

Cary's greenway network provides miles of trails between and within neighborhoods

Greenways provide access to all

Currently, people who use wheelchairs and strollers and walkers can easily access greenways in Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Durham, Raleigh, Charlotte and Cary — but they can’t do so along Bolin Creek in Carrboro. 

As our community ages, many people will find themselves relying on a scooter, cane, or walker to get around. Already, we’re hearing from people who cannot enjoy the beauty of Bolin Creek in Carrboro because the ground is rutted and filled with roots and holes. And everyone in Carrboro of all ability levels should have safe, protected access to trails that help them get into nature, see birds, and recreate. 

The Bolin Creek Greenway will provide five miles of safe, protected, and accessible trails for walkers and rollers of all ages and of all mobility levels. 

The founding members of Inclusive Greenway announced today that they support the trail proposal advocated by the Santa Cruz County Greenway organization as the safest, most accessible and inclusive option for the Santa Cruz County community. 

Greenways have always been championed in Carrboro

In the 2021 town-wide survey, which featured over 500 households to reach a 95% level of confidence in the responses, you’ll find this in the Executive Summary:

Based on the sum of their top two choices, the transportation services that residents thought were most important were: 1) ease of walking in Carrboro, 2) availability of greenways/multi-use paths, and 3) ease of driving in Carrboro.

People throughout our town want safe, accessible ways to get around.