We are really excited to announced a new partnership for this year with IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
The partnership will focus on success metrics for communities with mountain bike trails. As the saying goes: if you don’t count, it doesn’t count. Together, we will develop and share resources, including best-practice guides, on how to collect, manage and apply mountain bike count data. Those resources will be shared throughout the year during workshops (part of IMBA’s Trail Labs series), webinars, and freely available online guides.
“IMBA recognizes that data plays an important role in advocating for mountain biking trails and infrastructure. Understanding how to gather data and how to apply it to advocacy efforts can be a critical component in these efforts.”
– Anthony Duncan, Director of Local Programs, IMBA
The cornerstone of the partnership is the new Trails Count Grant Program, which will provide assistance grants to jumpstart efforts for communities that have the interest and political support to develop trail-use measurement systems, but need assistance to get their studies started. Following a competitive grant process administered by IMBA, awardees will receive two (2) PYRO-Box people counters for a period of six months, including the accompanying data analysis software, professional assistance and consultation services from our team to set up and manage count programs. The overall goal? Get data into that hands of mountain bike communities and help them get the most out of it.
“Eco-Counter is proud to partner with IMBA for the Trails Count Grant Program. Everyday, we help leading organizations across North America use data to support mountain bike trail development… We look forward to seeing what communities do with the counters and are here to help along the way.”
– Matt Ainsley, Market Strategist at Eco-Counter
There are a lot of good reasons for mountain bike communities to collect trail use data, and some excellent case studies and best practices are already out there. Collecting trail use data is an essential tool to develop, maintain, justify and understand the use of trails. Even a simple volunteer manual count or survey a few times per year is a really good start, providing valuable data that can be drawn upon for years to come.
One quick example here is in Bentonville, Arkansas. With more than 400 miles of trails in and around the town, Bentonville is quickly becoming a mountain bike Mecca. Mountain bike trails are a key recreation and economic driver in the region, creating jobs, diversifying the economy, attracting and retaining talent and so much more. This success does not happen by accident – trail development and management takes a data-driven approach. PYRO-Box people counters are moved around the trails, and an Eco-DISPLAY Classic counter proudly communicates the number of bikers using a trail connector trail in nearby Rogers, AR.
In Northwest Arkansas, trail count data is applied and communicated in a wide variety of ways. In addition to informing trail development and maintenance, the data supports economic development, health, and tourism initiatives in the region. Scaling the data, one study for example found that in 2017 alone, cycling brought in an estimated $137m to the area. On the health side, bicycling in Northwest Arkansas generates $85 million annually in health related benefits and, overall, bike usage is largely on the rise in the area.
Throughout the year, we will continue to share best practices for collecting and applying mountain bike count data and will bring in experts (including advocates, trail managers, tourism experts and more) from across the US to share their perspective. If you want to be part of the Trails Count Grant Program, IMBA will begin accepting applications in May 2020 from IMBA Local Partners who are interested in starting a trail counting program.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) creates, enhances, and protects great places to ride mountain bikes. It is focused on creating more trails close to home to grow the quantity and quality of mountain bike trail communities across the U.S., so everyone has access to close-to-home rides and iconic backcountry experiences. Since 1988, IMBA has been the worldwide leader in mountain bike advocacy and the only organization focused entirely on trails and access for all types of mountain bikers in all parts of the U.S. IMBA teaches and encourages low-impact riding, grassroots advocacy, sustainable trail design, innovative land management practices, and cooperation among trail user groups. IMBA U.S. is a national network of local groups, individual riders, and passionate volunteers working together for the benefit of the entire community.