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Dunedin Bike Route Could Boost Tourism, Stakeholder Says

Bicycle enthusiasts and businesses vested in the city's proposed northern route project, which seeks to connect Pinellas Trail to popular Dunedin destinations, gave their support April 9.

Bob Nohren sees a bicycle trail for north Dunedin as a huge boon for local businesses. 

Nohren, owner of Energy Conservatory Bike Shop, a bicycle rental and retail store on the outskirts of downtown Main Street, said people should see it as a tourism draw.

His customers, who are largely tourists, always seem to ask him where they can bike ride, he said to a group of about 35 other bicycle enthusiasts and stakeholders gathered to see city staff's proposed "Northern Route Project" at Dunedin Community Center on April 9. 

The proposed first phase of the bike route — a mix of on- and off-road paths along Michigan Boulevard that cut through Highlander Park and the Pinehurst Highlands and Suemar subdivisions — seeks to better connect bicyclists and pedestrians on Pinellas Trail to popular destinations such as the Dunedin Community Center, the Dunedin Fine Art Center and Dunedin High School.

Future phases continue the northern route past Dunedin High, Vanech Park and the Blue Jays training facility to County Road 1, ultimately connecting it to a planned extension of the Progress Energy Trail.

The idea is to collaborate with Pinellas County to establish a network of bicycle-friendly trails, Matthew Campbell, assistant city manager, explained. 

Dunedin's proposed northern route is "not an means to an end," Campbell said. "It's more like a start."

The northern route plan comes after the city's failed attempt to establish a bicycle-friendly connection along Pinehurst Road. Residents citing safety concerns squashed the effort in November 2011. 

The first phase of the latest plan would use $107,000 of earmarked funds to widen the existing sidewalk on the south side of Michigan Boulevard to 8 feet, pave a gravel path that cuts through Highlander Park to Patricia Avenue, and designate a part of Patricia and McCarty Street as a thru-bicycle route. (A detailed city map is included in the "Photos and Videos" of this article.) 

The second phase includes paving and widening an existing dirt trail and sidewalk that borders a ditch on the north side of Dunedin High and Solon Avenue at an estimated $64,000. Phase three seeks to create an on-road lane along Solon Avenue between County Road 1 and Belcher Road at an estimated $18,000.

Construction on the first phase could begin as early as the fall, pending commission approval in May.

Campbell plans to present the proposed route to the affected neighborhoods and other interested residents over the next two weeks. (See meeting times below.)

The group of bicycle enthusiasts liked the city's plan, and worried about the possibility of the neighborhoods shooting it down like the Pinehurst plan in 2011.

Nohren hopes neighbors along the route who may worry about losing three feet of lawn space will see the proposed path in terms of its tourist appeal.

"People worried about their front lawns — those are minor things in lieu of the big picture," he said. 

Want a Sneak Peak of the Plan?

  • When: 6:30 p.m. on both Wednesday, April 17 and Thursday, April 25
  • Where: The Music Room at Dunedin Community Center

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Bob Rupp April 11, 2013 at 03:05 PM
The 3rd Phase of the Northern Route along Solon Ave. could be tied in with the project of keeping the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin. This proposed extension would provide an alternate means for fans to get to the practice fields.
mchrisreese April 11, 2013 at 03:56 PM
As a person considering relocation to the Dunedin area, I find the bike path and the extensions of it very appealing...especially those in the area of the arts center.
Jody Amiot-Priso April 11, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Why wouldn't the city just use the existing side walk on Pinehurst instead of making a trail behind the community center?
Lu Taylor April 12, 2013 at 04:21 AM
I like the idea! The Fine Arts Center has arts exhibits and activities that would appeal to tourists and residents alike. As long as there is adequate safe bike parking, cycling to events at Highlander Park and the Community Center would be a better alternative than driving a car there. I would definitely use the trail spur.

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