This report focuses on reported dollars spent from trail user surveys completed on seven rail-trails in Pennsylvania using the same methodology. In addition, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy reviewed seven trail user surveys completed on comparable rail-trails in the northeast United States. Unlike public opinion polls, a trail user survey seeks specific information from the people actually on the trails. A number of trail user surveys with economic impact analysis have been done in Pennsylvania during the past eight years; most of these have attempted to quantify the amount of money a user spends during their time on the trail and identify the goods and services on which the user is spending their money.
The economic impact of rail-trails has been studied over the past 15 years by community planners and advocates alike. By acquiring and viewing this first-hand evidence of a trail’s economic impact, a community can more fully understand the users’ needs; thereby enhancing the users’ trail experience as well as the quality of life in the community. A trail user survey should be a standard tool of every trail manager and community planner.