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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lee County Bicyclist Fatalities: 2009-2015

For last night's Ride of Silence in Fort Myers, CRBC member Mike Swanson created a poster that lists the dates and locations of all the 29 bike fatalities in Lee County from 2009 to date.  Last night's Rides of Silence in Lee County were in honor of these fallen cyclists.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

SW Fla. Rides of Silence draw more than 400

Thanks to everyone who participated in the SWFL Rides of Silence and to all the organizers who made it possible.

News-Press article 5/21/15: SWFL Rides of Silence draw more than 400

Janice Johnsen looped a black ribbon around the wrist of a bicyclist. She tightened it in a careful bow.
She gazed out at the more than 200 bicyclists at Centennial Park in Fort Myers before Wednesday night's Ride of Silence, an international event to honor bicyclists who have been injured or killed.
Her husband, Scott Johnsen, should have been there too.

He participated in last year's Ride of Silence. To remember a friend killed while bicycling, Scott wore a black arm band, like the ones his wife was now attaching to strangers. This year, the crowd was there to honor her husband. As was she. They were married 27 years.

"This was such a big part of my husband's life," said Johnsen, 65. "I wanted to be a part of this."
She doesn't ride, but her husband, who was 60, rode daily.

Last September, Johnsen was killed by the driver of a speeding Corvette in Cape Coral. Police concluded Jason Stewart's Corvette was going a "minimum" of 102 mph, 4 feet prior to the crash. Stewart was arrested for vehicular homicide and reckless driving.
Karen and Dennis Baber of Cape Coral read the program before they took part in the ride.

Being without her husband was not easy for Janice, but nothing is, without her husband.
"It's all hard," said Johnsen. "At home without him. With my family without him. At Christmastime without him. It's all hard, but it's just something you have to get through."

She listened as Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson pledged to the group to do more to make the city safer for bicyclists. Fort Myers is among the more than 200 cities committed to the U.S. Department of Transportation's mayor's challenge to improve walking and bicycling conditions. As part of that, Henderson is working with the city's bicycle-pedestrian advisory committee on solutions and a resolution to promote complete streets, a policy to promote access for all users, not just cars.

"We hope to do better and make it less dangerous," he vowed.

Last year was somber for Lee County bicyclists. Lee tied with two Florida counties twice its size for the third-highest number of bicyclists killed statewide. This ranking comes in a state with the worst record for bicyclist fatalities.

With 133 deaths, Florida, again, had the highest lethality rate in the nation for bicyclists with nearly 7 deaths per million residents, according to 2013 federal data released this month. The national rate is about 2.
(Photo: Andrea Melendez/The News-Press)

In 2015, there has been one bicyclist killed in Lee and two killed in Collier.

Johnsen joined with the crowd to read a poem in unison.
"The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride." 

Mike Resnick, co-chairman of the ride organized by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, looked to Janice Johnsen.
"Janice, this ride is to honor your husband."
Scott was a club member.
 (Photo: Andrea Melendez/The News-Press)

She nodded as the bicyclists silently pedaled past her. Brick streets vibrated under their seats as the bicyclists wound through downtown. Hot air feels cooler from the seat of a bicycle. A peach sunset inspires more awe. Frankly, Fort Myers is prettier from two wheels. The memories of the absent bicyclists lingered, but the ride reinforced a dedication to biking.

It seemed fitting with the goals Scott Johnsen listed before his death: "Have fun. Ride every day."

Rides of Silence in Naples, Sanibel
Rides were also held Wednesday evening in Naples and Sanibel Island. The Sanibel ride drew more than 60 people. Naples Pathways Coalition hosted a Naples ride that attracted about 150 people.

Connect with this reporter:@Janinezeitlin(Twitter).

Share and learn about ideas to make the roads safer on The News-Press Facebook page,Share the Road Florida.

