SEVEN VALLEYS, Pa. — Use of the Heritage Rail Trail in the month of May increased at a rate of 242 percent from the same time last year, according to data gathered in an electronic survey.
The huge boost is an obvious side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic that compelled many residents to practice self-isolation and social distancing as part of the state's effort to mitigate the spread of the disease, according to the York County Rail Trail Authority, which announced the statistics Friday.
During the month of May, a total of 17,682 people used the trail, according to Carl Knoch, author of seven previous electronic surveys of the Trail. That's an increase of more than 10,000 people from May 2019, when an electronic survey indicated 7,320 people used it.
“We are delighted to see this dramatic increase in trail usage, especially during a period of restricted travel when the vast majority of visitors were York County residents,” observed York County Rail Trail Authority chairman Frank Kempf.
Authority member Ann Yost agreed, adding “The rail trail provided a ‘front-line’ essential service as evidenced by the constant stream of visitors seeking to work their bodies and relax their minds by walking, cycling, and being outdoors.”
While entering the “Green phase” of COVID-19 mitigation is a milestone to be celebrated in York County, it comes with a call to be mindful of the future and the opportunities it may present, the Rail Trail Authority said.
The York County Rail Trail Authority said it will continue to expand the county trail system to offer residents the trails they seek now more than ever. And residents from all across our county will move beyond their COVID-19 pandemic experience to a healthier future of walking, cycling, and enjoying the outdoors…now more than ever.