Category Archives: Articles

Financing Bicycle Infrastructure: The Case of the Legacy Trail Extension

From the Blog of Doug Barnes

With a feeling of common purpose, I’m sitting amongst a sea of yellow in the first floor meeting room in Sarasota County Administration building in Florida. The call by the Friends of the Legacy Trail and the local bicycle organizations to attend the February 15, 2017 meeting is an overwhelming success. Not only are there about 100 supporters of the extension of the Legacy Trail in the room, but 300 sent emails and many others made phone calls. The call to action was issued because of the possibility of a 2 year delay in the financing of the Legacy Trail Extension to Sarasota.
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End of Existing Legacy Trail, Sarasota, Florida: Beginning of Extension
Photo by Doug Barnes

Stark County Bike Club (Ohio) Returns for 11th Annual Visit!

by Carla Martin

More than 40 members of SCBC are back in Venice for the 11th year in a row enjoying the weather and the riding.  They are helping the local economy by spending $ on lodging, dining and shopping and are following the progress on extending the trail.

SCBC has over has 500 members and offers over 1200 rides a year for experienced to new riders. They conduct several tours every year that are open to all members. They are involved with numerous projects to promote safe cycling in the community.

They also support FLT as Non Profit Members!  Thanks SCBC!!!  Welcome Back!!

Driving Miss Isabella

by Roger Normand

Hi.  My name is Isabella.  That’s Isabella, not some condescending variation like Izzy or other silliness.  Behind me is my chauffeur, Ira.  I’m a Shitzu, and Ira, well, he’s only human.We’re visiting here from Indiana.

It was Ira’s idea to get away from the Indiana cold and head south for a few months.  Fine with me.  I don’t see too many humans going outdoors to do their business in the cold and snow.  We’ve been to Sarasota before, but this time Ira looked at a map and spotted the Legacy Trail.  I’m game.  So Ira helped me with my goggles and off we went from our RV parked at Oscar Scherer State Park for our first trip on the Legacy Trail.

I like that we can cover a lot more ground on a bike than my short legs could otherwise take us.  I enjoyed the sights, smells, and sounds along the trail from my comfortable front perch, all at a pace that I can grasp.   I gotta admit I loved seeing all the different humans smiling at us as we rode by them, though I pretended not to notice.

  What’s up with the goggles, you ask?  Been wearing them for years when we go for a bike ride.  It’s the UV.  Oh, and those nasty dirt particles or insects in the air.  I think they also add an element of Shitzu dash.  Don’t you?

Taking Mom for a Ride on The Legacy Trail

by Roger Normand

It was the sight of the unusually configured trike that first caught my attention.  But as I approached from the opposite direction the image became more compelling:  The woman with a smile the width of Siesta Key Beach, sitting erect in a large blaze orange box atop the two front wheels, protectively clutching a small stuffed animal lest it fall out of the cart and be injured.   That her coat was color coordinated with the cart didn’t seem to me by chance.

The pedaler perched on a seat above and behind her over the single rear wheel; music blaring from a hidden speaker.  Dave was piloting the craft, taking his mom, Jane, out for the ride on the Legacy Trail.  Dave offered as to how he was a competitive cyclist on his “other” triathlon bike.  He loved riding the trail, diverting to Honore when he wanted to ride the tri aggressively.

He’d been an FLT pedaler for the Surrey, a 6 person, four-wheeled bicycle for the mobility challenged.  He’d been to Holland.  “They are much more bike centric there.” He saw this style trike, and knew it would be perfect to take Mom out for rides on the Trail.  “Isn’t it lovely out here” Jane said repeatedly.  “Mom, do you remember when you used to live near Laurel Road and go for bike rides.”  “Why yes, I think I do remember.”  “What do you think of my new little friend,” Mom said pointing to the stuffed animal.  “I just got it from Walmart.”

As I rode off, I couldn’t help but marvel at the remarkable bond of love between mother and son, now shared on a unique trike traveling along the Legacy Trail.

Stella’s first ride on the Legacy Trail

by Roger Normand

stella-ride

Little Stella was all smiles when I came across her riding her tricycle, with a little help from Mom and Dad.   All three moved from Maryland last year to enjoy the many opportunities Sarasota offers.  What’s not to like with the scenery and safety of being on the Legacy Trail under sunny blue skies, low humidity, and temps in the low 80s.  Mom and Dad were beaming for this pic, but Stella was completely focused on pedaling.  At just 18 months of age, Stella will be enjoying many future rides along the Legacy Trail.

Bobcat Family on the Trail

by Denise Arthur

bobcats5a

When on a bike ride I saw this!  The mother cat crossed the trail first, she was stalking something on the opposite side and paid no attention to me, then a kitten followed her out of the woods, then another kitten and then a third!  The third kitten looked at me and actually came toward me before deciding to turn.  I didn’t really want him to draw attention to me from momma

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Updates from The Trail – A New Way to Give Back

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by Megan Donoghue,
County Parks Department

A New Way to Give Back –

With summer in full swing, it’s hard to imagine that before we know it, people will be back in flocks to come enjoy the beautiful Sunshine State.   The Friends of the Legacy Trail do a phenomenal job at increasing awareness and improving the user experience on the Trail.  Volunteer Ambassador Patrols keep the Trail safe and in shape by being that extra set of eyes. Volunteer Surrey Riders get more people out on the trail experiencing something that they may not have been able to otherwise. And each and every week, The Friends of the Legacy Trail volunteers can be found at an informational table spreading the word and awareness of this precious public resource.