(Photo: Andrea Melendez/The News-Press)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Honoring those we love - Ride of Silence

It's that time of year again, when we take a moment to honor and remember the cyclists who have lost their lives on our roads. Among those we are honoring this year, is Jim Chelius. The family and friends of Jim Chelius have made road safety his lasting legacy through supporting BikeWalkLee and the #BeSeen Safety Movement - Bike Lights.

Almost $2,000 in donations to the #BeSeen Bike Lights campaign have been made in memory of Jim. These donations will help BikeWalkLee and their community partners buy and distribute bike lights to vulnerable road users (details forthcoming, but keep an eye out around the time change this fall!).
Jim Chelius

To learn more about the #BeSeen Safety Movement - Bike Lights campaign check out our earlier blog on it written by the campaign's champion, Cindy Banyai. Donations to the campaign are still being accepted through the campaign's GoFundMe page -- a $25 donation will buy 10 bike lights and keep people safer on our streets.

Everyone is invited to participate in the Ride of Silence. You can find more information on that below:

Wednesday, May 20: Ride of Silence, to honor cyclists killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Leaves at 7 p.m. from Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers. Riders are requested to wear black armbands, or red if they have personally been injured in a cycling vs. motor vehicle accident. Free, no registration necessary. Also the Sanibel Bicycle Club, in collaboration with Billy's Bikes and Matzaluna Restaurant, has organized a ride from Sanibel, leaving from the Matzaluna Restaurant (1200 Periwinkle Way) over the Causeway bridges and back. Arrive at 6:15 for a pre-event, with ride starting at 7 p.m.  Both are free, no registration necessary.

County Commissioners declare May Bike Month

At the May 19th meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, the Board declared May Bike Month. BPAC members were on hand to receive the proclamation.  Chairman Mayne spoke on behalf of the committee and urged the Board to support the committee's request for additional funds for bike/ped retrofit projects.

BPAC members (L to R): Keith Kibbey, Pat Connor, Don Mayne (chair), and Al Ciacalone

Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 18th: Upcoming running/walking/biking/tri events

Upcoming events
·         Saturday, May 23: Mosquito 10K / Run-4-Others 5K, Edgewater United Methodist Church, 19190 Cochran Blvd Port Charlotte. Proceeds benefit "Imagine No Malaria." (www.active.com)
·         Monday, May 25: Memorial Day Veterans 10K and 5K Race, Laisley Park, 100 Nesbit Street Punta Gorda. (www.active.com)
·         Monday, May 25: Sandoval 5K run/walk. Sandoval Community Club House, 2573 Sandoval Boulevard Cape Coral. (www.active.com)
·         Saturday, June 20: Sugden Stride 5K, the first event in the Elite Events Summer 5K Series. Sugden Regional Park, Naples. (www.eliteevents.com)

 Cycling and other events:
·         Wednesday, May 20: Ride of Silence, to honor cyclists killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Leaves at 7 p.m. from Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers. Riders are requested to wear black armbands, or red if they have personally been injured in a cycling vs. motor vehicle accident. Free, no registration necessary. Also the Sanibel Bicycle Club, in collaboration with Billy's Bikes and Matzaluna Restaurant, has organized a ride from Sanibel, leaving from the Matzaluna Restaurant (1200 Periwinkle Way) over the Causeway bridges and back. Arrive at 6:15 for a pre-event, with ride starting at 7 p.m.  Both are free, no registration necessary.

·         Sunday, May 31: Women’s Ride Day. 15-, 30- and 45-mile rides beginning at 8 a.m. Starts from Go Girl Cycling, 9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Unit 135, Fort Myers. Details on www.eventbrite.com
·         Friday, June 5: SWFL Critical Mass ride. Join a family fun slow ride through Fort Myers. 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. (www.SWFLCM.com)
·         Sunday, July 12: Wheels and Wings VI, Beef O'Bradys, 1105 Taylor Road Punta Gorda. Five different rides: 15 mile (Mystery Ride) 32-/50-/62-miles and a 40-mile Gravel Grinder. Food, fun and more. (www.active.com)

·         Sunday, June 7: Naples Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. (www.thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)
·         Sunday, July 12: American Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (www.active.com)
·         Saturday, July 18: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon 2015. Englewood Beach, Shelter 3, 2100 N. Beach Road., Englewood (www.active.com)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Moser Column: Coach’s death a loss to entire community

Dan focuses on the impact of Coach Jeff Sommer's death on many in our community. He also reports on the Bike to School Day last week, and the upcoming June 5th SWFL Critical Mass Ride.

