May 14

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Rail Trails: United States Bad News, Australia Good News

Trail Searches Going Down on the Internet

Is the golden age of rail trails already behind us in the United States? If you look at Google Insights statistics, it looks that way. It looks as if fewer people are searching for rail trails and trails in general, while far fewer people are looking for bike trails. At the bottom of this post is one of the many Google Insights reports I viewed when looking at trail trends worldwide. Rather than just looking at my results, I highly recommend you do some trail research on your own. I don’t claim to be an expert on Google Analytics or Google Insights. However, it seemed pretty clear to me that interest in trails in general and rail trails in particular is on the downswing in the United States and some other major countries. We could blame it on many factors: economic downturn, competing forms of recreation and transportation, lack of funding, etc. But, of course, those are just excuses. With their many benefits for health, the environment, and recreation, trail use and interest should be on the rise rather than in decline. But enough bad trail news, lets look at some good trail news.

Trail Interest on the Rise in Australia, New Zealand & Canada

Fortunately there is some good news about trails. While internet trail searches are down in the United States and some European countries, searches are up in Australia and New Zealand. I’m not sure about Australia, but I know that New Zealand in particular has recently made a concerted effort not only to build new trails but (and this is important) also to connect their trails and to publicize trails. I can’t emphasize that last point enough. It doesn’t matter how much money, time and work goes into building trails; if they are just a hodgepodge of unconnected lines on a map that nobody knows about, things will start to disappear. Interest will disappear, funding will disappear, internet searches will disappear, trail users will disappear… I don’t believe we have even gotten out of the starting blocks unless we have:

To end this on a positive note, one trail statistic is going up worldwide. People are showing a continually increased interest in hiking trails. As you can imagine, I have some thoughts on that, too. But now it’s time to give you a break from my preaching and show you a graphic representation. This is just to pique your interest. Hopefully, you’ll do some searching on your own and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

trail information on Google Insights

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2012/05/14/rail-trails-united-states-bad-news-australia-good-news/