Saturday, May 28, 2016

May 30th: Upcoming Run/Walk/Bike/Tri events

Hello all, hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, here are some upcoming events for the Summer. There will be plenty of running, walking, biking, and triathlons!

Upcoming events 

  • Monday, May 30: Memorial Day 5K. Celebrate Memorial Day with a fun 5K at North Collier Regional Park. Proceeds of the race benefit the Special Olympics. (
  • Monday, May 30: Memorial Day 5K Run on the Green, Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers. Benefits Fort Myers Parks and Rec. (
  • Monday, May 30: Third annual Sandoval 5K, Sandoval of Cape Coral, 7 a.m. (
  • Saturday, June 11: Inaugural Oasis HS Running with the Sharks 5K, to benefit Osais High football. Starts at 7:15 a.m. at 3519 Oasis Blvd, Cape Coral (
  • Saturday, June 18: 8th Annual Summer Sizzler 5K. Starts 7 a.m. at Jaycee Park, Cape Coral. (
  • Saturday, June 18: Sugden Stride 5K, 7 a.m. at Sugden Regional Park in Naples. (
  • Monday, July 4: USA Independence Day 5K (run and walk), Germain Arena (
  • Monday, July 4: Moe’s Firecracker 5K, Fleishmann Park, Naples (
  • Friday, June 3: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. Join a family-friendly 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 (beginning at 7:15 p.m. for an 8 p.m. roll-out) at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. ( or Facebook)
  • Friday, June 10: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:15 p.m. for an 8 p.m. roll out at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • Saturday, June 11: Sanibel Critical mass ride, gathers at 7:15 p.m. for a 7:45 p.m. roll out at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • Sunday, July 3: Wheels and Wings VII, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Starts and finishes at Beef O’Brady’s in Punta Gorda, with 15-, 32- and 62-mile rides, a 50-mile Gravel Grinder and the Speed Trap Alley. Peace River Riders Bicycle Club, info on
  • Saturdays, June 4-25: Triathlon Kids Camp with Coach Angie Ferguson, ages 6-13, Cypress Lake Pool, Fort Myers. (
  • Sunday, June 5: Naples Fitness Challenge Reverse Sprint. Naples Beach Club. (
  • Sunday, June 25: TRISK Tri Siesta Key, sprint and Olympic tri plus duathlon. (
  • Sunday, July 10: American Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon in Naples, sprint triathlon and duathlon (
  • Saturday, July 16: Englewood Sprint tri (, 
Plan ahead: Other upcoming area tris include:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

BWL Column: Iona couple enjoy ups, downs of biking to work

Be inspired to try riding your bike to work by Holly Milbrandt's guest column about riding bikes to work from Iona to Sanibel with her husband.  Thanks, Holly, for sharing your story (and photos).
BWL column in News-Press, May 26, 2016
Guest column by Holly Milbrandt

Sanibel's path system  
NOTE: With National Bike to Work Day just in the rear-view mirror, we offer the tale of a commuting couple who use their bikes to enjoy the trip to and from work.

A couple years ago, my husband and I relocated from Cape Coral to the Iona area of Fort Myers. After nearly 10 years of commuting back and forth to Sanibel from the Cape, across two bridges and countless stoplights, we were thrilled with our new home and the prospect of biking to work.

As somewhat avid cyclists, we had biked across the Sanibel Causeway numerous times. Although daunting at first, particularly the high “A” span, we quickly found that our bikes and our legs were up for the challenge.
Leaving home for the ride

(We would later convince ourselves that we could train to ride the famous Alps climbs of the Tour de France – Alp d'Huez, Col de Galibier, and others – by doing some "training" rides over the high span of the Sanibel Causeway. Needless to say, we were sorely - pun intended - mistaken! But that’s a story for another day…)

Of course, biking to work is a bit different than simply heading out for a pleasure ride. Not only did we need the regular ride supplies — tire irons, spare tube, CO2 cartridges – we needed to think about everything we would need for the workday. Certainly I couldn’t strut around the office in my spandex all day, not even on Sanibel!

Although I’d prefer to just jump on my bike and go, it was obvious that a backpack would definitely be required to haul my daily needs – change of clothes, lunch, and cell phone, at a minimum. We also decided that we seriously needed to upgrade our bike lights, both front and back, to be sure we could see and be seen at all times.

