Where to bike on the Island

Anna Maria bike trail
The Anna Maria bike trail.

Anna Maria

In Anna Maria, the city’s bicycle paths are a mix of multi-use paths, shared with pedestrians, and unmarked sharrow roads.

The path journeys north from Holmes Beach down Gulf Drive to Willow Avenue, where bicyclists can make a left to Gulf Front Park or right to continue north down Jacaranda Road or Crescent Drive. Cyclists on Crescent Road can continue to Bayfront Park, take a left at the fork onto Gladiolus Street or loop into Jacaranda Road and take a right to North Shore Drive to cruise past the Rod and Reel Pier.

City engineer Lynn Burnett said future plans for Anna Maria include upgrades to Pine Avenue to include a multi-use path down the length of the major thoroughfare to allow for multi-modal transportation as part of the city’s 10-year capital improvement plan

Burnett said shared roads would be marked with sharrow lane striping over the next few years. The east side of Gulf Drive is planned to have a new infiltration trench installed with a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path erected afterwards.

Holmes Beach

No official bicycle path currently exists in Holmes Beach, though there are bicycle lanes in both directions along Gulf Drive.

A planned path meanders from Gulf Drive east to 85th Street and down Marina Drive with a sharrow road along 83rd Street.

Another sharrow road at 72nd Street is planned to connect the Marina Drive eastern path with a western route on Holmes Boulevard. Multi-modal sidewalks are planned on the west side of Holmes Boulevard. The path is planned to follow Marina Drive south with accesses to Gulf Drive and the beaches.

A sharrow street is planned for 62nd Street to connect the trail to Flotilla Drive.

A multi-modal path is planned for 56th Street to connect Marina to Gulf Drive and the beach. Rather than traversing the intersection at Marina and Gulf Drives, the path is planned to divert along a sharrow road west on 54th Street to Gulf Drive. From there, the path is planned to continue to 52nd Street and Second Avenue where it breaks into several branches around the Manatee Public Beach. Dual paths are planned down Gulf Drive and Sixth Avenue until they converge near the Bradenton Beach city line to continue south to Longboat Key.

Some elements of the multi-modal path, an eight to 10-foot sidewalk along one or both sides of streets, depending on right of way allowances, are already budgeted through Holmes Beach. In the city’s current fiscal year budget are items such as restriping and signs marking sharrow roads. Other improvements on local city roads are planned over the next several years. Burnett said improvements to county or state roads will have to be approved and funded through those agencies. Some streets also may be eligible for federal funds assistance.

Improvements along Gulf Drive are scheduled for construction in correlation with Manatee County’s planned force water main improvements. The sidewalks and bicycle lanes will not be constructed until that project is finished, potentially as early as mid to late 2019.

The Holmes Beach local multi-modal path sections of the route were approved by city commissioners in March.

Bradenton Beach

In Bradenton Beach, the multi-modal path is simpler. Rather than meandering through residential areas, the path predominantly tracks down Gulf Drive until it meets up with the Longboat Pass Bridge. The plan is to continue the multi-modal path across the bridge and into Longboat Key. If the SUN Trail western route and funding are approved by the state, this will be the route the trail takes through Bradenton Beach, across Longboat Key and into Sarasota via the Ringling Bridge.

A secondary trail is planned to go through the community redevelopment segment of the city east of Gulf Drive on the east side of the street.

All multi-modal paths on the Island are planned as eight-foot sidewalks to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.

With the exception of paths through the CRA district, all Bradenton Beach bicycle and multi-modal path improvements will be paid by state funding when available.

No official bicycle trail currently exists in Bradenton Beach, though there is an existing multi-modal path on the west side of Gulf Drive south to the underside of the Longboat Pass Bridge along Coquina Beach. The current path is not planned to be incorporated into the future bicycle and multi-modal paths according to Burnett.

The SUN Trail

The western leg of the SUN Trail, if approved, will travel to Anna Maria Island via the Green Bridge in downtown Bradenton, continuing either down Manatee Avenue or through adjacent residential areas to where Manatee Avenue begins crossing waterways that lead to Anna Maria Island.

Funds for the SUN Trail have yet to be assigned. Burnett is hopeful funds will be allocated for the project by the end of the current Island transportation study.

One part of the study is determining if roundabouts will be installed at the intersections of Gulf and Marina Drives, Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive and Manatee Avenue and East Bay Drive. If the roundabouts are installed, it will reformat those sections of the SUN Trail to accommodate curving intersections.

If the SUN Trail is implemented, it will feature two traffic lanes with two bicycle lanes and pedestrians sidewalks on each side.

Burnett said SUN Trail lanes will incorporate any existing bicycle paths or sidewalks if the route is funded to reduce cost and inconvenience to Island residents and visitors.

No existing bicycle paths or sidewalks are slated for removal as part of the Island-wide improvement project.