Hit those trails

The city's trail usage is way up. Way, way up.

So, it’s warm out.

Balmy even.

And that’s the sun.

Wow. Is it really October?

In Indiana?

You know what goes perfect with this?

A nice bike ride. Maybe a jog. Or heck, just a short — or long — walk. Right outside, right along any one of the roughly 70 miles of trails stretching and intertwining all over Fort Wayne with an additional 26 miles or so right outside the city limits.

Goodness knows we’ve been using them.

City officials announced Monday that 188,711 walkers, joggers and cyclists took to the trails in July, August and September, setting a third-quarter benchmark by roughly 24,000 compared to the previous third-quarter high.

It comes on the heels of a record-setting June, when more than 72,000 residents used the trails. September trail usage also set a new record, with 65,744 people either biking, running or walking along the network of trails.

If you’re wondering where those numbers come from, the city has used infrared counters at 14 different locations along the trails since 2010.

“There’s not a typical trail user anymore,” said Dawn Ritchie, director of Greenways and Trails for the City of Fort Wayne, in a statement. “Residents of all ages, shapes and sizes – throughout our community — are embracing our trails. It’s thrilling to see not only many new users this year, but many occasional users increasing the time they spend on the trails.”

Construction of new trails along with free, guided community bike rides known as Trek the Trails are two of the main reasons for the increase in the number of trail users, according to city officials. About four to seven miles of trails have been added every year for the past several years.

One of the latest is the expansion of a trail down Liberty Mills Road near the Village of Coventry, which last month people were already using despite it not being quite done.

Other trails added in 2016 included along McKinnie Avenue, Covington Road, Renaissance Pointe, Dupont Road and Diebold Road. Later this month, ground is slated to be broken on an extension of the Six Mile Creek Trail near Tillman Road.

And then, of course, there’s always the weather,

But there may be other intangibles playing a part.

“Good weather always increases usage – but I think the tremendous growth we’re seeing this year shows that residents are embracing our trails and more and more residents want to be part of the trail network that connects people to destinations and to each other,” Ritchie said in her statement.

It’s October, the sun is suing and it’s warm. Now’s the time to enjoy the outdoors. Especially before it dips below 60 degrees — which it might do by midweek or this weekend. So grab that bike or lace up those sneakers.

And hit those trails.


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