Imagine your family walking down A1A on a wide, paved path surrounded by trees. A friend rides by on her bike, her hair still wet with ocean water. Another family passes you with a wagon full of treasures from the farmers market. Runners, bikers, moms with strollers, dog walkers, and even wheelchairs comfortably and safely travel between downtown St. Augustine and the beach. With your support, this green path can become reality.
Our Community and the Green Path
Velofest, Greenhands, the River to Sea Loop Alliance, and Full Circle Sustainability have aligned to promote and raise support for a multi-use path through our beautiful city. The Green Path will encourage human-powered travel, ecotourism, and enjoyment of natural Florida.
As a recreational cyclist, I attended a free community event aptly named “A Green Path Gathering,” held on the front porch of the St. Augustine Amphitheater. I learned how the green path will benefit the health, ecosystem, and economy of our area. A large, paved trail will also increase visibility and improve safety for its users. Our quality of life will improve with an infrastructure that supports physical activity. As an added benefit, by reducing even a small number of vehicles it will help ease some of the traffic woes and parking issues for residents.
The River to Sea Loop
The green path will be a part of the larger River to Sea Loop that covers 5 counties and 260 miles between the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. If you want to see what a linear park looks like, you don’t need to travel very far. A 20-mile section of the trail was just completed from Palatka through St. Augustine. The closest trailhead is in Vermont Heights, just off the I-95 exit on 207. For adults and road cyclists, this is a perfect area to start.
For families coming from St. Augustine, I suggest starting at the Armstrong trailhead. To get to this canopied area of the trail, turn left onto Armstrong road off 207 (this is the road you take to get to the St Johns County Fairgrounds). After about a mile, the park is on your left.
Armstrong Park is located within a historically Black community that thrived when Flagler railroad transported food grown in Hastings to hotels in St. Augustine. There is a rich heritage here because many of the residents are Gullah Geechee. Historical markers along the trail identify points of interest and railroad relics. My family loved our bike ride at this trailhead.
If you don’t want to ride alone, bring your family to the grand opening of a three-mile portion of the river to sea loop in downtown Hastings on Saturday, April 6, 2019, from 9 to 9:45 AM. The ribbon cutting will take place on the trail here. Mark your interest on Facebook and come ride with my family through old Florida.
Velofest and the Bike Community
Velofest is a non-profit devoted to educating the community about bike safety for both cyclists and non-cyclists. As a leader in promoting people propelled transportation they have been responsible for a large number of community events. Some of their most well known programs include a free bicycle rodeo for children (where helmet and bike lights were handed out), a mother’s day ride, a bike and brews tour, free bike lights and blankets for the homeless, and a bicycle valet for several of the large concerts in St. Augustine.
They also bring awareness by placing and tending ghost bikes around St. Johns County. These are memorials for cyclists who were struck by motorists. Florida is one of the most dangerous states for cyclists in the United States. A green path would help to improve the safety and visibility of bicyclists and pedestrians, furthering the Velofest mission.
Green Hands and the St. Augustine Amphitheater
The St. Augustine Amphitheater sits at the center of the proposed Green Path. The Amphitheater’s Green Hands initiative has been working hard to reduce the amount of waste at concerts and community events. When the Green Path is completed, more people will travel to the farmers market, community events, and concerts without driving, reducing our carbon footprint. Through a combination of refillable water stations, biodegradable disposables, led lights, recycling, composting, and waste reduction, the amphitheater was one of only 3 venues in the United States to win the Jack Johnson’s 2018 “all at once” sustainability award.
Green Hands is ready and willing to share their knowledge and success with the community so we can make sustainable choices. Green hands is raising awareness through a family-friendly competition called “Washed Up: A Marine Debris Art Contest.” This is a fun and educational way to teach your children about microplastics and marine debris. For more information and how to participate click here.
How to Help the Green Path
Fill out this survey about transportation by March 8th, 2019. This will help determine the need for new infrastructures.
Share your excitement with others. Tell your friends, go on bike rides, and attend community meetings like the Green Path Gathering.
Finally, send a simple note to any of the following officials, letting them know why you like the trails and why they are important to your family. If you chose to send a message to more than one, please send individual emails and not a mass email. These messages can be simple. If you would like to use a prepared statement, you can use this text.
The following representatives are appropriate contacts:
- St. Johns County Officials
- County Administrator,
- the City of St. Augustine and City Manager
- the City of St. Augustine Beach and City Manager
- State Rep. Cyndi Stevenson
- State Sen. Travis Hutson
- State Rep. Paul Renner
- US Rep Michael Waltz
- US Rep. John Rutherford
- Congressman Rick Scott
See you out on the trails!