Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Why can’t we all just behave?

March 23, 2011

What would Dr. Larry do? That’s a question I all too often find myself wondering when I witness irresponsible driving, running, cycling, walking or skating. Should I simply dodge or ignore the oncoming (or sometimes stationary) menace or attempt to make things right? As we all can probably attest from experience, attempting to educate or correct in such situations, even by just making a simple comment, is often much more thorny then bargained for. So, how would Dr. Larry handle such interactions?

Never heard of Dr. Larry? It’s been well over a decade since he last wrote an advice column in a local running publication, so it’s no wonder (FMTC members might remember him). In his prime, Dr. Larry fielded many inquiries about running etiquette, from what to say and do when trying to pass someone who’s oblivious to their auditory surroundings because of their headphones, to dealing with a road/path-hogging pack of cyclists, runners or even walkers. Dr. Larry’s advice was always astute and spot-on, never tiptoeing around a subject.

We who are out there exposed and vulnerable have a good reason to be very critical of boneheaded driving since the one-ton plus machines most of us drive are truly killing devices. But what about the miscreants who are our fellow cyclists and pedestrians? Shouldn’t we demand that they, too, follow the rules of the road and pathway? While it’s true that cyclists and other pedestrians are unlikely to kill us, they can — and do — create very bad situations. Not to mention that those who ignore common courtesy and safe behavior reflect negatively on the rest of us.

Some recent examples: A large group on a training run who were using the roadway would not open a path for a cyclist to ride through, even though the cyclist was doing everything he could to avoid a conflict and the runners were illegally and inappropriately hogging the road. Or the recumbent cyclist who was flying down a narrow sidewalk in an area with heavy pedestrian activity and who almost took out a runner because he wasn’t willing to slow down and give a warning, both required by law and etiquette. And then there’s the group of weekend warrior cyclists who routinely blew red lights and stop signs all in the name of “training”, although they’re not really “training” for anything, thus giving motorists good reason to have a bad attitude about all cyclists.

If you recognize yourself as the bonehead in any of these situations, you need to change your behavior. No doubt that that’s what Dr. Larry would advise.

Hooters’ Half report

A record field of more than 1,000 registrants took part in this year’s Hooters-to- Hooters Half-Marathon. Unexpectedly, and to the delight of most runners, clouds and a light rain made for nice conditions. But by the time everyone was munching on chicken wings and sipping beer the weather had cleared and a fun time was had by all. The Fort Myers Track Club, with the assistance of many volunteers and FMPD, did an outstanding job of course management, although some participants who had a painfully slow pace did make things challenging in terms of traffic control. Next year there’ll likely be new guidelines for those who fit that category. Thanks to Hooters and all the other sponsors and volunteers for making this one of Southwest Florida’s best races.

Taking it to the Streets update

Earth Day is April 22. As part of the celebration, there’s a new local effort to encourage everyone to at least try one mode of transportation other than drive alone auto trips from April 13 through 23 and record the miles on “Trip Track.” Go to the website for complete information and links to the tracker.

Advocacy update
The National Bike Summit attracted almost 800 advocates to Washington, D.C. earlier this month, the most ever for this gathering. As this edition of my column is published I’ll be in Tallahassee for the Florida Bike Summit. Hopefully, I’ll be as optimistic coming away from ours as I was from the National Summit. All I can add is that anyone who cares about bike/ped, transit, complete streets and sustainable communities better be letting your elected officials know or much of the progress made will be stopped in its tracks.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦

— Dan Moser is league cycling and instructor/ trainer and program director for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

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