A bike, a trike or a hike.

With the pandemic lockdown lifted and more than 60 kilometres of trails at their disposal, Collingwood cycling enthusiasts are taking to the myriad of trails in record numbers.

A thin shaft of light and phone logs tell the tale of increased usage, said Wendy Martin, the town’s manager of parks.

“We gauge how busy the trails are mostly by customer complaints,” Martin said. Riders will complain about the conditions of the trails that have been washed out after a rain or complain about trail etiquette; if people are riding three abreast and they can’t pass safely, they’ll call, she said.

The parks department also uses a high-tech beam of light across the trails to count the number of cyclists and walkers, she said.

“It doesn’t count every single person if they’re walking beside each other, it just counts every time the beam has been disrupted, but we do have actual trail counts and those numbers have gone up,” Martin said.

The increased presence has also been noted by the Trail Captains, 30 volunteers who stroll along the trail daily to ensure the trails are kept clean and note hazards for the Parks department.

Collingwood has 7.8 kilometres of on-road bike lanes, another 6.8 kms on paved shoulders and 48 kms off-road trails on a packed-granular surface.

Celebrating the May announcement of its Silver Bicycle Friendly Community award by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition and the Canadian Automobile Association, the town upped its medal standing from bronze in 2017 by upgrading its trail committee participation in active transportation and by improving its trails.

There are more than a dozen trails along the waterfront, including Harbourview, Birch Street, the Promenade, Train, Sunset Point, Bay Loop and Nottawasaga Bay trails.  

“We are adjusting the secret trails — near Sobeys and Sunset Point,” Martin said.

It’s not a well-known trail simply because portions of it have been under water for the past two years.

Martin said construction crews are doing away with the soggy asphalt and designing a three-metre-wide sidewalk closer to the road.

It hasn’t all been a walk in the park, however.

There are still concerns about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle destroying trees along the routes — trees will be cut down within a few metres of the trails only when that becomes necessary, she said.

Additionally, it’s about educating the public about the lack of road trails on Highway 26, she said.

“We want to encourage safe travel, where people are comfortable using their bike to do errands or to go for a leisurely ride or whatnot. We need to make it so it’s safe and they don’t have to be fighting with traffic,” she added.

Catching up with Juanito Daiz, 57, on Harbour Street, he said he has vacationed in Collingwood with his bike for the past five years.

“I’m from Toronto so I follow people biking,” Daiz said. “We follow the trails — it’s a very scenic way.”

Getting around Collingwood without ever having turned the key in the car’s ignition is Collingwood’s focus now.

An overhaul of the Colltrans transit system is currently underway, said Daniel Cole, the town’s manager of public works.

Current routes run about every half-an-hour on a fixed schedule. A new transit study is recommending three options; stay on the fixed schedule, use an on-demand (call) option or a combination of the two.

“There are some areas in the south end of the town, and some new subdivisions near Georgian College that don’t really get a lot of service today. So that on-demand concept would allow us to provide service to them that would be efficient service,” he said.

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Story Behind the Story

With more people getting outdoors, we wanted to look into how extensively Collingwood’s trail system is being used.