The City's improvements in making Sanibel a bicycle-friendly community have been recognized by the national BFC Program, with a steady progression from Bronze, to Silver, and now Gold. Being designated as a Gold BFC community further solidifies the City's branding of itself as a "Bikeable/walkable Community". BikeWalkLee’s dream is for more communities in Lee County to join Sanibel and Cape Coral in achieving “Bicycle Friendly Community” status, so that all of SWFL will someday be bicycle-friendly.
By Darla Letourneau
News Release – For Immediate Release December 6, 2018 Contact: City Manager’s Office (239)472-3700
City of Sanibel elevated to “Gold” status Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists
The highest tier of Florida Communities Sanibel one of only two Florida communities designated “Gold” Status
Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the City of Sanibel with a “Gold” Bicycle Friendly Community (BFBSM) award. In 2010 Sanibel was awarded the “Bronze” designation and in 2014 was one of only four Florida cities designated as a “Silver” status by the League of American Bicyclists. The Villages is the only other Florida community to hold the prestigious “Gold” designation.
With the announcement of 61 new and renewing BFCs today, the City of Sanibel joins a leading group of communities in every state that are transforming the American landscape. “We applaud these communities for making bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We are encouraged by the growing number of leaders who see bicycling as a way to build more vibrant, healthy, sustainable and connected communities and be a part of the solution to many complex challenges faced at both the community and national levels. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as we move closer to our mission of creating a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”
Tom Sharbaugh, the Sanibel Bicycle Club Liaison to the City of Sanibel, stated, ”The Sanibel Bicycle Club congratulates the City for their commitment to developing and maintaining the Sanibel Shared Use Path and their support for other cycling amenities and services on the island. Without their efforts, Sanibel would not have achieved Gold Status as a Bicycle Friendly Community. Our Club is proud to be long-standing partners with the City in making our community’s cycling resources safe and welcoming for residents and visitors.”
A citywide non-motorized transportation network to protect young children through a system of “hike and bike” trails was organized in 1972 by the Sanibel Bike Path Committee. The four original members of the Sanibel Bike Path Committee were Grace Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Sherry Vartdal and Starr Thomas.
The Sanibel Bicycle Club was founded in 1994, with a threefold mission: 1) to promote cycling for recreation, transportation and health; 2) to advocate for improvements of the safety and infrastructure of Sanibel’s shared-use path system; and 3) to provide an opportunity for cycling enthusiasts to socialize together. In 2005 the Club established the “Sanibel Trails In Motion Fund”, a 501 (C) 3 dedicated to supporting path enhancements. Since then, the Club has partnered with the City on a variety of path improvements and amenities.
In July 2018, the City completed construction of the Bowman’s Beach Shared Use Path, an important pedestrian connection linking the Sanibel-Captiva Road Shared Use Path into Bowman’s Beach Park. This project was completed with funding assistance through the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program. The City is responsible for maintaining 26.06 miles of shared use path. Recently, the City completed an extensive repair project due to damages caused to the path system by Hurricane Irma. In addition, the paths are inspected annually for necessary repairs and the 2018 Shared Use Path Repair Project included 73 different repair sites in the amount of $92,330.
More information about the City of Sanibel’s Shared Use Path system may be obtained at www.mysanibel.com. More information about the Bike Friendly Community program is available at https://www.bikeleague.org/bfa.