Publication Details

The human dimensions of urban greenways: planning for recreation and related experiences

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Landscape and Urban Planning 68:147-165


In this paper, we summarize findings from a series of interrelated studies that examine an urban greenway, the 150 mile Chicago River corridor in Chicago, USA, from multiple perspectives, stakeholder viewpoints, and methodological techniques. Six interdependent "human dimensions" of greenways are identified in the studies: cleanliness, naturalness, aesthetics, safety, access, and appropriateness of development. Together, these dimensions form a core set of concerns relating to how people perceive and use the greenway for recreation and related experiences. While these dimensions show good consistency across our studies and are supported by the literature in the field, the quantitative and qualitative methods used also uncovered a rich variation in how the dimensions are construed by different stakeholder groups and along different reaches of the corridor. Using local demonstration projects from along the corridor, we illustrate how principles inherent in each dimension can be applied to improve the success of greenways through design, management, or programming. We conclude by discussing the applicability of these dimensions and methods of study to understand other urban and non-urban greenways, and suggest how the findings from such studies can be used to inform greenways planning, policy, and management.


Greenways; Human dimensions; Multi-method research design; Chicago; Cleanliness; Naturalness; Aesthetics; Safety; Access; Appropriateness of development


Gobster, Paul H.; Westpahl, Lynne M. 2004. The human dimensions of urban greenways: planning for recreation and related experiences. Landscape and Urban Planning 68:147-165

Last updated on: August 11, 2006