Monday, February 19, 2018

February 19: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

  • Saturday, Feb. 24: Swamp Stomp 5K. Race proceeds go towards the care of the homeless pets that temporarily reside at Caloosa Humane Society. Caloosa Humane Society is a no kill shelter and cares for approximately 1,000 animals each year. 7:30 a.m., Grandeur Oaks Town Center, 870 W Hickpochee Ave, Labelle, FL 33935 (
  • Saturday, Feb. 24: Naples High School Golden Eagle Run 5K. The Golden Eagle Run is a chip timed race, starting at Lowdermilk Park and traveling a course through the tranquil streets of Coquina Sands and the Moorings neighborhoods and returning to Lowdermilk Park to the finish line. 7:30 a.m., 1301 Gulf Shore Blvd, Naples (
  • Sunday, March 4: 15th annual River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, half marathon/relay and 5K fun run, 8 a.m., Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva (
  • Saturday, March 10: Shrimp Run 5K, Matanzas Bridge, Fort Myers Beach (
  • Thursday, March 15: St Patrick’s Day 5K Fun Run, 6:15 p.m., Fit and Fuel, 819 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (
  • Cancelled: Saturday, March 17: Hodges University Student Success 5K for Scholarships, 4501 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers (
  • Saturday, March 24: Run for the Music 10K, Starts at Artis Naples. (
  • For more running events visit;; and

  • Friday, Feb. 23: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m. at 4706 SE 11th Place for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (
  • Saturday, Feb. 24: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (
  • Sunday, Feb. 25: Dirty Hamster 100, gravel/off-road ride through the Babcock-Webb WMA. Complete 4 laps of 25 miles for the century or pick you own distance. Ride multiples of any loop: 25 mile loop, 10 mile loop, or a 10 mile paved section. (
  • Friday, March 2: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at a special time: 7:15 p.m. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (
  • Friday, March 9: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (
  • Saturday, March 10: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (
  • Saturday, March 10: Pedal and Play in Paradise, 62-, 30- and 15-mile rides, plus a 10-mile Mystery Ride (
  • Saturday-Sunday, March 10-11: 20th annual Royal Palm Challenge, 32- and 42-mile rides both days, starting from Fort Myers Brewing Co. (
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rights and wrongs

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 2/15/2018
by Ken Gooderham

Photo: BikeWalkLee
A recent question from an overseas visitor got us thinking about rights and wrongs pertaining to cycling:

"I am a semi-serious road cyclist from the UK, lucky enough to spend winters in Fort Myers. Whilst I am OK with using the cycle-only lanes (i.e. Sanibel Causeway), there are times when using the footpaths (which are not really suitable for road cyclist because of pedestrians, uneven surfaces, etc.) I take to the road. More and more, I am receiving abuse from motorists telling me in not-a-polite-way to get off the road."

"As I understand it, I am entitled to cycle on the road…. However, I have become concerned for my safety and now try to use the footpaths, albeit not suitable for a semi-serious cyclist. The question I have: Is there any policy to educate/inform car drivers about cyclist rights on the road?"

This is not an uncommon concern, for both visitors and residents cycling our area – particularly now when usage of both roadways and bike/ped lanes is high. So the short answers are: Yes, cyclists have a right to ride on the road; and no, there is not a formal push to educate drivers (although we keep trying).

There are rules aplenty that address cyclists and motorists on the roadways – look up Chapter 316 in the Florida Statues or check out a concise guide to bicycle and pedestrian laws from the Florida Bicycle Association ( – a great cycling website overall). There are also plenty of rules that govern how motorists should act around both cyclists and pedestrians – and none of them allow for abuse and harassment.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. And while there are signs and statutes warning motorists to behave (and most of them do), there’s always a few who think that screaming obscenities or endangering cyclists is great fun.

There are also a few who think the mere presence of a shared-use path means all cyclists should be on it. That’s not the law – and it’s not even very smart. If you’re a “semi-serious cyclist” – meaning able to maintain a certain speed with ease – shared-use paths are actually more dangerous than the roadway. There’s the crowded path, of course, with a variety of users moving at a variety of speeds (all much slower than you), not always in the same direction, plus there’s a plethora of intersections (driveways, roads, etc.) with motorists more intent on the other moving vehicles than on what’s coming towards them on the pathway.

That’s why serious cyclists take to the streets, as is their right. The fact that some of them fear for their safety when doing that is unfortunate – doubly so in an area where cycling should be a viable transportation alternative. (The fact that one more bike on the road often means one less car on the same road is even more incentive.)

What can cyclists do?

    • Know your rights. You have as much of a claim to the roadways as other vehicles.
    • Obey the rules. To be treated like a vehicle, you need to act like one.
    • Know when not to fight. You’ll never win a battle with a two-ton vehicle.
    • Find strength in numbers. Find other cyclists to ride with, and improve your odds.
    • See and be seen. Dress brightly, ride smartly, be aware of what’s around you.

The more drivers see cyclists sharing the roadways, the more accepting (and less abusive) they will be of their fellow travelers… at least that’s the hope.

Upcoming meetings

Two cities, two sets of workshops, means Feb. 27 will be a busy day for bike/ped advocates:

Florida DOT is holding a public meeting on improvements for San Carlos Blvd. from Summerlin Road to Estero Blvd. 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, at Chapel by the Sea Presbyterian Church, 100 Chapel Street, Fort Myers Beach.

