BY MISTY NICHOLS, GICIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In 1985 the Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association (GICIA) completed construction of the 5 miles of paved bike path that run from First Street north. In the 36 years since the dedication many things have changed. Boca Grande has increased its resident and visitor populations, the GICIA Bike Path property has been beautifully landscaped, more users are using the path and electric golf carts are being built with a maximum speed well over the 15 mph limit on the Path.
The GICIA Bike Path is a multiuse path that is enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether exercising or running errands walkers, joggers, people on bikes and in golf carts intermingle along the five mile stretch of path. As with the island itself, the path has times of peak usage and spring is by far one of the busiest times.
While the GICIA encourages courteous and kind behavior, in order to maintain a safe and enjoyable experience for all users, the GICIA has needed to implement some basic and necessary rules. New signs have been erected to alert path users of the following:
• No motorized vehicles: except electric golf carts, wheelchairs and bicycles
• No gas-powered vehicles
• No golf carts > 50 inches wide
• No drivers under the age of 14
• No speeds above 15 miles per hour
• No tires on the shell path
• Carts and bicycles must yield to pedestrians
• Warn first, then pass “on your left”
• Practice safety and courtesy all day, every day
While the rules are clear, a common concern the GICIA hears is that golf carts don’t have “speedometers” so people do not realize how fast they are traveling. The GICIA requests path users not exceed 15 miles an hour and be aware of situations that necessitate a speed below the posted limit.
Not sure of your speed? If you want to know how fast you are moving on your bicycle or in your cart, you can download one of several free apps to your smartphone. Simply search the app store for Speedometer to find a large selection of free apps. Some only show your speed but other also have odometers and GPS.
As we wrap up the busy spring season on the GICIA Bike Path, please be kind and courteous. Slow down and give way to any user of the path that is moving slower than you and be aware of the 15 mph limit. Local deputies will be conducting safety details daily through the end of April. During these details deputies will work with path users to educate and reinforce the safety guidelines.
As the GICIA celebrates 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 free bike horns out to the first 50 members that stop by the office and ask for one. If you are interested in picking up a horn or becoming a member of the GICIA, please contact the Office at 941-964-2667.