Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moser Column: Enjoy running season’s last blasts

Dan Moser
Florida Weekly, Outdoors Section, April 30, 2014

Today's Moser column highlights running events in May and focuses its advocacy spotlight on some troublesome "wrong way for cyclists" signs on Palm Beach Blvd.  Note: since this article was submitted, FDOT has covered these signs and will be removing them soon.  Great work, Dan, MPO staff, and FDOT. And thanks to the citizen who contacted Dan about the problem...YOU are our eyes and ears out there!

Along with late October, when our seemingly endless summer weather pattern of stifling heat and moisture has mercifully given way to reasonable temperatures and tolerable humidity, this time of year is hard to beat for taking part in outdoor activities. But the oven is cranking up and it won’t be long before the daily thunderstorms, tropical systems and associated humidity settle in. So now is the time to take advantage of the many running and walking events still being offered in Southwest Florida.

Unlike the relatively few summertime events that we can look forward to through September these shouldn’t be too much of a challenge because it’s not too hot yet. However, getting acclimated to the rising temperatures now so you’re prepared to bake a bit as we get into mid- and late May is a good idea. In other words, don’t do all your training on a treadmill in the air-conditioning.
Beginning this weekend and through May there are quite a few choices. In fact, some are on the same day and at the same time, so you’ll have to make some choices. All of the events raise funds for good causes.

Below is a sampling of the offerings.

 Saturday, May 3: Run for Kayla 5K, Cape Coral  Sunday, May 4: Tropicool 5K, Old Naples
Saturday, May 10: Turtle Trot 5K, Lovers Key State Park
Saturday, May 10: Cape Coral Sprint Triathlon, Cape Coral Yacht Club
Saturday, May 17: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club
Saturday, May 17: Color Collier 2-Miler, North Collier Regional Park
Monday, May 26: Memorial Day 5K, Eastwood Golf Course
Monday, May 26: Goodwill 5K at Sandoval, Cape Coral
Saturday, May 31: Pink Heels 5K, Fort Myers River District

Among those listed are two that are run on unpaved surfaces, at least for the most part. Lovers Key’s trails are a bit soft and sandy but the surroundings make for a very enjoyable run or walk. And the Eastwood Golf Course route is on the grassy fairways and paved cart paths, creating a cross–country race experience. There aren’t too many organized off-road runs in our area so anytime there’s an opportunity to do so it’s worth taking.

Advocacy matters

One-way lanes for bikers and pedestrians on Palm Beach Boulevard approaching the I-75 interchange punish those of us using nonmotorized modes of transportation.
One-way lanes for bikers and pedestrians on Palm Beach Boulevard approaching the I-75 interchange punish those of us using nonmotorized modes of transportation.

I’ve written more than once about the problems cyclists and pedestrians face when navigating our I-75 interchanges on the surface roads. Some don’t even have the most basic features, such as paved shoulders or sidepaths. Others have those features but are frequently unmaintained. None are really designed well for anyone other than motorists but some have recently been made even more difficult for non-motorists by recent “improvements” that are part of the I-75 expansion to six lanes.

Colonial Boulevard, with its dedicated exit lanes and double right turn-lanes has become an intersection from hell, whether on the sidepaths or roadway’s travel lanes and shoulders. And now it looks like Palm Beach Boulevard / SR 80 is joining the ranks of interchanges that are built for moving cars at near interstate speeds onto and off of I-75, creating a potential deathtrap for non-motorists who dare venture there. All the signs and markings in the world have little effect on motorists flying through crosswalks at 55 miles per hour as they begin their merge to or from the interstate. And yes, there are enough signs and markings to make anyone’s head spin.

A new and troubling twist, however, has been added to the SR 80 interchange: the 10-foot-wide multi-use sidepaths have been designated as one-way. While the reasoning may be sound — it’s much safer to ride in the direction of traffic versus against it, whether on the road or sidepath — there are other issues that make it inherently unfair to users. One is having to cross six or more lanes of interstate mind-set traffic for no other reason than to be traveling in the prescribed direction. The other is one of post-crash justice; if a cyclist is hit in a crosswalk, he or she would have some legal protection. But if it was a case of traveling in the “wrong” direction, the motorist might be let off the hook for any traffic violation as well as the responsibility to pay for damages to the cyclist victim.
Finally, there’s a question of whether that same potential loss of legal protection would apply to a pedestrian struck in a crosswalk since the same reasoning requiring one to be traveling in a certain direction should apply, but the signs refer only to bicyclists.

