Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Finding the Right Fit

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Finding the Right Fit

Article excerpt

When it comes to managing trails and parks, data matters. Trail user count data can inform a wide range of decisions, from designing trail widths to scheduling maintenance. At the City of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department, trail user data collected by automatic counters has increased the quality of design and provided valuable evidence for making trail planning decisions.

Manual counts, usually performed several times a year, lacked the frequency and duration needed to properly understand year-round trail usage. "In Sioux Falls, we have over 30 miles of shared use trails, including a 20-mile continuous loop that circles the city," explains Mike Patten, park development specialist. "We know the trail system is one of our most popular facilities, but we really wanted to understand the nuts and bolts of how it is utilized." This past year, Sioux Falls recorded approximately 1 million people on the city's trail system after installing six automatic counters.

Continuous year-round counts are utilized to help plan trail reconstruction projects, locate new access points and trails spur expansions, and guide the design for trail widths with greater accuracy. …

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