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Sanibel Bicycle Club





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SANIBEL BICYCLE CLUB
HISTORY

1995:

President: Keith Trowbridge

The Club originated from an advertisement placed in the Island Reporter by founder Keith Trowbridge.  The ad called for Island cyclists to gather and, as a result, the first meeting of the Club occurred in January 1995.


Other founders and charter members of the Club included Bird Rosen, Frank Rosen, Dale Armstrong, Peter Hilger and Doug Dietrich, among others.


Local artist Barbara Martin won a contest to design the Club's logo.


1996:

President: Frank Rosen


Among the rides this year was a trip to Inverness to bike the Withlacoochee Bike Trail.


1997
:

President: Gil Gilinsky


Rides in this year included Portugal, Louisiana and the Everglades area.


1998
:

President:  Doug Dietrich


1999
:

President: Dale Armstrong


Some members joined in a journey to Italy.


2000
:

President: Elizabeth Kramer


Rides included the Withlacoochee Trail and regular Saturday breakfast runs.


2001
:

President: Max Koletzke

The Club created and published its first website, www.sanibelbicycleclub.org



2002:

President: Jim Drotleff


In these years, Club members were recruited to assist the City by painting the bike path surfaces with yellow lines and the words “keep right, pass left” for enhanced safety.   The paint was not the highest quality and the signs quickly eroded. 


In April, the Club celebrated Earth Day by hosting a display at the Ding Darling preserve.


2003

President: Tom McCarthy


In September the Club proposed to the City that the bike paths be identified as Shared Use Paths to reflect the diversity of users and to increase potential grant funding sources.


For many years, the Club conducted an annual clean-up of the entire path system with trash and recyclable materials kept separated. In addition, working with the Public Works Department, annual surveys of the condition of the path were conducted and areas to be repaired were identified.




2004:

President: George Sousa


One of the year's potlucks included an event honoring nine of the ten Club presidents (only Keith Trowbridge missing).


Advocating for safety and for improvements to the Island's bike paths have been at the forefront of the Club's mission, and the effort has included annual reports and appearances before City Council. In 2004, member Darla Letourneau was instrumental in moving the advocacy aspect of the Club's Mission to a new level of communications with City staff and City Council. Darla organized and led the Club's Government Issues Committee setting the stage for a continuing partnership between the Club and the City.  Later, in 2010 and again in 2013, Darla was honored by the Florida Bicycle Association for her work as a citizen advocate promoting safe cycling.


2005:

President: Ted Gasteyer


Rides this year included a Captiva Cruise boat trip to Boca Grande - the first of many trips to that island.


In 2005, the Club established a donor-advised charitable 501(c)(3) fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation for fund raising purposes. The fund was initially called “Trails in Motion” but the name was later changed to “Sanibel Trails in Motion.”


2006:

President: Bob Lynd


In April 2006, in an effort to adhere to the “being safe while cycling” philosophy,  “screaming yellow” cycling jerseys with Club name and logo were made available for resale to Club members.


In an effort to emphasize safe cycling to members, from time to time the Club has organized one of its potluck dinners around safety including memorable skits.  Such an event was held at the February potluck dinner.
 

2007:

President: Patti Sousa


When Sanibel's City Council decided in January 2007 to cancel a project intended to widen the Rabbit Road bike path because the City did not have sufficient right-of-way, president Patti Sousa got involved.  She began discussions with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation that eventually led to that organization's grant of an easement sufficient to allow the path expansion, which was finally completed in 2012.


During the year, the Club formally incorporated, approved bylaws, received determination as to tax-exempt status, elected a nine-person Board of Directors and changed to a December 31 fiscal year. 


2008:

President: Tom Sharbaugh


In 2008, in cooperation with Billy's Bike Shop, the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ and the Redlands Christian Migrant Association, the Club  organized a “Bikes for Immokalee” program.  The program involved receiving used and frequently dilapidated bikes, refurbishing them, and transporting them to the Immokalee community for use by farm workers and their families.   During the five years of the program, over 600 bicycles were delivered. Club members Norm and Helen Flemington were later honored by the Florida Bicycle Association as Volunteers of the Year for their leadership of this effort.