Properly outfitted, we have now spent the better part of two “seasons” (mainly November-May) biking to work. Some days we ride together, some days our schedules dictate that we embark on separate journeys. Some days, despite our best intentions, we have to drive. But as lovers of nature and the environment in both our personal and professional lives, we have found the rides to be greatly satisfying, for some of the same but often for different for reasons.
The best view for cyclists on the Sanibel Causeway is at the top looking down. 
(Photo: Holly Milbrandt/Special to The News-Press)

As one who has always preferred early morning exercise, the ride TO work is my thing. Getting up a few minutes earlier than normal to head out on the 40-minute ride doesn’t bother me one bit. Once on the Causeway, I take a look back over my shoulder as the sun rises over Fort Myers Beach and then continue toward the Sanibel Lighthouse flashing in front of me. I look for dolphins, note the condition of the Caloosahatchee, and say “hi” to the osprey waiting for me on the C span. Arriving at work, I am energized and ready to take on the day.

My "I am not a morning person" husband disagrees. For him, it’s the ride home FROM work where he finds the greatest pleasure. He finds nothing more satisfying than cruising down the shared-use path along Periwinkle Way, passing vehicles stacked up bumper to bumper at 5 p.m. This makes the early rising totally worth it. His rides across the Causeway are spent thinking about waves and currents, scanning for sailboats, and determining the current tide conditions. Arriving at home, he is energized and ready to enjoy the evening.

Some of our fellow Causeway denizens help make the ride worth it. 
(Photo: Holly Milbrandt/Special to The News-Press)
Sure, the ride isn’t always magical. But for the most part, biking to work brings more joy than pain. We enjoy waving to our co-workers as they pass by in their cars and are glad that they have realized that honking is not encouraged; we appreciate when drivers slow down a bit and give us a little extra room; and we are happy to be two less cars on Sanibel as we support the City of Sanibel’s “Bike or Hike” campaign. As temperatures rise and the summer rains begin, we will likely make more trips by car and fewer by bike. But as traffic begins to swell next season, you can bet we will back in our saddles again!
Sanibel's "Bike & Hike" Campaign

-- 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

Ready to ride or run?

Run: This Memorial Day weekend, you have you choice of 5Ks: Run on the Green in Fort Myers (, Sandoval 5K in Cape Coral ( and a fun 5K to support Special Olympics at North Collier Regional Park (

Ride: Three Critical Mass rides ahead: Friday it’s Cape Coral (gather at 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. roll-out at 4706 SE 11th Place); a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday (gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers); and  Friday, June 3, it’s the original CM ride beginning at 7:15 p.m. for an 8 p.m. roll-out at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. For the night rides, lights are required and helmets recommended.

Both: Kids, hone your tri skills at a Triathlon Kids Camp with Coach Angie Ferguson. It’s offered Saturdays, June 4-25, for ages 6-13 at the Cypress Lake Pool, Fort Myers ( Adults, put those skills to use at the Naples Fitness Challenge Reverse Sprint on Sunday, June 5, at the Naples Beach Club. (

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chuck Marohn: Engineers should not design streets

One of the leaders of the new thinking about transportation, land use, and finance is Chuck Marohn, the Founder and President of Strong Towns, who is both a Professional Engineer (PE) and a planner (AICP). He has spoken in hundreds of towns and cities across North America, and speaks regularly for diverse audiences and venues. He was the keynote speaker at Florida's APA conference held in Naples in 2012, so some of you have heard him speak, read his articles, listened to his podcasts, or TED talks.  This week he wrote another thought-provoking Strong Towns blog post entitled "Engineers should not design streets," which focuses on the difference between roads and streets. [See Chuck Marohn's TED Talk on "The Difference between Streets and Roads"]

As Chuck says, "We do a disservice to our communities when we treat streets as if they were roads, when we ignore the complex environments streets are meant to create and treat them as if they were simple throughput models. Streets need to be designed block by block. Those designs need to be responsive and adaptable." 

Yes, it's time for SWFL to rethink how it designs streets.

Strong Towns Blog
Engineers should not design streets

May 23, 2016
by Charles Marohn

Last Friday I was participating in the 5th Annual Mayor's Bike Ride in Duluth following a week spent sharing the Strong Towns message on the Iron Range. The friendly woman riding next to me asked me what could be done to to better educate engineers so they would start to build streets that were about more than simply about moving cars. My answer rejected the premise of the question: We should not be asking engineers to design streets.

