Counters on bike and pedestrian trails in Morgantown will help to better understand the local impact and potential of biking and walking in this growing city.
A new trail counter installed on a section of the Caperton Trail in downtown Morgantown recorded an average of 2,120 trail trips per week between November 2015 and August 2016.
The data reveals that, over the course of the four seasons, trail use is almost evenly split between bikes and walking/jogging.
Of a total of 93,269 trail trips recorded during the 10 month period:
- 48,857 (52.4 percent) were taken by bike
- 44,412 (47.6 percent) on foot
The Caperton Trail is the centerpiece of the extensive Mon River Rail-Trail System, which connects Marion, Monongalia and Preston counties in north central West Virginia.
Trail managers, transportation planners and trail advocates plan to use the trail counts to make the case for future trail development, provide accurate traffic numbers for prospective businesses and developers along trail corridors, study health and environmental impacts, and better integrate biking and walking into the city’s overall transportation system.
The busiest month on the Caperton Trail was August, when 13,470 trips were counted. During the early Spring months, more walkers and joggers were counted on the trail than cyclists, and it wasn’t until June that bikes overtook walking and jogging on the trail counts.
The counts referenced here were recorded where the Caperton Trail passes the Seneca Center, near the intersection of Beechurst Avenue and 6th Street.
This counter was one of four trail counters installed on the Mon River Trail system by the Mon River Trails Conservancy (MRTC) to record trail use on the Mon River Rail-Trail system, one of the busiest in West Virginia.
The counter in front of the Seneca Center uses in-ground inductive loops, which detects the electromagnetic signature of passing bike wheels, and can also distinguish a bike from a pedestrian or jogger.
The other trail counters use infrared to detect heat, and cannot distinguish between the types of trail uses.
Diving a little deeper into the data…
The busiest month was August (13,470 trail trips), followed by July (12,991), June (12,272) and April (12,231).
Surprisingly however, 10 of the busiest 12 days recorded were in Feb, March and April.
The busiest day was Friday, July 15 – the day of the Jim Dunn 5 mile run – when 905 trips were recorded, 718 of them on foot.
- The busiest day of the week: Wednesday.
- Daily average: 315
- Monthly average: 9,590
- Weekday peaks: 3 – 6 p.m.
- Weekend peaks: 11 – 3 p.m.
Big bike/ped plans afoot
These counts are part of a project to create a 1,450-mile system of trails that will connect the major centers of America’s Rust Belt and industrial Appalachia.
This marks the beginning of an intensive period of active transportation study in Morgantown and the region.
National trail advocacy organization Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) currently has 28 counters on trails throughout a 48 county-area connecting western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio.
In addition to the Mon River Trails, in West Virginia trail counters are also gathering data on the North Bend Rail-Trail, the Wheeling Heritage Trails, the Brooke Pioneer Trail and the West Fork River Trail. The results of these counts will be available in November.
These counts are part of a project to create a 1,450-mile system of off-road trails that will connect many of the major centers of America’s Rust Belt and industrial Appalachia. Pittsburgh will serve as the network’s hub, with trails radiating out of the metro area and connecting to Cleveland and Ashtabula in Ohio, Morgantown and Parkersburg in West Virginia, and Erie in northern Pennsylvania.
RTC, WVU’s School of Public Health and the MRTC are about to conduct a survey of businesses along the trail corridor to evaluate the trails impact on their business. That research will inform a full economic impact study, to be published by RTC in 2017.