Smart meters were installed at the entrance to Fernleigh Track in Whitebridge and the streetcar track in Glendale in October last year to count the number of users.
Counters show that from May 21 to July 21, an average of 367 pedestrians and 823 cyclists used the Fernleigh each weekend day.
Over the next two months, that number rose to 569 pedestrians and 1,225 cyclists, an increase of 55% and 49% respectively.
The first Saturday in spring drew a total of 2,563 people to the Fernleigh Trail – the highest number of any day in the past four months.
A total of 57,945 pedestrians and cyclists used the iconic 15 km old rail corridor between May 21 and July 21, compared to 87,717 in the following two months.
There has been an even greater increase in the tram track.
There, daily pedestrian use on weekends jumped 160% and cyclist attendance increased 76%.
“This smart technology confirms what we have heard anecdotally and seen for ourselves,” said Helen Plummer, head of asset management at Lake Macquarie Council.
“The demand for outdoor exercise spaces, especially along our shared trails, is at unprecedented levels during the COVID lockdown.”
Council stated that the increased use of the Fernleigh runway has resulted in an increasing number of maintenance requests.
Over the past three months, crews have repaired cracks, repaired track fences, and removed rocks and dirt that fell from the shoulders on either side of the track.
The council said there had been no increase in the number of complaints about anti-social behavior or unsafe practices.
Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said it was a great result from the community.
“It’s a fantastic reflection on the vast majority of people doing the right thing, playing by the rules and kindly sharing the track with others,” said Cr Fraser.
“Outdoor recreation and exercise are so important to our physical and mental well-being, now more than ever. This new usage data shows us that we are on the right track by investing more to expand the city’s shared trail network and promote active transportation on Macquarie Lake. “