Treasure Island may not be able to legally ban bicycles on Land's End boardwalk

TREASURE ISLAND — Land's End residents don't like bicycles — or at least bicycles on their boardwalk — and they want the city to do something about it.

Legally, the city's hands may be tied.

The problem is that although the boardwalk, which wraps around the south end of Sunset Beach, is owned by the condominium complex, it must be kept open to the public under a development agreement with the city dating back decades.

Land's End is located at 7500 Bayshore Drive.

Until recently, there were signs prohibiting bicyclists from using the boardwalk.

But when the city decided to replace the signs, it was discovered the city has no ordinance that would allow it to enforce a ban on bicycles on private property. So they left the ban off the new signs.

Then, of course, some people began riding their bikes on the narrow boardwalk.

"Allowing bicycles on the boardwalk is an accident waiting to happen," Dan Sury, president of the Land's End Community Association, said in a letter to City Manager Reid Silverboard.

"There is barely enough space for a person to pass someone on a bicycle, if both are virtually stopped. It is a recipe for disaster if the bicycler attempts to ride by someone, especially if overtaking from behind," Sury added.

Silverboard briefed the commission on the issue earlier this month but stressed he was unsure the city could do anything to relieve the situation.

"Nothing in our code prohibits bikes on the boardwalk," Silverboard said. "I don't have the authority to ban bicycles there."

He acknowledged that "there definitely is a problem" and suggested the best the city might be able to do is allow Land's End to put up its own signs and enforce them "as best as they can."

Planning Board member Pam MacIntyre suggested, however, that the development agreement may have created a public easement for the boardwalk, in which case, she said, the city could regulate the use of bicycles there.

"I would be in favor of a bicycle ban and I ride a bike," Commissioner Alan Bildz said. "If there is a bike accident, somebody is going to sue somebody and I am sure the city will be on the short end of that stick."

City Attorney Maura Kiefer agreed to research the original development agreement but said she doubts the city can regulate private property.

"If this is truly private property, I don't know what authority or business the city has in doing anything with those boardwalks," she said.

In a related matter, bicyclists are annoying drivers in Indian Shores.

Apparently, groups of people sometimes ride their bikes abreast in the traffic lane instead of two abreast in the bike lane as the roadway designers intended.

Chief of Police E.D. Williams told the Indian Shores commission recently that bicyclists cannot be required to use the bike lanes, but can be cited for impeding traffic.

Treasure Island may not be able to legally ban bicycles on Land's End boardwalk 01/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 1, 2011 3:31am]

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