FDOT has been made aware of this and is looking into the matter. You’ll find more about this and other items of interest at BikeWalkLee’s blog.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and program director for the Florida Bicycle Association. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28th: Upcoming running/walking/biking events

It's Monday morning and it's getting warmer every day.  Get out and enjoy the beautiful weather before summer arrives...and be sure to mark your calendar to participate in the annual Ride of Silence on May 21st.
Upcoming events
·         Saturday, May 3: Run for Kayla 5K, 7:30 a.m., Patriot Elementary School, Cape Coral (
·         Saturday, May 10: Turtle Trot 5K, Lovers Key State Park, 8 a.m. (
·         Saturday, May 17: Cape Cops 5K, ,Cape Coral Yacht Club Community  Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7:30 a.m. (
   Monday, May 26: Memorial Day 5KRun on the Green, Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers, 7:30 a.m. $20 in advance, $30 day of.(

Cycling and other events:
·         Saturday, May 10: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Triathlon,Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park,5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7 a.m. (

·         Wednesday, May 21: Two local Rides of  Silence:

      Downtown Fort Myers:  7 p.m. (meet at 6:45)
     Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers (under the Bridge at Heitman and Bay Streets). Cyclists will ride in a silent funeral-style procession at 10-12 mph for 8 miles to honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Riders are requested to wear black arm bands or red if they have been injured in a cycling versus motor vehicle accident. More details Everyone welcome. Free of charge. No registration necessary.

     Sanibel: 7 p.m. (meet at 6:45 p.m. at Sanibel Community Park on Periwinkle).  Eight mile silent ride across Causeway islands and bridges (turning around at the underpass on the south end of the high span bridge).  Sponsored by the Sanibel Bicycle Club.  Contact Patti Sousa for more info: 395-1695.    
      Click the blog post linked above for details on both rides.
      Sunday, July 6: Wheels and Wings V Bicycle Ride. 62/32/15 mile rides and a 10-mile gentlemen's mass start race within the 62-mile route. Speed Trap Alley -- break the speed limit and receive a written warning from Punta Gorda Police, suitable for framing. Mystery Ride for the 15 milers. Beef O' Bradys 1105 Taylor Road, Punta Gorda,$30 includes ride, SAG stops, T-shirt, 10 Wings and two drinks (

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spotlight on Bike/Ped Safety--April 2014

Bike/Ped safety continues to be a front and center issue.  Since our March report, there has been activity at all levels of government.  This post includes bike/ped fatalities in April, BWL safety education efforts, actions taken to implement the MPO Bike/Ped Safety Action plan; update on road safety issues pending in the Florida Legislature; and update on national happenings on safety. Track BikeWalkLee's Facebook page and subscribe to real-time blog emails for the latest updates on all safety developments.

April Bike/Ped Fatalities (through 4/25/14)
During April, 1 pedestrian and 2 cyclists (including weatherman Jim Reif) lost their lives in Lee County crashes, bringing the total pedestrian fatalities in 2014 to date to 7; and cyclists fatalities to 4.  See link for graphs that include historical information and actuals through March for comparison.  
April also saw two cases of road rage that injured two pedestrians and one cyclist. 

BikeWalkLee Safety Education Efforts:
The tragic death of local meteorologist Jim Reif was just the most recent example of the lack of a bike helmet perhaps being the difference between an injury and a fatality. BikeWalkLee used this "teachable moment" to emphasize the importance of wearing a helmet when biking in our April 17th column, and Dan Moser also covered in his Florida Weekly column April 16th.  There have been several letters to the editor about helmets in the past two weeks. (also included in BWL's 4/17 column)

Dan Moser also provided free helmet-fitting training for school personnel and community organizations on April 24th.  Completing the training is a requirement for being eligible to request free helmets for distribution from FDOT.

Another opportunity to raise awareness about biking safety is the annual Rides of Silence on April 21st.  This international annual event memorializes and honors cyclists who have been injured and killed while riding. The many hundreds of events share the same goals:  "To honor fallen cyclists, to promote road safety, and to make a difference." Local rides are planned for both downtown Fort Myers and Sanibel.  See the BWL blog post.

Link to MPO update:
At the April 18th MPO Board meeting there were updates and a discussion about implementation of the bike/ped safety action plan.

