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Response to Trail Use Survey Very Strong

posted May 22, 2011, 7:29 PM by Beth Hamel
Over 100 responses in 3 hours!
January 10, 2011 

I was absolutely amazed at the quality and quantity of responses to our e-mail survey last week. I will be reviewing and responding to the results for quite some time. It is very important that the results be shared with community leaders, members of the Board of the Friends organization as well as with you.

The write in comments were the most compelling part of the survey. I have pages upon pages of great feedback, ideas and information that I will be using to guide our activities as well as future development of the trail and associated resources. It is powerful information that legislators as well as local community leaders will be very interested to review and hopefully act upon.

Here are some of the highlights:

The most evident fact that came out of the survey is that trail users are passionate and very engaged when it comes to “their” trail. We had over 100 surveys returned within 3 hours of sending it out! All total over 200 people responded and they created volumes of information and ideas that will provide many benefits.

In response to the question of how often do you use the trail, 50% of the respondents noted that they use the trail weekly, 29.6% use it monthly, 7.7% daily and 16% said rarely.

A very important statistic that came out of the survey is the fact that 66% of trail users noted they use businesses by way of the trail that they would not normally use via other means. This is very important to the communities connected by the trail. The trail is becoming a new revenue stream for the businesses in those communities and informing trail users about the local resources will be an important task.

Our website was another question the survey addressed. It was rated good by 40% of people responding and okay or needing an upgrade by 21% while 19% said they have never used it.

One of the greatest areas of information needs was illustrated by the question that asked “If our website listed all the businesses, restaurants and resources accessible via the trail would that benefit you?” The response was 85% YES! That response was backed up by comments from people wanting to know about events, side trips, trail conditions, restaurants and campgrounds. All information that we will be working to acquire in the near future.

Another request that was made quite frequently was for a blog type resource. People want to read about other people’s experiences on the trail. What restaurants did they visit? How was the food? What side trips or experiences did they experience within close proximity to the trail? Where are the camping and lodging resources and were they trail user friendly? In the future we will look at resources we can provide that will allow you to post your trail adventures for others to read!

That final question in the survey asked what trail resources are most important to trail users. This was an eye opening question because the resource most requested in the write in comments was not even listed in our initial choices. The choices we listed were picnic tables, port-a-jons / restrooms, benches, information kiosks, and shelters. Over 42% wanted more restrooms. Specifically, in the comments section, they want real restrooms and not port-a-jons. They mentioned specifically that they want a place where they can change clothes that’s not an outhouse!

The biggest request for resources though was water! People need a place to refill their water bottles near the trail. That should be fairly easy for communities to respond to if they know there is a need. We will make sure they are aware of the need.

That’s the highlights for now. Thank you to all of you who participated! You made our job much easier and gave us a very clear direction in which to proceed. I want to especially thank all of you who gave such great notes of thanks and appreciation for the work of the Friends organization. It has been said that the wages of volunteers is appreciation and you paid us very well with all of your kind words and comments.

I will be sharing lots of the written comments with you in future e-mails.
Don't forget our next meeting is at Plainfield Township Offices this Wednesday (1-12-11) at 7:00 pm. I hope to see you there and I'll probably have more details from the survey.