TMACOG sees spring trail traffic increase

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 3:32 PM EDT
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Roxanne Byrd usually tries to get out and bike local trails when the weather is nice -- and with the recent state restrictions, it's been one of few recreational outlets available.

"I usually go to the gym, but the gyms were closed," recalls Byrd, "so I'd either walk or jump on my bike. I like being outside in the fresh air, rather than the gym... sure, the gym has air conditioning, but I love the outdoors!"

TMACOG says their research shows more people hitting the trails this year -- and no, it's not just one person with a clicker doing all that counting. As TMACOG transportation planner Lance Dasher puts it, we've come a long way since the 1990s.

"We started counting trails back in 2017, with our infrared counters," says Dasher. "It's pretty simple technology, and it helps us count 24 hours a day. In our numbers, we noticed a spike this past spring, especially in May."

-- the highest being the Wabash Cannonball Trail, at nearly 150% over last year.

Dasher says it's easy to get absorbed in the numbers, but the takeaway could lead to better economic decisions for how people may move about in a post-pandemic world.

"With increased usage of the trail, we're seeing a lot of new users, and that's a great thing," he offers. "They're saying, 'Hey, there are trails here I've never seen before!'"

From biking to jogging or just walking the dog, TMACOG hopes the upward trend continues. According to Dasher, "the whole point is to get people outside and use the trail for recreational purposes -- and once we get back to work, transportation purposes as well."