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Shared use path improvements passed by City Council

By Staff | Dec 9, 2015

A shared-use pathway intersection improvement study conducted by T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) gave several suggestions on how to improve on an already high-quality system on Sanibel at the Dec. 1 Sanibel City Council meeting.

The City Council voted 5-0 to appropriate $68,600 to fund initial work identified in the Shared Use Path Intersection Study, which does not increase the 2016 budget.

Mayor Kevin Ruane did want to note, that almost half the cost – approximately $35,000 – is geared towards trimming and moving vegetation from the areas which pose the greatest danger of line of sight for both vehicles and bikers.

“It’s helping improve safety and helping open up the right of way (areas),” Ruane said. “We realize the City is trimming everyday because that is the way it is in Florida.”

There were 19 recommendations formed by TYLI after the study, with three more added after an open house held this past October and a survey, which had over 300 respondents to it.

The study determined that the shared use path on Sanibel is “in very good condition, with some improvements being suggested, but with no total breakdowns noted.”

Vice Mayor Mick Denham did bring up the concern of paying $23,000 to cover up “Stop” painted markings in the pavement, at intersections or in front of driveways, which are not being heeded by bicyclists.

“I think it’s irrational to replace these markings for that amount of money, why can’t we just let them fade away?” Denham said.

Recommendations resulting from study included removing the “Stop” pavement messages on pathways, except at the locations which are more appropriate.

The reasoning is that pedestrians and bicyclists “are more likely to obey signs and pavement markings that appear more reasonable given the characteristics of the site.”

In the survey given to Sanibel residents, 85 percent agreed with assertion to take away the “Stop” markings on the pathways.

“T” signs which alert riders/walkers to “Look Both Ways” was also a recommendation and to relocate this signage to be more visible for both bicyclists and motorists.

Adding “Shark Teeth” at mid-block crosswalks, such as the ones located at Donax Street, just south of Periwinkle, the crosswalk at Billy’s Bike Rentals and the crosswalk at the Bailey Tract.

These areas have the highest rate of bicycle/motorists conflicts. Shark teeth are basically Yield symbols, which alert motorists to drive through with caution and be prepared to stop/yield to crossing bicyclists/pedestrians.

Trimming shrubbery from areas with less sight lines was also recommended, which was the recommendation noted by Ruane about the majority of the cost incurs.

Sanibel City Works Director Keith Williams said there could be liability issues if the City would just allow the “Stop” markings on the pavement to degrade through time, so the best step was to remove them within the scope of the project.

During public comment, Billy Kirkland of Billy’s Bike Rentals, said a good plan would be to have standardized education safety material for riders.

“When we get a reservation for bikes, we can have a standard educational material for all to email back to them,” Kirkland said. “It is easy and shouldn’t be too expensive.”

Kirkland added that about half his reservations are made online.

The motion passed 5-0 to move on with the recommendations for improvement.

A resolution was passed to strongly oppose the proposed State Senate bill 416, which proposes local governments bear the costs of utility equipment relocation if the equipment is located within th right of way and needs to be relocated for non-transportation purpose.

The Council also passed its three top goals for 2015-16, which includes redevelopment work plan for the commercial district, sustain the strength of the City’s financial stability and improve water quality.