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Sanibel elevated to 'Gold' status Bicycle Friendly Community

One of only two Florida communities with designation

December 6, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Today, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the city of Sanibel with a "Gold" Bicycle Friendly Community award.

The Villages is the only other Florida community to hold the prestigious designation.

"We invest heavily and systematically into our Shared Use Path system as a city-wide alternative to motorized transportation," Mayor Kevin Ruane said. "We are fortunate to have many partners who support the city's efforts to focus on the health benefits and safety of biking on Sanibel. To have our collective efforts recognized nationally as one of the nation's premier programs is a source of community pride for Sanibel."

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In 2010, Sanibel was awarded the "Bronze" designation, and in 2014 it was one of only four Florida cities designated as a "Silver" status by the League of American Bicyclists.

With the announcement of the 61 new and renewing BFCs, 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," League of American Bicyclists Executive Director Bill Nesper said. "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."

A citywide non-motorized transportation network to protect 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 committee were Grace Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Sherry Vartdal and Starr Thomas.

The Sanibel Bicycle Club was founded in 1994, with a threefold mission: to promote cycling for recreation, transportation and health; to advocate for improvements of the safety and infrastructure of Sanibel's shared-use path system; and to provide an opportunity for cycling enthusiasts to socialize together. In 2005 the club established the Sanibel Trails In Motion Fund, a non-profit dedicated to supporting path enhancements. Since then, the club has partnered with the city on a variety of path improvements and amenities.

"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," Tom Sharbaugh, city liaison with the cub, said. "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."

In July, the city completed construction of the Bowman's Beach Shared Use Path, an important pedestrian connection linking the Sanibel-Captiva Road path to Bowman's Beach Park. The project was completed with funding assistance through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Recreational Trails Program.

The city is responsible for maintaining 26.06 miles of shared use path. Recently, it 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.

For more information about the Shared Use Path system, visit

For more information about the Bike Friendly Community program, visit



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