Client: City of Duluth, MN and Confluence Landscape Architecture & Urban Design
Location: Duluth traverse trail, Minnesota USA
Goal: Create a connected, well-maintained trail system that best serves the community and outdoor recreation tourism industry of Duluth.
In a recent master-planning and public outreach project, Confluence worked together with the City of Duluth and the Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) to connect and maintain the Duluth Traverse Trail - an over 100-mile multi-use trail system stretching the entire ridge-line of Duluth, Minnesota.
Confluence is a landscape architecture, planning and urban-design firm based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Confluence works closely with clients, consultants and the community. They believe in the power of innovation through collaboration.
The Duluth Traverse has been a shared vision between the City of Duluth and COGGS. The Duluth Traverse is a single-track, natural surface, multi-use trail designed to provide a nationally significant mountain biking experience, connect people to Duluth’s beautiful natural places, and exemplify best practices for environmentally sustainable trail design and management.
COGGS are an influential not-for-profit biking group who helped build the trail and are also going to help maintain it. The trail is in segments, so Confluence was engaged to create a masterplan that meets all of the needs of the community as well as connect segments of the trail to create one continuous traverse through the city of Duluth. The City of Duluth and the COGGS have partnered to construct approximately 85% of the trail; however, they still need feedback from the community to assist with completing, maintaining, and managing the Duluth Traverse Trail system to best serve the recreational needs of the region, State of Minnesota, and citizens of Duluth.
“ ...feedback from the community to assist with completing, maintaining, and managing the Duluth Traverse Trail system to best serve the recreational needs of the region, State of Minnesota, and citizens of Duluth."
The project was focused on a 100+ mile mountain biking trail facility in an urban area for the city of Duluth. A group of cyclists called Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGs) were also involved in the project. The influential non-profit biking group also helped build and maintain the trail. The trail is a bunch of segments and isn't fully complete. The project is focusing on how to connect all of the trail segments to create one continuous Duluth Traverse Trail. Communities along the trail, are separated geographically, so it was a challenge to get everyone involved.
To complete the project, the city looked to get feedback from the community to create a masterplan. The purpose of the masterplan is to help fund the massive trail.
Solution - Implementing Social Pinpoint
Confluence have incorporated Social Pinpoint’s interactive mapping tool as part of their engagement strategy to reach out to the local community for their assistance in completing, maintaining, and managing the Duluth Traverse Trail system. Connecting and involving citizens from various neighborhoods was one of the biggest challenges for the project and one of the main reasons for choosing to use Social Pinpoint’s online platform for location-based citizen engagement.
The Social Pinpoint map is designed to gather local community input on the Duluth Traverse Trail on several topics, as well as be a place for community members to leave general comments and concerns.
The Social Pinpoint outreach tool was designed to help:
- Gain an understanding of key issues from the local community that are important to consider for the long term sustainability of the Traverse Trail
- Find out what community members like and don’t like about the Traverse Trail
- Help identify key locations for supporting features and any additional infrastructure needs
- Understand key community priorities that are important for this project
Social Pinpoint interviewed Confluence's landscape architecture, urban design, and planning service consultants' Brad Aldrich and Jake Coryell about their experience using the Social Pinpoint mapping software for their project.
"We heard about Social Pinpoint through another one of our municipal clients who was asking us for a parks masterplan. Duluth is a very active community so I felt like they were more engaged than some of the other cities we work with, so we knew this tool would work well for this project. One of the reasons we chose Social Pinpoint was to harvest community input from people who use the trail frequently."
"The interactive map was really beneficial for getting a sense of different perspectives on various locations on the trail, particularly the sections which are proposed to have multiple uses."
"The map helped us pinpoint where there are big conflicts between different user such as bikers and hikers. There is a lot of steep topography, blind corners and other dangerous areas, engaging with the community on a location based platform was a great way to figure out where those problem areas are and try to fix them.”
Brad and Jake were happily surprised with the amount of responses. "We got about 200 hundred hits after we officially stopped recording the map for the client," said Jake.
"People are starting to have conversations about the comments, like organizing to fixing a trail". "There are different/distinct neighbourhoods who are separated by landforms and they were getting onto the map and people were placing pins on the map and volunteering to fix a certain part of the trail, then other people are using the discussion option," continued Brad.
"We plan on keeping the map open for a year, as it is valuable for the city and Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, and we will continue to update the report."
People spend up to 20 minutes on the site commenting, creating & engaging in discussions with other members of the community.
The project had an overwhelming response from the community receiving over 2,000 views.
The interactive map has received hundreds of comments and discussions so far.
Interactive mapping tools are a great tactic to use as part of a community engagement strategy. Social Pinpoint's online tools allow for easy access for organizations to gather large amounts of valuable information from the community that can help shape a project and identify potential hurdles.
As for the Duluth Traverse Trail, the comments left on the map were used to help create the master plan but the map remains open for comment and discussion. "People are starting to have conversations on these comments, like organising to fix a trail. People were placing pins on the map and volunteering to fix a certain part of the trail. Other people are using the discussion option saying, "Hey this is Tim, I live in the area too and I’d love to help out" - I thought that was kind of cool." The project is scheduled to be active until the end of 2017.