Trail use data and economic impact analyses are powerful tools to support trail development and sustained maintenance. RTC has worked with more than a dozen trails and scores of communities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to conduct trail user surveys and produce reports that demonstrate the economic value of trails. Paired with infrared counters to capture trail traffic patterns, survey findings provide a picture of trail user characteristics and help identify the amenities that would improve user experiences.
Three Rivers Heritage Trail 2014 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis
The 24-mile Three Rivers Heritage Trail extends along the banks of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers in one of America's most storied cities, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The trail has been developed by Friends of the Riverfront, which has worked for more than 24 years to turn a riparian brownfield into a world class trail network.
In 2014, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) conducted a trail user study and economic impact analysis of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, with support from a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The results of the study revealed a total economic impact in 2014 of more than $8 million!Read the full report
Highlights from previous studies conducted by RTC
- Henry Hudson Trail 2011 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis (N.J.) – An analysis of the economic data and trail user counts leads to an estimated annual economic impact in excess of $910,000 on an annual basis.
- Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail and Conewago Recreation Trail 2011 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis (Pa.) – Estimated 125,244 annual user visits for the combined trails, resulting in a total economic impact in 2011 of $1,326,064.
- Schuylkill River Trail 2009 User Survey and Economic Impact Analysis (Pa.) – Total annual user visits were estimated at 802,239, with an economic impact of $7.3 million annually.
Trail user surveys help trail managers develop sustainable maintenance plans, meet programming needs of trail users and better identify marketing strategies to increase trail use.
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