El Dorado County Sustainable Agritourism Mobility Study

The project focuses on improving mobility for residents and visitors in El Dorado County associated with agritourism activity. The primary agritourism traffic generators in El Dorado County include wineries, apple orchards, and Christmas tree farms. During the popular apple harvest season between September and November, rural roadways in the Camino area of El Dorado County experience significant weekend traffic congestion. Since this traffic congestion only occurs during a handful of weekends throughout the year and the community prefers to preserve its rural character, conventional methods of traffic mitigation, such as roadway widening is not feasible.

Therefore, the project presents a unique challenge in identifying solutions that sustain both local and agritourism business in the region, improve circulation and mobility, and preserve the rural and natural beauty that makes the region attractive in the first place.

Since the agritourism traffic is at its peak during the apple harvest season for Apple Hill™ growers, this study primarily focused on analyzing the travel patterns associated during this period.

Through an analysis of the GPS and cell phone data, we learned that approximately 90% of visitors to Apple Hill™ growers originate from the west, and trips originating from the Sacramento area and the Bay Area each make up about ⅓ of all trips. This information provided insight into how the Apple Hill™ growers could strategize their marketing efforts. We were also able to use the data to determine the primary off-ramps being used to access the Apple Hill™ area. Part of this analysis was helpful in identifying underutilized off-ramps with available capacity. Lastly, we were able to use the data to analyze travel patterns between Apple Hill™ growers by dividing the area into 30 districts. This analysis showed five distinct “hotspots” (destinations within the Apple Hill™ area that have the highest popularity). We were then able to plot inbound and outbound flows between these “hotspots.” This information was useful in analyzing travel patterns between Apple Hill™ growers, and identifying where there may be opportunity to explore solutions that support alternative modes of transportation.

We sought to answer three questions about travel behavior using GPS and cell phone data:

Where are visitors coming from?

Which routes do visitors use to enter Apple Hill™ area?

Where within the Apple Hill™ area are visitors traveling to?