A quick review for those of you that are new here (which might be up to half the audience -- amazing). Roads and streets are two separate things. The function of a road is to connect productive places. You can think of a road as a refinement of the railroad -- a road on rails -- where people board in one place, depart in another and there is a high speed connection between the two.

In contrast, the function of a street is to serve as a platform for building wealth. On a street, we're attempting to grow the complex ecosystem that produces community wealth. In these environments, people (outside of their automobile) are the indicator species of success. So, in short, with a street we're trying to create environments where humans, and human interaction, flourish.

Engineers are well-suited to constructing roads. Road environments are quite simple and, thus, lend themselves well to things like design manuals and uniform guidelines. There are only so many variables and the relationship they have to each other is fairly straightforward. In the United States, we have tested, refined and codified an engineering approach to roads that is pretty amazing and, in terms of engineering, the envy of the world.

There are two primary variables for designing a road: design speed and projected traffic volume. From those two numbers, we can derive the number of lanes, lane width, shoulder width, the width of clear zones and the allowable horizontal and vertical curvature. From those factors, we can specify all the pavement markings and signage that are necessary. We can then monitor things like the Level of Service, the 85th percentile speed and traffic counts to optimize how the road functions over time. Engineers are really good at this.

Engineers are not good at building streets nor, I would argue, can the typical engineer readily become good at it. Streets that produce wealth for a community are complex environments. They do not lend themselves well to rote standards or even design guidelines. There are numerous variables at play that interact with each other, forming feedback loops and changing in ways that are impossible to predict.

Consider just one variable: the future of the adjacent land. The operative component of building wealth on a street is building. Who owns the property? What are they going to do with it? What is their capacity? Will they stick with it? Will they find the love of their life and move across the country? Each property has a near infinite set of complexities to it that change and respond to change, each of which is far more important to the wealth capacity of the street than, for example, lane width.

If we're trying to create an ecosystem that results in our indicator species (people) showing up in greater and greater numbers, we can't just focus on one or two variables. It can't be just design speed and volume. The natural ecosystem equivalent would be an observation that productive forests have trees and so we hire our forest engineers to go out and plant rows and rows of the optimum tree. It's obvious that, absent other flora and fauna, insects and bacteria, sunlight and rain and a myriad of other variables, the trees we are planting just aren't enough to get the ecosystem we're after.

If we're trying to create a natural ecosystem, we first have to recognize the environment we're in. A desert ecosystem will be far different than a northern forest. We then need to seed the basic elements, but we don't direct them day-to-day; we nurture them as they grow. If we know what we're after -- if we know our indicator species of success -- if we see the experiment getting way off track, we can intervene in small ways to nudge it back on course. We can introduce small changes and see how the system responds. Over time, our natural ecosystem will show us how it wants to grow.

We do a disservice to our communities when we treat streets as if they were roads, when we ignore the complex environments streets are meant to create and treat them as if they were simple throughput models. Streets need to be designed block by block. Those designs need to be responsive and adaptable.

Understanding that 99%+ of all streets that will exist a decade from now already exist today, what we're really talking about here in North America isn't building new streets but making good use of existing streets. The way we do this -- the way we design block by block in ways that are responsive and adaptable -- is to try things and see what works. Our tools are not traffic counters and code books but paint, cones and straw bales. Before we make any change permanent, we test it -- and possibly other variations -- first to see what works.

So if this isn't the job of an engineer -- and it's not -- who should design streets? The answer is as simple as it is radical: everyone. Building a productive street is a collective endeavor that involves the people who live on it, those who own property on it, those who traverse it as well as the myriad of professionals who have expertise they can lend to the discussion.

Put your least technical person on staff in charge of your next street. Empower them to meet with people, observe how people use the street and then experiment, in a low cost way, with different alternatives. Keep experimenting until you start to see your indicator species show up (outside of their cars, of course). Now you have a design you can hand over to your engineer to specify the technical stuff -- pavement thickness, paint specs, etc... -- and get the project built.

Engineers are highly competent at building roads. When you are trying to move automobiles quickly from one place to another, put your engineering in charge and do what they recommend. When you are trying to build a street -- when you are trying to make your city wealthier and more prosperous -- make your engineer one small voice in a larger chorus of people whose words and, especially, whose actions dictate what your design should be.

  See Chuck Marohn's TED Talk on "The Difference between Streets and Roads"