Inclusive Greenway Gains Support

Inclusive Greenway Gains Support

Disability rights advocates speak out for a safe and accessible way to get around and enjoy Santa Cruz County

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA—JULY 18, 2017—The founding members of Inclusive Greenway announced today that they support the trail proposal advocated by the Santa Cruz County Greenway organization as the safest, most accessible and inclusive option for the Santa Cruz County community.

The group reached this conclusion after studying the alternatives and decided they should speak out so the public can understand why Greenway’s vision better serves all members of Santa Cruz County by providing more open access to a flat, continuous pathway that will be inviting to people with a variety of fitness and ability levels. Greenway advocates replacing the unused railroad tracks with dedicated paths for slower and faster moving traffic as the backbone of an improved county active transportation network.

“I may be in a wheelchair but I still need fresh air and exercise,” said Sebastian De Francesco, co-chair of Inclusive Greenway and co-founder of Easy Access Developers, a partner of Redwood Commons—36 single-occupancy apartments, each designed to accommodate people who use wheelchairs. “My friends and I like to meet up and exercise together. There are few safe places to exercise in our wheelchairs in Santa Cruz at the moment—we often end up in the streets alongside fast-moving cars.” De Francesco helped to advocate for rail-to-trail greenways in Vermont and New Hampshire and is hopeful to bring the same type of trail to Santa Cruz County.

Tym Hale, an athletic young Santa Cruz father of two, became a quadriplegic as a result of a 2014 auto accident. “For more than a year, I had limited mobility and could only use an electric wheelchair. I am grateful to have regained upper body mobility and strength that now allow me to exercise regularly. I look forward to using Greenway with my children on their bikes. It’s nice to know there will be a safe place we can all enjoy together.” Hale, who doesn’t own a car and uses the bus daily said, “It’s sad to see cuts to METRO and ParaCruz while money is spent to repair tracks that are in the wrong place to get most people where they need to go.”

The stakeholder group endorses the Greenway vision over the current county plan for many reasons:

  • Wheelchair users are a third more likely to be killed in traffic than other pedestrians.1

  • The rail-with-trail plan will divert users to unsafe and sometimes steep streets at locations where a trestle or other physical impediment makes it impossible to build a trail next to the tracks.

  • Building a trail directly on an existing rail bed that has no more than a 3% grade results in a flat surface accessible to people with varying abilities and fitness levels.

  • Crossing the tracks is dangerous and often impossible in a wheelchair.

  • Few pedestrian routes in the county are currently designed with the disabled in mind. Wheelchair users report getting wheels stuck in crevices and being jarred out of their chairs.

  • People with disabilities need safe places to exercise and enjoy the healthy benefits of fresh air and nature.

  • Recent cuts to ParaCruz and METRO have made it more difficult and more expensive for many people with disabilities who do not own cars to get around our county.

  • The need to get around fences required for a rail-with-trail scenario would greatly hinder accessibility.

Greenway’s plan calls for an off-street pathway without detours onto dangerous streets, more protected bike lanes, and separation of active transportation modes so that commuters and recreational users can safely go at their own speeds.

For Joe Quigg, co-chair of Inclusive Greenway and co-founder of Easy Access Developers, Greenway will be another big step toward a safer, more accessible Santa Cruz. “Unless a planner has spent time in a wheelchair, their concept of accessibility is probably limited. Let’s talk about how to build a trail that will benefit everyone in our county,” said Quigg.

“Greenway will be a game changer for my patients who need access to safe, outdoor, accessible places to exercise to improve their physical strength and mental stamina,” said Dr. Robert Quinn, Medical Director for Rehabilitation Services at Dominican Hospital. “It’s time to prioritize community safety, health, well-being, accessibility and inclusion for everyone. Let’s stop dreaming about an unaffordable train with low ridership in the wrong place, and set our sights on better transit options that can get large numbers of people to and from our medical centers, schools, colleges, and major employers. Let’s build the Greenway NOW!”


1 Poon, Linda. “Why Are Wheelchair Users More Likely to Be Killed in Traffic Than Other Pedestrians?” CityLab. N.p., 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 19 June 2017. 

About Santa Cruz County Greenway

Santa Cruz County Greenway is a nonprofit which advocates for a scenic, safe, and functional 32-mile bicycle and pedestrian path from Davenport to Watsonville. Greenway’s vision is to transform Santa Cruz County into a world-class active transportation community.


Santa Cruz County Greenway
Gail McNulty, Executive Director
831.824.4563 •

Sebastian De Francesco, Co-Chair of Inclusive Greenway
Contact information provided to press

Joe Quigg, Co-Chair of Inclusive Greenway
Contact information provided to press

Tym Hale, Member of Inclusive Greenway  
Contact information provided to press

Dr. Robert Quinn, Member of Inclusive Greenway &
Medical Director for Rehabilitation Services at Dominican Hospital  
Contact information provided to press


Copyright 2017 Santa Cruz County Greenway. All rights reserved. Santa Cruz County Greenway is a trademark of Santa Cruz County Greenway. All other organization names are registered trademarks or trademarks of their respective owners.