Some of this is happening locally: Valdosta is planting trees along Hill Avenue, Lowndes County is building Naylor Park with a boat ramp that will be part of the Alapaha River Water Trail and VLPRA has long been thinking about a blueway on the Withlacoochee River, where it already has a string of parks and ramps. Valdosta has the Azalea City Trail across several parks and VSU. Imagine if that Trail extended a little farther on each end, connecting the Withlacoochee River and the Alapaha River: a greenway between two blueways. Imagine if Lowndes County planted trees in that concrete median in Bemiss Road. Imagine a bus running down that parkway….
Janice Astbury, the nature of cities, 29 March 2015, Green Transport Routes Are Social-Cultural-Ecological Corridors,
…natural corridors do not appear on the standard online GPS systems that people increasingly use to plan their routes. In other cases, the path is suddenly interrupted by infrastructure hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. It is clear that green and active transport routes are an afterthought, an add-on, rather than a core part of the city’s transport strategy.
Local government should invest in developing and maintaining the natural connective tissue of the city. In the same way that significant investment is made in arterial roads because they are believed to serve everyone and to connect up vital places, so inviting connective green infrastructure should be supported. The canals, footpaths, and cycleways that provide routes for active transport should appear prominently on maps and signage. Whole systems should be indicated when possible, even when portions of them are currently inaccessible, in order to enhance system understanding, and to encourage thinking about connecting up fragmented corridors.
Few people complain when a county or city spends millions of dollars on paving or widening a road, even though there’s no obvious direct return on investment. The less tangible returns, alleged safety, ease of commute, and future development, all are served just as well or better through public transportation and green corridors.
VLPRA has already demonstrated that parks can bring in jobs directly through softball and baseball tournaments. Linking up some more parks through greenways and blueways could improve local quality of life still more and help attract and retain the sorts of businesses the Chamber and the Development Authority want. Valdosta recently was named “Smart Energy Municipality of the Year” for a list of accomplishments including phasing in LED streetlights for the night. I wonder what awards local governments could win for green corridors for the day?