The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Trail Usage: Application of a Ten-year Trail Counting Methodology

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted non-motorized mobility in the U.S. since March 2020. Many trail facilities have served as a venue for both recreational and commuting options for pedestrians and bicyclists. With social distancing, as well as the promotion of physical health and wellness during the pandemic, trail facilities serve as alternatives for travel for pedestrians and cyclists. Since 2011, Phase 1 of the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail has been open to users as a pedestrian and cycling connection in central Pennsylvania. In 2015, Phase 2 was developed in order to provide direct connection into downtown Lewisburg. This study evaluates trail usage at four counters over a period of 10 years using a six-step process. The results show that the 2 years with the highest trips over the entire 10-year period were in 2020 and 2021 (the 2 years during the COVID-19 pandemic). In addition, the highest recorded daily count for one of the counters over the entire 10-year period occurred on one of the days during the week of Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order period (in March 2020). By developing and implementing the six-step method on the BVRT, this study serves as a foundation for exploring trail demand on facilities throughout the United States and applications with regard to evaluating pandemic impacts.


International Journal of Sustainable Transportation


Civil and Environmental Engineering

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