Let start off by explaining what an Eco-Counter is and how it works. An Eco-Counter is a tool used to obtain accurate attendance figures by hour, day, week, season, or year. The counter uses a small laser to track the movements of pedestrians and cyclists in natural areas such as parks and trails. The Eco-Counter is an effective tool in helping preserve sensitive sites, anticipate trail erosion, measure the impact of visitors on fauna and flora, and to allocate the proper resources for more actively traversed areas. The data is also used to communicate key attendance figures to the public, which in certain cases is the difference between the continued maintenance of a trail and letting that trail become overgrown.
The Seattle Trails Program currently utilizes two Eco-Counters (and expects two more shortly) to monitor trail attendance in key locations around the city. Seward Park was the location of the first counter which remained at the same location from January 1st of 2016 until September 27th. In the nearly nine months the Eco-Counter was located at the trail head in Seward Park, there were a total of 67,235 users recorded by the counter. That is nearly 7,500 users a month, with a daily average of 294 (with a weekend daily average of 349). The busiest day of the week is Saturday with the busiest recorded day being Friday June 10th with an astounding 832 users. Weekly traffic in Seward Park peaked in mid-July with nearly 3,000 recorded users, with 2:00 p.m. being the most common time for trail users to come out.
If you were impressed by the numbers from Seward Park, then prepare yourself for the numbers out of Carkeek. The Eco-Counter at Carkeek Park was also located there between January 1st of 2016 and September 27th. The total number of users recorded by the counter over the nine month period was, and get ready for this one, the total number was 111,899! That’s right, nearly 112,000 users over a nine month period. That is an incredible number, but let us keep in mind that Carkeek is a regional destination and we expect higher numbers here than we would at some of Seattle’s other larger parks. With 111,899 users that gives us a monthly total of approximately 12,434 users per month, with a daily average of 413 users. The weekday daily average was 348 users with the weekend daily average being 574 users. Saturday was by far the busiest day of the week and Saturday March 26th was the busiest day in the nine month span with a recorded 1,138 users. Weekly traffic in Carkeek peaked towards the end of June and again towards the beginning of July. Unlike Seward Park, the busiest hours for Carkeek during the weekdays was around 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on the weekends.
So what is going to be done with these numbers? The numbers from the Eco-Counters will help reaffirm the importance of maintaining Seattle’s trail system. The Seattle Trails Program is a small operation that primarily relies on volunteers to maintain Seattle’s extensive system of trails. The Eco-Counters will be deployed around Seattle in order to justify trail improvements, to help focus limited resources, and to make cases for increased funding/identify new avenues for funding based on usership. Going forward the Eco-Counters will be moved a bit more frequently in order to get more consistent snapshots of trail users from around Seattle. Stay tuned for the next round of numbers!
SEATTLE TRAILS ALLIANCE is a newly formed coalition of walkers, hikers, commuters, foresters, pedestrians, runners, and neighbors who support trails in Seattle. To become a partner or more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org