We're spoiled in the Best Little City in America. That's true in a lot of ways, from safe neighborhoods, good people and low taxes. But the bike trail system -- and the greenway as a whole -- is truly unique.

The reason why, and here's what we don't think about that often, is that it's based on a complete circle following the Big Sioux River, so it's all parkland, and there are no street crossings. That's right -- no street crossings. Very few cities can say that. In fact, I say very few to hedge my bets, but I can't think of any to be truthful.

That no street-crossing element is a function of the river, which means there are bridges where there are streets, lots of bridges. That provides a natural corridor to under the road rather than having to cross it.

It's wonderful, and it show. The city of Sioux Falls released the traffic numbers for 2017 and more than 1 million people passed a counter along the trail. That doesn't mean 1 million people used the trail, it means the counters, which are placed at several spots, tallied a million total. So if I ride my bike all the way around the main loop, I'd get counted six times.

The system also distinguishes between bikes and pedestrians.

We call it a bike trail, because that's what we've always called it, but it's more appropriately called a multi-use path -- or MUP.

Here are some highlights of the numbers provided by the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department:

  • In 2017, trail counters registered more than 1,003,000 counts on the trail system.
  • The most popular section of trail was the Spencer Park section. Total counts at Spencer Park exceeded 268,000, with approximately 100,000 of them being cyclists.
  • On average, approximately 9,000 cyclists and 8,000 pedestrians frequent the core section of the trail system each month.
  • Of all the users on the trail system, 55 percent are cyclists, compared to 45 percent who are pedestrians. This is a shift from 2016, when cyclists were more prevalent at 64 percent with pedestrians at 36 percent.
  • The most popular day for cyclists on the trail system was Sunday, July 23, 2017, with counts exceeding 1,400 cyclists at Pasley Park. The most popular day for pedestrians was Sunday, April 23, 2017, with more than 8,300 at Spencer Park.
  • What is all means is that greenway system continues to be one of the most popular attractions in our city. It's home to dozens of events every year, it's a draw for cyclists from around the region, and it's accessible from nearly all areas of the city.

For more information about Parks and Rec activities, follow on Facebook or on Twitter. Get a downloadable copy of the fantastic Activities Guide, go here.

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