From my perspective, our society puts way too much attention on organized sports and the people who participate as athletes and coaches, sometimes to the point of obsession. All too frequently, those who are revered for their athletic prowess or win-loss record end up disappointing their fans by the things they do in their real lives. When that kind of reality happens, it’s especially tough on kids.
On the flip side, there are some cases where there’s good reason to truly admire certain individuals because their positive influence is much bigger than any game or competition. Our community has just lost one of those people.

Jeff Sommer, longtime coach at Estero High School, died suddenly while on the sidelines as his team competed in the State Track and Field Championships in Jacksonville. Losing a coach who had a history of motivating track athletes and cross country runners to be winners in their respective events is tragic in itself. But Jeff’s influence beyond the tracks and race courses will be most missed. He prepared many young people for success in life.

Edsion Park ES Bike Corral on Bike to School Day Edsion Park ES Bike Corral on Bike to School Day I know Jeff from our road running world here in SW Florida, one that’s been very active since the late 1970s. His influence was apparent from the early days of his appearance on the scene by virtue of the fact that former athletes he coached formed the 3D Running Club in 1985 as a way to stay connected with running during the off-season. In all the years since they came together I don’t recall a local race that didn’t include runners of all ages wearing 3D colors. To me, this is a testament to Jeff’s positive and far-reaching influence that not many coaches in any sport can claim.

Since Jeff’s passing, there have been many stories told by those he influenced, with almost all of them focusing on the positive things Jeff did that were above and beyond the sport he coached. Based on those accounts and from what I know about Jeff; it’s not only those of us in the running community who will feel the void now that he’s gone.

Bike Month update
The first event of Bike Month, SW Florida Critical Mass Ride on Friday, May 1, brought together 326 people on bikes who rode around Art Walk and the McGregor Boulevard area. The sight of that many bikes all lit up was quite impressive as well as entertaining. By all accounts, this was the most attended ride in the two years it’s been taking place and went off with little trouble or inconvenience to other road users. Rob Siebert, the ride’s organizer, is to be commended for the excellent job he does. If you haven’t been to one yet, you can join in on June 5 for a clown/circus themed ride in memory of John “Sugar” Donaldson, a creative and fun-loving guy who was involved with SWF Critical Mass and who recently passed away. Just show-up at the big empty lot next to Publix on McGregor near downtown Fort Myers at 7:30 p.m.

Last week a number of Lee County schools took part in Bike to School Day. I was at Edison Park Elementary School, where at least 40 student participated — up significantly from the usual halfdozen or so. Many of the kids had their parents in tow as they used their bikes to get to and from school. The trick now is to make it a habit rather than a one-time thing. And from what I observed and from talking to students, parents and personnel at Edison Park, it brought lots of smiles to many faces, so one would hope it does become a habit or at least regular option to kids being chauffeured. One idea that might be considered is to create a “bike train” and “walking school bus,” in which one or more parents ride or walk along with their kids and pick up other kids along the way to school, replicating a school bus route. The school district has a Safe Routes to School expert on staff, Lisa Indovino (who recently won Florida Bicycle Association’s Educator of the Year award), who can assist those wanting to get a bike train or walking school bus up and running. If you’re interested in learning more, you can ask your child’s school administration how to enlist Lisa’s assistance.

Learn more about this and many other important community matters at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.

