Measuring public access to the shoreline: The boat-based offset survey method

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As cities redevelop underutilized waterfronts, opportunities exist to promote public access to the shoreline. However, planning for access is hampered by a lack of reliable data on how people utilize a specific shoreline. The boat-based offset transect survey (B-BOTS) method allows researchers to accurately record, map, and analyze shoreline access. This article discusses the use of B-BOTS along the northern part Narragansett Bay, RI. Using B-BOTS, on 52 randomly selected days over a two-season period, researchers developed a geodatabase that included the position of all shoreline users and the activity in which they were engaging. Using this geodatabase, the article demonstrates that the amount and type of shoreline use varied dramatically throughout the study area and varied in ways that would not have been predictable using conventional sources of data. The article also demonstrates that the availability of parking not only influenced the amount of shoreline use, but also the manner in which different user types distributed themselves along the shore. The article discusses the importance of such findings for developing plans for waterfront redevelopment and public access. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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Coastal Management