Although the award-winning Berea Pinnacles have been closed since March because of coronavirus concerns, their counterparts, the Berea trail systems, have been used more than ever before.
In a news release from the Berea Trail Town Committee, the usage on one trail — the Stevenson Trail — has increased by 82% compared with this time last year.
Another trail, the Short Line Pike Trail connector, was implemented in 2018 and received its highest month of users ever recorded.
The connector was created when the city paved a 1-mile multi-use trail to connect it to two already existing paths. This second piece of the trail is located along Short Line Pike Road. Now with the connection, trail users can travel from the center of town out 3.1 miles to the Pinnacles parking lot, all without having to worry about vehicle traffic. This connection has provided other options for physical activity for residents.
Louisa Summers, a health and human performance professor at Berea College, has been studying health and economic impact in Berea for the past three years and has presented her findings several times to the local city council.
After Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear ordered Kentuckians to stay "healthy at home," walkers tried to keep their distance and stay physically active by using the trail systems.
In April of 2020, there were 3,261 reported uses on John Stevenson Trail, as compared with 2019 when 1,787 uses were recorded.
Additionally, the group determined in April 2020 after collecting data that Short Line Pike Trail was more popular with youth and cyclists as upwards of 37% of the users were younger than 18 and 51% used bicycles.
"The purpose of this report from the Berea Trail Town Committee research team is to document the benefits of the multi-use trails in the city of Berea during the healthy at home order in Kentucky," the group shared. "This research uses infrared counter data and manual hand counts collected by the Berea Trail Town Committee research team. It documents trail use during March and April 2020, as compared with use during the same period in 2019. This serves as one indication of the positive impact the multi-use trails in the city of Berea have had on its residents. In April 2020, across two paths, there were a total of 5,703 uses."
The committee recorded several key takeaways from their trail studies, including more activity on the city's busiest trail, cyclists having a safe place to ride and an increase in physical activity in the city.
• • •
In other coronavirus related news, officials at Eastern Kentucky University announced plans to re-open in the fall through a news release sent by the Fall Contingency Planning Task Force.
According to the information sent out, students can choose the schedule that best meets their needs, from a wide array of fully online offerings to an on-campus schedule (with appropriate adaptations based on local, state and federal requirements), or a combination of both.
Modifications will be made to housing by configuring and furnishing to ensure proper distancing and accommodate enhanced cleaning protocols. Housing arrangements and custodial services are being adapted to implement the most current guidance.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Madison County Health Department is reporting two new cases of the coronavirus for the area. This brings the total number of cases to 43, with 35 reported to be recovered.
According to Sara Stringfield with Baptist Health in Richmond, no patients are being treated for the virus as of Tuesday at the hospital.
Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.