Who uses the Pinellas Trail and why? County survey offers some insight
If someone asked you to describe the typical Pinellas Trail user, what would you say?
A new county report on the results of a survey conducted last year by the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization offers some insight on who uses the trail, how and why.
The county surveyed 2,513 users at eight different spots along the 47-mile paved trail on Fridays and Saturdays. The northernmost survey spot was in Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor, the southernmost in downtown St. Petersburg.
First that average user: Male, aged 50 to 64, lives in Pinellas County and rides his bike for exercise. He uses the trail three to seven times a week and rides between two and 10 miles each time.
Overall, 56 percent of respondents said they use the trail for exercise and another 21 percent said they use it for recreation. No surprise there. But the report also highlighted how the trail connects people to work and school.
Of those surveyed at the downtown Clearwater location, 31 percent -- nearly one in three -- said they use the trail to get work. In downtown St. Petersburg, 23 percent use the trail for work and in Gulfport, the figure was 14 percent.
Of all users surveyed, 8 percent use the trail to get to work.
Back in Gulfport, 28 percent said they use the trail to get to school. In Seminole, 8 percent did.
The survey compared the results of a similar one conducted in 1999 and some of the differences are noteworthy
Fifteen years ago, 28 percent said they got to the trail by car and 45 percent got there by bike. In 2014, the percentage of users who drove to the trail dropped to 17 percent, and 59 percent said they used their bike.
You've seen the headlines about the county's tourism boom. Well, there are now a lot more tourists and snowbirds on the Trail.
In 1999, 87 percent of respondents were residents and 13 percent said they were "tourist/seasonal" residents. In 2014, 28 percent -- more than one in four -- said they were tourists or snowbirds.
Expect to read more about the trail in the coming weeks. The county will celebrate its 25th anniversary in December.