Construction of the Amelia Island Trail will be completed “very soon,” according to on-site representatives of J.B. Coxwell Contracting which is building the trail for the Florida Department of Transportation. The trail is a 6.2 mile, multi-use path running alongside State Highway A1A from Nassau County’s Peters Point Park south to the Amelia Island State Park. Once FDOT officials inspect and certify the work, it will then become available for public use, probably in a matter of weeks. Work began on the project on October 15, but the trail was in planning long before then, said Mike Pikula, president of Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, a non-profit group formed to add trailside amenities and help maintain the trail. Island residents and visitors have dreamed about such a trail on Amelia Island for decades, envisioning a traffic-free, paved trail along scenic A1A which can be safely used by walkers, runners and cyclists. Visions of the trail were turned into action in recent years by the Amelia Island Trail team which focuses on building sidewalks and trails. The team’s goal is to make Amelia Island the best place in Florida to walk, run and bike. By working closely with representatives from various city, county and state offices, including the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, $2.3 million in federal transportation enhancement funds were dedicated to this project. The AIT will link across the Nassau River with other trails being built in segments in adjoining Duval County including Talbot Islands State Park and Fort George Island, eventually offering users more than 15 miles of continuous trails. A Nassau County connecting trail will also soon be built along approximately 700 feet of Julia Street from the American Beach Community Center to the AIT. "The AIT will be the best thing that has happened to quality of life for the general public on Amelia Island since the creation of public beach accesses," Pikula said. Although the AIT will be opened by FDOT for use very soon, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail is planning an opening celebration in May which will include a ribbon-cutting and recognition for public officials who worked with citizens to make the AIT a reality. The event is planned for 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 11, at the northern trailhead inside Peters Point Park. The celebration is open to the public; all walkers, runners and bicyclists are encouraged to attend and show their support for this new “linear park” by using it that morning (bicyclists: remember your helmets.). Representatives from local walking, running and bicycling clubs will be present to help attendees learn about their club. Find more information about the AIT, the opening celebration and Friends of the Amelia Island Trail at www.ameliaislandtrail.org.
By Jonathan Tomassetti
January 13 would have been my dad's 78th birthday. In his honor, the North Florida Bicycle Club put on a special ride in his memory. It was a very successful ride with about 60 cyclists taking part.
My brother Jeff, Mark, Chris and I represented my family. The ride started at the Mayport Ferry and came north up to Amelia Island and back south again to Mayport. We choose this route because it included a boat ride on the ferry - so it included both of Dad's hobbies cycling and boating.
Mark and I rode 58 miles (94km). It was the first time for Mark to ride over 50 miles in one day. Chris didn't have the best day. He was feeling sick and then he broke the pedal off the bike. (Mark and Chris have strong legs!). Any way Chris had to give up after 16 miles (25km) when the pedal broke.
For more than a decade, residents of Amelia Island and surrounding areas in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia have envisioned and campaigned for a paved trail alongside scenic portions of Highway A1A. The dream of the Amelia Island Trail (AIT) which was once just a concept, is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Recently, the Florida Department of Transportation awarded a $2.3 million contract to J.B. Coxwell Contracting Co. of Jacksonville; trail construction began in October and is scheduled for completion spring 2013.
Once complete, the AIT will offer 6.2 miles of paved, shaded, traffic-free, multi-use trail opportunities. Nassau County’s Peters Point Park will serve as the northern trailhead. The trail will subsequently connect to Amelia Island State Park. Continuing south, the Historic George Crady Bridge will unite the AIT with the Timucuan Trailwhich is being constructed in phases within the collectiveTalbot Island State Parks. The Timucuan Trail has completed 4.9 miles and another 11.6 miles are planned.
Eventually, this network will collectively provide abundant amounts of multi-use, unobstructed recreational mileage that will become part of the East Coast Greenway, a planned 3,000-mile path between Calais, Maine and Key West, Florida.
The nonprofit organization, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc., has recently been established with the ambition of keeping the AIT dream alive by raising funds to maintain the trail and provide future trailside enhancements.
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Pedestrian or cyclist-involved accidents with motor vehicles seem to happen far too often.
On State Road A1A, the main drag in Amelia Island, transportation officials and residents are hoping a new construction project will reduce the danger of more of those tragedies.
The bike lane on A1A will remain for competitive cyclists, but to the right, the Florida Department of Transportation is constructing a paved pathway for cyclists, families, walkers and whoever wants to use it.
"We've had several tragedies in the north Florida area, really a shame," said Mike Pikula, of Trail Advocates.
That's why FDOT started construction of the 6-mile-long shared use pedestrian and bicycle path next to A1A on Monday -- to give people the option of off-road riding or walking.
"An experienced cyclist can cope with the traffic, but it just pains me to see a family with two young kids on the road trying to enjoy the sport and they can't do it safely," Pikula said.
The 10-foot-wide paved path will be from the north end of the Nassau Sound Bridge to Peters Point Park adjacent to Fletcher Avenue.
"The new trail is very important," Pikula said. "Many of us are experienced cyclists and we ride the roads, but we're always concerned about traffic and cars."
Other cyclists in the area agree.
"It's for people that are just starting out, they're not sure of themselves," said Don Eipeot, a cyclist for 20 years. "Having a nice bike trial is a safe ride, no traffic, no cars."
