For information on Bike Paths view map: Lee County Bicycle Facility Map (3.1 MB)
“Recreation trails are for people. They allow us to go back to our roots. Trails help humans make sense of a world increasingly dominated by automobiles and pavement. They allow us to come more closely in touch with our natural surroundings, to soothe our psyches, to challenge our bodies, and to practice ancient skills.” -Randolph T. Hester, Jr., Planning Neighborhood Space with People
“Americans are seeking trail opportunities as never before. Users include young people and senior citizens, families, individuals and organized groups, people with disabilities and the physically fit.” -Trails for All Americans report
Long History of Greenways in American Cities: Fredrick Law Olmstead, and Calvert Vaux developed the idea of Greenways in the 1800’s by linking natural systems with linear parks, as areas with which to convene with nature and natural systems in a city setting. Some examples of this concept are: Central Park, Biltmore Estate, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, and the United States Capitol Grounds.
Lee County Greenways & Blueways: The provision of greenways with multi-use trails within Lee County and the region is an important priority of the State of Florida and the Lee County Board of Commissioners and the residents and visitors of Lee County. These greenways and trails provide recreation, alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles, eco-toursim and wellness benefits as well as enhancing community quality of life which is important for families’, visitors, tourist and employers alike.
What is a Greenways system? A Greenways system is a system of recreational, ecological, and historic or cultural greenway trails, paths & routes, all of which create a connected system with multiple uses and benefits. Greenways can be in both urban and rural areas, and can vary from community to community. A common characteristic is that they all connect to a larger system or to specific features and incorporate a trail or path.
What is a Greenway Trail? A linear corridor of land or water (blueways) providing public access for recreation and alternative modes of transportation. Trails are located within the overall greenways system. Trails can be single-use or multiple-uses. Typically trails are not adjacent to a roadway, or the trail is significantly separated from roadway by location, landscaping, or other significant or defining features.
Where are some examples of Blueway & Greenway trails locally? See the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail. Greenways locally are the: John Yarbrough Linear Park & Filter Marsh, the North Colonial Linear Trail, Sections of Veterans Pkwy in Cape Coral, Del Prado-Diplomat to NE 23rd in Cape Coral, Six Mile Cypress Slough Pkwy, and Stringfellow Road on Pine Island are a few examples locally.
In Lee County there is an identified need and desire for increased recreational greenways and blueways system for uses such as bicycling, in-line skating, walking, hiking, jogging, canoeing/kayaking, and wildlife and bird watching. Providing such a greenway system will provide numerous benefits to the citizens of Lee County.
Greenways & Blueway Trails are an identified need and priority in Lee County with numerous benefits:
Citizens Survey (national & county trend)
- In a study of 4000 respondents, safety and separation was the #1 concern given when asked why they did not bike more.
SCORP Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan
- Bicycle Riding on Paved Trails was #1 land based activity by residents in Florida.
- Biking, walking & blueways were identified needs/issues from Fort Myers public input workshop
Lee County Parks & Recreation User Needs Assessment (county)
- The #1 activity was Walking/Running (35.7%)
- The #3 activity was Nature Trails (18.6%)
- The #4 activity was Biking (17.7%)
- The #5 activity was Canoe/Kayak was (12.9%)
- Together these trail activities accounted for 84.9% of all activity responses.
Lee County Greenways Plan (county)
- Public Workshops 2004-2005
- Master Plan Completed in 2005
- Adopted by Board Of County Commissioners in 2006
- Updated in Lee Plan as requested by communities and or as appropriate opportunities are identified.
Lee Plan Meetings Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) (county/community)
- Identified the needs, concerns, & strategies for the future of Lee County (New Horizon 2035)
- In April and May 2010, Lee County hosted nine visioning workshops with the public throughout Lee County
- The public & staff identified future need for trails, bikeways, greenways, & blueways…connections…
- Livability & Strong Connections
- “Introduce trails and greenways to provide larger scale connections between neighborhoods and natural areas and parks.”
- Identified as a need in the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan (Southwest Florida).
- The MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan (county).
- City of Fort Myers Bicycle Master Plan (community).
- Observational-Popular Media Accounts (nationally to locally)
- Need for safe alternative transportation options.
- Vehicle miles and trips are increasing at a rate greater than population growth.
- Vehicular based impacts (cost, noise, safety, pollution).
- Carbon based resources are increasingly becoming cost prohibitive for some segments of the population.
- Aging population trend and access to single use vehicle travel.
- Cost of Driving Each Year $5,636 average (According to AAA).
- In 1969 there were twice as many students walking or biking than in 2001, today obesity affects almost half of all Americans.
- Want to Boost your Workout? Get Outside! Research now shows, exercising outdoors in a green setting provides a greater emotional boost than doing the same workout inside. -Dr. Alan Fogel, Ph.D., a Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah
- Connecting natural systems
- Flood Control, Flow Restoration & Filtration
- Creating passage, stop-over & mosaic habitat for wildlife movements & migrations.
- Air quality benefits both from reduction in vehicular use to carbon and air pollution sequestration of vegetation and natural systems.
Real Estate Industry
- According to the National Association of Home Builders trails are the most desired community amenity homeowners seek when buying a home.
- 7 of the 10 best selling master planned communities nationally included and specifically mentioned trails and walking paths as one of the major factors to successful sales in the current economic conditions.
- Parks and trails adjacent to housing has been shown to increase property values.
- Where can I bicycle in Florida is one of the mors requested information items at VISIT FLORIDA’s welcome centers.
- 67% of Florida visitors include nature-based activities in their travel (VISITFLORIDA)
- Downtown Dunedin business occupancy rates before the Greenway Trail where 30% today they are close to 95%.
- Over 4 Million visitors utilize State Trails and Greenways with an estimated economic impact of $95 Million.
Studies show that trail development stimulates local economies, increases local tax revenue, attracts tourists seeking new recreational opportunities and revitalizes business districts. In addition, multi-use trails are considered critical amenities for home buyers. Corporations seek attractive communities that offer trails and open space when choosing where to locate new commerce and offices.
The quality of life benefits generated by greenways and trails for Lee County are numerous. The trails will offer recreational opportunities, preservation of natural resources, increase our greenspace and offer alternative transportation links. The trails will also offer health and wellness benefits by providing close to home recreational outdoor opportunities. Additionally, the trails will provide enhanced eco-tourism opportunities and the expectations are potential economic benefits to the community which is supported by the Lee Island Coast Visitor and Convention Bureau among others.
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