People in southeast Michigan are traveling to work less and going to parks more than the rest of Michigan on average.

Travel to work, as of March 29, has gone down 34% in Monroe County from a baseline set earlier this year, according to a report released by Google. Monroe is the only county in the area with a higher rate of people traveling to work than the statewide average, which shows an overall drop in travel to work of 43%.

In Macomb County travel to work is down 48%, down 50% in Oakland County, down 53% in Washtenaw County and down 45% in Wayne County.

People in southeast Michigan have also increased their travel to local and state parks as well as boating access sites more than the state average.

Under Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order, residents are permitted to travel to parks, trails and other public spaces within a person’s local community.

Statewide there has been a 15% increase on average in travel to parks and other public spaces outdoors.

In Macomb County, travel to parks was up 106% over the baseline from January and early February, up 52% in Monroe County, a 31% increase in Oakland County, a 53% increase in Washtenaw County and a 24% increase in Wayne County.

Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said he believes the increase of travel to parks in Michigan from January and early February to the last six weeks “has to do with the passing of seasons.”

Olson said people are still out fishing, though he implores those casting their line to follow social distancing measures.

“Our observations are, we think there are more people going out than the normal,” Olson said.

The report also shows a decrease in travel to recreation locations like restaurants and movie theaters, trips to transit locations like bus stations as well as trips to grocery stores and pharmacies throughout Michigan:

  • Statewide — Retail & recreation -58%; Transit -55%; Grocery & pharmacy -28%
  • Macomb — Retail & recreation -59%; Transit -33%; Grocery & pharmacy -30%
  • Monroe — Retail & recreation -54%; Transit -21%; Grocery & pharmacy -30%
  • Oakland — Retail & recreation -65%; Transit -50%; Grocery & pharmacy -35%
  • Washtenaw  — Retail & recreation -65%; Transit -49%; Grocery & pharmacy -48%
  • Wayne  — Retail & recreation -57%; Transit -61%; Grocery & pharmacy -25% 

The data is collected from users who have opted-in to Location History for their Google Account and the company cautions the data may or may not represent the wider population.

Google said it’s making the same reports available to both the public and the government, and not giving the government more specific data. 

The Mountain View, California-based company also didn’t recommend using its data to compare changes in travel between regions with different characteristics, such as rural and urban areas.

Current travel reports can be found on Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports page

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter

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