National bike route to extend through Collier County

Published: December 14, 2021 11:29 AM EST

A national bike route has an extension planned to go through Collier County, which many hope will put the county on the map and advance tourism opportunities in the area.

This wouldn’t be just another bike path, but an extension of U.S. Bicycle Route 15, part of the U.S. bicycle route system which currently runs for 14,000 miles through 31 states. With Florida—and Collier County in particular—connected to these other states, it would connect people from all over the country and encourage bicycle tourism in the area. Tourism is responsible for over 36,000 jobs, tax collections and promoting an overall positive economic impact to the county, and those who work to promote it in Collier County say the adding of this bike route would prove the county is an ever-changing, evolving area.

“Whether it’s something like bike lanes, whether it’s sports complexes, whether it’s new golf courses or even beach restoration, this is just a great example of a destination in a region that is constantly improving and growing, and what better way to not only provide amenities to residents but also visitors as well?” said Paul Beirnes, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island & Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Route 15 currently goes from Fitzgerald, Georgia, to the Florida state line, and plans to expand it through the state are underway. Lee County has proposed that the route travel along US-41 near the Edison Bridge through Treeline Avenue, going through Bonita Springs and eventually connecting to Livingston Road in Collier County. In coordination with the Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the Collier section would follow Livingston Road through Golden Gate Parkway to Santa Barbara Boulevard, Radio Road, SR-84 and Collier Boulevard, ending on US-41.

“I think, in general, not only visitors but residents are being much more active,” Beirnes said. “And we have the beauty of living in the Sunshine State, where being outside and enjoying these outdoor amenities are second nature to us, but for visitors, certainly, something that will be celebrated that they might not be able to enjoy seasonally.”

The Collier County Board of Commissioners discussed the Route 15 expansion during its Tuesday meeting.