Update on bills in FL Legislature

The news is mixed on the Legislature front.  The bill to strengthen hit and run provisions (SB102) is on way to Governor's desk; while the bill to increase speed limits on some FL roads is moving fast through both chambers but the battle isn't over yet.  On 4/27, a News-Press editorial came out in opposition to the bill, and on 4/28, they published a commentary in opposition by an AAA official.   The texting bills are still in flux, so stay tuned.
National bike/ped safety update:
  • National Performance Measures for Safety
FHWA finally released the proposed regulations on safety performance measures and there are no separate measures for bike/ped fatalities, a major disappointment.  Read BikeWalkLee's blog:
BikeWalkLee urges USDOT to establish bike/ped safety performance measure

"In 2012, 3,050 fatal crashes occurred on U.S. roadways that involved
distraction (10% of all fatal crashes). These crashes involved 3,119
distracted drivers, as some crashes involved more than one distracted
driver... [Of those killed in distraction-affected crashes, 13 percent had
been pedestrians, and 2 percent had been bicyclists.]"
On April 16th, the Alliance for Biking and Walking issued its 2014 "benchmarking" report on bicycling and walking in the US.  It's filled with tons of data and research on all 50 states, along with 52 of the most populous cities.  Here's a chance to learn what's happening around the country and see how Florida is stacking up against other states.
This is an excellent report from Boston--the first phase in a long-term effort to comprehensively address and improve cyclist safety.  The approach, methodology, and way its communicated to the general public can serve as a model for how Lee County might effectively implement its countywide Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bike Bistro starts Bean Team for cyclists of all levels

 Here's an opportunity to join a weekly group ride for cyclists of all levels, offered by the Bike Bistro (one of BWL's supporter organizations) as a way of building cycling fellowship.  Great way to enjoy SWFL and to meet fellow cyclists. Let us know if other bike shops or organizations are offering similar ride opportunities, and we'll share them with our network.

News-Press "Go Coastal" Section, April 24, 2014

The Bike Bistro invites you to join its new Bean Team — a weekly group ride led by its bicycle mechanic, Chris Griffith. Explore a multitude of pathways and magnificent scenery during a 25- to 40-mile ride across south Fort Myers, from the Regional Southwest airport to Sanibel Island.

The Bean Team meets at 5 p.m. each Thursday at Bike Bistro, 20351 Summerlin Road, #114, in Sanibel Beach Place along Summerlin Road in south Fort Myers. The routes change weekly to keep it fresh and rides are divided by skill level for a comfortable group outing. While there is no charge to join the Bean Team, anyone who purchases a custom Bean Team jersey will receive a special discount on accessories and apparel.

"We want to be a part of building cycling fellowship," said Bike Bistro owner Steve Martin. "The Bean Team allows for friendships to develop among those who enjoy the outdoors and cycling."

Group rides should be enjoyable and safe. They are typically the most visible members of the cycling community, which means there is a tremendous effect on cycling advocacy. To have safety within the group, have clear communication. As the Bean Team ride leader, Griffith will ensure novice riders are safe with ride training that will outline proper protocol.

"Chris will help you get the most out of being a part of the Bean Team, no matter what your speed," Martin said.

Bean Team members are welcome to enjoy a steamy mug of custom-blended, freshly-ground java before the rides — take a seat in one of the cozy red chairs by the window or at the coffee bar with free Wi-Fi access throughout the shop.

The Bike Bistro is a full-service neighborhood shop with a selection of exclusive bicycle and apparel names, as well as worry-free bike rentals. From one-speed beach bikes to premium carbon road bikes, Bike Bistro will have a perfect fit for any style rider to rent or own. The shop carries bicycles made in the United States such as Chicago-based Heritage or Minnesota-based Handsome Cycles.

The art of riding comes full circle at Bike Bistro with renowned contributing artist Taliah Lempert and jewelry designed by Nancy Martin-McKay, who uses bicycle parts as inspiration for her pieces. Lempert, whose work hangs in New York galleries, also creates novelty coloring books, note and postcards — all available at Bike Bistro.

Discover if you are a Caff (20 or more MPH) or Decaff (20 or less MPH) by joining the Bean Team, a group of cyclists who share a love for two wheels. Find the Bike Bistro at 20351 Summerlin Road in Unit 114 – between Publix grocery store and GatorBites restaurant.

"We look forward to meeting you there," said Bean Team leader Griffith.

— Bike Bistro hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call the Bike Bistro at 479-1999 or visit

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Call for stories for BikeWalkLee's bi-weekly column in News-Press "Go Coastal" section.

Here's an opportunity for you to share your stories of biking and walking in Lee County for use in BWL's bi-weekly News-Press column.

In November 2012, at the invitation of News-Press when it launched its new "Go Coastal" section, BikeWalkLee began a biweekly series of columns focused on getting outdoors in SWFL.  The emphasis of this section is on encouraging readers to get outdoors and giving them some ideas of places to go and things to do.  However, we also use this column to educate the community about the concept of complete streets, bike/ped safety and BikeWalkLee's mission.  Our columns cover events and opportunities to make our area a better place to walk, run, bike and try transit; share tips for safer walking and biking; explain why street design matters for use and safety; discuss how local, regional, state and federal policies impact what our streets look like now and into the future; and much more. 

Go to our blog to see all the columns we've written over the past two years.  

