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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moser Column: Trail running enthusiasts navigate varied terrains, events

Florida Weekly, Jan. 16, 2013 
This week's Moser column focuses on the recent River, Roots, and Ruts" Trail Run at Caloosahatchee Regional Park, and upcoming runs and rides; and advocacy update reports on development of  important MPO countywide bike/ped safety action plan.

Starting the new year by spending three days running and cycling the trails of Caloosahatchee Regional Park is something I look forward to annually. It’s a real pleasure being part of the organization and race day management of River, Roots, and Ruts Trail Run, not only because it’s a great excuse to get out to that outstanding park, but working with race organizers Steve and Susan Brookman, the Mudcutters and all the other volunteers, and especially Lee County Parks and Rec staff, makes it a very satisfying experience. Next year’s race date is still being decided, but it’ll be one of the first Sundays of 2014.

Another benefit of this year’s event was meeting a volunteer new to RRR, but not to trail running. Phil Nissen is a long distance trail runner who has also organized ultra-distance trail races in the mid-Atlantic area for many years. Locally, he has started up a trail running group and organized visits to area parks and conservation areas. Go to his CaloosaTrailheads Facebook site for details of a 7-mile, self-supported Groundhog Day (Feb. 2) run on the CREW Trust trails in northeastern Collier County, just over the Lee County line on Corkscrew Road.

Just prior to Groundhog Day, another (semi) trail race takes place at Calusa NatureNJ Center. On Saturday, Jan.  Ber 26, the annual Calusa Bug Chase 5K (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) is being run on the center’s trails and aadjacent Ortiz Avenue paved pathway. And for those willing to travel, a whole series of trial runs are planned for seven area state parks through the spring. The first event of Real Florida Run Series takes place on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Lake Manatee State park in Bradenton (www.3dracinginc.com). I’m sure I’ll be writing more about what is an excellent opportunity to take day trips to terrific parks right in our own backyard. (They’re all on Sundays and start at 1 p.m., so that should remove barriers that traveling for early morning events often create).

Aside from trail runs, other upcoming runs, walks and rides include Tour de Cape 5K on Saturday, Jan. 19, and bike rides the following day; Moe’s Bike Brunch (rides and walk) in Naples on Sunday, Jan. 27 (naplespathways.org); and our classic Edison Festival of Lights 5K (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) on Saturday, Feb. 16, immediately preceding the parade.

Advocacy update
Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization recently held the first round of its Bicycle/Pedestrians Safety Action Plan stakeholders’ workshops, a gathering preceded by a training session for professionals, advocates and the general public. Although fairly well attended, some key players felt it unnecessary to participate in either the training or workshop, perhaps providing insight as to why our county has one of the worst bike/ped safety records in a state that consistently leads the nation in the bike/ped fatality rate.

For those who did take part, the consultant did a good job of framing the problem and offering countermeasures to consider. Besides engineering fixes, education/awareness and enforcement efforts are vital, with clear messages, target audiences and resources required to carry them out needing to be identified — something this process is working to achieve. After the consultant analyzes the input gathered at the workshop there’ll be another to confirm goals and develop the steps and timeframe to reach them.

This is important work that requires all those who are in any way, shape or form involved in transportation design, traffic safety and community planning to take part. It’s something that the disabled community clearly understands, as evidenced by its strong participation. It’s not too late for the jurisdictions, organizations and individuals who weren’t involved up to this point to take part, whether in person or otherwise. The MPO is taking input via surveys and e-mail and has some information already disseminated on its website at www.leempo.com. BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee.blogspot.com) can also bring you up to speed.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417

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