Greenway maybe even better ‘n broccoli

Herb Hiller
Southeast Region Program Consultant

To paraphrase your mother, “Read it! It’s good for you!”

Truly, recent days have been good for the Greenway Alliance in Florida.

By the end of February I was hearing the thinking we’ve hoped for from our start-up Florida Committee. I’ve had meetings with State Sen. Anthony C. “Tony” Hill and also with the president of the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) about the public policy case for advancing trails statewide. The League last year was instrumental in passage of SunRail, the central Florida commuter initiative long stalled in the legislature. Trail advocates now want to see rail-with-trail, the inclusion of spur trails that draw cyclists into and back out of rail stations, and also bikes on trains as important steps toward more efficient multi-modal transportation.

These rail-trail connections are vital to the Alliance for completing our off-road system through densely built-up Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. We’re at work at this in a few ways, particularly with the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. However, slogging still looms.

I’m especially thankful to Bob Gillespie of St. Augustine. Bob has proposed ideas indeed good for us. These pertain to an objective timed three years from now.

The year 2013 marks the 500th anniversary of Spain in Florida – more broadly, of Europe in America. I’ve been at work with the Alliance marketing committee and with the Miami-based España Florida Foundation set up by Spanish interests to promote the quincentennial. We’ve talked about having 500 cyclists from Spain tour the Greenway in Florida and 500 American cyclists touring Spain.

Thanks to Bob, we now have a route sketched for a first two days of cycling St. Augustine and also the contact for Iberocycle, an established tour company headquartered in Spain that Bob knows about at first hand.

Bob, Trail Council member Steve Davis and I expect to have met the day before this blog posts with co-directors of St. Johns County/St. Augustine tourism. We will talk over these plans that extend to 2013 and also, in behalf of Bike Florida, about this fall relocating the start-finish of Bike Florida’s week-long tours of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop from Palatka to St. Augustine.

With Sen. Tony Hill we’re newly talking about an interpretive Gullah-Geechee Heritage overlay for the Greenway between Wilmington, NC, and St. Augustine. This connection, same as our meeting with LWVF President Deirdre Macnab and the League’s Orlando co-chair Charley Williams, represent ongoing outreach to interests potentially favorable to the Greenway and to trails generally.

Thanks to St. Lucie Urban Area Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) Bike-Ped Coordinator Ed DeFini, the week also included a presentation about the Greenway to the newly formed TPO bicycle-pedestrian advisory committee (BPAC), a timely session for us because the BPAC has adopted the Greenway as a priority for its trail planning. We reviewed alternate north-south routes through St. Lucie that would best connect with already designated Greenway in north-surrounding Indian River County and south-surrounding Martin. We’re part of the process that also includes the already-referenced Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.

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