It’s no secret that Jacksonville is one of the most dangerous cities in America for bicyclists. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t places in the city where biking can be both safe and enjoyable.
Over the past few decades, the city has added several new greenways to address the lack of safe biking paths – and parts of the urban core have gradually been modified to enhance walkability and bicycle accessibility.
Here’s a handful of great places to get on your bike and ride here in Jacksonville without putting yourself in harm’s way.
TILLIE K. FOWLER PARK
Tillie K. Fowler Park, which spans over 500 acres of land across from NAS Jacksonville along Roosevelt Boulevard, features a few different off-road biking trails with varying levels of difficulty. The trails take you around and through the park, including parts of a small town between Jax and Ortega that was displaced by the arrival of the Navy. You can still see the historic brick from a road that led toward Ortega.
They’re a favorite for mountain bikers, specifically, because of the rough terrain of the trails.
There’s also an official city map of the Fowler Park trails on its website.
JACKSONVILLE-BALDWIN RAIL TRAIL
The city’s longest biking trail was once a stretch of unused railroad tracks. The Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, created in 1992, runs from Imeson Road to Brandy Branch Road on the Westside, covering a span of 14.5 miles and passing through the town of Baldwin. It offers paved and unpaved pathways for riding.
Stopping points along the trail include the Baldwin Station, which offers public restrooms, benches, and an adjacent park with halfpipes and other ramps, and the Camp Milton Historic Preserve, which features a large park, a historic, Florida-cracker style house, and remnants of a fortification point from the Civil War.
It’s a long ride from end to end, but for advanced riders, it’s an enjoyable trip.
S-LINE RAIL TRAIL
The S-Line Rail Trail, much like the Jax-Baldwin trail, was formed from an abandoned railroad right-of-way. The 4.5-mile walking and biking trail runs through Springfield, Durkeeville, and what was once the Sugar Hill neighborhood. The first portion of the trail has endpoints at Boulevard Street and Myrtle Avenue and takes you past several historic properties, as well as the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation and Emmett Reed Park and Gymnasium. The second portion runs from 21st Street up to Liberty Street near Cemetery Park.
And in the near future, the trail will be expanded to connect with phase one of Groundwork Jacksonville’s Emerald Trail project that aims to create several new greenways throughout the urban core.
One of the most popular urban biking routes takes you across the Acosta Bridge, through downtown along the Northbank Riverwalk, and onto the Main Street Bridge back to the Southbank Riverwalk – or vice versa, depending on your preferred starting point. This route lets you enjoy the views across the St. Johns River – but the tradeoff for those great views is a lot of hard peddling on the bridges.
Riverside, one of Jax’s most walkable neighborhoods, is also one of its most bikeable areas.
The neighborhood has ample sidewalk space, and drivers in the neighborhood are generally better at coexisting with bicyclists than those in other, more suburban parts of the city. Riverside Park and Memorial Park both offer some of the nicest scenery in Jacksonville, and Five Points and the King Street District offer the opportunity to stop for some refreshments along your path.
And soon, it’ll be even easier to bike through Riverside. Oak Street and Park Street are both set to be redesigned in the near future to include bike lanes, and the mixed-use path being added to Fuller Warren Bridge will soon offer a connection to San Marco.