Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

  • Saturday, Dec. 16: Citygate Ministries Downtown Christmas Run 5K. The Downtown Christmas Run is an exciting way to get into the Christmas spirit. We will be running through downtown Fort Myers over the bridge and back. We will be lighting the course with Christmas lights as our way of spreading Christmas cheer. All of the proceeds will go to the youth at Crossover Youth Center, which is a program that works with at-risk youth in the city of Fort Myers. 6 p.m., downtown Fort Myers (
  • Saturday, Dec. 16: Christmas Santa Stroll 5K Glow Run. Run on paths lined with thousands of lights and dozens of lighted characters!  Add to the excitement and fun by running or walking with glowing decorations. A true glow run and walk where participants help to decorate beautiful Lake Avalon with their shining movements as they compete in the professionally chip timed 5K.
    5:30 p.m., Sugden Regional Park, Avalon Drive, Naples (
  • Saturday, Dec. 23: Marco 5 Mile Hill Run, 8 a.m., Wesley United Methodist Church, Marco Island (
  • Monday, Jan. 1: Dave Cranor 5K/ Big Dave’s Polar Plunge, Lowdermilk Park, Naples. (
  • Saturday, Jan. 6: 3rd Annual Facial Hair for Cancer Causes, 10K/5K run, 2 mile walk. Tara Woods, North Fort Myers (
  • Sunday, Jan. 14: Naples Daily News Half Marathon, Old Naples (
  • Saturday, Jan. 27: 10th annual Calusa Bug Chase, 5K run/walk, Calusa Nature Center, Fort Myers (
  • For more running events visit;; and

  • Friday, Dec. 15: Roll Estero is CANCELLED for now.
  • Saturday, Dec 16: Ugly Sweater and Christmas Cookie Ride. Join us for the annual SWFL Critical Mass holiday Crappy Sweater, Cookie and Carol Ride! Grab your ugliest sweater or snarkiest t-shirt, bring your favorite holiday treat to share, light up those bikes and join us for some Holiday Cheer! 6:00 p.m., side lot next to the downtown Publix, 2160 McGregor Blvd · Fort Myers (
  • Friday, Dec. 29: 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, Dec. 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, Jan. 5: 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. (
  • 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, December 7, 2017

Drive like your kids (or cops) played here

BWL Column
The News-Press, 12/7/2017
by Ken Gooderham

Lee County sheriff's operation targets pedestrian, bicycle safety in traffic problem areas.
Ricardo Rolon/
Which is more likely to change your behavior: Fear of harming others (including people you might know), or fear of harming yourself?

This is not an esoteric exercise. Rather, it could be key to making our streets, sidewalks and bike paths safer.

Safety is a big issue locally, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians. Our region has regularly ranked far too high in the “Most Dangerous” places for walking and biking, evidence of a chronic and, sadly, statewide issue putting far too many people at risk on a daily basis.

How do you make streets and sidewalks safer? Three ways:
  • Better facilities, meaning properly designed, adequately interconnected and of sufficient quantity to provide a (somewhat) secure network.
  • Better awareness, by both drivers and walkers/bikers of both the laws under which they all should operate and the courtesies that should be extended to other users.
  • Better enforcement of existing laws or passage of necessary new ones, so those who are determined to flaunt the rules can reasonably expect to pay a price.

So, how are we doing?

On facilities, we’re catching up – with some cities pulling ahead of others. On the county level, the sizeable backlog of bike/ped capital expenditures is still appalling, but there are success stories out there and new designs are at least not letting our roads lose more ground in the fight for safety.

As to awareness, also signs of improvement but with a long way yet to go. As more people bike, run and walk, the awareness of those users increases – both because there are more people out there for motorists to see, and because more walkers and bikers tend to be (we hope) more aware drivers. Again, there’s room for improvement… but the danger seems to be turning from outright hostility toward bike/ped users to benign ignorance.

Enforcement has always been a thorny issue. For it to be effective, it has to be consistent and timely – hard to do unless one posts a police officer on every corner. It also has to have consequences – again problematic, since some of the offenses against bikers and walker is not a primary offense or lacks a serious penalty (unlike the penalty weighing on a biker or walker in an unfortunate interaction with a motor vehicle… which can be serious injury or death).

So the news of the new initiative by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, “High Visibility Enforcement,” is welcome. Deputies are targeting areas prone to bike/ped/car problems. It will run to the end of May, hopefully enough time to both educate good behaviors and eradicate bad habits. And it will underscore both the existing traffic laws and the need to enforce/abide by them. (And you can bet that those LCSO officers on foot who narrowly escape harm at the hands of local drivers will be all the more sensitive to the vulnerabilities of bikers and walkers in the future.)

Of course, enforcement goes both ways; bikers and walkers need to abide by the rules of the road as well. However, given the disparity of consequences for an unfortunate interaction, the bike/ped side of the equation will be far more likely to obey than one may see from the motor vehicle drivers.

That’s why enforcement is crucial, and we hope the LCSO initiative is a great success and can be repeated in the future. But enforcement alone is not enough.

