Updated: Jan 31
Traversing the streets of Manhattan; through grit, grime and the blaring of car horns can be exhilarating and taxing all in the same step. No wonder the high line, an oasis pathway system just a few flights of stairs above the bustling streets is such a popular attraction. Whether you’re walking, running or sitting on one of the wooden benches nestled in the serene trails system, the high line offers that clarifying sense of nature sought out by so many city dwellers.
You don’t have to be an avid cyclist or a marathon runner to have noticed a greater implementation of pathways and bike trail systems throughout cities. Referred to in a number of ways: Rails-to-Trails, Urban Pathways or Connected Cities, the sentiment is clear. More cities have begun to install recreational pathways and greenways. Whether it is by converting existing cleared paths or developing new areas, bike and walking path systems provide a sense of connectivity to even the most disjointed of communities.
Physical health, community engagement and a re-connection with nature are just some of the reasons new pathways have become such a popular addition to cities. In an article in National Geographic, the C40 News Team states, “The argument has been proven, the data is clear: compact and connected cities are better for people and the environment” (National Geographic, 2016).
Urban planners have a large task at hand: to merge the needs of the city, its people and the environment into one cohesive landscape; it is a feat easier said than done. These decisions will not only greatly impact the economic prosperity of a city, but its environmental future. “C40 research shows that planning and policy decisions made over the next 5 years could determine up to one third of the remaining global carbon budget that is not already ‘locked-in’ by past decisions- this means decisions being faced by mayors today, like whether or not to build roads or cycle lanes, are critical and immediate. Mayors have the opportunity to avoid locking in future emissions by building efficient infrastructure. By choosing a low-carbon pathway in their cities now, the investment cost needed would be 4 times less over the long term. Furthermore, the cost savings in the US alone would be in the order of $500 billion dollars annually” (National Geographic, 2016).
SolarOne solar lighting systems, which provide off-grid lighting solutions for even the most remote of locations, work to improve safety and encourage activity on these pathways. With an inherent mission of sustainable energy, SolarOne pairs the need for low-carbon emission areas with supportive and practical lighting technology.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in their publication, “Urban Pathways to Healthy Neighborhoods” explain how, “…in order to be a safe and effective place for travel and physical activity, trails need to be attractive, clean and well-lit. However, available rights-of-way are often in neglected, isolated or edge locations in urbanized areas, such as stream culverts and active rail corridors.” (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy). Municipal lighting is the perfect fit for such environments, as disruptive trenching and wiring is not required. Furthermore, surrounding areas of many trails are located near wetlands and are prone to flooding. With SolarOne’s solar lighting systems compact and contained design, the systems can withstand harsh environments and floods.
Lighting is an essential component to the success of such trails and greenways. With public health a large concern, particularly in urban areas, limited access to trails due to poorly lit conditions would hinder their purpose. Especially in regions where there is limited sunlight in the winter months, SolarOne’s solar lighting provides a safe environment for commuters and recreational users before and after work hours.
With access to these lighted pathways, more people may opt to bike to work instead of drive. Not only will this increase public health, but lower carbon emissions from other forms of transportation. The National Trails Training Partnerships explains, “Trails and greenways help improve air and water quality. For example, communities with trails provide enjoyable and safe options for transportation, which reduces air pollution. By protecting land along rivers and streams, greenways prevent soil erosion and filter pollution caused by agricultural and road runoff.”
In addition to all the environmental and human benefits that trail systems provide, these small sanctuaries also provide much needed habitats for wildlife to prosper. As more territory across the world continues to be developed, these trail systems allow species to thrive.
“There is a clear theme to what most C40 mayors see as the characteristics of a successful future city-compact, connected and coordinated-the successful cities of tomorrow are not those building roads, but those building cycleways and pathways” said Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40. “Mayors and their citizens want cities that are easy to get around-cities designed for people rather than cars. Through these new networks, C40 aims to help our mayors and cities address today’s most important urban and land use planning and development issues-their decisions will influence how urban citizens live and move within cities for generations.”
“Mindy Fullilove, Columbia University psychiatrist and author, likens pedestrian pathways and urban trails to arteries in the circulatory system of a city: essential conditions for creating a healthy city.” SolarOne is proud to continue to provide effective solar lighting systems for pedestrian and bike paths, to ensure the continued vibrancy of our environment and the people in it. With a strong dedication to sustainability lighting our world, SolarOne will continue to make connected cities safe and accessible.