Bellingham's trails give us places to walk, run and ride, providing a valuable resource for having fun and exercising, and providing a place for outdoor recreation. Whether you are out for a leisurely stroll or are commuting to work or school, trails are widely used by people of all ages and all abilities. Quantifying the number of users on the city’s trail system helps us understand the demand for trail facilities and maintenance needs.
The Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department began collecting trail data in February of 2011. Data is collected from infrared trail monitoring equipment that have been installed at various locations in the city. The counters collect data, which is manually downloaded into electronic data readers by Park’s staff. This data may be used to assess maintenance needs and may also be used to address demand for new facilities.
The data results include user counts by day, hour, and minute in any type
of weather. This data is an approximation of how many people are using
trails on a given day and time. In most cases, the actual user counts are
higher than what is recorded by the equipment. This is due to the way the
equipment is set up and the walking patterns of people in larger groups
(i.e. multiple people walking side-by-side may only be counted once).
Typically, Park staff collect data on a weekly basis. During peak usage, Park staff collect data on more frequent intervals. Occasionally, trail usage is so high that the storage capacity of the electronic data counters are “maxed-out” and data is missing for a particular time interval.
Data collectors do not take photographs and do not record sound.