Understanding resident use of a new elevated pedestrian and bicycle trail
“The 606” is the world’s first multi-use elevated trail, extending for 2.7 miles through diverse neighborhoods that have among the least amount of open space per person in Chicago. The trail connects six ground-level parks and is managed for recreation, but also serves as a cross-town transportation connector. City managers sought information about trail use to maintain a safe and harmonious experience for users, make operations and maintenance plans, and document the benefits of trail development. Forest Service scientists examined use of The 606 during the first six months of 2016. They used automated traffic monitoring technology to count the number of people using the trail and found that the majority of users were pedestrians, but the numbers varied by day of week and time of day. Average daily volumes near the east and west ends of the trail were 3,500 and 3,000 people, respectively, with peak daily use exceeding 10,000. A model developed to account for variations in use indicated that day of the week (weekday or weekend), location on the trail, and temperature explained 80 percent of daily use variation. Using historical weather averages, researchers estimated number of users for the two site at 1.46 million and 1.3 million per year. They estimated a combined total of 3.7 million miles traveled annually. Preliminary results suggest that The 606 has created connections between historically segregated neighborhoods, meeting and exceeding city managers’ objectives.