Thursday, November 21, 2019

BikeWalkLee: Hot to trot?

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, November 21, 2019
by Ken Gooderham


Are you ready for running’s big day?

That day would be next Thursday – Thanksgiving – the most popular day for running races according to Running USA. The group tracked 1.17 million runners participating in some kind of Thanksgiving-based event in 2018 – more than double the runners they found in 2011, the first year the nonprofit tracked the Turkey Trot totals.

That’s a lot of trotting.

What makes the event so popular?
  • It’s meant to be fun, with an array of costumes you would never see at a regular race.
  • It can be a family event where the generations can do something together.
  • It can become a tradition, with runners boasting about how long their streak of participating reaches each year.
  • It’s ubiquitous, with races in every town.
  • It almost always benefits a worthy cause, another draw for participants.
  • And it’s tied to Thanksgiving – a holiday known for edible excess – so burning off a few calories before ingesting vast quantities later in the day is somehow appropriate.
If this has piqued your interest in trying one out, you’ll have plenty to choose from locally (all scheduled on Turkey Day itself):
  • The 40th annual Turkey Trot 5K, 1-mile fun run and tot trot, Cape Coral Hospital (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • The 6th annual GCR Thanksgiving 5K, plus 1K kids run, downtown Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • The Thanksgiving Day 5K, Hertz Arena, Estero (runeliteeevents.com)
  • The FGCU 9th annual Gobbler 5K and 1K fun run, Alico Arena, Estero (runsignup.com)
  • The Gobble Gobble Four Miler, offering a timed event and a fun run/walk, Naples (runsignup.com)
  • The 21st annual Turkey Trot 5K run and fun walk, Florida Southwestern State College, Punta Gorda (runsignup.com)
If you can’t find one out of that lineup, you’re just not trying.

It’s a bike path!

Maybe it’s the snowbirds flocking back to town. Maybe it’s people just not knowing any better. Maybe it’s just a streak of bad luck.

Whatever the cause, it seems as though more drivers are deciding that cyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t be the only ones who use the local bike paths and lanes. They want in that action, too – so they’re parking vehicles where people should only be biking, walking or running.

How bad is it? On one recent ride, I encountered five different vehicular obstacles in a 15-mile route… two landscaping trucks, one lawn mower, one utility vehicle (actually, two – but they were end-to-end, so I’ll count them as one long obstacle) and one truck that apparently was trying to sneak off the new-car lot but only made it across the bike path before it was stopped.

In case you did not know, parking on sidewalks or bike lanes is illegal in Florida (check out Florida Statutes 316.1945) and many other places.

I understand that there are times when, absent any other option, drivers may need to temporarily park on a sidewalk or bike path… say, for a delivery, or letting a passenger out, or due to a vehicle malfunction. But none of these instances qualified as that.

Most of them were simply a matter of convenience – for the drivers, however, not for the cyclists or pedestrians. As far as the car lots who feel compelled to park their vehicles on sidewalks or bike paths… no one is going to buy your car or truck simply because it’s two feet closer to the road – but it does improve the chances of someone running into your high-priced vehicle.

So, drivers, when you have to pull off the road for whatever reason and you see that stretch of pavement or asphalt so conveniently located just over there… please resist the urge. It’s not a really long parking space… it’s a bike path, and motor vehicles should not be on it.

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? Besides the plethora of Turkey Trots mentioned above, local runners can also choose from two half-marathons – the Fall Classic Half in Naples Nov. 24 and the Florida West Coast Half (and 5K) in Sarasota Dec. 8 – along with a 10K – the 41st annual city of Palms River Run in downtown Fort Myers Dec. 7. Details at runeliteevents.com, westcoasthalf.com and ftmyerstrackclub.com, respectively.

Ride? Critical Mass has these regularly scheduled rides on tap:
  • Friday, Nov. 29: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m., start at 8 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street.
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: 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.
  • Friday, Dec. 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers gathering at 7:15 p.m. and starting at 8 p.m. 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.
Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details at meetup.com.

For cyclists looking for another post-Thanksgiving tradition, try the 26th annual Turkey Leg Metric Century, which leaves from Daniels crossing Shopping Center at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 (details at caloosariders.org)

If you’re looking for a good ride and some cycling camaraderie, look no further than the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club. Check out their ride calendar and you see a ride for almost every day of the week (and even more on weekends), all mapped and planned for your enjoyment. The Riders even tell you how fast (or not) you’ll need to be to keep up… click on the ride of your choice for all the details and even a map. All at caloosariders.org.


Both?  Sunday, Jan. 5: HITS Endurance Sarasota Tri, with sprint/Olympic/half distances, Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota (hitsendurance.com).

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:

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

# # #

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 www.BikeWalkLee.org. 


 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Lee County continues to ignore bicycle-pedestrian needs


Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, November 20, 2019
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

Courtesy Photo

Lee County has seen quite a bit of bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure added since it was a virtual wasteland for nonmotorists. A significant amount of bike lanes, sidewalks and shared-use paths are in place. That’s good news for everyone, residents and visitors alike.

However, a huge backlog of all of those features remains, with funding being the primary obstacle, according to local officials. While it’s understandable that money is the issue, the fact that spending on bicycle-pedestrian projects is miniscule in comparison to other transportation projects means we’re not putting a dent in the backlog of needs, primarily along roads that still have nothing on the ground.

