The Florida Bicycle Association Board (FBA) meets quarterly in rotating locations, and this quarter they held their meeting in Fort Myers on Jan. 23th, with a "meet and greet" event the previous night for local advocates. At each Board meeting, they invite a local bike club or advocacy organization to make a presentation to showcase a local project or advocacy effort. For the Fort Myers meeting, the Sanibel Bicycle Club (SBC) was invited to make a presentation on their Bike Safety Programs.
Introduction: The County-wide Context
BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau (also a Sanibel resident and SBC member) introduced the SBC presentation by putting it into the context of what BikeWalkLee is trying to accomplish countywide. One of BWL's strategies is to speed up the process of bringing complete streets and improved bike/ped infrastructure to Lee County by taking advantage of emerging digital media as well as traditional media, using tools such as blogs, email groups, and social media and newspaper columns. BWL’s participation in countywide committees, and its involvement in each local jurisdiction (6 municipalities) through its local BWL representative, has created a network that allows quick sharing of information, best practices from around the country, and innovative local projects. BikeWalkLee is particularly focused on sharing information about local initiatives in a way that provides a practical and helpful idea source for other municipalities and agencies and an aid to rapid adaptation to their communities. "Our goal is to get "further faster" through this approach," said Letourneau.
A team from SBC made the presentation to the FBA Board: Tom Sharbaugh, the co-leader (along with Patti Sousa) of the video project and the lead on the Club's safety initiatives; along with Bill Sartoris and Mike Miller who focused on the history of the Club and its successful advocacy partnerships with local government. Click here to view their PowerPoint presentation.
"To address this need for educating path users, SBC has put its energies into a series of bike safety education programs, "said Tom Sharbaugh. These programs started in 2008 with a series of posters, print ads and bike rack signs, and have continued into the present with digital media messages placed on websites, closed circuit TV systems and youtube.com. To pay for these efforts, SBC created a Club-directed 501(c)(3), the Sanibel Trails In Motion Fund, managed by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which has so far collected more than $50,000 for path improvements and safety education.
|FBA listens intently to SBC presentation|
|SBC team: Mike, Mary Miller; Tom, Bill Sartoris|
Tom Sharbaugh reported that the video is accessible on youtube.com, as well as on websites run by the Club, the City of Sanibel, Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau, island bike rental businesses and numerous resorts. In addition, links to the video are being placed on travel sites visited by people planning trips to Southwest Florida. Debut of the new video has brought an increased focus on bike safety on the island, which the club has leveraged with a companion slide show adaptation for digital messages boards.. These are being run as a PSA at local restaurants and businesses. They are also being run at the City Rec Center and on its Facebook page. FBA Board members were very interested in replicating this approach in other communities. Click here to view the 12 slides being used around Sanibel to amplify the "Cycling on Sanibel" video.
Sharbaugh also talked about what the City of Sanibel is doing to encourage safe cycling as part of its larger effort to reduce traffic congestion on the island. One of the City's three recommendations is to "travel around the island by foot and bike". Click here to see the City's overall traffic campaign, of which the "Cycling on Sanibel" video is a part (on homepage of City website); and here for the Traffic Message from the Mayor of Sanibel (video)
While the Club's approach might have a distinctive Sanibel flavor, there are lots of great ideas here that can be used by other communities in their efforts to promote safety. Thanks to the Sanibel Bicycle Club, which has, over its 26 year history, accomplished an effective balance between the social aspects of their club and the all important role of advocacy. The only way to expand and improve the biking and walking infrastructure in our communities is through citizen involvement , on the part of bike clubs, advocacy organizations, other stakeholders, and citizens. There are great benefits for the biking and walking community, well as for the community at large, from this type of sustained commitment and involvement. Sanibel provides a good example.
Report by Tom Sharbaugh and Darla Letourneau
Links to SBC Presentation Materials:
- Sanibel Bicycle Club: Bike Safety Programs Power Point presentation to FBA Board 1/23/16
- Bike Safety Slides for Blue Ash media, created by SBC 8/4/15
- Cycling on Sanibel video
- City of Sanibel website (has new city traffic message info plus the Sanibel cycling video at top of home page.)
- Traffic Message from the Mayor of Sanibel (video)
- BWL Blog, January2, 2016: Santiva Chronicle's 2015 top stories:#3--Shared Use Paths and Bicycle Safety
- BWL Blog, September 21, 2015: Sanibel Cycling Safety PSA
- BWL Blog, August 4, 2015: Sanibel Bicycle Club Initiates New Digital Safe Biking Messages BWL Blog, June 11, 2015: BWL Column: New video will get you safely biking Sanibel like a pro
- BWL Blog, January 23, 2015: Video will help market bike safety on the islands (Sanibel/Captiva
- BWL Blog, July 24, 2014: BWL Column: Bikers focus on Sanibel
- BWL Blog,April 23, 2013: Sanibel’s Weekly Newspapers Publish “Cycling Safety Notes” To Promote Bike Safety