News Flash

City of Plano Parks and Recreation

Posted on: October 12, 2018

Trail counters reveal usage, trends along Plano’s most popular paths

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It’s no secret that Plano’s recreational trail system is popular among our residents.

With 75 percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park or trail, people of all ages across all demographics are benefitting from these amenities, whether for fitness purposes or as a means to simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Plano’s trail system also plays an important role when it comes to transportation. We have trails connecting to those in Allen, Frisco, Murphy and Richardson, meaning many people use our trails to safely commute to and from work, school and other locations. Bicycle transportation is helping to alleviate congestion along some of North Texas’ major thoroughfares.

In fact, the number of people who walk, run or bike along these trails has historically been underestimated. To get a better grasp of exactly how, when and how much Plano’s trails are used, our department installed trail counters at various locations. The data from these counters tell us exactly how many people utilize the trails as well as the day and time of use.

This map shows the location of all the counters within our trail system. Most of the counters were installed in 2014, with the exception of one that was installed in 2013 and another in 2016. We are collecting data from the following areas:

- Bluebonnet Trail
- Jack Carter Park Trail
- Chisholm Trail
- Legacy Trail
- Bob Woodruff Park
- Russell Creek Park Trail
- Rowlett Trail

The counters consist of a post mounted at the side of the trail with an adjacent “X” cut into the trail. They count both bikes and pedestrians with a combination of a passive infrared sensor and an inductive loop. The column counts everyone passing by and the inductive loops in the trail count bicyclists. Bicyclists are subtracted in order to get the pedestrian counts.

12OP Run for Zach (3)The counters do not cover the entire trail system, but they do provide an indication of how and when the trails are used. The most eye-opening information we discovered is that there are about 10,000 users along the trails in a typical week. This equates to more than 520,000 users on the trails per year! These trails are used from sun up to sundown—on a typical weekday, trail use begins around 5 a.m. and winds down at 11 p.m. The North Central Texas Council of Governments uses our data as part of its regional counter program (two of our counters are actually owned by them). You can learn more about the regional program here.

Plano Parks and Recreation understands the importance of enhancing accessibility to our parks and trails as a means of facilitating walkability in our community. People are more likely to walk when they feel protected from traffic and safe from crime and hazards. Therefore, we work hard to ensure that our trails are properly maintained to avoid injury and provide a safe environment for wheelchairs, strollers and the visually impaired.

You can find maps, rules of the road, and additional information about Plano’s trails by visiting our Parks & Trails page. Thank you for helping keep our trails safe and clean for fellow users!

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