Sarasota, FL (April 26, 2023): The Ringling Trail Complete Street was recognized as the Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association (APWA) Florida Chapter during its annual conference in Jacksonville last week. Assistant City Engineer Dan Ohrenstein, project team co-lead along with Capital Projects Manager Camden Mills, accepted the award on behalf of the City of Sarasota.
“This was the first protected bicycle lane project in the Sarasota-Manatee region, coupled with lane repurposing, and community conversations occurred during the pandemic,” said Assistant City Engineer Dan Ohrenstein. “More cyclists are traveling between The Legacy Trail and downtown core since the protected bike lanes were installed along the Ringling Trail and that’s translating into economic growth,” said City Manager Marlon Brown.
Click here for more information about this project and the award.
Like the European train system, Sarasota County’s bus system (SCAT) can provide a natural extension and complement to traveling by bicycle. The bus system provides a number of connections to The Legacy Trail, and the buses can carry up to two bikes per bus. The chart below shows locations where bus routes connect directly to points on the trail.
4/20/23 Update from Miranda Lansdale with the County Transit Department: Our contracted provider for the OnDemand service has now added bicycle racks to 12 of their vehicles. The OnDemand service is a curb-to-curb rideshare, “on demand” transportation option available in 4 zones. The zones generally cover where our bus routes do not (1: Downtown Sarasota/Lido Key/Longboat Key, 2: Siesta Key, 3: Venice/Englewood, 4: North Port). The idea is that a passenger can enter a ride request that includes pickup and dropoff location within an OnDemand zone, and within 30 minutes a van will arrive to execute the request. When making the request, the individual can select the option for a van with a bicycle rack. Other passengers may be picked up or dropped off along the way. The cost is $2 per ride.
Some interesting possibilities are:
Use the bus to get to and from the trail without having to cycle on roads, or having to load your bicycle into your car, or
Use the bus system to plan a one-way trip on the trail. For example, with Bus Route 17 one could start at the Venice Train Depot, cycle to downtown Sarasota for lunch, and return on the bus to the Train Depot. or
Suppose you have a flat tire. You could use the bus to get home or to a bike shop.
The following video shows how simple it is to load your bike onto the bus bike racks:
Click here for more information on how to use the Sarasota County bus system. Click here for bus schedules and routes.
Joe and Terry and their two boys were recently spotted taking a break at the Ashton Trailhead while enjoying a warm, sunny February day along the Legacy Trail. “We’re snowbirds from Michigan and have been coming here for many years. We love it here in the winter – the sun, the many attractions, including the longer Legacy Trail. Tucker and Cody, get so excited when we pull out the bikes and put on their goggles.” Yeah, about the goggles? “We want to protect their eyes from the sun, pollen or other air borne debris.”
And then they were off down the trail, leading the way with paws up on the front edge of the basket, all dog smiles at the adventures that lie ahead.
Riding the Legacy Trail is always a pleasure – often because of the interesting people you meet along the way. Sometimes, they are just plain inspiring.
I distinctly remember passing a solo rider on today’s ride and moments later, my mind was processing what I thought I saw. Was that rider pedaling with just one leg? I slowed and the one-legged rider quickly caught up.
After some pleasantries, I introduced myself as a member of the Friends of the Legacy Trail, and said I was always on the lookout for stories that highlight the diversity of trail users. Without hesitation, Kirk Bauer introduced himself and gladly offered some of his personal journey.
Kirk lives in Baltimore, but was vacationing in Venice for a few weeks. “I’ve been here a few times before and love the great weather for outdoor activities, the restaurants, and being able to ride mostly flat rails-trails like the Legacy Trail. With just one leg pedaling, I don’t do as well going up hills” he said with a smile.
“I lost my leg while serving with the Army during the Vietnam war.” I thanked him for his service and sacrifice. Recovery, physically and mentally, was not easy, he explained, “but I had great doctors, physical therapists, and outstanding role models around me to lean on and guide me.”
“I did some bicycling before I lost my leg.” He said it was one of the many early skills he had to relearn. “Like a kid, I started out with training wheels and someone walking by my side in case I lost my balance. My first solo ride was a big deal for me.” Getting comfortable on the bike took some time.
“I have a prosthetic leg, but it’s uncomfortable cycling and doesn’t give me much leverage to pedal” he explained pointing to the short remaining stump of his left leg. “I find it better to ride my bike without it.” He said his typical ride is 40 to 60 miles! I told him to come back next year after the Legacy Trail extension is completed to downtown Sarasota and he could do that round trip distance right here on the trail.
His Army service and rehabilitation experience led to a lifelong career: helping other disabled individuals regain a sense of self, purpose, and accomplishment. Kirk was the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for over 30 years, growing the organization into national prominence. “I’ve had a few other interesting adventures,” pointing me to his resume on Move United, the successor to Disabled Sports.”
