Category Archives: Trail News

175,000 Strong

by Roger Normand

Counter Data for 681 Overpass and Hatchett Creek

Are you one of the estimated 175,000 annual users of the Legacy Trail?  Probably so, if you are reading this.  Great news!  There were 55,000 more of you on the Legacy Trail in 2016 than the 120,000 reported in each of the last few years.  Many of you have asked us why the number of trail users has seemed to, well, stagnate when it appears there is a growing number of people enjoying the trail.

We wondered about that also, which prompted us to do a year long deep dive study on the three TRAFx brand passive infrared counters used on the trail to gather raw data, and the algorithm used to convert the raw data to an annual users count.  FLT purchased and installed the counters in 2012.

In short we combined online and on-the-trail surveys of the type of users (e.g., cyclist, runners, walkers), the most frequent entry points to the trail, the typical distance traveled (length of trip, and whether it was one-way or round trip on the trail).  A FLT member with considerable professional statistical experience was unable to find a suitable mathematical model, so he developed one.  Warning, the math is not for the faint of heart!  We also calibrated the counter data with actual observations, noting that closely spaced users were not being properly recorded by the counters.  As recommended by the TRAFx counter manufacturer, we applied an adjustment factor to the counter data.  Click here to see the FLT letter to the County Commissioners and supporting details.

While it is great news to recognize the much higher number of annual users of the Legacy Trail, the 175,000 annual user estimate remains very conservative.  Anecdotal evidence suggests the passive infrared counters may also be unable to accurately distinguish a human with a body temperature of 98.6 degrees passing up to ten feet away when the ambient temperature here in Sarasota is often in the 80s and 90s.  We will continue to examine this issue.

In the meantime, enjoy the trail knowing that you are one of 175,000 annual users.  This higher user count adds considerable support to efforts to extend the trail to downtown Sarasota.

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!!


by Mark Malkasian

The previous article was about the “emptiness to usefulness” of the proposed Visitor Center at Osprey Junction Trailhead, including a call for help in making it a future reality.  Our general plan for the Center is still in the middling stage while County approval of our yet- to-be-submitted, detailed restoration plan remains forthcoming. Nonetheless, the site is slowly coming to life as we gain control of the landscaping and our ideas take shape as to its overall function in the Legacy experience.

The main building is not ‘certified’ for formal public gatherings but we can hold a volunteer recruitment event on the exterior grounds. This is an invitation to join us on the concrete apron in front of the garage for an informal introduction to the site. After a brief overview on where we are in the process and a bit more detail on our need for volunteer help we will offer small group tours of the buildings conducted by our fledgling team of docents. We hope the insights gained will inspire you to step up and indicate where you can help. The timeline of our formal submission of our proposed plan and the County’s approval process will dictate our subsequent follow-up to your indication. It may a bit lengthy so patience is called for amongst us all.

So please come join us. All you need bring is a lawn chair and an open mind. We’ll provide the coffee, water, snacks and inspiration.
Place: House at Osprey Junction Trailhead
If driving, the site is on the very east end of Bay Street off Rt. 41 in Osprey – there’s plenty of parking; if biking although a bit awkward with a lawn chair in tow, it’s “in the woods” to the west at the Trail at the Red Rider landmark, just north of Oscar Scherer State Park.

Date & Time: Thursday February 23 at 10 am

Contact Mark Malkasian by clicking here for more information.



by Mark Malkasian

Our Background
The time has come to broaden the focus of our recent efforts at the proposed Visitor Center at Osprey Junction Trailhead.  A number of radical landscaping haircuts have been done but the main building’s interior now offers a challenge to our collective creativity for its transformation into a place of welcome.
Our empty (since 2008) canvas encompasses a former 2900 sq. ft. single family residence with two car garage and a substantial detached storage building that have the potential to become the center pieces of an active 10 acre campus gathering place.  The preliminary concept plan includes an array of offerings: main reception and special events room with fireplace, meeting room, screened porch lounging area, historical display space, Ambassador Patrol HQ, limited snack bar, gift shop, FLT office, County Parks staff office, public restrooms, bike related services e.g. rental, repair, safety instruction etc. and surrey operations.  A recently completed building inspection and proposed remodel plan still in the works has identified items needing to be addressed in order to make the Visitor Center fully usable for public activities. Many may be completed with volunteer labor.


Our Appeal
FLT is now over 1000 members strong and it seems likely that among us there are talents, skills, experiences, fresh ideas and donation-worthy items that will collectively help us achieve our goal of turning emptiness into usefulness.  That goal is to ‘cut the ribbon’ on the Visitor Center in conjunction with the timing of completion of the Bay Street Extension project tentatively anticipated for the end of 2017.
So by taking notice of this challenge, hopefully you are encouraged to step forward with your contributory offer of volunteer labor and/or furnishings donation to this FLT and County Parks team effort in making OJT a central feature of our Legacy Trail experience. See another article in this newsletter about an upcoming Volunteer Recruiting Event at OJT.  Thank YOU!
Contact Mark Malkasian by clicking here to participate or address questions.

