Florida legislature has come to realize that building multi-use/cycling trails in communities has a positive economic impact. Last year the legislature authorized the Florida Department of Transportation to spend $25 million annually to help expand, connect, and improve Florida’s system of trails and greenways. Not only do trails provide healthy exercise for walkers, runners, and cyclists but they also provide a positive economic impact as seen in the prosperous trail towns of Dunedin, Winter Garden, and Venice.
Just look to the town of Twin Bridges, Montana where the benefits of cycling to the local community is immediately felt. Sitting at the crossroads of the TransAmerica and Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail, Twin Bridges residents used to watch as cyclists would peddle through their town without staying. One resident, Bill White, realized the potential positive impact the trails could have on his small town if he could get the traveling cyclists to stop, eat, and spend the night.
Enter “Bike Camp”, a small screened-in structure with beds, tables, and chairs that was built to provide cyclists with a place to stay along the two trails. By giving the cyclists a reason to spend the night, Bill White’s Bike Camp had a positive impact on the local economy. Local businesses and restaurants reported an increase in revenue since the construction of the camp.
The town of Twin Bridges is just one example of how cycling changed the face of a small town. One man’s vision of utilizing existing trail traffic to benefit his town turned Twin Bridges into a go-to pit stop on both trails. What started out as a small wooden structure to encourage cyclists to stay turned into a Bike Camp with tents, tables, and amenities for cyclists. We look forward to seeing similar success stories in Florida as new trails are built in once isolated areas.