Trail traffic rises in Fayetteville during pandemic

Bike riders cross North Street on Scull Creek Trail / File photo

People are spending more time outdoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, trail use has increased significantly in Fayetteville.

Overall traffic along the trail system is up about 55%, said Dane Eifling, city’s bicycle programs coordinator, during last week’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee meeting.

Data from two of the city’s longterm traffic counters showed an immediate jump in traffic in mid-March when businesses, offices and schools were closed, Eifling said. Counters along the Old Wire Road Cycle Track and at Gulley Park showed major increases as well, he said.

The spike in traffic has led to conversations about social distancing on the trails.

Example of what the markers will look like in Fayetteville / Source: City of Fayetteville

Eifling said the city plans to install 150 markers on the trails around town reminding users to stay at least 6 feet apart.

The markers will be applied directly to the trail surface and are made from a material developed specifically for bicycle and pedestrian paths, said Matt Mihalevich, the city’s trails coordinator. They include a sandpaper-like surface designed to provide a grip for rubber shoe soles and bike tires.

The plan is to place most of the markers near intersections where people enter the trails, Mihalevich said. Other busy areas, such as the Lake Fayetteville Dam, will also include several markers.

City Council Member Sonia Gutierrez said she likes the idea, and is happy residents are getting outside for some exercise and fresh air.

“I think this is really going to help,” she said. “The trails are such a great resource to have during this crisis.”