Counting on Trails: GVLT and Partners Install Trail Counter on Gallagator Trail

GVLT, City of Bozeman, and Western Transportation Institute have partnered to install a trail counter on the Gallagator Trail. This counter, which will track trail user numbers, will likely stay in place for 5 years or more to collect long term trail data and trends. The counter is not a camera and will be collecting trail data as it relates to the day of the week, time of day, bicycles and pedestrians, seasons, work commutes, direction of travel, and more.

In its first couple of weeks on the job, the counter has tracked nearly 7,000 trail users in a week. That’s almost 1,000 a day! The counter has shown major spikes on days with events happening downtown such as the Bogert Farmer’s Market or Music on Main. So far the numbers are split fairly equally for pedestrians and bicyclists. The data is also showing that more users are heading north toward downtown, supporting the theory that people are using trails to commute and avoid parking and traffic congestion for downtown activities.

This long term trail data will help partners better understand fluctuations in trail use and will finally put hard numbers to the high traffic we see on the Gallagator Trail. The hope is that having these numbers on trail usage will help support requests for additional maintenance and improvement funding. The data will also help partners show how trails contribute to economic development and transportation planning.

We’re excited to see how this data fluctuates and changes when Montana State Students arrive in the fall and winter brings snow and ice.

The trail counter was funded by the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund of the Rails to Trails Conservancy which also provided funding to reconstruct the old and outdated bridges on the Gallagator Trail.  The Gallagator Bridge work will begin this fall. GVLT and partners hope to install counters on other trails around town to help further understand trail usage in our community.