Even before this year, mountain biking was growing in popularity. Then came COVID-19, which resulted in many bike shops running out of bikes and an estimated 117% increase in demand for mountain bikes in April and May 2020 compared to 2019. Across the United States, counts on mountain bike trails are up 100-500% in places.
A few months ago on our blog, we introduced our partnership with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) and the importance of collecting count data for the development and management of mountain bike trails. Count data allows trail managers to justify investment in trails, understand year on year growth, capture entry and exit flows, communicate with local stakeholders and so much more. If you missed that blog post, you can check it out here.
Getting more bike counters into the hands of mountain bike communities
At a moment in which so many people are out enjoying trails, never has there been a better time to collect count data. That’s why in July we started working with Vélo Québec to develop the practice of collecting count data among mountain bike communities. For more than 50 years, Vélo Québec – a non-profit organization – has been working to increase cycling across the Canadian province of Quebec.
Just like we did with IMBA, we launched a competitive grant program and invited mountain bike organizations across Quebec to apply and tell us a bit about where, why, and how they wanted to launch a count program. The prize for the grant winner? Two mobile, discreet PYRO-Box people counters for a period of three months, access to Eco-Visio – our interactive, online data analysis platform – for life, and expert advice from our team on how to get the most of count data. Read more about the grant here (link in French).
We received fantastic applications from across the province, representing everything from big, resort mountain bike trail networks, all the way down to those new, aspiring communities.
“Vélo Québec is pleased to partner with Eco-Counter to award this first grant – inspired by a grant program launched in the United States with IMBA – allowing a local club to use count data to support trail development.”
– Francis Tétrault
Mountain Bike Program Manager, Vélo Québec
And the winner is…..
Le Club Vélo2max at Vélo de Montagne Saint-Félicien (link in French) ! Located in the picturesque town of Saint-Félicien, Quebec, on the shores of Lac Saint-Jean, Club Vélo2max is a mountain bike competition club (of all levels and abilities) and managers of the local trail network. The network boasts 65km (40 miles) of trails, and hosts the Quebec Cup mountain bike competition. In the past, the trails have proudly held part of the World Cup and Canadian National mountain bike competitions.
Capturing volume trends across mountain bike trails
Club Vélo2max operates a membership system, in addition to daily and seasonal tickets to access the trails. Data from membership and ticketing provide a broad, baseline understanding of how many people are using the trails and growth over time. However, in applying for the grant program, the club wanted to gain a better understanding of trends across the trail network, in particular to understand which trails are the most popular. With this data in hand, the club will be able to plan maintenance and have a better understanding of the preferences of riders. The count data will also inform government funding applications. The club has some big plans for development in the future, and described difficulty in securing funds due to a lack of data.
Trail managers aimed to take advantage of the ease in which the PYRO-Box can be quickly deployed, creatively installed, and moved around the network. To get baseline data, their application outlined a plan to count at the main entrance trailhead, next to the information center. They also wanted to understand volumes at a footbridge that connects two different areas of the trail network. Finally, trail managers wanted to compare counts at a few different entrances to trails in order to gauge needs and interests of mountain bikers.
A few weeks later, with the counters in hand, trail managers did some creative installations and were off counting! Counters will be up for the peak fall season of August, September and October 2020.
Everyday, we are proud to work with leading non-profit organizations – such as Vélo-Québec – all across North America. Over the next few months, we will work hand in hand with Le Club Vélo2max, enabling them to get the most out of the counters and the count data itself. Keep an eye out on our blog later this year when we check in again with Le Club Vélo2max to see how things went and see what trends came out of the data.
Interested in learning more about collecting count data on trails?
Join our free webinar in collaboration with American Trails!
Make it Count: Collecting and Applying Trail Count Data
Thursday October 22nd at 1-230PM (ET). Sign up for this free webinar here!