Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Punta Gorda’s loaner bikes a hit
April 20, 2011
Want to make a positive impact during Earth Week? Being that we’re right in the middle of it, why not use your feet or bike rather than automobile for one or more trips you’d usually make by automobile, especially on Earth Day. And it’s not too late to include your steps or cycling miles so the pollution and energy savings can be measured as part of the“Taking it to the Streets” campaign.
Speaking of alternatives to our motor vehicles, other local communities should follow the lead of Punta Gorda and initiate a bike sharing program. In a model public-private partnership, for more than a year now, local businesses have been offering the use of loaner bikes at no fee for anyone who is willing to leave their credit card information and identification with the business until the bike is returned. According to the folks from Team Punta Gorda , the bikes are popular with visitors and locals alike. It’s no wonder Punta Gorda was named Florida Bicycle Association’s “2010 Bike Friendly Community of the Year.”
How about saving the electrical energy it takes to operate an elevator? Use the stairs instead. At the same time you’ll be training for American Lung Association’s “Fight for Air Stair Climb,” an annual event that takes place on Saturday, April 30, at High Point Place in downtown Fort Myers. Besides saving energy you’ll be doing yourself a favor whenever you use your feet rather than push a button. And by taking part in ALA’s climb you’ll be helping a very worthy cause while having fun, especially after the climbing is done.
The cycling community is as anxious to find ways to reduce distracted driving because of the obvious potential for great harm that can be done by irresponsible drivers whose attention wanes when behind the wheel. Yet another case in point: This year’s Bike Florida, an annual week-long bike tour of a different region of the state each year, experienced its first fatality ever when a motorist who admitted to reaching for his dropped phone veered his full-sized pick-up into the paved shoulder, killing a tour cyclist. As is generally the case, unless there’s evidence of impairment or some other egregious aggravating factor, the driver will get little more than a violation of right of way as his penalty for causing the law-abiding cyclist’s death. Failure to responsibly operate a 4,000-pound vehicle traveling at high speed isn’t considered an egregious offense by today’s standards.
The Florida Bicycle Association and BikeWalkLee are working with organizations like Stay Alive….Just Drive! in an attempt to see that all road users, including the most vulnerable (i.e. cyclists and pedestrians), are better protected from those who misuse what’s essentially a loaded, pointed weapon. To that end, two bills intended to reduce distracted driving and make operators more answerable when impacting vulnerable road users are being promoted in the Florida Legislature. Whether either will succeed is anyone’s guess right now. Obviously, it would be much better if we all simply exercised personal responsibility rather than enacted laws that may or may not have an impact, but that seems unlikely, especially upon our roadways.
To help with this effort — and have a good time doing so — come to the third annual Ribs, Rides, & Rescuers Rib Cook-Off on Saturday, May 15, at Harley Davidson of Fort Myers on Colonial Boulevard. Better yet, enter a team in the competition. Go to Stay Alive...Just Drive to learn more about the organization’s efforts and the event.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/ trainer and a former bike/ped coordinator who cycles regularly for transportation, recreation, and fitness. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334- 6417.