A vision of the city of Punta Gorda is to have over 15 miles of bicycle and pedestrian trails and paths that will connect the neighborhood, the parks, and the commercial areas as a ring around the city. The different phases of the plan are being implemented as funds become available with expected completion by the end of 2012. The funds are coming from multiple sources such as Federal Transportation Funds, 1 cent local option infrastructure sales tax, and private sector funds.
There are four routes that are part of the plan which are being created in stages. One is to link Linear Park to the northern end of the U.S. 41 multi-use recreational trail. A second one is linking the eastern end of Linear Park across U.S. 41 past the historic Punta Gorda Railroad Depot in the historic eastern neighborhood of the city. A third one links the eastern end of Linear Park through downtown to Laishley Park. And the last one is joining the eastern extent of Harborwalk south to the northern end of U.S. 41 multi-use recreational trail. To see a map of the plan and photos of some of the existing routes, go to the City of Punta Gorda web site at http://www.ci.punta-gorda.fl.us/depts/growthmgmt/ringaroundcity.html
In connection with the ring around the city, TEAM Punta Gorda has developed a bicycle loaner program. Their goal is to encourage bicycling and promote tourism. There are several locations throughout Punta Gorda where you can borrow and use a bicycle. Some of the participating locations are Charlotte Regional Medical Center – Wellness Center, Laishley Municipal Marina, Four Points by Sheraton, Fishermen’s Village Marina, Isles Yacht Club Marina and the Wyvern Hotel. To learn more about TEAM Punta Gorda and some of their efforts go to their web site at http://teampuntagorda.org/.
Punta Gorda has received honorable-mention recognition as a “Bicycle-Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists. Whether you like bicycling or walking there are current trails to try out and the completion of this project will make your trip even more enjoyable. Take a walk or ride and get some exercise at the same time. Don’t forget, if you have friends coming into town or you don’t own a bike, borrow some bikes for free.