Trail usage increased in 2022
Since 2017, Tri-State Trails has collected usage data on our regional trails to document the impact these corridors for people-powered movement have on local communities. We report on two key metrics, Average Annual Daily Trail Traffic (AADTT) and Trail Miles Travelled (TMT) annually. By collecting these insights, we are able to tell the story of how trail usage evolves over time and as new connections are built.
In 2020, local trail managers saw a surge in usage created by the COVID-19 pandemic; AADTT was at 301 and TMT was at 22,745,778. In 2021, AADTT dropped slightly by 6% and TMT dropped by 25%, but numbers still remained high compared to pre-pandemic usage. We’re excited to report that 2022 showed a continuation of that growth trend, with our network AADTT up to 291 and network TMT up to 17,703,655.
In addition to this regional snapshot, we’re able to get custom insights on local trail networks using the short duration counts we collect throughout the summer months. For example, in May 2022, a closure of the Little Miami Scenic Trail began at King Avenue / Grandin Road for a new bridge construction project in Warren County. This cut off access to a heavily-used portion of the trail between Loveland and South Lebanon (which is still closed today). Consequently, trail usage was down in this area around 5% compared to 2021, and south of the closure, usage decreased by 14%. However, further north closer to Xenia, usage was up by 14%. Perhaps this trend was a result of the public being informed of the planned closure and choosing to avoid Loveland or use other trails instead. This decrease in daily trail users and miles travelled on the Little Miami correlates to the increase in people using trails in the urban core in that resulted in an overall increase in AADTT and TMT in 2022.
Trails like the Wasson Way and Mill Creek Greenway saw the largest usage increases. Usage of the Wasson Way between Xavier University and Mariemont increased by 144% from 2021 to 2022. The Mill Creek Greenway saw an even larger leap in usage of 195% from 2021 to 2022.
Other arterial connections like the Purple People Bridge also saw more people on the path with an increase in 27% – which also shows a continued rebound from the bridge being closed for most of 2020. With the completion of the Beechmont Bridge, nearby trail connections show varying numbers with an increase at Lunken Airport Trail by 23%, but a decrease at Otto Armleder Park.
We also saw more people using trails along our waterways in 2022. The Great Miami River Trail saw its largest increase in usage from Franklin to Middletown of 50%, after a long-awaited connection was made between two previously noncontiguous segments of trail. Overall the Great Miami River Trail saw a 12% increase in usage in 2022. Similarly, the Dearborn Trail along the Ohio River in Indiana also saw usage go up by 12% in the City of Lawrenceburg.
With our long term counters already collecting data in 2023, we look forward to tracking the numbers throughout the year to see how people continue to use trails throughout the tri-state. If your community is interested in collecting data on your regional trail in 2023, contact me at [email protected] or sign up to become an organizational member of Tri-State Trails by March 15, 2023.
Disclaimer: We are still in the process of receiving 2022 data from partners that may slightly skew final metrics. All numbers should be considered estimates. We will update this article accordingly with accurate numbers as we finalize the analysis.