As DeLand’s SunRail station gets closer to reality, city leaders are eyeing options for bringing train passengers to the Downtown core. One option is to make the trip easier for cyclists.
While the main road connecting Downtown DeLand to the DeLand station is New York Avenue, it isn’t the only road.
Euclid Avenue runs parallel to the state road, and is far less busy. The city’s latest plan is to invest in a feasibility study through the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization to determine whether paved shoulders along Euclid would be a beneficial and cost-effective way to get cyclists to and from the commuter rail station.
It would also connect two larger bike trails that travel through DeLand.
“We come off our Charles Paiva Greenway on Alabama, that would kind of connect, and the county’s Spring-toSpring bike trail,” DeLand’s Special Projects Director Mike Holmes told The Beacon. “It would be kind of a link between those two. That’s what we were looking at in addition to the SunRail connection.”
The connection would come in the form of paved shoulders along Euclid Avenue that would functionally serve as bike lanes, as opposed to a separate bike path off the roadway.
“If you’re on highways, it’s a white stripe that usually goes down the roads,” Holmes explained. “It’s used a lot by bicyclists, because they view it as safer than being in the travel lane. It’s not technically a bike lane, but it’s used as such.”
Cyclist Maggie Ardito said paved shoulders are far from her first choice when it comes to biking. Her ideal mode of transportation would be a paved trail separate from the road, but she understands there’s “no use fighting over lost causes.”
Ardito is president of the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on bicycle infrastructure all throughout the St. Johns River area, including across West Volusia.
While Euclid Avenue is fairly safe to travel by bike now, Ardito said, projected residential and commercial development near the DeLand station could change that.
Her request of the city? No vertical curbs to the right of the bike lane that would prevent cyclists from quickly moving away from vehicles.
“It’s just deadly for bicycles, because they’ve got nowhere to go,” Ardito said. “I think we all just need to work for a safe solution.”
Instead of paved shoulders, she said, another option would be a buffered bike lane.
As long as the buffer is big enough, the bike lane has enough space and the speed limit is slow enough and properly enforced, Ardito said a 4-foot bike lane with a 2-foot buffer would be preferable to paved shoulders.
DeLand will pay about $5,000 for the feasibility study, but it will actually be the second study DeLand has undertaken to help determine how to connect cyclists from Downtown DeLand to the SunRail station.
Last year, the city paid the TPO $3,600 to determine whether it would be possible to create a paved multiuse trail along Euclid Avenue. What the TPO determined is that it would be feasible — technically — but the undertaking could cost in the neighborhood of $12 million, because the city would have to acquire 1.45 acres of right of way from 50 different parcels.
The city wasn’t too keen on that plan.
“People don’t necessarily want to sell property, especially when it takes away from their front yard,” Holmes said.
Bicycle trails aren’t the only method by which DeLand’s Downtown and its SunRail station may eventually be connected.
The MainStreet DeLand Association in conjunction with other stakeholders is looking into a trolley or other transport to bring other visitors and commuters from the DeLand station to Downtown and back.
While specific details haven’t been ironed out yet, MainStreet Executive Director Wayne Carter said, they’re interested in initiatives like the City of Sanford’s trolley from its SunRail station to its downtown core.
Editor’s note: This story was updated March 1, 2023, to better clarify statements made by St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop President Maggie Ardito. A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that Ardito favored paved shoulders as an option for cyclists.