Upcoming Events
>> Running/Walking:
 Cape Cops 5K, Saturday, May 19, Cape Coral Yacht Club, CC (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
 Run on the Green 5K, Monday, May 25, Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
>> Cycling and other events:
 Ride of Silence, Wednesday, May 20, Fort Myers & Sanibel (rideofsilence.org)
 Bike to Work Day, Friday, May 15 (bikeleague.org)
SWFL Critical Mass, Friday, June 5, Downtown Fort Myers (swflcriticalmass.wordpress.com)

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 bikepedmoser@gmail.com or 334- 6417.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

BikeWalkLee Column: Fort Myers, Sanibel to hold Rides of Silence

Join the Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 20th at 7 p.m. to honor fallen cyclists and promote road safety.  There are two events to choose from locally--Fort Myers and Sanibel.  

News-Press "Go Coastal" Section--BikeWalkLee Column, May 14, 2015

It’s a solemn event meant to mark a tragedy and make a point. The Ride of Silence on Wednesday is intended to share grief while sharing a message about sharing the road.
What began in 2003 in Dallas as a spontaneous outpouring of grief for a friend and fellow rider, struck and killed by the mirror of a passing vehicle, has rolled across the globe to become an international annual event memorializing and honoring cyclists who have been injured and killed while riding. In 2014, 315 Ride of Silence events were held in 49 states, 22 countries and seven continents.
The events share the same goals: “To honor fallen cyclists, to promote road safety, and to make a difference.”

Bike safety is not a fleeting issue, especially here in Florida which ranks as the very worst in the nation for cyclist safety with the highest fatality rate for 10 years in a row. In 2014, eight cyclists were killed in Lee County crashes, with one fatality in 2015 to date.

The Ride of Silence, in memorializing riders injured and killed, seeks to draw motorists’ attention to cyclists’ legal rights to full use of the roadways, to inform motorists that we are here and to watch for us — as if our lives depended on it.

Please come out to show your support and send the message that we deserve our right to operate on our own roads. We are not just bike riders, but friends and neighbors — and we must all Share the Road.

Locally there are two Rides of Silence planned:
The Fort Myers Ride of Silence, sponsored by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club:
Arrive by 6:45 p.m., ride begins promptly at 7 p.m.
Gather downtown at Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers (under the bridge at Heitman and Bay streets)
Cyclists will ride in a silent, funeral-style procession at 10-12 mph for 8 miles to honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.
Riders are requested to wear black arm bands, or red if they have personally been injured in a cycling vs. motor vehicle accident.
Everyone welcome, free of charge. No registration necessary.
Helmets are required, no headphones please.
For further details email: ros@caloosariders.org

The Sanibel Ride of Silence, sponsored by the Sanibel Bicycle Club in partnership with Matzaluna Restaurant and Billy’s Bikes:
Riders are encouraged to arrive at 6:15 p.m. at Matzaluna Restaurant (1200 Periwinkle Way) for a short educational program.
At 7 p.m. promptly the ride will leave Matzaluna’s, heading down Periwinkle Way to the Sanibel Causeway. The ride will cross over the first two bridges of the causeway, do the turnaround under the main span, and return to Matzaluna (approximately 7 miles round-trip).
Helmets required for all riders, and front and tail lights are required if you plan to ride your bike home after dinner.
Matzaluna will provide discounted food and drink for all riders.
For further details, contact Patti Sousa: 395-1695.
This ride is silent, but its participants don’t plan to be. They’re standing up for their road rights, and riding in memory of those whose rights (and sometimes lives) were taken. Join them.

BikeWalkLee is 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 www.BikeWalkLee.org.

Run: Want to see if you can outrun the cops — for fun? Try the Cape Cops 5K on Saturday at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. It kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a 5K run and walk, and a children’s fun run after 5K is finished. All proceeds will go to assist families of fallen or injured police officers. Check out www.fortmyerstrackclub.com for details.

Ride: Honor women and bikes at Women’s Ride Day on Sunday, May 31, with 15-, 30- and 45-mile rides beginning at 8 a.m. Starts from Go Girl Cycling, 9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.