Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that communities build or enhance infrastructures to support more walking and bicycling that will counteract the trends toward sedentary lifestyles mentioned in the last post.  As a consequence, the County Health Department (CCHD) and Chester County Planning Commission (CCPC) are actively developing plans involving the seven municipalities surrounding West Chester, Downingtown and Exton that plan specifically for trails connecting these communities (Central Chester County Bike and Pedestrian Plan; See  

These plans, it is hoped, will become part of each municipalities' planning and zoning regulations supporting trails whenever possible.  The Chester Valley Trail will be a vital part of all these plans. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The last of the economic issues I will address at this point is the one relating to health, or perhaps the lack of it by many Americans who have become sedentary.  Trails have an impact on this issue, both nationally and locally.  I will address the national economic impact of health issues first.

Costs to businesses and individuals of a sedentary lifestyle are, unfortunately, well documented.  The medical costs paid by third-party payers for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that “Obesity is common, serious and costly, that more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese, and that obesity-related conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer are costing Americans an estimated $147 billion.  (

These costs are avoidable by better dietary habits and exercising more.  Trails provide residents with an easy way to integrate exercise into their lives and, when that happens, money is saved by individuals, employers and businesses, improving not just our bottom lines but our waistlines, too.

Outdoor exercise improves our health and wellbeing and reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and obesity. Improved health prevents nearly $800 million in medical care costs annually.  The economic value increases to nearly $1.3 billion in savings when added to avoided workers’ compensation costs, and costs related to lost productivity in addition to direct use benefits and avoided medical care costs. 

Monday, August 6, 2012


The potential of use of the Chester Valley Trail by tourists should not be overlooked.  The Chester Valley Trail, linking central Chester County to Montgomery County and the commercial shopping hub of King of Prussia to the Northeast, is in a unique position to draw outsiders into the Chester County area.

This can impact the Chester County economic environment in a number of ways: “By providing a trail that attracts residential and business investment, local governments should be able to collect additional tax revenues without making the difficult choice of raising tax rates. Furthermore, in an area that has limited trails, like Chester County, trail implementation should attract residents, businesses and trail users from outside the area. Trails can provide an increase in the number of visitors that directly impacts the local economies. The increase in visitors consequently increases the likelihood of money spent in that location . . . . The attraction of people to an area (potential customers) in turn increases the visibility of local businesses and communities, allowing opportunities for businesses to sponsor events while gaining business exposure.”*
*“Trails and Revitalization: A Study of the Economics Associated With Public Trails” from a presentation by Robert J. Schoutens at the 2006 National Trails Symposium in the Quad Cities of IA and IL 

We have a lot to gain from the potential economic effect of tourism into Chester County that is generated by use of the Chester Valley Trail.  

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Trails serve not only the general public with opportunities for recreation, they provide a unique opportunity for commercial activities as well.  The entity regulating the trail, in our case the government of Chester County, has the ability to gain revenue from on-site concessions, special permittees, partnerships between government and other groups and with special events.  

What kind of special events you say?  How about a Chester Valley Trail Day in which the Trail is specially set up for bikers going from one end to the other with businesses, charities and service organizations lining the trail to publicize themselves to everyone along the way?  That's just one example.

What has proven truly remarkable in most trail locations is that compatible business ventures have inevitably sprung up along the trail to provide a wide range of visitor services and improvements for trails, often improving the local economy and providing jobs not there before the trail appeared.

In the final analysis, though, how much and what type of benefits a trail might provide depends on the type of trail.  Rural trails have different impacts than do urban trails.  The most economic benefit is realized from trails, like the Chester Valley Trail, that span both urban and rural settings.  Our trail is truly an economic engine waiting to start serving the central Chester County area.