2021 Bike Path safety initiative, new path rule instituted by the GICIA

March 21, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

SUBMITTED BY THE GICIA – The Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association is kicking off its 50th year working to preserve island life, by announcing the 2021 Bike Path Safety Initiative. The initiative includes new rule cards to include a new rule on motorized vehicles, increased numbers of deputy conducted Bike Path safety details, an improved walking path for pedestrian use only and increased educational outreach that will heighten awareness and promote path safety.
The GICIA Bike Path is a frequently used and greatly appreciated island asset. In fact, it would be hard for most residents to imagine what Boca Grande would be like without this important amenity. Its lush native landscape adds beauty while the path itself provides a place to exercise and a convenient means of getting to and from town via a cart or bike.
Since the path’s dedication in 1985, the GICIA has taken the issue of path safety extremely seriously. As the island begins to gear up for the busy spring season, the GICIA Bike Path Committee has reviewed the current rules and discussed new electric powered vehicle trends that could potentially have a negative impact for the traditional path uses like bikes, golf carts and pedestrians. In its continuing effort to promote bike path safety the GICIA has decided to be proactive in establishing guidelines for electric vehicle usage on the GICIA Bike Path. In addition to the long-standing rule that prohibits gas powered vehicles on the GICIA Bike Path, the new rule states that motorized vehicles are prohibited, except electric golf carts (width of 50 inches or less), wheelchairs and e-bicycles. The new rule signs will be installed before the end of the March.
During these busy spring days, it is imperative that all path users understand the importance of being courteous and adhering to the rules at all times. Remember, there is a path speed limit of 15 MPH. It is good to slow down and enjoy your time on the path. After all we are all living on “island time.” When you are traveling within the village be alert for pedestrians and/or folks who may have stopped within the area of the path for a chat. Yes, Boca Grande folks are a friendly bunch. Don’t forget to yield to path users that are moving at a slower pace. Approach others thoughtfully, slow down and politely warn when you are preparing to pass. Always be courteous and pass to the left while allowing plenty of room. Enjoy the recently refurbished waking/jogging path but ONLY as a pedestrian. That path is intended to give pedestrians an alternative to the paved path and is not open to bikes or carts. While it may seem inconvenient to stop at every intersection it is paramount to your safety to do so. Users of the path DO NOT have the right of way where the GICIA Bike Path intersects the public roads from 1st street north.
Finally, while we have a significant number in the “young at heart” club it is important to know that to operate a golf cart you must be at least 14 years of age.
As the GICIA enjoys a yearlong celebration of 50 years working with the Boca Grande Community to preserve island life, the Board of Directors and staff are grateful for the continued support of the island’s residents in all GICIA’s efforts. The next time you are enjoying the Bike Path imagine Boca Grande today if there was no GICIA. Marking 50 great years, the GICIA will be giving away free bike horns to the first 50 members that stop by the office and ask for one. If you are interested in picking up a bike horn or becoming a member of the GICIA, please contact the Office at 964-2667.