When season is upon us on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, the visitors, snowbirds, and sun-seekers fill our shops, restaurants, beaches…and yes our road ways. If you listen closely, you can at times hear the low rumble of the locals moaning about Periwinkle Way being backed up with vehicles and checking their traffic apps to see if they should travel the ‘back roads’. Admittedly, I have on occasion wished I could be magically transported past the four-way at the Causeway entrance or dreamed of traveling high speed in a Fiat 500 down the bike path, laughing and waving at all of the jealous drivers creeping painfully towards their destinations which could not be delayed past rush-hour. However, I also see the irony of this high quality problem.
Why do we have traffic problems? That’s an easy one! Because everybody wants to be here, including me, my friends, my family, my colleagues, my cat, the birds, the gators, the turtles and tarpon. The barrier islands are special, they are protected from over building, and they are beautifully littered with preserve lands. No stop lights, no fly-overs, no commuter lanes, and no bypass. If you have ever traveled the freeways in LA, driven through D.C. literally any time of day, attempted to navigate Trafalgar Square, or tried to find parking in Copenhagen, then you can appreciate the satire.
I do not belittle the measures that have been taken (or currently under consideration) to improve our island traffic flow; after all, a perfect destination deserves perfect passage. But can we all agree that being held up in island traffic is not the worst thing that has ever happened to us? We aren’t exactly breathing in Shanghai smog, or locking our doors in fear of a car-jacking. Our windows are down watching the scenery full of tropical foliage and of course we stop when the egret wants to cross the road and we carry our gopher tortoises to safety! Perhaps if we ruined our natural beaches and converted Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge into a landfill we could start to reduce the number of people who want to travel our roadways. Until then, I plan to grin and bear it, pull over for an ice cream when it all becomes too overwhelming, jump on my bike and just keep on living the dream.