City of Orlando officials held a meeting on Oct. 3 to update the public on plans to fill in the gaps of the Downtown Orlando Bicycle Beltway. Five sections will be built in the next few years. The beltway will also connect with the Orlando Urban Trail, Lake Underhill Path and Cady Way Trail.
The first gap is between the current end of the Orlando Urban Trail at Orange Avenue and Magnolia and where the new pedestrian bridge over Colonial Drive comes out onto Orange Avenue across from Camden North Quarter. The second is the connection to Gertrude’s Walk from Livingston to Jefferson Streets.
Another section is called the airport gap, which runs along Maguire next to the executive airport. The longest gap is the Downtown Connector Trail along Anderson Street, which will go from Lake Underhill Road to the Central Business District. The final connection from Gertrude’s Walk to the Downtown Connector Trail is still being studied and will probably turn under the 408 at Summerlin Avenue and then follow Pine or Church streets through the residential towers that have sprung up.
According to Citylab.com, proximity to trails in urban areas increases property values, which, in turn, boosts the amount of property taxes filling government coffers. University of Cincinnati planning professor Rainer vom Hofe and economics professor Olivier Parent studied the Little Miami Scenic Trail to determine these results.
Dallas has the Katy Trail, which the Urban Land Institute calls “one of the metro area’s most popular attractions, with jogging and biking paths and packed eateries on a meandering route through the center of the city”.
Atlanta’s Beltline trail has also proven to be very popular. According to Curbed.com, CBRE — a leading global commercial real estate services and investment firm — analyzed average asking rents for commercial and retail spaces in Atlanta over the past five years. The most pronounced change has come with office space along the Beltline, where rents have jumped by a staggering 70% in five years.
That’s more than twice the growth in Atlanta’s Central Business District, overall, in the same time period, per the analysis. Rents for beltline retail space, meanwhile, have climbed by nearly 60%, far outpacing the CBD’s growth of less than 25%.
Will the Orlando Bicycle Beltway become as popular as other cities’ urban trails? Anecdotal reports have already seen more use with the new bridge over Colonial. The Orlando Urban Trail also now extends north through Mead Garden along Denning Drive in Winter Park and plans to run south to Michigan Street along Division Avenue, providing more connections to the Beltway.