Sanibel Bicycle Club History
1994 - 2012

Year founded
In December 1994, an article in the Island Reporter called for all cycling enthusiasts to gather. The Club began in January 1995.

Prime movers behind the founding of the organization
Keith Trowbridge founded the Club and served as its first president. Bird and Frank Rosen were very instrumental in the early days with social events, encouraging safety and planning off-island bike trips.

Artist Barbara Martin won a contest for designing the Club's logo.

The presidents (in order) were: Keith Trowbridge, Frank Rosen, Gil Gilinsky, Doug Dietrich, Dale Armstrong, Elizabeth Kramer, Max Koletzke, Jim Drotleff, Tom McCarthy, George Sousa, Ted Gasteyer, Bob Lynd, Patti Sousa, Tom Sharbaugh, Bill Sartoris, Ken Bergstrom, Mary Miller, Mike Miller and Sharon Hannon (current president). Each of them and numerous others have made the Club what it is today. All but four of the past-presidents are still active and involved in the Club.

Advocating for safety has been at the forefront of the Club's mission, and the effort 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. A Government Issues Committee was formed and Darla led it for many years.

Original purpose as stated in mission/bylaws/business plan.
Mission: Promote the enjoyment of bicycling for recreation, transportation and health; advocate for improvement of the safety and infrastructure of Sanibel's shared-use path system; and provide an opportunity for bicycle enthusiasts to socialize together.

Growth in organization's membership and/or public participation
Membership started at about 135, has been as high as 300 and in March 2012 total membership was 257 persons. Dues initially were $15 for a single and $20 for a family; current dues are $20 for a single and $25 for a family.

The Club has participated in numerous community events including planning and leading the parade from Sanibel in the Grand Opening of the new Sanibel Causeway in 2007 and leading the ride to Bowman's Beach as part of the “Shellabration 2012” event. Annually, the Club participates in the 4th of July Parade, Earth Day events, Bike to Work Days, Step-Up Florida events and for three years has supported the City-sponsored New Year's Eve celebrations.

Since 2002, the Club has conducted an annual Path Clean-up of the entire path system with trash and recyclable materials 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. For many years Club members were recruited to assist the City by painting the path surfaces with yellow lines and the words “keep right, pass left” for enhanced safety.

In 2008 in cooperation with other community people, the Club volunteered to help with a “Bikes for Immokalee” program.

By 2012, at the end of the fifth year of the program, over 600 bicycles had been delivered to farm workers and their families. As of this writing the Club is still collecting, picking up, repairing, buying helmets and making presentations to local service clubs.

Club members, in cooperation with Kiwanis, have helped with several “Bike Training Rodeos” for Island children participating in the after-school recreation program. The event teaches 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 December 2009, the Club, with help from the Florida Department of Transportation, provided thirty new bicycling helmets for the bicycle education program at The Sanibel School.

The Club maintains memberships in the Florida Bicycle Association, the League of American Bicyclist and the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce.

Major accomplishments and/or milestone in the life of the organization as it relates to Sanibel
The www.sanibelbicycleclub.org website was started in 2001.

In 2005, the Club established a 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 changed in 2011 to “Sanibel Trails in Motion.”

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.

The Sanibel City Council voted in January 2007 to cancel the Rabbit Road Shared-Use Path widening project due to fact that the current path was located in the extreme western portion of the easement and expansion would have to take place eastward toward the lakes, which was not a viable option for many reasons. Member and past-president Patti Sousa met with SCCF Executive Director Erick Lindblad about the possibility of obtaining an easement from SCCF to allow path widening on the west side. After meetings, votes, and surveys, an easement from SCCF to the City was granted in 2009 and, after numerous delays and required permits, the path is now scheduled to be widened in June 2012.

In April 2007, the Club formally incorporated, approved by-laws, received determination as to tax-exempt status, elected a nine-person Board of Directors and changed to a December 31 fiscal year. Previously, the Club had operated on a November - April basis.

A comprehensive Bike Safety Education program was launched by the Club in the spring of 2008. 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. The Club continues to replace broken bike tag signs. In 2012, the Club created a flyer for mass distribution with a newly-designed Shared Use Path map on one side and safety guidelines, with cartoons, on the reverse; the flyer has been made available to Island visitors through a variety of sources including the Chamber of Commerce.

Since May 2008, the Club has hosted a local “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 Ride of Silence is a worldwide event that takes place at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of May each year. Club members and people from the community are invited to ride in this short, silent, slow ride.

In August 2009, 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, Sanibel Trails in Motion contributed $5,000 towards the project cost and the work was completed in Fall of 2011.

In September 2010, the City of Sanibel was awarded the Bike Friendly Community at the Bronze Level designation from the League of American Bicyclists (a national organization that promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America). Club members initiated the idea with the promise that it 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.

In March 2011, 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.”

In the winter months of 2012, the Shared Use Path Welcoming Center alongside 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. Member and past-president Tom Sharbaugh coordinated this project from inception. No public funds were used, although the City was instrumental in bringing the project to completion.

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

Examples of how the organization helped shape the history of Sanibel at any point from the beginning of the organization to the present time
The Club proposed the idea of an updated professional Shared Use Path Master Plan to Sanibel City Council with an offer to pay one-fourth of the consultants' fee. Funds were raised and in the spring of 2006, the Sanibel Trails in Motion Fund transferred $23,000 to the City. The Club was a major force in seeing the plan through to completion which was eventually approved by City Council on April 21, 2009.

The Club has participated in various City governance discussions including the May 2003 proposal that bicycles be required to have bells and the September 2003 proposal, later enacted, that the paths be renamed from “bike paths” to “shared-use paths.”

In 2011, member and past-president Patti Sousa coordinated an effort to recognize the pioneer 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. A DVD of the Club event, including a PowerPoint presentation, is available, and Sousa has a binder of over 50 pages of news articles covering that remarkable history.