The issue is an operational analysis to find ways of cutting travel times along this busy corridor when adding travel lanes is not an option. That means looking at alternatives – including mass transit and bike/ped – as well as identifying deficiencies and enhancing safety.

Can’t attend? Written comments are welcomed and you can find out more online at

Bonita Springs also kicks off a three days of visioning sessions to discuss the future of bike trails in the city.

The kickoff meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., followed by an “open studio” Feb. 28 1-5 p.m. and a studio “pin-up” 5-7 p.m., ending with a “work in progress” open house March 1 5:30-7:30 p.m.

All meetings will be held at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road. For information, call (239) 949-6262.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? The biggest race around returns this Saturday night, with the Edison Festival of Light 5K taking to the streets of downtown Fort Myers at 5:45 p.m. Don’t need the spectacle? Try the Babcock Ranch Doggie Dash 5K Saturday morning, or the Paradise Coast half marathon/5K in Naples Sunday. The following weekend brings 5Ks in Labelle and Naples. Details at and

Ride? Cyclists can reach Critical Mass in Cape Coral Feb. 23 (night) or at the Fort Myers slow roll the next morning. Lights required (for night rides), helmets recommended. ( Looking for more of a challenge? Try the Dirty Hamster 100, an off-road ride through the Babcock-Webb WMA. You can ride multiples of a number of loop lengths – 25 or 10 miles off road or 10 miles on pavement ( 

Both?  Nothing nearby in the near term, check out or for events in the state.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 2/14/18

One of a number of e-bikes on display at this year’s Tour de Cape.
The coming wave of e-bikes brings with it many benefits as well as problems and controversies. In this second part of a two-part report, I’ll do my best to lay out some of the issues involved and perhaps help you decide if an e-bike is right for you.

There are advantages to consider. From a purely practical standpoint, e-bikes are about as economical as motorized transportation can be. For those with very long or difficult commutes that include features such as bridges and hills (obviously, this is not an issue here) or even wind (think Cape Coral, our own “windy city”), using an e-bike can keep one from having to expend energy that may be required for other purposes, such as work. The sweat factor can be reduced as well, another important work-related factor for some.

E-bikes can potentially get folks on a bike who wouldn’t otherwise consider taking up cycling, thereby increasing the critical mass on the roads, an important element in improving safety. And for those who are already serious cyclists but due to advancing age or physical limitations are pedaling a bit too slow to keep up with their riding partners, an e-bike might be what it takes to stay on the road. I realize that any serious road rider is likely dismissing this option, but as we all get up there in age and our physical abilities change, it may eventually sound appealing.

Some of the drawbacks to e-bikes are similar to those associated with any other motorized vehicle. A primary one is that far too many folks who ride bikes don’t know the laws applicable to them or how to safely and appropriately operate their bikes. Adding artificial power to the situation makes it that much more problematic, regardless of the fact that it’s relatively low-power, compared to many other motor vehicles. In fact, one class of e-bikes can propel someone up to 28 mph before the power assist disengages. Speeds like that are usually not realized by an average cyclist, so it would be foreign to almost everyone — both the e-bike rider and others sharing the road.

Another problem is that our laws have not kept up with advances and unforeseen upticks in low-powered vehicles in general. In the case of e-bikes, there’s likely going to be much confusion among users and law enforcement officials about where they can be ridden (under power or otherwise) and what laws apply to which class of vehicle. The federal Consumer Product Safety Act defines a “low speed electric bicycle” as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph and an electric motor that produces less than 750 watts.

The rules for e-bikes on public roads, sidewalks and pathways are under state jurisdiction so are different in each. Along with federal and state laws the e-bike industry defines three classes. A Class 1 electric bicycle, or “low-speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 mph. A Class 2 electric bicycle, or “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 mph. A Class 3 electric bicycle, or “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling (no throttle) and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 mph and is equipped with a speedometer. The Class 3 e-bike isn’t covered by either CPSA’s or Florida’s legal definition. And while no driver’s license is required, in Florida one must be at least 16 years old to operate an e-bike.

One clarification that a reader reminded me to include on this topic is that any low-powered motorized vehicle that’s approved for use as an assistive device for those with mobility limitations or other disabilities is allowed to be used anywhere a person is allowed to walk, outdoors as well as indoors. Power wheelchairs and e-scooters are examples of Mobility Assistive Equipment. Unfortunately, some devices that serve this purpose but aren’t classified as MAEs are being used in places where they present problems. Also, MAEs are not to be confused with electric personal assistive mobility devices, such as Segways, as defined by Florida law.

I’m all for getting more bikes on our roads but there are concerns that need to be handled on the front end of what is likely going to be a boom in the near future. That boom may be good for those selling e-bikes, but maybe not so great for vulnerable road and pathway users, whether because of potential physical harm or legal problems that may become commonplace.

For example, in Florida one section of our laws allows those without a driver’s license to operate a moped but another section negates that law based on its classification as a motor vehicle because it’s gas-powered. For those with suspended or revoked licenses this is a serious matter if they are found operating a moped. Class 3 e-bikes may create that same problem, especially before any changes to the law are enacted. ¦

- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.