Under president Tom Sharbaugh's direction, a comprehensive Bike Safety Education program was launched by the Club. It included placemats, posters, fliers, laminated signs, professional cartoons, and plastic  bike tags with safe biking rules for bike racks and bike baskets. The purpose of the program was to educate visitors and residents of the Island. A grant from the Florida Bicycle Association and printing support from the Chamber of Commerce helped make the program possible.   Tom was honored by the FBA for his pioneering work in cycling education programs.  


The Club began its annual Sanibel sponsorship of the worldwide “Ride of Silence” to honor fellow cyclists who have been killed or injured in cycling accidents and to raise awareness that everyone should share the road. The event always occurs on the third Wednesday of May and non-members are invited to participate in the short, silent ride.  Member Patti Sousa led the ride for many years.


In 2008, the Club proposed that the City of Sanibel establish a master plan pertaining to the shared use paths, and offered to pay one-fourth of the consultants' fee for preparation of a plan. Funds were raised and the Club made a donation to the City to partially fund the work.  The Club continued to be involved in the plan details and the final Shared Use Master Plan was approved by City Council in April 2009.


In July the Club participated in the annual Sanibel Fourth of July parade.


2009

President: Bill Sartoris


The Club, with assistance from the Florida Department of Transportation, provided thirty new bicycling helmets for the bicycle education program at The Sanibel School.


In August, the Club partnered with the City of Sanibel in applying for a grant from the Bikes Belong Coalition for funds for the completion of the existing shared-use path system from Pine Avenue to the Blind Pass Bridge. That grant request was declined, but the Club, through its fundraising affiliate, Sanibel Trails in Motion, offered to provide funding to the City to keep the project alive. Eventually, the work was completed and served as a catalyst for additional path expansions in the following years.


Beginning in 2009 and for several years thereafter, the Club hosted a Bingo Event as part of a New Year's Eve celebration at the Sanibel Recreation Center. Besides offering an alcohol-free approach to welcome in the new year, the event helped raise funds to aid local youth of financially eligible families to attend the after-school, summer and other programs offered by the Recreation Center. 


In May, past-president Doug Dietrich was appointed to the Lee County MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee.

2010:

President: Ken Bergstrom


Off-island Rides: Withlacoochee (Tom & Judie Sharbaugh)


In September, the City of Sanibel was awarded the Bike Friendly Community at the Bronze Level designation from the League of American Bicyclists. Club members initiated the idea with the promise that the Club would assist with the application and related research. Member and past-president Bill Sartoris led the effort and assisted City staff in completing the 28-page application.


2011:

President: Mary Miller 


In cooperation with the Sanibel Recreation Center, Sanibel Captiva Kiwanis Club, Billy's Rentals and Finnimore's Cycle Shop, the Club helped conduct several “Bike Training Rodeos” for Island children participating in the after-school recreation program. The event covered the proper use of helmets, safe rules of the road and safe maneuvering practices while riding. So that adults attending the event could also be educated, the Club designed a “Bike Safety Quiz” to reinforce Florida bicycle laws and safe cycling practices. 


In March, the Florida Bicycle Association honored the Club as “Bicycle Club of the Year.” Dan Moser, who presented the Award to Club president Mary Miller, noted “this club is unusual in the way its members combine their cycling and social activities with a dedication to supporting safe biking practices and improved infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians.”

Club member and past-president Patti Sousa coordinated an effort to recognize the Sanibel women who started the Bike Path Committee and brought about the creation of the first bike path on Periwinkle Way.  Mariel Goss, Starr Thomas and Sherry Vartdal were honored at a March 2011 Club event (Grace Whitehead, who had passed away in January 2011 was also recognized). The women shared their stories of working in 1972, prior to incorporation of the City, to create public awareness of the need for paths and to raise the necessary funds for construction.


