Bike Traffic During Pandemic

The multi-use trails in northwest Ohio are seeing large increases in traffic this spring compared to the spring and summer last year.

In 2019, trail traffic was counted for a week at each location between May and July. In 2020, traffic was counted in early May in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. TMACOG planners assumed that traffic would be higher in 2020 because people are off work and bike riding is a pleasant, socially distanced form of exercise. But they didn’t expect the increase that they saw.

Trail Average Daily Count 2019 (May – July) Average Daily Count 2020 (May) Percentage Increase from 2019 to 2020
Chessie Circle Trail 272 490 80%
Slippery Elm Trail 264 392 48%
Wabash Cannonball Trail South Fork 130 317 144%
University/Parks Trail 483 683 41%
Total 1149 1882 64%

Lance Dasher, TMACOG transportation planner in charge of bicycle and pedestrian planning, said “We have not had a lot of nice weather this spring, but people are really taking advantage of walking and biking facilities.” The south fork of the Wabash is a good long ride for exercise (16 miles) but there is not a lot of population density there, meaning most people drive to get their bikes to the trail. The Chessie is in a very densely populated area and people can walk out their backdoors to get access but the paved section is only a mile and a half long. The Chessie traffic counter was on a section between Copeland and the Anthony Wayne Trail. Vice President of Transportation David Gedeon said, “It’s safe to assume that the we are undercounting with our digital meters. People who are walking or biking side by side are counted as one unit. The numbers are meaningful, but shouldn’t be used as a true count of actual traffic.”

The city of Toledo will be constructing and paving another piece of the Chessie Circle Trail from Bowman Park to University Hills Boulevard in 2021. This three-mile section will connect the University of Toledo to a lot of backyards, parks, and schools.

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