Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sanibel awarded "Silver" Bicycle Friendly Community Status

Congratulations to the City of Sanibel for being elevated to "Silver" Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) status!  It was great to celebrate with City Officials, Chamber and VCB officials,  Sanibel Bicycle Club members and many other stakeholders involved in creating the island's path system. Sanibel is now one of only four Florida communities that have achieved the League of American Bicyclists' BFC Silver status.  BikeWalkLee's dream is that more communities throughout Lee County will seek to achieve Bicycle Friendly Community status, so that all of SWFL will someday be bicycle-friendly.

Tonight's NBC-2 News coverage

City of Sanibel Press Release: 11/18/14
City of Sanibel elevated
to “Silver” status Bicycle Friendly CommunitySM
 by the League of American Bicyclists
The highest tier of Florida Communities
Sanibel one of only four Florida communities designated “Silver” Status
Mayor Kevin Ruane announces Sanibel's Silver BFC award
Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the City of Sanibel with a “Silver” Bicycle Friendly Community (BFCSM) award.  In 2010 Sanibel was awarded the “Bronze” designation.  Only three other Florida communities Venice, the Villages and Gainesville hold this prestigious designation.   

Upon announcing the designation Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane stated “Since December 1972 when four Island women – Grace 

Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Sherry Vartdal and Starr Thomas – organized the Sanibel Path Committee to start a system of “hike and bike” trails to protect their young children this community has systematically developed a citywide non-motorized transportation network.  This accomplishment has only been possible due to our partners every step of the way the Sanibel Bicycle Club.”  Mayor Ruane added “We build and maintain a premier path system for our residents’ health and safety however this national recognition from the League of American Bicyclists is a source of community pride and appreciated.”    

“Visionary community leaders are recognizing the real-time and long term impact that a culture of bicycling can create,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents and beyond.”

 Patti Sousa, the Sanibel Bicycle Club Liaison to the City of Sanibel stated ”Our Club congratulates the City for the effort and dedication to making the bike friendly “Silver Status” happen.  We are proud to be long standing partners working with the City to make our community safe and friendly for resident and visitor cyclists alike.” 

In 1976 the first 2½ miles of Sanibel’s paths were built along Periwinkle Way with $10,000 of seed money from the original Sanibel Bike Path Committee and a matching grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. Today the City has more than 25 miles of paved Shared Use Paths and 8 miles of natural surface paths.
Sanibel Bicycle Club attendees at press conference
The Sanibel Bicycle Club was founded in 1994 and in 2005 the Club established the “Sanibel Trails in Motion” funds a 501(c) 3 dedicated to supporting path enhancements.  Shortly thereafter the Club constructed a Visitor Center on the Periwinkle Path.   In 2009 the City adopted the Shared Use Path Master Plan which developed a program to annually expand and improve path safety.  As a bikeable and walkable community Sanibel actively promotes and encourages biking to community events and the weekly Farmers’ Market.   

Refreshments this morning were even in the bicycle theme
Mayor Ruane with BWL's Darla Letourneau (also SBC member)
Recently the City obtained two major grants to continue to improve the Island’s paths.  In August the City was awarded a $470,000 grant to increase and improve bicycle access to and egress from the Ding Darling Federal Wildlife Refuge. In September the City was awarded a $200,000 matching grant from the State of Florida to construct a dedicated ½ mile path to Bowman Beach Park. 

 The BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 326 BFCs in all 50 states. The “Silver” BFC award recognizes Sanibel’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies.  The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself.

More information about the Bike Friendly Community program is available at www.bikeleague.org/BFA.

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For the League of American Bicyclists' announcement and complete list of Bicycle Friendly Communities, click here:

Bicycle Friendly Communities in All 50 States

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