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  • We’re counting on you to hit The Loop

    Mar 10, 2022 | Read More News
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    Where are they?

    Pantano River Park -
    • East bank at Fort Lowell Park
    • East bank at 22nd Street 
    Rillito River Park -
    • North bank at Craycroft Road
    • North bank at Rillito Park (Racetrack)
    • South bank at Curtis Park
    Cañada del Oro Wash - south bank at Christina-Taylor Green Park

    Santa Cruz River Park 
    • West bank at Irvington Road
    • West bank at Speedway Boulevard
    Julian Wash at Kino Sports Complex

    Harrison Greenway at Irvington
    Just like the U.S. Census, everyone is counted on The Chuck Huckelberry Loop. Literally. Ten counters installed on The Loop in the past two years are giving the County valuable data on who’s using the shared-use path by differentiating between pedestrians (walkers and runners) and cyclists.

    “We wanted to get a better sense of use on all reaches of The Loop,” explained Ron Odell, Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation (NRPR) Division Manager.

    NRPR receives data from the counters monthly, and found some surprises. “We thought that cyclists would outnumber pedestrians at Rillito Racetrack,” said Odell. “But it’s consistently a 50/50 split every month.” 

    Other counters revealed more pedestrians than cyclists, like the Pantano River Park counter just east of Fort Lowell Park. The Loop is an easy place to walk or run for people living in the nearby high-density residential areas. In addition, the decomposed granite trail there allows pedestrians and dogs to use a softer path instead of the asphalt surface.

    Odell was also interested to see the spots cyclists seem to prefer. 

    “One counter showed cyclists outnumbered pedestrians 3:1, on the Rillito at Curtis Park,” Odell said. Other data showed what NRPR staff expected: weekends are a lot busier than weekdays at most locations along The Loop.

    In addition, counters report temperature and rainfall. Does inclement weather have an effect on Loop use? “Absolutely,” Odell replied. “Numbers are down with cold weather and precipitation.”

    In addition, about 20-25% fewer people use the Loop at all the counter locations during June, July, and August compared to spring and fall months. This could be related to heat, monsoons, and lack of student and winter visitor population during those months. Data from most counters indicate that users beat the heat by getting out earlier with peak use from 7 to 8 a.m. in the summer, compared to 8–10 a.m. during other months.

    The 10 counters on The Loop cover every river path. The first two counters were wired for digital display: next to the Racetrack on the Rillito River Park path and on the west bank of the Santa Cruz path just north of Speedway. 

    NRPR, the Regional Flood Control District, and the Capital Improvement Projects Office determined these locations were the busiest and had space for complimentary art. “Subarial Embrace” arches above the Rillito River Park counter, and the Santa Cruz River Park art is in the design phase.

    Vandalism of the digital counters was a concern. NRPR had a solution: “One of our welders designed and built shatter-resistant plexiglass sleeves to fit over the displays, encasing the equipment,” said Odell.

     the loop
    Counters placed at 10 locations along The Loop may help drive decision-making
    regarding speed limits and, possibly, the best spots to locate eating and drinking
    Because of the digital displays, the Santa Cruz and Rillito counters are most visible to Loop users. Other counters use a more subtle bollard design, but all counters use sensors marked by the diamond-shaped patterns cut into The Loop’s surface.

    Following the digital display counters, the next ones were funded by a Centers for Disease Control Grant to the Pima County Health Department. The County installed these on the Julian Wash near the Kino Sports Complex and on the Santa Cruz south of Irvington Road. Funding for additional counters came from the County’s regular operating budget.

    Data may drive decision-making in the future.  For example, increased numbers may lead to speed reduction zones in the busiest sections of The Loop. Some counters have fewer than nine months of data, which is not comprehensive enough to influence changes right now.

    Data sample from 2021 Loop Usage Reports:
    • Most users place and month -- Rillito @Rillito Park: 45,803 users in March 2021
    • Fewest users place and month -- Julian Wash @Kino: 2,847 users in August 2021
    In fact, for most of the year, if you want to be with lots of people, head to the Rillito. If you prefer solitude, check out the Julian Wash.

    The County is not the only one reviewing publicly available data.

    “Top Golf has been studying analytics on the Cañada del Oro Loop,” said Odell. “They might develop connectivity from their property onto The Loop,” to attract customers.

    The County sometimes receives requests for more places to eat and drink along The Loop. The private sector would do well to look at Loop usage reports, like Top Golf does, to see all the potential customers flowing by on The Loop each day.

    Find a breakdown on Loop usage.