2012:

President: Mike Miller


Off-island Rides: Bonita Springs (?); Ft. Myers (Mike & Mary Miller); Apopka (Max & Jan Koletzke); Pine Island (Susie & Dave Kentner); Venice (Bunny Ospa);  Boca Grande (Sharon & Ed Hannon) 


Throughout 2011 and into 2012, the Shared Use Path Welcoming Center, later to be known as the Information Center, on Periwinkle Way was constructed. The project idea had been initiated years earlier when Island resident Dick Muench offered the land for a simple gazebo. The Club took up the idea and designed a more substantial facility with the purpose of educating and informing the hundreds of path users who walk or cycle in that area. The Sanibel Trails in Motion Fund contributed about $30,000, and other community groups and individuals donated funds and goods and services - and many members contributed landscaping labor.


Member and past-president Tom Sharbaugh coordinated this project from inception through fund raising and to completion. No public funds were used, although the City was instrumental in bringing the project to completion.  The facility was formally opened in a ceremony in early 2012.

As part of the Island-wide celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Sanibel Shell  Fair and Show, the Bike Club led a February ride to Bowman's Beach of participants in the 'Sanibel Stoop' world record attempt. The successful effort established a new Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of people participating in a treasure hunt. 


In February, under masterful direction of Jeanne Mallon, the Club produced a dramatic safety skit at its monthly potluck dinner.


In April, the Club assisted the City is conducting an update to the path user survey that was done in 2006 as part of the preparation work for the Master Plan. During two-day effort, a total of 41 Club members participated which involved four separate two-hour shifts at each of seven locations around the Island. 


In November, the Club received a $2,000 grant from Bike Florida. The award was formally presented by Tim Bustos, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association.  The Club said that the funds would be used to pay remaining construction and upkeep costs of the Information Center and to promote safe bicycling on Sanibel.

2013:

President: Sharon Hannon

Off-island Rides: South Miami/Key Biscayne (Sharon & Ed Hannon); North Naples (Kevin & Debbie Harry); Lake Okeechobee (?);  Withlacoochee (Tom & Judie Sharbaugh); Venice/Punta Gorda (Susie & Dave Kentner)


In December, BikeWalkLee, a local community coalition advocating for complete streets in Lee County, selected the City of Sanibel and the Sanibel Bicycle Club as  2013 Complete Streets Champion of the Year for “a decade of incredible work to make Sanibel a model walkable, bikeable community.” 

Responding to concerns of members regarding crosswalk safety at various Island intersections, representatives of the Club began discussions with City staff and local merchants regarding possible solutions.  In response, City Council commissioned a consultant study that resulted in major changes to the Casa Ybel/Periwinkle intersection plus plans for  two new crosswalks at other locations.


To better promote cyclist education, the Club created and published a one-page safety handout with a shared use path map on one side and a safety-oriented cartoon on the reverse.  The initial print was 7,000 copies with 5,000 for distribution by the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce.  David Drotleff was thanked for his artistic contribution. 


The Club also created a series of safety-related public safety advertisements for use by the local media. 




2014:

President: Kevin Harry


Off-island Rides: FGCU (Mike & Jane Gieryic); Shark Valley (Carmen Senese); Pinellas Trail (Mike & Mary Miller); Punta Gorda (Susie & Dave Kentner) 


The League of American Bicyclists announced that Sanibel's designation as a Bike Friendly Community was renewed at the Silver level.   As in 2010, Club members provided significant writing support of the City's application for renewal of the designation.  Only six other Florida communities enjoy the Silver level status.


Following the award by the Florida Bicycle Association of Silver status, Club representatives had numerous
discussions with Association staff regarding deficiencies in signage at shared use path intersections,   Believing that the situation needed professional guidance, the Club contributed $500 to the City to partially fund the hiring of a consultant.  The donation enabled the Club to be a stakeholder in the process.


The Club participated in a ride through the Ding Darling preserve to celebrate its opening following the repaving of Wildlife Drive.


2015:

President: Diane Olsson


Off-island Rides:  Withlacoochee (Mike & Mary Miller); Pine Island (Tom & Becky Batcheller); Jet Blue Park (Mike & Jane Gieryic); Punta Gorda (Susie & Dave  Kentner)


In February the Club, through its charitable donor-advised fund, donated $1,000 to the Sanibel Community Association to assist in the restoration of the Community House.  


