Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources: option Environmental Science and Management

Committee Chair Name

Laurie Richmond

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Steven Martin

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Erin Kelly

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Humboldt County, Trails, Perceptions of safety, Non-motorized transportation, Recreation, Bicycling, Pedestrian, Climate

Subject Categories

Environmental Science and Management


Trails in Humboldt County, California that are used for both transportation and recreation have myriad community benefits. However, people’s concerns about feeling safe can affect trail use, design, and development, as well as how trails are valued and perceived by residents. There has been a lack of information in Humboldt County about trail safety perceptions despite it being a factor that repeatedly arises in infrastructure planning and funding conversations. My research was focused on answering the following questions: (1) How do Humboldt County trail users perceive their safety on and near trails? (2) What factors affect these perceptions about safety, and how do these perceptions affect the ways that people use and value trails? (3) How has development of trails changed the perception of safety in these public spaces over time? To answer these questions, I utilized a mixed methods approach that included an intercept survey of trail users on two local trails (n=198) and a series of semi-structured interviews of individuals who had unique knowledge about these two trails (n=15).

The input gathered from survey respondents and interviewees indicated that the majority of people who participated in the study felt safe on the trails, would recommend the trails to people they care about, value the trails greatly, and believe that the safety of the areas around each trail were improved by trail construction. Among survey respondents, 89% rated their feeling of safety on the trails as positive. Survey respondents and interviewees emphasized how much they value the trails and shared a belief that trail development has made these areas safer. Participants expressed a significant interest in seeing public investment in these spaces and in using trails as a method of transportation to travel further and more frequently to key destinations. Specific design, management, and maintenance issues were identified that helped me to form a set of recommendations for future and existing trails in the region. These included an increase in formal patrols of trails, improvements to trail surfacing and striping, increased availability of waste disposal facilities, and more connections for pedestrians and bicyclists between trails and nearby destinations. I have connected these recommendations to best practices and important findings in the literature on community planning, landscape architecture, and design.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location


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