In 2015, the Trail Town Program conducted a pair of surveys in effort to collect information from users of recreational trails.
The “General Trail Survey” looked at users across the country.
“Trail construction has been increasing across the U.S.” the Trail Town officials said in a press release issued in late February. “With millions of users utilizing these trails, they have the potential to generate significant economic impact in communities and cities that they run through.”
The purpose of the survey was to determine what trail users look for from the communities through which the trails run.
The General Trail Survey was conducted online only, and received responses from 804 users across 42 states and the District of Columbia.
The majority of respondents were male, between the ages of 46 and 55.
Of those respondents, 33.8 percent used trails more than once per week.
General Trail Survey highlights:
— Respondents traveled an average of 23.7 miles per visit;
— 81.3 percent of respondents are looking for restaurants and cafes;
— 76.6 percent of respondents were more likely to patronize a business that has bike racks or some form of bike storage;
— For food options, 65 percent were looking for local/regional favorites, and 57.5 percent were looking for locally grown or raised food;
— 84.2 percent of respondents typically found out about business or attractions through Internet or social media.
The second survey the Trail Town Program recently completed was the “Trail User Survey,” along the trails that make up the Main Line Canal and Trans-Allegheny Trails — a series of yet-to-be connected trails through central and west central Pennsylvania.
Over a span of four months, 199 “intercept surveys” were collected, with respondents represented more than 55 unique zip codes.
Trail User Survey highlights:
— 61 percent of respondents found out about the trail through word-of-mouth;
— 80 percent of those surveyed said if nearby trails were connected, they would consider a long or multiple day trips;
— 67.5 percent of respondents were looking for restaurants and cafes;
— On average, each person spent about $10.22 per day, mostly on meals, snacks or beverages.
Closer to home
A 2013 study of the segment of the Erie-to-Pittsburgh Trail, from Titusville to Parker — 62 miles — completed by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, showed the following:
— Estimated trail usage: 159,000 people
— Overall economic impact: $7.48 million
— Average day user spends: $21
— Average overnight guest spends: $80.
To read the report for each survey that was completed, visit trailtowns.org, and click the “economic research” section.