'Psycle-Path' committee: Group strives to make Marco bike-safe

Mary Courtemanche, left, and Sally Boyce leave City Hall after Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on Friday, October 12. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Mary Courtemanche, left, and Sally Boyce leave City Hall after Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on Friday, October 12. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Chairman Al Musico leads the discussion. Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee held its regular meeting on Friday, October 12 at City Hall. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Chairman Al Musico leads the discussion. Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee held its regular meeting on Friday, October 12 at City Hall. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent (3)
Mary Courtemanche, left, and Sally Boyce leave City Hall after Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on Friday, October 12.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent (3) Mary Courtemanche, left, and Sally Boyce leave City Hall after Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee meeting on Friday, October 12.

Public Works Director Tim Pinter, left, addresses Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee. The group held its regular meeting on Friday, October 12 at City Hall. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Public Works Director Tim Pinter, left, addresses Marco's Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee. The group held its regular meeting on Friday, October 12 at City Hall. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

— They not only talk the talk, they ride the ride. Before the Bike Path Ad-Hoc Committee meeting Friday morning, city staffers heading into City Hall commented on the bicycles nearly filling the bike rack out front. Committee members Phil Kostelnik and Sally Boyce, and Mary Courtemanche of the Parks and Recreation Dept., climbed aboard the bikes at meeting's end, suitably togged out with helmets and neon-hued high visibility garments. Courtemanche even volunteered that she does not own a car, and goes everywhere by bicycle.

In the meeting, the committee heard from Public Works Director Tim Pinter, along with project manager Jim Miller, on the status of building bike paths and sidewalks to make riding bikes safer all over Marco Island.

Phase one of the Safe Routes to School is very close to completion, said Miller, but the contractor is running a few days late. This is not strictly bad news, he told the committee.

"He's under liquidated damages," said Miller, and asked for a clarification of what that means, he answered succinctly. "That means he's paying us." The city reaps $566 per day for each day over the specified timeframe.

The streets in question, near Tommie Barfield Elementary, will be swept, clean and dry for the kids prior to Halloween trick or treating, promised Pinter. He noted that people assume that street flooding where a project is going on naturally assume that the flooding is a result of the work, but often the same streets have flooded for decades in the face of heavy rains like those seen recently.

On phase two of Safe Routes to School, all contracts have been signed, and work should begin soon after New Year, said Pinter, with the intent of completing the project before the next rainy season.

"We don't want to be faced with what we had this year," he said.

City Planner Joe Irvin updated the committee on the sidewalk along the front of the under-construction Marco Island Academy, but declined to speculate when the school would be ready. Chairman Al Musico expressed the hope that the Academy's sidewalk could tie in with the committee's desire to provide a safe bike route connecting the city of Marco Island to Goodland, but city staff were skeptical.

"It's better to do nothing than to spend money, and put in a five foot sidewalk, then come back and rip it up" when the whole project is installed, said Musico.

"A lot of the topography doesn't work to put a sidewalk on the south side (of San Marco Road, where MIA will be built)," said Pinter. "The right of way on the south side goes up hills." Miller did say that there is a strong demand for a bike path connecting Marco and Goodland.

Musico reported to the committee on the prospect of receiving grants from the MPO, or Metropolitan Planning Organization, and the island's enviable track record to date. "We've gotten a very fair shake," he said, especially considering how proposed bike path projects are scored, by the number of people living within a half mile of the projected path.

Marco's need is to get the "backbone," the island's major arteries, equipped with paths, he said. The island has more cyclists and pedestrians than many other areas in the county. This could be done "in four or five years, if we're not greedy," said Musico.

The committee decided on days to present bicycle safety to the public at the Farmers' Market, settling on Jan. 23, and February and March 20 as the best dates.

Committee member Jim Seegers reported on the newsletter that will be offered to island cyclists online.

"It's going to be called the 'Psycle-Path,'" he said, drawing on his fund of medical terminology. "We thought that was better than 'Pedal-Philes.'"

In a safety workshop on bike/pedestrian education, Officer Al Schettino of the Marco Island Police Department reported on the climbing number of bicycle and pedestrian related accidents on the island. The committee opted to focus in on the top three safety concerns, which they identified as vehicle drivers not stopping at stop signs, bicycles traveling in the wrong direction and not being seen, and vehicles pulling out of parking lots without coming to a stop prior to entering the road.

The Bike Path Committee's next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 9 at City Hall.

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