County commission collecting data on Grand Blanc area trail use

GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission continues to monitor trail use in the Grand Blanc community.

Following a recent trail count study at Bicentennial Park, a new trail counter has been installed to collect data on pedestrian and cyclist use on the trail along Perry Road.

The Perry Road trail, which does not have an official name, runs from Saginaw Street to East Middle School and was partially funded through a grant from the Safe Routes to School program, according to Monica Shapiro, president of the Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid.

Shapiro said the Perry Road trail is “a great amenity” for residents of Grand Blanc Township and the City of Grant Blanc.

“As you can imagine, it is very popular, especially during Stay At Home,” she said.

The Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid is working to provide non-motorized access along all major streets in Grand Blanc, as is specified in the 2009 Master Plan, Shapiro said.

“Part of our strategy involves applying for grants, including another Safe Routes to School project on Cook Road,” she said. “Grants always ask for data, planned data collection, and outcome analysis.

“Any attempt to study trail usage starts with knowing actual numbers of users. A counter is something a community can do to support their trails and show interest and support of future trails.”

Local units of government may borrow trail counters from the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission. The loan program, the first in the state, is designed as a means to measure trail usage, “quantify economic impact and leverage grant dollars,” according to the commission’s 2020 Non-Motorized Trail Report.

Trail counters use infrared sensors to record the number of walkers and bicyclists who pass by, and data is later uploaded for analysis. Data includes the number of users and the times of day, days of the week and months of the year when usage is highest.

The recent analysis of Bicentennial Bike Path revealed an average daily usage of 595 with 565 on weekdays and 674 on weekend days. In addition, analysts learned that Wednesdays were the busiest days on the trail, and peak usage throughout the test period – April 9 to May 27 – exceeded 2,500 in one day.

Safe Routes to School is an international program that encourages biking and walking. In Michigan, Safe Routes to School is managed by the Department of Transportation with assistance from the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

The initiative assists in planning, developing and implementing projects to improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel use and pollution around school properties.

Since 2003, Safe Routes to School has awarded more than $31,000,000 in grants to fund infrastructure projects, as well as more than $1,400,000 for non-infrastructure programs.