MUNCIE — Some visitors to Muncie arrive on two wheels.

Trails for biking, running and walking, frequently cited as a quality-of-place signifier for attracting residents and employers to a community, increasingly can serve as a draw for out-of-town visitors, too, particularly when you're talking about the 62-mile-long Cardinal Greenway.

Stretching from Richmond through Muncie to Gaston and into Grant County, the Cardinal Greenway has seen increasing use, particularly in the past few years. When the COVID-19 pandemic pushed many people outdoors for exercise and the chance to socialize more safety, trails of all lengths saw their foot and bike traffic multiply, and Cardinal Greenway was no exception to that trend, according to Angie Pool, chief executive officer of Cardinal Greenways. "It became an oasis," she said.

"We always knew our trails were busy," Pool said recently while sitting outside the Wysor Street Depot in Muncie that houses the Cardinal Greenways offices, watching walkers and bikes pass by on the paved trail. In the past, overseers of the greenway and related trails could only estimate numbers of users; a consultant in 2001 calculated the greenway saw about 250,000 users per year.

But around 2020, Cardinal Greenways set out infrared counters along the trails, which counted nearly half a million users in 2021, Pool said.

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