Call for Stories
In our April 17th column, we included a request:

Tell Us About Your Ride: 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.

The idea is to provide some interesting information to our readers but to also inspire and motivate show them they also can do whatever you're doing.  We also want to inspire them to get involved in advocating for biking/walking facilities (note the column about the Pioneer Trail/Boca Grande ride...focused on the grassroots advocates that made those trails happen). Show what else you combine with the ride or you plan your route and what delightful connections to the community and your neighbors you experience along the way. 

Your story should be about 500 words and include 2-3 photos (which could include a map). Your input will be turned into a BikeWalkLee column by our column/writer, Ken Gooderham, so don't worry about submitting "final copy".

If you're interested in submitting a story, please email us with your idea and estimated submission date by May 2nd. (  Thanks!!

Report by Darla Letourneau

Monday, April 21, 2014

BikeWalkLee urges local elected officials to provide collaborative leadership on bike/ped safety at April 18th MPO Board meeting

At the April 18th MPO Board meeting there were updates and a discussion about implementation of the bike/ped safety action plan.
One of the standing agenda items on the monthly Lee MPO Board meetings is an update on implementation of both the TIGER grant and the Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (BPSAP).

At the 4/18 MPO Board meeting, the MPO Director, Don Scott provided the monthly status report to the Board on implementation both of these items.  Scott provided the timeline for the two TIGER RFPs (see blog post: March 28,2014 TIGER grant implementation moves forward: First of two RFPs issued by Lee MPO.  He also discussed the performance measures that will be used for measuring the success of this project.  Mayor Ruane asked the staff to provide a timeline and milestones for all the tasks in TIGER implementation, with identification of where policy decisions may be needed by the Board.

With respect to implementation of the BPSAP, Scott reported on the trends in bike and pedestrian fatalities and injuries, presenting the following graphs with data through March 31, 2014:

Scott also reported that the bike/ped "Road Safety Audits" called for in the BPSAP on four high crash corridors are now getting underway by FDOT and their team.  The corridors targeted are: Six Mile Cypress and Colonial Blvd; US 41 and Six Mile Cypress; SR 80 and Marsh Ave; and SR 78 and Santa Barbara Blvd.

BikeWalkLee Comments and Board Discussion
BikeWalkLee's representative Darla Letourneau spoke on the safety issue after Scott's presentation, urging the elected officials to make bike/ped safety a higher priority and provide collaborative leadership. The value of our local jurisdictions working together was recently demonstrated in the team of five mayors who provided collaborative leadership on water quality issues, and Letourneau urged the mayors to use this same kind of approach for bike/ped safety.  Letourneau commented that as she was researching best practices around the country over the past week in anticipation of  the first meeting of BPCC's safety working group, she was struck by two common elements of successful communities:  how involved the elected officials were in the bike/ped safety campaign; and the importance of having a broad coalition of stakeholders at the table in the campaign.

Letourneau outlined some of the actions that BikeWalkLee is taking to educate the community through our communication channels, including using our  biweekly column in News-Press in "Go Coastal" section.  Several recent columns have focused on what walkers and cyclists can do to be safer road users.  Dan Moser's biweekly column in Florida Weekly Outdoors section also hammers on safety issues. FDOT District 1 has also made bike/ped safety a top priority and is offering assistance as well as grant resources.

Letourneau closed her comments by saying that this isn't just about bike/ped safety--it's about the safety of all road users and Lee County's track record on traffic safety is abysmal.  Addressing the most dangerous behavioral problems by drivers-- distracted driving, DUIs, speeding, road rage, hit and run crashes--will save the lives of other motorists, not just pedestrians and cyclists.  

MPO Board members expressed interest in knowing how our bike/ped injuries and fatalities compare with usage, with Scott responding that the rates we use are based on population since we don't have usage numbers.  Other members were interested in getting backup data on where the crashes are happening in their jurisdictions, which staff will provide.  Fort Myers members suggested that there may be a need for more crosswalks on some of the major roads in Fort Myers, such as MLK and Palm Beach Blvd.

In the afternoon of April 18th, the MPO's Bicycle Pedestrian Coordination Committee (BPCC)'s newly formed safety working group met to review crash reports for the Del Prado and US 41 corridors with the goal of coming up with a way to categorize the crash details and causes that can then be used to identify countermeasures that could be implemented in those locations to improve safety.  Based on those discussions, staff will prepare maps of all the crashes on those two corridors over the past six years and will develop a matrix of how to categorize those crashes prior to the next meeting of the working group.

The working group is looking at the Boston Cyclist Safety Report--2013, along with other national resources, for ideas about the approach, methodology, and ways to communicate with the general public for implementation of the Lee County Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

Report by Darla Letourneau