Like being appointed by President Bush to represent the US at the 2008 Beijing Summer Paralympics; leading a team of amputee veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars to reach the Mt. Kilimanjaro summit; and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award by the President’s Council on Fitness in 2013.
As we approached the Laurel road overpass, I noticed that he never lost speed or cadence going up one of the few “hills” along the trail. Later I saw on his resume that he’d once completed the 100 mile “Three Notch Century Bicycle Ride” over three mountain passes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Now retired at age 73, Kirk is still riding and inspiring others, including me.
They gathered in the predawn
Florida cold (60 degrees Fahrenheit) darkness at the Historic Venice Train
Depot. Vehicles guided by volunteers to
designated parking areas. Bicycles
dismounted from their carrier. Final ABC
safety check: “A” for Air in tires, OK; “B” for Brakes, OK. “C” for Cranks and
Chains, OK. A quick healthy bit of fuel
consisting of yogurt, muffins, fruit, OJ and coffee graciously provided by
sponsor First Watch restaurant. A final
Event Director Bud Gaunce called
out “Ride safely, ride courteously, and enjoy the ride.”
And as the sun peaked over the
horizon, bringing the light and warmth of day, the first wave of 62 milers on
the 2019 Tour de Parks launched north on the Legacy Trail. The 35 and 21 milers followed later in the
950 riders signed up for the
event, shattering last’s year’s record of 750!
It all went very smoothly, thanks to detailed planning efforts and
dedicated volunteers before, during, and cleanup after the ride.
True to its name, riders traversed
parks along the Legacy Trail, venturing to Urfer, Rothenbach Parks. Rowers could be seen honing their skills as
riders circled Benderson Park, site of international rowing competitions. Ocean
vistas and dream homes line the newly paved route along Casey Key.
The Tour de Parks is a key fund
raising event by both the Friends of the Legacy Trail and the Sarasota-Manatee
Bicycle Club. About 100 volunteers help
support the ride, along with area bicycle shops providing SAG support for
mechanical issues. This year’s ride,
like most previous year’s, was graced with light winds, low humidity, mostly
blue sky, near perfect low 80s temperature.
Perfect for hesitant riders trying their first cycling event, to
seasoned cyclist using this as a first of the season’s long distance
rides. A hearty lunch provided by
Mattison’s greeted those at the finish line.
Thanks to all who participated. And a special thanks to all the FLT and SMBC volunteers who make this event possible. See more FLT and SMBC volunteer opportunities.
We are in need of Volunteers interested in helping us to staff Information Tables. These are held along the trail, at community events such as Farmers Markets, Health Fairs, Craft Shows, Festivals and other locations we feel would provide us an opportunity to speak with the public about The Legacy Trail and Friends of The Legacy Trail.
Some will be on a regular schedule and others will be as they come along. Information Tables allow us to honor the strong public support of The Legacy Trail Extension Referendum last fall by providing information about The Legacy Trail as well as regular updates on the plans for the extension project as it moves forward. They also help us to grow our membership base and support fund raising programs we have developed.
FLT Board members work these events with assistance from volunteers when needed. As interest and excitement grows for The Legacy Trail we would like to identify a group of volunteers who would enjoy this type of event and work with them to assure they have the training and information necessary to help us cover all requests. You don’t have to be a full-time resident in Sarasota County, just willing to talk with the public about The Legacy Trail and Friends of The Legacy Trail at events that are convenient for you. Can we add your name to this group? If so, please contact us here.
It’s easy to get swept up in the euphoria of the latest extension news. After all, it’s all good news, vision morphing into reality. But there’s much more going on along the existing trail. Let me highlight a few examples this past month.
January 9th marked the grand opening ceremony of the new Legacy Trail Overpass at Laurel Road. County Commissioners Maio, Hines, Moran and Florida Department of Transportation Director John Kubler participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony, to the delight of some 50 trail enthusiasts.
Commissioner Maio spoke of his efforts to secure County funds to
relocate major utility lines within the planned footprint of the
overpass. Director Kubler said this was a win-win project, as trail
users can now safely and easily cross the very busy four lane Laurel
Road, while vehicles now have one less red light to contend with. Left
unmentioned: trail users can delight in climbing a second Legacy Trail
“Florida Hill,” along with the SR 41 overpass in Venice!
A new frequent gathering spot for trail users is the intersection at the new Bay Street extension to Honore Avenue. FLT, with financial support from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, donated a new $5,900 ADA compliant multi-level water fountain at this intersection. The County installed this already-popular water fountain in January 2019. The fountain is Fido the dog friendly, and can fill tall jugs. Check it out and stay hydrated in style.
