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UPDATE: A New Path for Bicyclists in Downtown Orlando

Update: August 5

Bike/Walk Central Florida staff and board members attended the most recent meeting of the City of Orlando’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The meeting was solely focused on the Downtown Gap Study.

As previously stated, the city is working to find the best path to put a cycle track connecting Gertrude’s Walk to the Downtown Connector Trail, helping complete Orlando’s Bicycle Beltway.

At the meeting, advisory members were given a presentation by HDR, the engineering firm tasked with design and planning for this project. We were given a series of maps showing all the streets inside the study area. Different maps showed things like speed limits, existing bike lanes, freight lanes, one-way roads, etc. Then advisory committee members were asked to draw their own route and choose which treatment they liked best for a cycle track.

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Then came the fun part–and the tough part. HDR employees passed out bags with cookie sheets and puzzle pieces representing lots of different kids of road treatments (sidewalks with and without trees, travel lanes, on-street parking, a cycle track, different buffers, etc. We “became” the engineers. The task was simple: build your ideal roadway. Then things got harder: one side of the table had a 60-foot right-of-way, the other side had only a 50-foot right-of-way. That means we “engineers” could use whatever we wanted, but everything had to add up to 50 (or 60) feet across. It quickly became a question of priorities. If you put two travel lanes and a cycle track, you probably can’t have on-street parking. If you choose wide sidewalks with shade trees, you probably can’t also have wide travel lanes and a cycle track. Everyone in the room got a first-hand feel for the challenges engineers and planners have to face daily.

Ultimately, everyone was glad that the City was working to get input from people who bike those streets on a daily basis. We can’t wait to see what the final recommended design looks like.


Original Post: July 19

Orlando is taking strides (or should we say pedals) toward closing the gaps and having a fully connected trail network around the downtown area—the bicycle beltway.

On Friday, July 12, local and regional stakeholders offered input on routes and road design at the Orlando Bicycle Beltway Downtown Gap Study. The study is working to find the best route to connect the proposed Downtown Connector Trail to part of Gertrude’s Walk. Previous studies had identified a route, known as Gertrude’s Walk Phase 3. But engineers and city planners decided the landscape of the area had changed since the study, and they needed to find out if a different path for the bike trail would be better.

This is the previous path planned for Gertrude’s Walk Phase 3:

Gertude’s Walk Phase 3

In June, during the Downtown Gap Study “Defining the Problem” phase, neighbors met to discuss the area best suited for the trail and decided to focus on the South Eola subarea. Planners took input from the community on Friday about possible routes within that neighborhood.

During the pop-up meeting, visitors were asked to draw the best path to connect the two trails. They were also shown a number of street design options, including ones for the bike trail at both street- and sidewalk-levels. City planners will move forward with a final design and construction over the next two years.

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The Orlando Bicycle Beltway project has been in the works since 2018 and aims to create a more complete, accessible network of bike trails. Once finished, according to the City of Orlando website, the Orlando Bicycle Beltway “will be a total of 8.5 miles, creating a loop connecting Downtown Orlando to the Fashion Square/Colonial area. The beltway will fill gaps in the exiting trail network and ultimately connect Downtown to the region’s trail system.”

The Bicycle Beltway is made up of a number of trails, that will ultimately, all connect to one another. There are five projects currently in the works to finish out the beltway. They are:

Orlando already has more than 40 miles of bike trails in a combination of off-street paths and asphalt and concrete sections. But, there’s still room for improvement. We’re certainly looking forward to more opportunities to bike off the roads in Orlando – and more connectivity to stay off them.

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