Trail Managers Employ Surveys and Analysis to Provide Insight
Through a trail-user survey and economic impact analysis process, trail managers and communities can now learn about the users of their favorite trails. User studies and economic impact analyses are becoming important tools in the trail-building and maintenance process. They provide a number of valuable benefits, including uncovering trail-user characteristics:
- Who is using the trail and for how long,
- where do they come from,
- what activities they're undertaking.
These studies can also help determine which sections are most popular, what additional amenities might improve the trail-user experience, how users perceive the current condition of the trail and bring to light any outstanding maintenance issues.
Survey results also impact the funding process, according to Gwen Loose, project coordinator with the York County Rail-trail Authority. "The data that is derived from a trail-user survey, when sited within a grant application, gives the application enormous credibility and an advantage over competing applications," says Loose. "The trail-user survey provides the facts and figures needed to strengthen a case for funding, placing your application in the best position to be selected for a grant award." This is an important step as federal and state trail building money becomes more difficult to obtain due to increased competition among trail projects.