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PVPC seeks input on local rail trails via survey

GREATER WESTFIELD-A deadline of Oct. 27 has been set for trail users of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail and the Southwick Rail Trail to participate in a survey sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

“PVPC has completed a number of surveys along the shared use paths in our region,” said Gary Roux, principal planner and traffic manager at PVPC. “In addition to providing valuable information on how these facilities are used, the survey also helps us to identify improvements that may be necessary to enhance the trail experience and plan for new shared use path facilities.”

The PVPC is surveying trail users in cooperation with the Friends of the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail, the City of Westfield, Friends of the Southwick Rail Trail, and the Southwick Park and Recreation Department.

Roux noted that signs and an online link for the survey are posted along the shared use paths.

“People can scan a QR code on the sign and take the survey right there on their smart phone,” said Roux, noting it is important for survey responses to be based on a recent trip so reactions from trail users are captured in a particular moment.

Roux said once the survey deadline has passed, the transportation section at PVPC will review and analyze all responses.

“Our target date for reporting results is January 2021,” said Roux.

Roux, who describes himself as an “intermediate level bicyclist,” encourages area residents to not only take the survey while out on the trail, but to experience the great outdoors from a different perspective than from a vehicle.

“It’s a great time of year to go out on one of the trails and view the fall foliage,” he said. “Unique to the Columbia Greenway and Southwick Rail Trail is the connection to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Connecticut and the ability to travel for a significant distance into Connecticut.”

The 20-question survey takes approximately five minutes and can also be completed online at pvpc.org/trail/survey.

“The data and information collected is confidential and not identifiable to the individual,” said Roux.

Roux added that when people respond to the survey, the information will be used to measure the health and economic impacts of the Columbia Greenway and Southwick Rail Trails and to improve the user’s trail experience.

The goal of the survey is to provide community leaders, trail planners, and advocates with an accurate picture of who uses trails and to provide information on the benefits of trails, and recommendations for advancing design, policy, and programming initiatives, according to Roux.

For persons interested in more information about the survey, contact Roux at [email protected]

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