Granville Greenways Walkable Community
- Need: Compared to the average North Carolinian, residents age 40 to 64 in rural Granville County were dying from heart disease and diabetes at a younger age.
- Intervention: Granville Greenways was created to promote active lifestyles and more walkable communities.
- Results: As of December 2019, 12 miles of greenways now exist allowing for community members' hiking and biking.
Acknowledging the 2003 community health assessment
disparity results indicating that county residents age 40
to 64 were dying from heart disease and diabetes at an
earlier age compared to the average North Carolinian,
Greenways was created to promote active lifestyles in
rural Granville County.
In 2004, a community stakeholders group convened to
determine strategies to target this disparity, creating a
master plan with roots in
Community Preventive Services Task Force.
"Strongly recommended" interventions from the federal
Community Preventive Services Task Forces' The Community
Guide focused on decreasing levels of obesity and
secondary health problems, such as heart disease,
diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
The addition of walking and biking trails has led to the
- Increased recreation
- Utilization of alternative, more active means of
- Improved water quality
- Habitat conservation
- Flood control
Crucial support for the 2004 master plan — and later for
the first greenway — was provided by grant funding from
Move More North Carolina. Additional support from
Health Department provided initial staff solutions
now overseen by the Granville County Government.
Continued funding is growing due to assistance from local
governments, regional planning organizations, and the
North Carolina Department
Granville Greenways continues to promote walking and biking trail implementation (greenways) during county planning discussions for:
- New construction
- Reconstruction or improvements to existing roads
- Recreation areas
- Utility easements
The Community Guide-recommended interventions
included the following:
- Increased access to physical activity opportunities
paired with informational outreach activities
- Community-scale and street-scale urban design in
addition to land use policies
- Policies and practices regarding traveling and
Along with the county's greenway master plan, the five
county municipalities have created comprehensive
pedestrian plans. Two also have bicycle plans. The plans
help guide community decision-making and provide
necessary background for funding requests.
From the original three greenways, the system has now
grown to 12 miles. The Butner-Stem School Trail Greenway
connects a local elementary school, middle school, and
baseball field. A second greenway connects several
worksites to a shopping center and a third greenway
provides an additional connection to nearby apartment
Working with the North Carolina Active Routes to School
program, Granville Greenways helped create the first
walk-to-school day event in the county in October 2013.
The program is ongoing, with more schools showing
interest every year.
In July 2015, 40 miles of signage was successfully
installed throughout Granville County along the East
Coast Greenway. Now additional funding ($6.1 million) has
been received to create several more miles of greenways
throughout these rural communities. Currently several
additional miles are under construction with usability
planned for 2020 that will connect several neighborhoods.
The original 2004 master plan was updated in 2019 to
include even more connections. For example, planning for
connections with the national East Coast Greenway along
with larger regional and state greenway systems.
Watch this video to learn more about the impact this
program is having throughout rural Granville County.
As a result of more scarce state and federal resources
and increasing grant competition, funding opportunities
are a challenge. Loss of state transportation funding to
match federal grant money placed a larger funding burden
on local governments, specifically smaller and more rural
Also challenging is addressing community backlash
regarding potential crime near trails too close to homes.
Planning is the first important step. This creates focus
and consensus around the concepts of walk- or
bike-ability by multiple community stakeholders and those
looking at the community as a whole to balance the need,
impact, and feasibility of various projects. Even a
less-than-perfect plan is better than no plan at all.
Creating partnerships has also been key to Granville
Greenways' successes. All municipal and local
governments, economic development teams, along with the
Board of Education and parent/teacher organizations, are
represented on the Granville Greenways Advisory Council.
This personalizes the program and aligns it with the
organizations vested in its success.
The original plan also included a diversity workgroup
recommendation to be charged with implementing the
greenway master plan. This formally appointed group has
met regularly since its inception and moved the plan from
theory to trails-on-the-ground. County and municipal
planners have also been essential to the effort.
To address community concerns regarding crime rates near
trails close to homes, crime data is important. This
issue provides opportunity to include community members
in the initial planning as well as discussions about
Don't let lack of funding be a reason not to create this
type of infrastructure. While a professionally written
plan might be ideal, committed local talent can actually
complete the task. An engineer-designed and
professionally constructed trail might be a final goal,
but a "Friends of the Greenways" cleared and promoted
trail could be just the right beginning.
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
December 29, 2015
Date updated or reviewed
March 3, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Granville Greenways Walkable Community [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 17 May 2022]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.