Category Archives: Uncategorized

Skating with Strollers

by Roger Normand

The weather forecast 25+ mph north-to- south winds, directly along the Legacy Trail axis. A common adage here is the wind on some days makes up for the absence of hills. Trail use was noticeably lighter. So I breezed down the trail, turned and headed back into the wind, pedaling mightily but moving like I was in molasses. That’s when I saw her, rollerblading in a tucked position, pushing a doublewide baby carriage. “Well, you qualify as hard core pushing that stroller into this fierce wind” I said. We chatted. “I’m an avid runner and rollerblader,” Chelsea explained, “so this is great training. I’m pushing instead of pulling a weighted sled. My two little girls love being out on the trail with me.” We talked about her training. “We just bought a condo in Venice along the Legacy Trail. My husband is back in Colorado with our other two girls. I want to come train here in the summer heat and humidity as an alternative to Colorado.” “I hope that helps fulfill your ambitions” I said as we parted, headed back into the wind with added inspiration.

Safety Issues at Legacy Trail Road Crossings

Update: Sarasota County officials are now (2/7/22) saying that the HAWK light sequence will be modified to implement the change recommended by FLT and NACTO. The changeover is expected to occur by Wednesday of this week. Thank you Sarasota County for making the Trail safer, and thank you to all of the trail supporters who have made your voices heard.

The citizens of Sarasota County have just invested approximately $70 million to build the North Trail Extension, whose primary purpose is to provide a safe route for bicyclists and pedestrian traffic. That safety is now substantially decreased by the configuration of the HAWK signals at Legacy Trail road crossings.

FLT has been recommending for some time that the county make a change to the light sequence at HAWK signals at Legacy Trail intersections to improve the safety of both pedestrians and cyclists. As of now, nothing has been done.

As described in our recent letter to the county commissioners, the problem arises because in one phase of the light sequence ( as currently programmed ) vehicles are informed they can proceed cautiously with a flashing red light while trail users are still viewing a countdown of time remaining to cross the intersection. This is contrary to typical intersections, where countdown timers convey to pedestrians or cyclists that they have the right of way. Given the speed of cyclists, a cyclists may believe he has plenty of time to cross, while a driver believes they can go forward.

The National Association of City Transportation Officials ( NACTO ) has identified this as a problem with HAWK signals on bicycle trails. In the current NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide they specifically address HAWK signals and recommend that HAWK beacons “should maintain the solid red indication for motorists throughout the full bicycle clearance interval.” Thus, there is a simple solution to the problem: change the flashing red light to a solid red light.

The county’s response to our letter continues to say that they are looking into the issue, as they have been saying for months. This is unsatisfactory. We urge the county to do the right thing and change these signals now.

If you support this effort, please express your thoughts by writing to your county commissioners.  Their email addresses can be found here.

Make Contributions to FLT with Amazon Smile!

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:
No additional cost to you! But donations from Amazon Smile will go directly to FLT!

Amazon Smile is the same as ordering on 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 charitable organization.)
It’s easy-start shopping! Select Friends of The Legacy Trail!!

Thanks to Joan Attenberg for setting this up for us!

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.

It’s a Gator on The Trail!

by Roger Normand

Always be aware of your surroundings

There was nothing but blue sky, temps in the high seventies, light wind, and few other riders when I left for a late afternoon solo ride on the Legacy Trail.  It was easy to drift into deep contemplation while spinning easily.  Thankfully, my subconscious kicked in as my brain registered a unusual object ahead on the side of the trail at the 4.2 mile point of the Legacy Trail.
YIKES.  It’s a GATOR.  ONE BIG GATOR.  Just laying there on the shoulder, head tucked onto the trail.  I rode briskly by, ceding all the width of the trail possible, then stopped at what I hoped was a safe distance to take these pics.   I saw another cyclist approaching and flagged him to the far side and full stop.


The gator never moved, seemingly in his own deep reverie.  I’ve seen gators sunning along the shore of storm water ponds visible from the trail, but this is the first time I’ve seen one ON THE TRAIL.  They are WAY bigger up close than when viewed from a distance!!!!!!
I called the Sheriff’s office and they said they’d immediately dispatch an officer and wildlife trapper.
Riding on the trail keeps you safe from cars, trucks and motorcycles.  Nonetheless, always be aware of your surroundings.  Wildlife can be dangerous and unpredictable if spooked.

