The benefits of bicycle/pedestrian trails are numerous. First, they provide safety by separating bicyclists and pedestrians from motor vehicles with a landscaped “green zone” between. They also reduce traffic congestion by allowing commuters and students a safe way to reach their destinations. In addition, multi-use trails provide exercise and recreation and no pollution.
Recently, Florida Greenways and Trails announced that the FDOT SUN Trail (Shared-Use Nonmotorized Trail) will be coming through Manatee County. Two routes have been suggested. Both would start in Willow and end in Sarasota County. The eastern route would pass through mostly wilderness and less-populated areas. The western route would pass through Parrish, Ellenton, Palmetto, Bradenton, Palma Sola (Northwest Bradenton), Robinson Preserve, Holmes Beach, Bradenton Beach and northern Longboat Key, making it accessible to tens of thousands of county residents and visitors.
One of the most striking and beautiful sections will be Riverview Boulevard, which has a 40-foot right of way in narrow points and up to 84 feet in the widest part. Imagine the south side being a 20-foot-wide road with a speed limit of 20 mph. The northern side will be a 10-foot trail; in-between will be a landscaped safety zone with trees, shrubbery, ornamental rocks and grass. That trail will eliminate vehicles having to slow because of bicycle traffic, provide safety to pedestrians and bicyclists, and make that road into a beautiful wide boulevard.
It is anticipated that the trail will financially stimulate the population centers it passes through, especially downtown Bradenton, Palmetto and Anna Maria Island, and will reduce congestion on the island while greatly improving safety.
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Much of the funding will come from grants, but community support — both financial and otherwise — will be required.