Residents and urban greenways: Modeling support for the Atlanta BeltLine
Urban greenways have received significant attention due to their many publicized benefits and costs that make them contentious recreational developments. Most prior studies have approached urban greenways from a demand-side perspective solely focused on their users. This study adds to the literature by taking a supply-side approach to assessing resident attitudes towards greenways and using these attitudes to predict support for greenways. Building off of Weber’s theory of formal and substantive rationality and social exchange theory, resident support for the Atlanta BeltLine is posited to be a function of different extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Extrinsically, it is hypothesized support for the BeltLine is a function of residents’ frequency of use and their perceptions of how the greenway trail generates economic benefits within their neighborhood. Intrinsically, it is hypothesized resident support for the BeltLine is a function of how the BeltLine psychologically, socially, and politically empowers or disempowers residents. To test these hypotheses, surveys were distributed across three neighborhoods adjacent to portions of the Atlanta BeltLine using door-to-door systematic census-guided random sampling. The 568 usable surveys (60% response rate) were entered into SPSS’ AMOS and used to assess both the construct validity and predictive validity of the measures. The model explained 62% of the variance in support for the Atlanta BeltLine with four of the five antecedents being significant. Implications suggest that support for greenways is more than just a function of frequency of use, but a complicated mix of use and perceptions of the trail’s economic benefits and empowerment.