When I received notice recently of the Palomino Road pathway project ribbon cutting ceremony, it reminded me of just how difficult it is to get even the most obviously needed projects done. I recall this particular one being initiated well over a decade ago (maybe closer to two decades ago), at a time when Palomino Road was transitioning from a rural road off Daniels Parkway with only a few homes on ranch- and farm-sized lots to sprawling gated communities containing hundreds of housing units and a megachurch on Palomino just for good measure.

The fact that development was allowed without any bicycle-pedestrian accommodation on the only road in and out of those gated neighborhoods and the megachurch church parking lot is a good example of the cause of the backlog.

This is not an uncommon situation, a problem the governments permitting such growth are responsible for creating. The drastic reduction in impact fees is clearly also a cause of the funding shortfall. Again, the governments that are letting the developers off the impact-fee hook are as much to blame as those doing the building without paying for adequate infrastructure to handle the growth they create and profit from.

Similar to Palomino Road, nearby Fiddlesticks Boulevard was identified as needing bicycle-pedestrian accommodations decades ago, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that a pathway was finally approved, funded and constructed.

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
and 239-334-6417.
Over the years, that project was an ongoing agenda item for the committee on which I served. The reasons given for not building it made clear to me that this kind of common situation was going to haunt us, perhaps forever. Besides the gated community syndrome, there are the large bedroom communities of San Carlos Park, Lehigh Acres and Iona, as well as at-risk neighborhoods Suncoast Estates, Palmona Park, Pine Manor, Page Park, Charleston Park, Harlem Heights and others that were developed decades ago with only motor vehicle traffic accommodation being required.

We’ll be playing catch-up indefinitely in and around these kinds of communities with even newer developments that also weren’t required to adequately accommodate non-motorists.

Some of the progress that has been made in the at-risk communities can be attributed to non-traditional funding. While much of our overall transportation project funding appears to come from afar, the fact is that the majority is locally generated taxes that are sent north then reallocated back here.

But because of the strings attached, neighborhood streets are frequently ineligible to tap into them, no matter the need. Thanks to a federal human service program that infuses at-risk neighborhoods with resources to get them out of that status, some of those funds were used to construct sidewalks. The half dozen at-risk communities that benefitted each have many residents who depend on their feet, bikes and transit to get around, so it’s more than an appropriate use of the human service funds.

Because some of our local governments are loath to use local dollars for bicycle-pedestrian infrastructure, the time it takes to get projects on the ground is drastically elongated as these governments wait for state and federal transportation funds to flow in.

The city of Fort Myers is most guilty of this approach, meaning there are lots of streets in areas built-out many years ago that won’t get what should already be there until and unless the city is lucky enough to be awarded funds. At the same time, they think nothing of providing millions of dollars in tax deferments to developers in order to entice them to build within city limits. With an approach like this, many neighborhoods will never see bare minimum infrastructure.

One of the most egregious and expensive shortcomings that needs to be addressed is the lack of pedestrian access across most of our major bridges, including the Sanibel Causeway, Cape Coral Bridge, Midpoint Bridge and Caloosahatchee River Bridge. One span of the Edison Bridge is the only place that a pedestrian can legally use. Other than the Edison and Caloosahatchee River bridges, all the others are Lee County structures. The cost to add pedestrian access means we may never see it happen until new spans are built.

Image Courtesy thesfnews.com

To learn about this topic and more, visit bikewalklee.blogspot.com and www.streetsaliveswfl.org



For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) 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.






Monday, November 18, 2019

November 18: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:

Cycling:

  • Monday, Nov. 18: Monday Minions Ride. This is a weekly ride that rolls in the 13-15 mph range. Total distance around 15 miles. After the ride most go over to Square 1 restaurant for the $5 burger and fries deal. If you are looking to get into cycling beyond the casual roll, this is an ideal ride for you. 6 p.m., Fort Myers Cyclery, 3630 Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL) 
  • Tuesday, Nov. 19: Taco Tuesday Ride. Every Tuesday night, We Ride For Tacos! After a 21 mile ride on Treeline/Old Airport/Daniels/6 Mile Cypress roads and paths, we'll finish at Tijuana Flats for Taco Tuesday. B RIDERS: 16 to 18 mph for the basic group. A RIDERS: The faster group rides at 20mph plus. We finish well after dark, so Front And Rear Lights are Required. 6:30 p.m., Trek Bicycle Store of Fort Myers, 8291 Dani Drive, Fort Myers (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL)
  • Sunday, Nov. 24: Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. This is a weekly ride for riders of most skill levels and most types of bicycles (hybrids, fitness, and road). The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, thus helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group. 7.30 a.m., location varies, visit (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL) for details.
  • Friday, Nov. 29: 26th Annual Turkey Leg Metric Century, leaves from Daniels crossing Shopping Center at 7:30 a.m. (caloosariders.org)
  • Friday, Nov. 29: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m., start at 8 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL)
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: 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. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL)
  • Friday, Dec. 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers gathering at 7:15 p.m. and starting at 8 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. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL)
  • 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 www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Triathlons:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 17: 2019 Christmas Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon, Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Dr., Naples
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.