But there are other ways you can give back! The next few months, I will be working on planning a few Volunteer Work Parties for Trail Stewards who want to get outside and get their hands dirty.  A typical project will last 3-4 hours and may include trail maintenance such as clearing vegetation, invasive species removal, placing mulch, cleaning signs, and keeping the Trail in tip-top shape!

How to get involved:

The two existing roles that will be a part of this type of work are:

  • PLEG: Trail Steward [Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources\Legacy Trail]
  • POSP: Grounds Steward [Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources\Osprey Junction Trailhead]

If you haven’t registered as a Sarasota County Volunteer, click here to get started!

If you are currently a registered volunteer, when you signed up you selected an “assignment.”  Majority of the current volunteers are assigned as “Ambassador Patrols.”  But you can be assigned to more than one role! Log into your volunteer profile, and click to sign up for an additional role. This will enable me to see who is interested in this type of volunteer work for outreach purposes, and provides you an avenue to log your hours so we know all of the incredible work you do on the Trail!

We hope to see you on the Trail!

Megan Donoghue is a Parks and Recreation Specialist with the County Parks Department and is a member of the FLT Board of Directors.

To Ed Wolfenbarger: Happy Retirement!

by John League

ed-300wThe Legacy Trail will be losing one of its “Most Valuable Players” on May 31 when Parks and Recreation specialist Ed Wolfenbarger retires after more than 15 years of service to Sarasota County.

Ed was a familiar presence along The Legacy Trail, whether it was rolling up his sleeves to remove invasive plants, helping to install informational kiosks or making sure daily the trail was in tip-top shape.

An invaluable friend and supporter of Friends of The Legacy Trail, Ed offered information, advice, guidance and assistance when attending  FLT Board meetings and general membership meetings. He played a key role planning and assisting with the annual Tour de Parks bike event.

ed-3-200A native of Rockford, Ill., Ed joined Sarasota County Parks-Recreation in 2002. He got interested in parks and recreation as a youth,  he said. In high school, he worked as a life guard and water safety instructor for the Rockford Park District, the YMCA and the School District.

“The director of the Park District suggested I get a degree in recreation-parks management and said that Western Illinois University was a good school,” Ed said. “I took his advice.”

His favorite part of the job has been his work as an ambassador for the Legacy Trail, talking to and getting to know the people who use the 10.6-mile trail to walk, bike, run and commute.

“Working in the field with staff and volunteers,” said the 66-year-old Sarasota resident, “is where the rubber meets the road.”

Ed said he’s particularly enjoyed working with Friends of The Legacy Trail. FLT saluted Ed on April 5 with a retirement party as part of its April meeting. More than 50 people attended.

“I have worked with several volunteer organizations but none as professional and dynamic and Friends of The Legacy Trail,” he said.  “I have been blessed to be associated with such a dedicated hard working group of individuals.”

What’s next? Ed and his wife Tami plan to travel, then see where life leads them.

“I hope God will lead me to minister to folks along the way, especially the grandchildren,” Ed said.

 

 

‘Legacy’ is a Long Trail of Attraction

by Steve Baumann

Sunday mornings of late, I strap on a plastic helmet, hop on my bike and beat it over to the Venice Train Depot, where I join a couple promoting the Legacy Trail for the “Friends of.”

I am the third wheel in our greeter group. I’m there to supplement the work of Darryl (a she) and Jerry (a he) Lang, who have faithfully staffed a table Sundays beneath a cabbage palm outside the train station for a year or more.
 
Darryl and Jerry are relative newcomers. Younger than I am, but retired from Ohio. In the process of selling a condo in Venice and buying a new home in Nokomis.

They’re the kind of resettlers who naturally fall into community involvement. In no time, Darryl has become membership coordinator (or some such) of the Friends of the Legacy Trail. They are excellent companions.

They also seem to like it here a lot.
 
From the feedback we get while gabbing with passersby, everybody likes it here a lot. That’s true of every person who has stopped at our information table. (Maps, T-shirts, water available.)

And one thing high on the likability spectrum is the trail itself. Bikers come from all over — Port Charlotte, North Port, Osprey and Sarasota. Ohio, New Jersey, Canada, Indiana and Ohio. (A lot of Buckeyes, hereabouts.)

The Sunday greeter experience leaves me more convinced than ever about the popularity of public “parks” like the Legacy Trail.

Not everyone cares to ride on a bike trail — not everyone cares to golf or fish. But those who do, care a lot.

That’s plain from the people who stop when Darryl flags them down to “sign our petition.” (Jerry and I tend to soft-pedal a wave).

The petition isn’t official. It’s meant to indicate support to extend the current Legacy Trail another 7.5 miles to Payne Park in Sarasota. Everyone signs.

The trail now stretches 10.4 miles north from the Train Depot. From the depot, the Venetian Waterway Park trail runs south another 10 miles to Shamrock Park on one side of the waterway and Caspersen Beach on the other side.

The Sarasota County Commission has endorsed an extension study proposal. Feelers went out to CSX Transportation, which owns the track. Last report, the state Department of Transportation has taken over talks to acquire more than 100 miles of CSX lines for rails-to-trails conversion throughout the state. This is included.

Good thing. These things don’t come cheap. The Legacy Trail cost north of $30 million. (No wonder the county named it “legacy.”) Initial track acquisition costs for the next phase came in at $8 million-plus. Design and construction ranged from $16 million to $20 million. Give or take.

The Friends of the Legacy Trail won’t raise that kind of money selling T-shirts (lovely long-sleeve shirts available for $20 from me, Darryl or Jerry!) But, no doubt, Sunday survey says, build it and a lot more people will come and use it

Originally published in the Venice Gondolier 1/30/16
Permission  to include here given by Steve Baumann