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Trouble in bike paradise

By Staff | Jun 15, 2012

Dear Editor,

Sanibel shared path usage figures are interesting in what they tell us and what they don’t. Judie Zimomra points out areas of concern while giving the impression that with usage being up and bike/pedestrian/auto encounters low things are going reasonably well. There’s trouble in paradise even so.

In the “season” just finished, the Periwinkle Way path from Donax to Tarpon Bay often turned into a linear conversation pit where users joined motor traffic in bringing progress to a standstill. The sheer number of business entrances along the Way makes the path perilous at all times. Path maintenance and trimming of encroaching foliage are major problems throughout the system. It’s impossible on a clear path to gather much speed due to holes, bumps, root-heaves, and patches upon patches turning rides into obstacle courses.

Serious riders take to the streets in increasing numbers where and when possible. They compete with drivers who believe bikers should be on shared-use paths. Many drivers don’t know or care that Florida law allows bikers on streets provided they obey traffic laws.

Sanibel’s forgotten minority, like me, ride for aerobic exercise. We know that we do not belong on shared-use paths where a relaxed pace is the only safe way to proceed. I’ve lived here nine years and believe that Sanibel does not serve the aerobic biker even though it would be simple. Complete one missing link and do wonders!

Construct a path from Dixie Beach Boulevard to Dunlop behind the buildings on the north side of Periwinkle Way! There is an existing easement that runs without intersections all the way. That one link would give aerobic riders access to the east end through streets (many do this now) and west to San-Cap with only a short section along Palm Ridge.

Also, put speed bumps on Dixie Beach Boulevard north of Albatross. My daily rides on the boulevard tell me the average motorist travels at a speed between 40 and 55 mph on this stretch posted at 30 mph. Residents and business vehicles are the worst offenders along this stretch, not tourists. They know better and still do it since the newly surfaced straight run invites speed.

Judie and the city need to be concerned about riders using streets or we will see an increase in accidents and incidents just because some of us want vigorous exercise using our bikes. We can do better than this!

Steven Smith