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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dan Moser Column: Upcoming races and safety focus

 2/13/13 Florida Weekly: Go Long at Hooters-Half after sprinting Edison 5K
dan@floridabicycle.org
This week's Dan Moser column highlights two upcoming runs (Hooters Half-Marathon and Edison 5 K) and the Biking to GreenMarket on Sat.  His advocacy update focuses on January's deadly stats for pedestrians and cyclists and need for everyone to exercise responsible behavior.

How does drinking beer and eating chicken wings in a parking lot along U.S. 41 sound as a reward for running 13.1 miles? This may not appeal to everyone, but more than 1,000 runners and volunteers think it’s a pretty good enticement to get them out to the Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon. Dietary issues aside, Hooters lays out one of the best post-race spreads and party of any around. This year’s race happens on Sunday, March 3. If you aren’t interested or up to running it, consider being a volunteer — many warm bodies are required to manage a 13-mile course in the urban core of Fort Myers.

On the same level as Hooters Half in terms of post-race events and the race itself is this Saturday’s Edison Festival 5K. Running on a course with somewhere around 50,000 people watching while they await the Grand Parade makes this more than just another 5K. Many participants perform at their best because of the energy that comes from family members, friends and total strangers cheering them on. Afterward, runners can watch the parade and ancillary activities while awaiting pizza and beer that precedes awards presentations in the big tent along the river in Centennial Park. Hope to see you there.

The 2012 Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon Post-Race Party.
The 2012 Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon Post-Race Party.

Finally, come by bike or foot to the Alliance for the Arts’ GreenMarket this Saturday morning where BikeWalkLee and the Lee County Office of Sustainability will be offering information and presentations related to cycling and pedestrian matters.

Advocacy update
This year is starting off to be as deadly as our worst year ever — 2005 — when 151 people died on our streets, roads, and highways.

Twelve traffic-related deaths occurred in January, including four pedestrians and one bicyclist. And although there are quite a number of efforts ongoing to prevent crashes, including developing a local area bicycle/pedestrian safety action plan that will be implemented beginning this spring, road users are simply not exercising responsible behavior.

Motorists drive too fast, aggressively and while engaged in various distractions. Bicyclists operate in an unpredictable manner, frequently ignoring rules of the road as if they don’t apply. And pedestrians often take risks that can only lead to tragedy. Even if these generalizations don’t apply to everyone, irresponsible behavior is all too common and is the reason we are killing and maiming each other in consistently alarming numbers. No doubt the nature of our roadways has a lot to do with motorists operating at high speeds — after all, that’s what roadway designers intend — so that element plays a major role in the problem.

Recently, I met a friend of Michael Mullady, the victim in a Jan. 31 pedestrian fatality, as she as was placing a memorial at the site of the collision. It happened on Judd Road in North Fort Myers, a very short street that has no sidewalks, no streetlights, and is a cut-through between a highway and shopping center. It was recently resurfaced so is conducive to high-speed driving (no speed limit is posted). The victim’s friend explained that she learned Michael was walking with his back to traffic while wearing dark clothing at pre-dawn and that the motorist was operating with a suspended license. This situation is an unfortunate example of bad decision-making on the part of both victim and driver.

While standing on the road speaking to Michael’s grieving friend, a lone car buzzed us at well over 40 mph, totally inappropriate behavior whether pedestrians were present or not. If this incident is an example of how this short segment of pavement is used, speed may have also been a factor in the crash that killed Michael, perhaps adding to the list of irresponsible behaviors that ended another life. (At 20 mph, a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle has a 15 percent of being killed; at 30 mph, 50 percent; and at 40 mph, 85 percent).

Will it take a sustained crackdown by law enforcement to change our ways? Or might better roadway design lead to better behavior by all users? Based on what we’re seeing so this year so far in terms of serious and fatal crashes, we don’t have the luxury of time to wait for engineering improvements, so it’ll have to be a mix of enforcement and other efforts to change behavior that we’ll need to concentrate on as the transportation professionals make the necessary changes to road designs that instigate bad decisions, whether by drivers, cyclists or pedestrians. You’ll find more on BikeWalkLee’s blog.

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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