Least visible, but no less important, FLT donated and the County installed a second $3,000 passive infrared Eco-counter on the trail. (A third counter is on order.) These new counters are far more reliable, accurate, and far easier to harvest the data than the previous TrafX counters initially installed along the trail eight years ago. We have long believed in the adage that if you don’t count, you don’t count! We want to report a statistically credible number of trail uses. To that end, the number of trail uses for 2018 is 216,000. That’s down four percent from the 225,000 reported in 2017. We attribute this slight decline to the more than yearlong havoc of construction projects at Bay Street and Laurel Road changing trail use patterns, and the effect of the persistent Red Tide reducing tourism.
FLT is an all-volunteer organization. Your contributions – time and money – produce real trail improvements. Thank you. Contact me at here if you’d like to join our cause.
Friends of The Legacy
Trail is a newly registered organization with the Amazon Smile
Foundation! We are now eligible to receive 0.5% of your Amazon Smile
purchases made here: http://smile.amazon.com
No additional cost to you! But donations from Amazon Smile will go directly to FLT!
Amazon Smile is the same as ordering on Amazon.com except you can
select from a list of eligible organizations and designate one to
receive a percentage of your purchase price from Amazon Smile
Foundation. (Amazon does not charge any administrative fees or take any
deduction from the donation amount and there is no cost to the
It’s easy-start shopping! Select Friends of The Legacy Trail!!
Thanks to Joan Attenberg for setting this up for us!
Without opposition, and amid a large contingent of yellow shirted Friends of Legacy Trail supporters, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously March 14th on a resolution to include a bond referendum on the regular November 6 ballot to extend the Legacy Trail.
If approved by county voters, the referendum would allow the county to borrow up to $65 million to buy another 6.5 miles of unused rail corridor (including spur) to extend the trail to Payne Park and Fruitville Road in the city of Sarasota. The referendum includes funds to allow the county to build the trail – including the portion to Ashton Road purchased by the County in December; trail overpasses at heavily trafficked intersections at Clark and Bee Ridge roads; parking, restrooms and water fountains; and provide funds to better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.
A key provision: UP TO $65 million.Carolyn Brown, the County’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, told the commissioners that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had included $7.5M SUN Trail funds in their 2022/2023 draft work plan, pending approval in June 2018. She also said the County had requested another $4.2 million in SUN Trail funds for FDOT to build a trail overpass at Clark Road. Florida’s SUN Trail program provides $25 million per year for trail construction across the state. She indicated that any funds received would reduce the amount of bonding.
While $65 million is a large amount – the county estimates it at .08 mil in the ad valorem millage rate – it would amount to an annual tax increase of $16.00 per $200,000 real estate property valuation for 20 years. We believe that the collaboration of the county, the MPO, city governments and FLT representing the community provide a compelling case for securing SUN Trail and other potential funds that will reduce that amount.
Are the permanent benefits of extending the Legacy Trail – safety for trail users and motorists, enhanced quality of life and property values, opportunities to connect community trails to the Legacy Trail, support for theSafe Routes to School National Initiative , and non-motorized connections to area attractions, worth the cost of dinner once a year at an inexpensive area restaurant? We think so! FLT and our partners will continue to engage, inform and convince residents that the Legacy Trail extension is a sound investment in our community.
FLT would like to thank the Commissioners for their action, and thank all of our supporters and trail users who have gotten us to this point.
Three events. Three locations. Three consecutive days. A trio of music. food, and vendors. Five organizations. All sharing an active mobility theme. What at weekend! A big thank you to whoever scheduled three days of spectacularly beautiful Sarasota weather with lots of blue sky, sunshine, and comfortable temps.
Sarasota County led the festivities with the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of the Legacy Trail at an event Friday at Laurel Park in Nokomis. Board of County Commissioner Chair Nancy Detert commemorated the occasion, with Doug Hattaway of the Trust for Public Land recognizing individuals who championed the effort.
The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and the City of Sarasota held a Roll and Stroll event Saturday at Payne Park in downtown Sarasota. Along with promoting cycling/walking, participants were asked to try one of three routes less than two miles long from Payne Park to connect to the Sarasota waterfront and access the Barrier Islands. While survey data is still being accumulated, it appears the Oak Street route is the clear favorite among participants over the Ringling and Main Street routes. The latter two featured many businesses but gathering congestion, while Oak street traversed a classic old Florida residential neighborhood leading to Selby Gardens and onto a panoramic vista of Sarasota bay along a multi use regional trail.
The Sarasota/Manatee Bicycle Club and Friends of the Legacy Trail again joined with new sponsor the Trust for Public Land Tour de Parks. A record number of riders participated Sunday in the 20, 35 and 62 mile scenic routes, fueled by breakfast from First Watch, and lunch by Mattison’s. Event pics are available for viewing here.