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We need to enforce rules on shared path

April 21, 2014
Special to the Reporter ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

To the editor:

When a bicyclist is on a road in Sanibel the rider must obey all vehicular laws, rules, and regulations. On the multi-use path, that designation runs amok and walkers are treated to an assault of bicyclists acting like they are kings of the road. These run the gamut from bike clubs to toddlers riding trikes.

Just like a roadway, the multi-use path has stop signs and crosswalks. A walking person typically stops at the crosswalks and checks to see there is a break in traffic on the intersecting roadway before proceeding.

A bicyclist too often doesn't do this. If the intersection is considered a lesser road entry or exit from a main roadway, a bicyclist often glances in each direction, then continues at full speed. This is regardless of stop lines and even stop signs placed there by residential communities. This is regardless of terrified screams from motorists trying to negotiate car traffic on Periwinkle or San-Cap, regardless of the vegetative screens that prevent a clear view for bicyclist or motorist.

Soon we will have the confluence of 12 major traffic exchanges in a very small area -- at the four-way stop between Tarpon Bay and Periwinkle. Already there is a stop for turning traffic there. And, within 200 feet, there are two major zebra crossings, two more entries and exits out of the Bailey's shopping center on the Tarpon Bay side, and then two on Periwinkle, one more from Bailey's and one across the street at the 7-11 and Bank of America.

I won't even go into the additional congestion created by the proximity of the post office. I won't even question the lopsided thinking of city planners who allowed Billy's Bike rental into the Bailey's shopping area. Those considerations are for next season's frustration and anxiety levels at the intersection and crisscrossing through the shopping center parking lot. How could this have been considered a good decision by our city planners who surely must take into consideration traffic congestion when they vote?

We must define when a bicycle is and is not a vehicle on this island. We must define when they must act as pedestrians. Many of our cyclists have not been on a bike in 40 years, many more have not yet reached their fourth birthday. Finally, we have every manner of trike, trailer, and Bimini-topped contraption on this multi-use pathway, along with skate-boarders, roller skaters, and who-knows-what next. They too need clear rules of the road, enforcement and fines.

We do not instruct our users. We make no requirements that all stop lines, signs and crossways require a full stop and, like all pedestrians, bicyclists must walk across. Instead, we have a string of helter-skelter cyclists. At intersections where vehicles are lined up waiting their respective four-way turns, some cyclists, without hesitation, speed across the intersection just as traffic is about to resume, using the opportunity like a yellow light run-through. Then oops, watch out, there's the kid on skates crossing San-Cap, trying to catch up to mommy or big sister. Car brakes jam just in time.

We need rules. We need to enforce them. We need to educate the renter of them before and at the time of the rental. We need to decrease this type of congestion at a major intersection before we experience major tragedy.

-Leslie Alteri

Sanibel Island



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