22 Aug 2020
One of the most popular activities on Sanibel (that’s NOT on the beach) is biking on the various trails (officially “Shared Use Paths”) on Sanibel Island, many of which are parallel to the streets of the city. They began in 1976 with a 2 ½ mile stretch built on Periwinkle Way and has since grown to over 25 miles of paved paths and 8 miles of surface paths in almost every place on the island you can imagine.
The main streets (Periwinkle Way, Sanibel-Captiva Road, etc.) and highly-traveled back roads (East/Middle/West Gulf Drive, Tarpon Bay Road, Dunlop Road, Dixie Beach Blvd.) have paths adjacent to but far enough away from car traffic, making it a safer means of travel, especially in the winter months when traffic is at a standstill at certain hours. For those who enjoy the challenge, you can bike through the Wildlife Refuge (which only costs bikes $1.00 whereas cars are now $10.00) and park on the bike racks at most beach accesses (at no cost; cars pay $6.00 per hour). Shopping and dining is also easier on bikes than trying to find a parking space in some of the plazas here. There are several companies on the island that rents bikes of various types (adult, child, tandem, child attachments and trailers, even Surrey bikes that hold at least four people), among them Finnimore’s, and Billy’s Bikes (2 locations). Hotels, motels, resorts, and vacation rentals often offer bikes for guest use as well.
In 2018, The City of Sanibel was awarded with a “Gold” Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The Villages is the only other Florida community with this distinction!
There are, however, a few drawbacks that cyclists need to be aware of on the islands:
- Rules of the road must be followed (Yes, the rules apply to you, too.). Ride on the right, pass on the left, respect other cyclists and foot traffic on the paths, stop at designated stop signs/lines, etc.
- Headlight and taillights are required on bikes for riding at night. Remember, there are virtually no street lamps on the islands, and nights without the moon are pitch black.
- Riders under 16 years old MUST wear a helmet per Florida law (common sense for those 16 and up).
- Earphones (for iPhones or other audio devices) may not be worn while biking to prevent distracted driving.
- Bikes are not allowed on the beach. They’re not practical there, anyway, as tires may be punctured by seashell fragments.
- Biking is possible (but risky) on Captiva Island, as the road and streets are too narrow to have bike paths.
- Paths are for bikes and pedestrians ONLY. No motor vehicles are allowed (The City of Sanibel recently debated and approved a ban on electric bicycles.).
For more information on cycling on Sanibel (including rentals, paths/tours, and a safety video, please check with the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce.
Book Direct and Save…and Ride a Bike!