Help Send a Message to Florida Legislators

by Roger Normand

Here’s an opportunity to get funds to support local multi-use trail building efforts in Florida, including the Legacy Trail Extension.  The Rails to Trails Conservancy is circulating a petition to be submitted to the Florida Legislature to urge them to allocate some of the 2014 Amendment 1 – the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative – to trail building efforts across the state.  The constitutional amendment was approved by 75% of the voters in the 2014 election, and is designed to dedicate 33 percent of the net revenue from existing excise tax collections.  FLT urges you to sign the Rails to Trails petition with this link.
Roger Normand

TBARTA gathers MPOs and the public to build support For the Gulf Coast Trail

by Roger Normand

TBARTA (Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority) held a regional trail summit in Venice on 23 January 2017 to further develop plans for the Gulf Coast Trail, formerly known as the South West Coastal Trail. This off-road, non-motorized multi-use trail stretches 250 miles from St. Petersburg to Naples, and includes the Legacy Trail and Venetian Waterway Park. It is one of 22 regional trails across the state recognized by the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails, and eligible for some of the $25 million per year provided under the Florida SUN (shared use non motorized) Trail program.

The Gulf Coast Trail Plan

About 175 attended, including County Commissioners, other elected officials, transportation planners, trail advocates like the Friends of the Legacy Trail, and the general public. We listened to trail building efforts from each of the seven MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Offices charged with coordinating all transportation issues within their jurisdiction and with adjacent MPOs) that have portions of the Gulf Coast Trail. There were several strong presentations, including local efforts explained by Sarasota County Bike/Ped Coordinator Patrick Lui…….and plenty of opportunities for improvement like that of Manatee County, whose trail plan has not been updated since 2002, has no bike/ped coordinator, no citizen advocacy group to promote trails, and no funding for trail planning or development.  Click here to see the presentation slides.

The primary purpose of the summit was to develop the Gulf Coast Trail name, share trail building efforts, update trail map corridors, and create an alliance of partners with shared goals across the eight counties to be in a better position to complete for future SUN Trail funds. Past readers of this newsletter will recall the unsuccessful efforts last year to compete for Tier 2 and Tier 3 SUN Trail funds on behalf of the Legacy Trail. This conference was an opportunity to be better prepared for the next cycle of SUN Trail fund at the end of this year.

Leveling the Trail Shoulders

by Roger Normand


As noted in the FLT January 2017 newsletter, Sarasota County is testing two types of material as borders along the trail near the Culverhouse Nature Park at the north end of the Legacy Trail.  One option is a white colored product known as bank run shell, which consists of dirt, sand and screened shell rock; the other is a darker predominantly recycled tire product.  Both are shown in the picture below.  Applying this compacted buffer zone along the trail border serves two purposes: (1) it braces the edges of the asphalt from fracturing due to erosion and the weight of services vehicles; (2) it levels the shoulder with the trail surface, avoiding a common cycling hazard of inadvertently riding off the edge of the trail and trying to steer you bike back back up over the lip of the trail – a maneuver that often results in damage to your bike and your body.

So which surface do you prefer?

Thank you Sarasota County for continuing to maintain the quality of the Legacy Trail.

Bobcat Family on the Trail

by Denise Arthur


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


Update on The Legacy Trail Bridge over Laurel Road

The following update is an extract from a November 8, 2016 letter to the Sarasota County Commissioners from:
     Thomas A. Harmer, County Administrator
     Isaac R. Brownman, Director, and
     Carolyn M. Eastwood, Transportation Logistics & Programs Manager


The primary purpose of the Legacy Trail Pedestrian Bridge over Laurel Road is to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety for trail users by eliminating the crossing and constructing an overpass (bridge). The design of the bridge conflicts with four (4) Sarasota County water/wastewater utility lines, including an 18-inch force main, a 6-inch force main, a 10-inch water main, and a 30-inch water main.

Design for the relocation of the four (4) county utility lines has started.  Relocation work for the utility lines along the north side of Laurel Road is anticipated to start in January 2017 and be completed by August 2017. During the relocation effort, trail use will be maintained via a trail detour, however there may be intermittent temporary closures during portions of the work.

FDOT’s letting date for the overall project construction is expected in June 2017. During the bridge construction trail use will also be maintained via a trail detour along with some intermittent temporary closures during portions of the bridge work.