It will be separate path several feet away from traffic intended to keep cars and trucks away from bicyclists and pedestrians.
"Trying to stay safe is no easy chore around here," Pikula said.
Avid bike riders say when the new path is complete, families can enjoy the peace of mind of being away from nearby traffic.
The construction project costs $2.3 million and should be finished by spring of next year.
By Don Eipert
18 riders headed southbound today at 8:30 from Main Beach. Another 18 riders from Clyde's group headed north at 9:30 after crossing the ferry. Each group had a "Flat Tire of the Day". How ironic? The riders passed each other in a blur on the bike trail in Little Talbot State Park. We did all manage to regroup back at Big Talbot State Park for a North and South ride leader handshake and a photo opportunity. Mike Pikula was the official photographer today, so we can look forward to that. The North riders were afraid to head south again to meet at Nicole's since the skies started to get dark. The North riders headed northbound to get back to Fernandina and just as they started crossing the bridge immediately after leaving Big Talbot, it started to drizzle. Another mile down the road Don pulled out a rain jacket from that magic trike bag and did a little anti rain dance. The comment was that once the jacket was on that the rain would stop. Sure enough, the rain did stop and then the sun came out again. Go figure!!! Glad it worked. Need to hear what happened to the riders from the South. Did you guys get wet?
Was a great day for cycling. We should do this again.
by Don Eipert
Today was a very different day for the cyclists today. As part of the normal Thursday ride from Main Beach on Amelia Island we did a short ride and headed for church services for the death of cyclist Bob Tomassetti due to cancer. The day started out very foggy with a good chance for rain. By the time the 9 AM start came along, the sun was shining on us. We had 18 active cyclists today who did the Tarpon and Fort Clinch part of the route. Jonathon Tomassetti started the ride with us on his tandem with the empty rear seat missing his dad Bob. Most of us were wearing the 2010 version of the NFBC bike jersey that grandson Jack Tomassetti helped design. Troy Kress had the flat tire of the day even before we started and he was a pro at getting it repaired in a hurry. The church was on our regular route going down Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach so it was just a matter of stopping when we got to the church. We were able to park our bikes in a secure area previously arranged. We were joined by 5 others inside church where we were all designated as honorary paw bearers. They had us seated in a reserved area in front of church. During the service NFBC President Kevin Pryor spoke a few words. We got a needed chuckle when son Jeff Tomassetti spoke about the needs of the Tomassetti family toys. He was pointing to the bicycle sitting inside the church. After the services we safely regrouped back at Main Beach. 13 of us opted to head to the Slider's tiki bar for a great lunch get together. The rain held off until everyone was off the bicycle and then it poured. I got just a little wet even with an umbrella running into the house from the car. That rain was cold. Would have not been fun being on the bike at that point. On a personal note, I met Bob Tomassetti on my very first organized ride on Amelia Island in March 2010. We had just moved to Florida from Chicago. Bob made me feel very welcome here and that I belonged here. This was before I was a member of NFBC and there were organized NFBC sanctioned rides on the island. It was not long after that when that I started doing many rides with Clyde Riggs on JBRT and doing one of busy Bert Shaw's 3 rides. Now here I am working with 4 co ride leaders doing 3 rides a week on Amelia Island and Nassau County. Thanks to Clyde and Bert for inspiring me to start rides up north and thanks to Tina, Mike, Gus, and Philip for helping out as ride leaders. Most important of all, thanks for the participation of all the riders joining us. I can remember being at Main Beach on a cold winter morning of around 30 or so. I should have cancelled the ride due to cold and I was ready to drive back home when Bob Tomassetti showed up. He said it was time to ride and said hey you are from cold Chicago, aren't you. I never dreamed of riding 4000 plus miles a year without trying very hard. Never ride here alone with so many NFBC rides to choose from.
Fernandina Beach presents a
Saturday, October 27, 2012
at the MLK Jr. Recreation Center
1200 Elm Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
This is a FREE EVENT!
Please join us to celebrate the cycling community in Fernandina Beach and Amelia Island. Visit with local vendors and bike clubs to get information about upcoming cycling events in our community. Bring the kids & their bikes to participate in a Bike Rodeo and service checks where they can learn how to fix a flat tire and assess bike safety. Adult bike safety classes and informational materials will also be provided.
Visit: www.fbfl.us/bikefernandina for more information
Welcome to AmeliaIslandCycling.com 2.0 !!
In feedback from Don Eipert and local riders, we are moving our e-mail system back to google groups and utilizing a website as a resource for those who wish to find and join us. The posterous group was causing delayed e-mails and confusing to use to many.
I did my best to simply transfer everyone over from the posterous group to the google group, however there were a few that were not able to be copied. Please just simply subscribe back to the new e-mail group. If you wish to unsubscribe, please let me know and I will change that.
The Google Groups is an e-mail based system, where you can post to the group by e-mailing your post to email@example.com
You can also click on the forum tab, and access the posting options there.
This is a community-owned e-mail group, and all are welcome to post and organize rides.
Finally, Thanks to all the ride leaders for leading rides and keeping cycling alive on Amelia Island. Its great to see so many folks out on bikes!
Keep on Riding! and let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions to improve our group.