In May the Club released “Cycling On Sanibel," a new educational video designed to promote safer cycling and to educate out of town visitors about the ins and outs of riding the Sanibel Shared Use Path.  Production of the new video was a two-year collaborative effort initiated by the Sanibel Bicycle Club, with support from the City of Sanibel, Lee County Tourist Development Council, Sanibel and Captiva Chamber of Commerce, Billy’s Rentals, Finnimore’s Bike and Beach Rentals, Sanibel-Captiva Association of Realtors, and Bike Florida.  The video is accessible on the City's and the Club's websites and on various closed-circuit video systems on the Island.  The objective is to provide resident and visiting cyclists with an entertaining yet informative message of the need to be alert and stay safe while biking on the Island.  The project was overseen by members Patti Sousa and Tom Sharbaugh.


The Club partnered with the Bike Bistro to create and publish newspaper ads addressing cyclists' rights.   


In December, following official receipt of a consultants's study on path intersection signage, the Sanibel City Council approved many changes that the Club had long recommended including additional warning paddles before crosswalks, more aggressive vegetation trimming, more road warning signs before crosswalks and elimination of ineffective pavement "bike stop" markings. 


2016

President: Diane Olsson


Off-Island Rides: Boca Grande(Carmen & Katie Senese); Pinellas Trail (Mike &  Mary Miller); Hutchinson Island (Patti Sousa)


In March the Cub was named the 2015 Florida Bicycle Association Club of the Year.   The award previously received by the Club in 2011.  In presenting the award, FBA executive director Becky Alfonso said the Club biking safety video was a principal factor in the Club's selection for the award saying that the video was one of the best she had ever seen.
 


Recognizing the importance of Florida law granting cyclists a three-foot safety margins on roads, the Club began a community awareness campaign.   This included the preparation of decals and bumper stickers; additionally, the Club successfully lobbied Sanibel City Council for the bumper stickers to be displayed on all  City vehicles.

2017:

President: Mary Miller


Off-Island Rides: Pine Island (Sharon & Ed Hannon); Shark Valley (Carmen &  Katie Senese); Ft. Myers (Mike & Jane Gieryic); Withlacoochee Trail (Susie and Dave Kentner) 


The Club began a new cycling jersey program.   The beautiful new design was created by Sanibel artist and Club past-president Diane Olsson.  Diane also negotiated a manufacturing source for the jerseys and expanded the program to include jackets and other shirt options. 


2018

President: Tom Batcheller


Off-island Rides: Shell Point (Mike & Jane Gieryic); Venice (Susie & Dave  Kentner); Hutchinson Island (Patti Sousa); 


In April, the Island's newest cycling rest area was formally opened.   The facility was a joint project of the Club and the City of Sanibel and was led by past-president Tom Sharbaugh.  The facility honors the late Dale Armstrong, a Club founding member and past-president.  


In December, at a ceremony conducted at the east end of the Periwinkle path, 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 awarded the "Silver" status. Only one other Florida community has attained the “Gold” designation.  Member Darla Letourneau provided substantial assistance to the City in preparing the necessary application materials.


2019
:

President: Nancy Malson


Off-island Rides: Pine Island (Tom & Becky Batcheller); Boca Grande CANCELED Weather (Carmen & Katie Senese); Lakes Park (Jane Gieryic); Withlacoochee (Mike & Mary Miller); 


Past-president Tom Sharbaugh was appointed to represent the Club on the Project Advisory Committee for the Sanibel Shared Use Plan Master Plan Update project.  The project to update the 2009 Plan was funded by state grants and accomplished under supervision of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization.   The project included a citizen survey and open house event to maximize citizen input.


During 2019, the Club was involved in advising City Council pertaining to issues concerning micromobility device and e-bike use on the shared use paths.  Tom Sharbaugh, acting as Club liaison to the Council, advised that the Club supported allowing Class 1 pedal-assist e-bikes, but suggested that higher classes of e-bikes  and other micromobility devices should generally be prohibited.  City Council eventually enacted legislation consistent with the Club's recommendations.


2020
:

President: Nancy Malson


Off-island Rides: Pine Island (Tom & Becky Batcheller); Boca Grande (Carmen & Katie Senese);  Venice (Diane Wien); Estero CANCELED COVID-19 (Jim Cryder)