by SC Reporter Reanna Haase
Rachel Pierce was unanimously appointed by the Sanibel City Council to serve as the island’s representative on the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee.
Pierce was selected from four applicants due to not only her involvement in the island community, but her commitment to the position, too. It was what put her in the lead. Council members shared how important it was to them the person appointed would be able to attend all the monthly meetings.
With her family’s extensive use of the shared use path, Pierce felt she would be qualified to share her voice on the committee dedicated to local bicycle and pedestrian transportation needs, as she can speak from her first-hand experiences.
“I am a biker out of necessity because of traffic…We bike our daughter to school every morning…Some of my older kids’ bike to the Sanibel School… We bike to the grocery store. We bike to the beaches,” Pierce said.
She shared how important it was to have someone representing Sanibel on this committee because many island residents, just like her, use the shared-use path as a main source of transportation.
“I want the best for Sanibel, and I want to make sure that we have a spot at the table… I am going to go to the meetings with an open mind, but also with lots of knowledge. So, I am learning all about the bike paths, all about what we have had, what the history has been, what this committee has done for us. That sort of thing,” Pierce said.
Pierce added that she still has a lot to learn about her position on the committee. She hopes to help possibly improve the conditions of the path system and discuss with other city representatives how they can utilize their bike paths more like the residents of Sanibel do.
Pierce is a well-known artist on Sanibel. She recently opened an art gallery on Periwinkle Way. She is also involved with island life through many of the non-profit organizations, including the Sanibel Community House, “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, F.I.S.H of SANCAP and many more. Pierce said she wanted to be involved on a deeper level and thought it was time to join a committee.
“I worked with all these organizations this past year and then I thought ‘gosh, I really feel like I need to do more than just nonprofit stuff.’…Well, then an email came into my inbox, and it was like ‘hey, we are looking for citizens to be on this committee,’” Pierce said.
Pierce has only lived on Sanibel for about a year even though she is very active in the community. She urges people who are new to the island to find ways to get involved as there are so many organizations.
“I guess my message for other residents is a lot of us who are new to the island say they want to get involved and I do not think sometimes they are sure how. I just responded to a generic email for people who signed up and now I am on the committee. So, there are a lot of opportunities on Sanibel, and for as much or as little as you want to get involved…sometimes it just takes answering an email,” Pierce said.