At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) 25th Anniversary celebration last October, we honored a group of men and women--the inaugural Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions--who have made a remarkable contribution to the rail-trail movement during the past quarter century. During the past few months we have been recapping the achievements of each champion. Today we recognize Brian Smith's enormous contribution to developing a network of trails and pathways in Florida.
In his four decades in urban and regional planning, Brian Smith has witnessed firsthand the evolution of the role of trails in communities. During this time, planning professionals began to move the transportation focus away from traditional highway systems and toward bike and pedestrian facilities, a progression Smith refers to as a "maturing of the transportation system."
Combining his planning focus with an energetic service spirit, Smith was instrumental in the creation and expansion of the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, one of Florida's most popular and unique urban pathways-and a member of the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Connecting the cities of St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs on Florida's Gulf Coast, the Pinellas Trail is a marvel of non-motorized urban connectivity in a state where such pathways are rare and sorely needed. Its success as a recreational facility and transportation corridor has made it a model for urban pathways across the nation, and the Pinellas Trail helped jumpstart the rail-trail movement in Florida. Smith is currently the planning director for Pinellas County and the executive director of the Pinellas County MPO.
Smith's experience with the Pinellas Trail and in planning at the regional level has made him a valuable member of the broader trails, bike and pedestrian community. He has worked with many other areas to establish trails based on the successes of Pinellas County. Smith is nationally recognized as a generous technical resource for others planning pedestrian and bike trail projects, and as a passionate and knowledgeable advocate of urban pathways.
Smith dedicated the Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion grant given in his honor to the creation of new signage and navigation markers along the Pinellas Trail.