The Chelmsford Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and FBFRT collaborated on three counts of trail usage in 2012: May 5 and September 15 & 18. This year, FBFRT provided “Trail Usage Count In Progress” signs. In addition, Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) personnel participated in the September 2012 trail counts, counting at Maple Road in South Chelmsford. They were comparing 2010 and 2012 results for six count locations across the state. The other locations were: Southwest Corridor Bike Path (Boston), Dr. P.D. White Path (Boston), Minuteman Bikeway (Lexington), Assabet River Rail Trail (Hudson), and a trail in Gloucestor. Boston Region MPO staff were interested in the one-hour periods with highest usage. Saturday 2012 one-hour peaks for the Minuteman Bikeway and Assabet River Rail Trail were 462 and 114 trips, respectively. Both occurring at mid-day. Compare with BFRT one-hour peaks: Heart Pond, 184; Maple Road, 163; Chelmsford Center, 158; and the Chelmsford Mall, 70 trips. All occurring in the mid to late afternoon also on Saturday.
The Saturday numbers in Chelmsford were down from the 2010 and 2011 counts, possibly due to damp conditions in the morning. 1220 trips were counted at Heart Pond (roughly 700 people), with 65% bicyclists, 31% walkers and runners, and 4% child carriers, in-line skaters, wheel chair users, skateboarders, etc. Chelmsford Center and Chelmsford Mall have a slightly lower percentage of bicyclists (60%). Please see the accompanying graph. We continue to see as many as 1 out of 3 bicyclists not wearing a helmet, many of them adults with small children. A helmet can save you the cost of an ambulance ride. Bike crashes do occur on the trail.
The BFRT count data has been used to justify maintenance and amenities, apply for grants for trail art, motivate construction funding for Phase 2A, and apply for creation of a cultural district that includes the trail. Christine Bettin, Boston Region MPO Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, said “The Boston Region MPO uses bike/ped count data when conducting transportation studies to improve walking and bicycling conditions and to improve accessibility, mobility, safety, and connectivity within the regional bikeway network. This data also helps to justify bicycle and pedestrian facilities as an integral component of the region’s transportation network.”
Regional usage count data, including data from the BFRT, are stored in the regional Bicycle/Pedestrian Count Database at http://bostonmpo.org/apps/bike_ped/bike_ped_query.cfm.