I’m always amazed at what I see along the trail.  Today, that was especially true.

Nevertheless, this gator must be commended for demonstrating good trail etiquette:  when stopping, always stay to the side of the trail.


Bike Florida and The Best Volunteers Ever!

by Carla Martin

Last summer, Bike Florida offered us the opportunity to make $2100 to put to good use on the trail or towards the trail extension by offering us the opportunity to work some of the rest stops for their recent week-long “Surf and Turf” event April 9-15th here in the Sarasota Area.  The plan was for cyclists to start in Arcadia, ride to Sarasota, south to Venice, then Englewood, finally returning to Arcadia.

 Being optimistic, we chose to do 7 rest stops in 2 days.  Tuesday, April 12: Siesta Key Beach, Jungle Gardens, and Ken Thompson Park.  On Wednesday, April 13: Blackburn Point Park, Venice Trail Depot, Maxine Barrett Park and Manasota Beach.

 After only one email from Rita Miotti, Volunteer Coordinator, our wonderful volunteers answered our call and readily volunteered to work these positions.  There was not a single no show for the event!

 We started early in those mornings, lugging water and food, then had fun making PB&J sandwiches, cutting fruit and caring for enthusiastic cyclists until early afternoon.  Then packed it all up before heading home.  Rita reported that she received so many compliments on how helpful and friendly the volunteers were and the rest stop experience in general.

[envira-gallery id=”2690″]

Tuesday evening, Max Corley presented our Power Point Talk about The Legacy Trail to an audience of about 100 riders in Robarts Arena.  We also had an opportunity to have an info table during this event.  Another one was held at the Venice Depot next morning after riders had the opportunity to experience riding The Trail first hand.

 Along with having fun working together and chatting with cyclists, Bike Florida’s event provided our organization with a $2,100 donation as well as numerous new memberships and revenues from the sale of FLT logo items.  We collected 276 new petition signatures, almost all from out of town.  In addition, our involvement created incredible new excitement about The Legacy Trail!

 Many Thanks again to Rita Miotti and our Wonderful Volunteers!

Amid Stiff Competition, SW Coastal Trail Places 3rd

by Roger Normand

The Florida Greenways and Trails Council (FGTC) selected the The St. Johns River to the Sea Loop as the next regional trail for SUN Trail funds at an all-day conference in Tallahassee on March 30th.  This mostly rural trail, which crosses five counties in the upper east central portion of Florida around St Augustine, is now eligible for about $8 million per year in “Tier II” Sun Trail funds provided by the Florida Legislature in 2015 until the trail is completed.

southwest-regional-trail-260pxThe Capital City to Sea Trail, centered around Tallahassee and four counties, came in second place. The 280 mile South West Coastal Trail, which spans seven counties from St Pete through Sarasota (including the Legacy Trail) to Naples, came in third place among the seven finalist regional trails across Florida.

I went to Tallahassee on behalf of the Friends of The Legacy Trail as part of the team promoting the SW Coastal Trail.  Our entire team had worked very hard and was optimistic.  We had the most letters of endorsement from major community entities.

[See Letters of Endorsement ]

We were superbly represented.  Ray Chiaramonte, executive director of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, gave the SW Coastal Trail briefing slides highlighting the substantial safety, ecotourism, and economic development opportunities.  Dave Hutchinson, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization participated.  Here were the top regional transportation planners (usually synonymous with road builder) spending the  day pitching trail building to the FGTC!  Mark Cunningham, Sarasota County Deputy Administrator and, Paula Wiggins, the county Transportation Planning Manager gave a superb presentation about the Legacy Trail and ongoing efforts to extend it.

text-box-260But as I listened to the individual presentations, my optimism about the superiority of the SW Coastal trail morphed into admiration for all that was being done building local and regional trails across the state.  The FGTC staff had scored all the trails nearly equally against 10 criteria – no help picking the single best.  Representatives for each regional trail gave convincing presentations on the merits of their regional trail.  We had the “A” team making our best case for selecting the SW Coastal Trail.  But by the end of the presentations, I wasn’t sure which single trail I would pick if I was on the FGTC.

