Thursday, July 5, 2018

Pedal your way through history

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 7/5/2018
by Ken Gooderham

Sanibel is certainly known for its bike-friendly facilities. But did you know about its extensive history?

Now you can combine those two pleasures into a cruise around the new Sanibel Heritage Trail.

The trail is a series of 22 panels located throughout the island describing some aspect of Sanibel’s historic past – and the island has quite a history to look back upon, including:

  • Commercial farming was widespread on the island from the late 1860s until the 1920s, when successive hurricanes ended that enterprise.
  • The Sanibel School was the first racially integrated school in the county, beginning in 1964. (The first school on the island was built in 1892.) In 1962, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church was the first church in the region to be racially integrated.
  • The Sanibel Lighthouse has been a beacon for navigators since 1884. And the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – created in 1945 and renamed in 1967 for the renowned conservationist who fought for its creation – comprises more than 6,400 acres of uplands, wetlands and forests.
  • The opening of the Sanibel Causeway in 1963 brought a boom to the island, which to that point had been accessible only by ferry. That, among other reasons, inspired the island to incorporate as a city in 1974, as a means to preserve and protect the island.
  • The community came together to build the first church – the Sanibel Community Church in 1917 – and the Sanibel Community House in the late 1920s.

Sanibel Heritage Trail (click for larger version)

The trail is an easy ride for most, concentrated on the east end and middle of the island. There’s no start or finish, unless you want to use the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village ( as a beginning or ending point. It’s located at 950 Dunlop Road (near the library and City Hall), and is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with special events often scheduled outside those hours in season.

If you can stand the heat, the paths are quieter this time of year. Plus, there’s a rumored app on the way to make traversing the trail a little easier (not an essential issue, however).

So why not mix a little education with your recreation (or vice versa), and take ride back in island history soon?


Ready to ride or run?

Run? After you recover from the plethora of 5Ks to celebrate July 4, two runs upcoming: Fort Myers Track Club Summer Social, July 10 at 7 p.m. at Lazy Flamingo, Fort Myers (; and Beat the Heat 5K, July 14 at 7 a.m., Jaycee Park, Cape Coral (
Ride? Critical Mass rides ahead include the original (and still undefeated) downtown Fort Myers ride Friday night, the NE Lee ride July 13 and the Sanibel ride July 14. Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all; details On Sunday, July 8, Wheels & Wings offers four different rides (plus an off-road option) based at Beef O’Brady’s in Punta Gorda ( You can also join the no-drop Wakey, Wakey! Sunday morning ride leaving from Fort Myers Trek. The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, so helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group.

Both? Upcoming events include:

  • Saturday, July 14: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Englewood (
  • Saturday, Aug. 11: Naples Junior Tri, 8 a.m., North Collier Regional Park (
  • Saturday, Sept. 8: Venice Sprint Triathlon, Sharkey’s on the Pier, Venice
  • Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 15-16: Galloway Captiva Tri, with the kids’ events (three age groups) Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday.
  • Saturday, Sept. 22: (“The Original”) Siesta Key Sprint Triathlon, Siesta Key (



Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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