Shared Use Path
The shared use path would provide a badly needed transportation alternative that is safe, affordable, sustainable, ADA compliant, healthy, environmentally-friendly and recreational. Providing infrastructure to enable visitors to walk and bicycle to VIIS destinations would provide an entirely new way for visitors to experience the Park. The path would connect the Park Visitor Center to beaches and Honeymoon Bay and include interpretive opportunities, active recreation, scenic views, and the potential for wildlife viewing. Locally, construction of the path would present an opportunity to create a bicycle rental business. The long-term vision for the path is to eventually extend beyond this initial segment along the length of St. John's North Shore.
The project would improve safety; enhance the visitor experience by providing an additional transportation alternative, recreation, interpretive opportunities and additional viewscapes; reduce transportation and parking impacts to the Park's resources; and improve drainage and erosion/sediment control by addressing stormwater management.
The project is consistent with past studies and plans:
• General Management Plan
• The 2006 Virgin Islands National Park Transportation Study which indicated that it is unlikely the North Shore Road will be widened for motor vehicles, much less bike lanes. The 1984 Park Road Standards state that "If bicycling is encouraged, consideration must be given to providing safe travel ways. Separate bikeways are the best alternative." For these reasons, a separated trail is a more feasible alternative to widening North Shore Road for a bike lane.
• This project follows the recommendation of the 2009 Virgin Islands National Park Alternative Transportation Study to continue the planning process for a bike path. The shared use path satisfies the vision and many of the goals collaboratively developed by the interagency, community-based steering committee of the Alternative Transportation Study, including: 1. Reduce visitor reliance on rental cars for mobility and access. 2. Improve visitor experience and customer service. 3. Improve mobility and accessibility within the Park. 4. Reduce parking demand. 5. Improve safety. 6. Improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities. 7. Be accessible for physically-challenged people.
• The Federal Lands Highway Division's Guide to Promoting Bicycling on Federal Lands identifies benefits of bicycling as: 1. enhancing visitor experience; 2. reducing pollution; 3. relieving traffic congestion and parking shortages; 4. improving visitor mobility; 5. stimulating and diversifying economies in gateway communities; and 6. improving health.
• One of the goals identified in the Virgin Islands National Park First Annual Centennial Strategy is to reduce the environmental impacts of park operations by working with gateway communities and local and territorial agencies on regional transportation planning, to include improving transportation alternatives for visitors.
In addition to these plans, the shared use path is consistent with the following broad NPS-wide documents:
• NPS Management Policies, 2006, Section 9.2 Transportation Systems and Alternative Transportation: "Depending on a park unit's size, location, resources, and level of use, the NPS will, where appropriate, emphasize and encourage alternative transportation systems, which may include a mix of buses, trains, ferries, trams, and—preferably—non-motorized modes of access to and moving within parks. In general, the preferred modes of transportation will be those that contribute to maximum visitor enjoyment of, and minimum adverse impacts on, park resources and values."
• The 2001-2005 NPS/DOI Strategic Plan goals: Preservation of Park Resources; Provide Public Enjoyment and Visitor Experience of Parks; Strengthen and Preserve Natural and Cultural Resources and Enhance Recreational Opportunities Managed by Partners.