Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sanibel Makes Path System More Welcoming and Safer For Cyclists and Pedestrians

  Kudos to City of Sanibel for its continuing improvement of the shared use path system, its focus on safety, and its priority on improved connectivity.  Thanks to BWL's Sanibel rep, Tom Sharbaugh, for filing this report.

The City of Sanibel continued to make improvements to its shared-use path system during the summer of 2013, continuing its recent history of significant annual investments to maintain and upgrade its path system.  This year’s major construction project has involved widening and repositioning the path along Periwinkle Way between Causeway Road and the Sanibel Lighthouse, adding a grassy median between the path and traffic lanes, and creating a new connection between the path and the Lighthouse parking lot.  Work on the project began in August and was recently completed, in time for the return of the seasonal swell in island visitors.  With this latest project, the Sanibel Path has now been widened to 10 feet for the entire length of Periwinkle Way.
East End path widening project, now completed.

Another major advancement for cycling and pedestrian interests this year was the City’s adoption of new crosswalk policy.  Responding to a request from Sanibel Bicycle Club for improvements to the existing crosswalk at the intersection of Periwinkle Way and Casa Ybel Road, the City conducted a professional evaluation of several busy crossing points in the community.  This study prompted City Council approval and funding of three new and/or significantly redesigned crosswalks on Periwinkle Way and Tarpon Bay Road, which will be completed over the next 12 months.

In addition, the recent crosswalk study influenced the City to write and formally adopt a new, up-to-date official Crosswalk Policy to guide design and placement of crosswalks in the future.  The new policy meets current standards set forth by Florida statues, the Florida Manual for Design, Construction and Maintenance of Streets and Highways (aka the Florida Green Book), and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  With the new Crosswalk Policy in place, and a Shared Use Path Master Plan previously adopted in 2009, Sanibel now has in place a roadmap to guide management of its cycling and pedestrian needs into the future.  

Finally, the Sanibel Planning Commission has recently identified “improved connectivity” as a priority as it looks for ways to enable people to navigate the island without adding to vehicular traffic.  This includes using the shared use path system to facilitate convenient off-road access to destinations.  It also includes examining ways for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles to move between adjacent properties and parking lots without entering the street and adding to traffic. 

Although not a city project, the big news on Sanibel this Fall is that the repaving of Wildlife Drive through Ding Darling is now complete and open, providing a bike-friendly ride through the refuge for the first time in over four years. The 4.23 mile Wildlife Drive runs through the refuge and links to island roads and bike paths to create a roughly 8-mile bike loop. For more details, see BikeWalkLee's Oct. 3rd column.

The newly bike-friendly Wildlife Drive reopens in Ding Darling.
Report by Tom Sharbaugh, BikeWalkLee's Sanibel representative

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