April and May are usually the busiest months of the year for Wade Johnston of Mount Washington. While the director of Tri-State Trails is keeping busy this spring, it's for different reasons.
"For the first three weeks of...the stay-at-home order, we were monitoring trail use, and it was up, overall, 30% at the five locations that we do trail counting," Johnston told WCPO.
Now that it's National Bike Month -- celebrated across the U.S. each May, usually with large social events and group rides throughout the month -- Johnston said he expects cyclists to continue using the region's nearly 600 miles of walking and biking trails.
"Trail traffic appears to still be really high," Johnston said.
But he also said -- now more than ever -- Bike Month is an occasion for cyclists to practice caution and maybe adjust their expectations.
"Typically every year during Bike Month, we encourage people to go out and enjoy a group ride with friends and co-workers," he said. "We encourage people to bike to work. Obviously, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had to change our plans for group rides."
Instead of dozens, or even hundreds, of cyclists gathering for group rides that culminate at picnics or breweries, Johnston said cyclists are organizing bike scavenger hunts and virtual group rides using mobile apps like Strava or Map My Ride.
Tri-State Trails compiled this list of ways people can celebrate Bike Month while also observing the recommended amount of social distancing.
"We're just encouraging folks to stay with your immediate household members and still get outside, still go ride your bike" Johnston said. "But make sure you're following all the guidelines from local health departments and the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]."
A lot of Johnston's work at Tri-State Trails over the last six weeks has been adjusting his messaging surrounding the region's trails. He said he's had to strike a balance between encouraging trail use while also encouraging caution.
"If you go to a trail, and the trailhead is packed, or there's tons of people out there, we're encouraging you to go to a less busy trail so that you don't put yourself in an unsafe situation," Johnston said.