That brings us back the opening question about changing behaviors. You need both enforcement (the fear of harming yourself) and awareness (the fear of harming others) to effective change behavior over the long haul.

People will change their actions if they see a police car parked on a street. But will they will also change their behavior if they see a “Drive Like Your Kids Played Here” sign along the road? Will they be more careful if they fear getting caught OR if they know the cyclist or pedestrian could be someone they know – or that could be them the next time?


Ready to ride or run?

Run? Feel like running to celebrate the holidays? Join the Babcock Ranch Jingle Bell 5K/10K for its first outing on Saturday. There’s also a QBE Shootout 5K in Naples that morning. Appropriately, the Christmas theme continues Dec. 16, with evening 5Ks in Fort Myers and Naples. Find out more at, and respectively.

Ride? Upcoming Critical Mass rides are NE Lee (Friday night) and Sanibel (Saturday night), with a special “Crappy Sweater, Cookie and Carol” ride Dec. 16 in downtown Fort Myers (details pending, so check on this one before you go). For night rides lights are required, helmets recommended, and details and sign-up info is online at

Both?  If you want a tri for the holidays, check out the Dec. 17 Christmas Duathlon & Triathlon set for Sugden Regional Park in Naples. Otherwise, check or for statewide events.


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.

# # #

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, December 6, 2017

Share the road and pathway

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 12/6/17

As the rest of the country begins to experience the type of weather that understandably sends folks our way, the influx of snowbirds and tourists impacts not only our roads but our pathways as well. That fact means there will be many more opportunities for collisions, conflicts, mishaps and close calls. By following the laws and etiquette that we, as a society, have put in place over the years, our interactions on the road and pathway will be enjoyable and safe. But it takes all parties to make that possibility the rule rather than an exception.

It would seem obvious that pedestrians, being the most vulnerable user of the public rights of way, should have the highest priority in anyone’s mind, if for no other reason than the ease at which we can be seriously injured or killed when mixing in traffic. But even though traffic laws appear to take the vulnerability factor into account, the reality is they are not enforced in that way, nor are laws as pedestrian-friendly as one might expect. In some cases that is very understandable — considering drivers can’t be expected to avoid every potential collision when it’s physiologically impossible due to time and distance elements that are in play with any moving object — drivers get priority.

The most important things to keep in mind when walking, running, skating or operating an assistive device like a wheelchair, are common sense concepts. Be predictable to other users. Use sidewalks and pathways when available and when not obstructed. Pay attention to the surroundings and forgo the use of distracting devices when on public rights of way. Be assertive when necessary at places like crosswalks and other areas where the rights are clear and obvious. Be considerate of others with whom we are sharing the pathway. And be patient when stuck at signals where the only reason we can’t cross when adjacent motor traffic has a green light is because the auto-centric pedestrian signal timing formula makes us wait another cycle for the sake of moving more cars. But we must also keep in mind that, on average, being struck by a motor vehicle at 30 mph gives us a 50 percent chance of survival and being hit at 40 mph decreases the survival chance to only 15 percent. In both cases, if not fatal, major and perhaps permanent injuries will likely result.

Those of us who operate bikes are required to follow the same rules and laws as drivers when using the roadway. One law that doesn’t apply is to maintain a minimum speed that would result in illegally obstructing traffic for motorists. While we are required to ride “as far right as practicable” we are not compelled to ride in the gutter and can, in most cases, use any part of the traffic lane as necessary to be safe from motorists passing illegally (i.e., less than a 3-foot buffer). If travel lanes are less than 14 feet wide (almost all our roads’ lanes are less than that width) we need not ride right when passing traffic puts us at risk. On pathways, bicyclists have second-class status and must not put pedestrians at risk by operating too fast, passing without warning or passing too closely. Bicycle operators must also keep in mind that public roads and pathways aren’t bicycle race courses.

When behind the wheel of our motor vehicles, machines that can easily take and ruin lives, we have the ultimate responsibility to behave appropriately for the power we wield. That’s the law and that’s what society agrees is required of anyone wishing to have the option to drive, at least in theory.

For example, one of the broadest laws, the careless driving statue states: “Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” (FSS 316.1925). That’s about as direct and basic as it gets, in my opinion. As well, the law that places blame on anyone who rear-ends another vehicle, person, or object is just as direct: “The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, or when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or other roadway conditions, and speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.” (FSS 316.185). Aside from these two comprehensive rules of the road for vehicle operators there are many other laws intended to keep us safe on the roads. But common courtesy — especially when operating around vulnerable users — should always be in play. Perhaps by thinking of that guy on the bike who is holding up traffic as our spouse/brother/father or the woman crossing the street, delaying drivers wanting to make their right turn, as our spouse/sister/mother will help us better understand and have patience with our fellow road users.

Go to for details of Florida’s bicycle laws. FDOT’s pedestrian law brochure can be found at And, as always, for more about this and similar matters visit BikeWalkLee’s blog at ¦

- 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.