TECHNOLOGY quantifying traffic on the Fernleigh Track has indicated that usage of the popular pathway may be higher than previously thought, Lake Macquarie City Council says.
Lake Macquarie City Council says it will have an exact picture of patronage along the track linking Adamstown and Belmont after it added new sensors at the track's halfway point at Whitebridge.
The same type of devices will also monitor the Wallsend to Glenale Tramway Track near Glendale TAFE.
The council says the gauges will provide "24/7, minute-by-minute usage counts, with data uploaded to council automatically twice a day".
Lake Macquarie City Council section manager infrastructure assets Karen Partington said the previous Fernleigh Track data had come from a manual count twice a year.
Those figures had indicated the former rail corridor drew about 200,000 people each year, both commuters and recreational users.
If data collected earlier this month that shows more than 10,000 movements in just seven days bears out across the year, the annual total would be closer to half a million.
The council said there was an almost even split between cyclists and walkers or runners in that preliminary data.
The Newcastle Herald reported in May that transport consultant Ron Brown's counts indicated that Fernleigh Track patronage had surged during the pandemic.
Mr Brown found that the number of cyclists was more than double those recorded in a 2018 survey in late April, according to a counter near Park Avenue, and that there had been a drop in early morning rides but a rise in those around the middle of the day.
Ms Partington said the council's new technology requires more testing and a longer timeframe of use but described its potential as "very exciting".
"This technology will improve our understanding of how people use the Fernleigh and Tramway Tracks, and will inform our future planning and management," Ms Partington said.
"It will give us a much clearer picture of how important this kind of infrastructure is in our community."
The live counts could be made available online, with plans underway to make the figures public as it is collected and stored.
Newcastle Cycleways Movement vice president Peter Lee said he expected the data would bolster the case for more infrastructure in the area.
"These counters will help council understand the need to invest further in more active transport tracks," Mr Lee said.