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Times of the Islands Magazine

National Organization Recognizes Sanibel as a Haven for Bikers

Jun 06, 2023 08:00AM ● By Francesca Block

Photo by on Unsplash

Sanibel Island may only be 12 miles long, but the lush island is filled with more than 25 miles of bike trails that are enjoyed by all, from the most experienced cyclists to those just learning to ride. 

The city's local government has made it a priority to keep these bike trails not only pristine, but also safe and accessible. And the city's efforts have been recognized and appreciated across the country.

In honor of National Bike Month in May, the League of American Bicyclists recently awarded the city of Sanibel a gold-level designation for the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award, making the small island community one of 45 cities in the country to receive such a distinction. 

“One of the goals of the Bicycle Friendly America program overall is to encourage communities, businesses, and universities to continue improving conditions for people who bike. Every time we update what it takes to earn a Bicycle Friendly Community award, we see communities respond by building bigger partnerships, investing in infrastructure, expanding their outreach, and more,” Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, said in a news release announcing the winners. “We applaud the 45 Bicycle Friendly Communities that committed to the evaluation process and are striving to build a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone alongside us.” 

In a statement, the city of Sanibel said the award recognizes its commitment "to improving conditions for all people who bike." 

Biking has been a staple of life on Sanibel since 1972, when four women — Grace Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Sherry Vartdal and Starr Thomas — founded the Sanibel Bike Path Committee, according to the Naples News-PressThe Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce wrote that the first 2 1/2 miles of the island's bike paths were paved in 1976 using $10,000 of seed money from the Committee. 

Sanibel is one of two communities in Florida — the other being The Villages — to receive the gold-standard designation. According to the League, this year's gold-level award also considered new criteria focused on equity and accessibility. 

The League recognizes 506 bike-friendly communities who prioritize bike safety and infrastructure development across the country. Check out their list of bike-friendly cities from 2023 to find out more places, in addition to Sanibel, where you can hop on your bike for a joyful ride.