So we came in third place in a state wide regional trail building competition.  That’s certainly something to be very proud of.  FDOT, which administers the SUN Trail funding and implementation, had told the FGTC they would recognize the top three regional trails for “Tier II” SUN Trail funding.  As the third place finisher, we are now on the FDOT radar should the St John or Capital Cities trail be unable to spend all the funds in a given year, a remote but not unheard of situation.  And The Legacy Trail will certainly be competitive for some of the annual $8 million “Tier III” funds for individual trail projects across the state.  FDOT will begin the “Tier III” selection process this summer.

After the deliberations were concluded, many of the FGTC members commented about how the outstanding trail building opportunities far exceeded the $25 million annual SUN Trail funding (the Coast to Coast trail from St Pete to Titusville gets “Tier I” $8 million per year).  Perhaps the next FGTC and others should consider taking this message back to the Legislature.

We have established important connections with key organizations, and who knows what dividends that offers in the future.

Wanted: Business Member Liaison

by Carla Martin

Are you looking for a way to help Friends of the Legacy Trail as well as local businesses?

Do you have a favorite business (restaurant / shop / service) which you think could benefit from having an ad on the FLT website?

If so consider joining the FLT Marketing and Promotion Team as the Business Member Liaison.

In this role, you could ask your favorite business to become a Business Member of FLT. 

A Business Membership benefits both the business and FLT.   The business has a choice of 2 ways to do this:
1.   By being a paying member at $50 per year or
2.   For free by offering our members a discount on goods or services.

Either way the business gets advertising on our site and has their name in our newsletter in a small article welcoming them.  In addition, each month their name will appear a banner in our newsletter along with our other business members.

In addition, you would contact our current Business Members and ask if they are interested in continuing their membership for another year.

Here is what one local Business Member had to say about his recent membership: “Honestly that $50 to become a biz member with you paid for itself almost right away ;)”

If this appeals to you, please contact us here.

Thanks for considering this!

Carla Martin
Marketing and Promotion
Friends of The Legacy Trail

Legacy Park Dedication

See Also:
A Jewel Arises Along The Legacy Trail,” by Roger Normand

Press Release

The Dedication Ceremony for Legacy Park will be held on Monday, February 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. The newly constructed Legacy Park is located at 395 E. Venice Avenue, Venice, FL, next to the historic Venice Train Depot. Legacy Park and the restored train are located at the junction of junction of two multi-use paved trails: the 10.6 mile The Legacy Trail and the 10 mile Venetian Waterway Park (5 miles long on each side of the Intracoastal Waterway).

Legacy Park offers multi-use recreational opportunities. A kayak/canoe launch allows access to the wide expanse of the Intracoastal Waterway as well as the more intimate confines of Hatchett Creek. Opting for the latter, paddlers will feel transported back in time as they travel through a dense canopy of native white, red and black mangrove trees and view other natural Florida landscape features. A two station kayak/canoe wash station provides a quick cleanup at journey’s end. There are pervious parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers. The design provides parking spaces while still allowing water infiltration and reducing surface water runoff into the creek.

A wildlife observation platform built next to Hatchett Creek provides up-close viewing opportunities of creek inhabitants and shoreline wetland restoration habitat. Sheltered picnic pavilions are available along with a public restroom and drinking fountain. A handicap-accessible 1/2 mile asphalt nature trail winds through the park with periodic benches along the trail. Stormwater retention ponds are surrounded by native vegetation provide habitat for wading birds and small mammals while improving the water quality flowing into the creek. Visitors are likely to see a diverse mix of birds such as snowy egrets, great egrets, blue heron, tricolored heron and osprey. Picnic pavilions are also available

The city of Venice acquired the ten acre abandoned industrial cement plant site in 2008 for $7.4 million using funds from the voter-approved one-cent sales tax surcharge and a grant from the Florida Communities Trust. The city developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan in coordination with Sarasota County during the intervening years and demolished all the buildings on the site and restoration of the Hatchett Creek shoreline.   Just over $2 million was spent on design, permitting and construction of the new park using funds from Sarasota County, Park impact Fees; Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreational Trails and Florida Coastal Management Programs. Future plans include a train themed covered playground and additional landscaping. Sarasota County will assume all future operations and maintenance needs for the city owned Legacy Park though an inter-local agreement.