Thursday, January 22, 2015

BWL Column: Change up pace, scenery on next bike ride

 BWL's column this week focuses on two options for enjoying more distances on bike paths/trails or experiencing a change of pace in your biking routine--take your bike with you or rent it when you arrive.  You're also invited to participate in an academic study about bicyclist behavior.  Our upcoming events section didn't make it into the paper, but here's a link to events.

BikeWalkLee Column, 1/22/15
News-Press "Go Coastal"  Section
Lee County has a number of great biking places — Sanibel, Cape Coral, the Tour de Parks come to mind. Good for those who live nearby or who have the legs (and time) to pedal there and back.
But what about the rest of us?

You do have some choices to allow you to enjoy more distance trails and paths, either for a change of pace (if your neighborhood options have grown a little stale) or scenery (to enjoy some new sights in Southwest Florida).

Take it with you: Bringing your bike along for the ride can be easy, if you have the right equipment. For many, that means a bike rack for your motor vehicle, with an array of removable options to fit almost every vehicle. Some mount on your trunk, which is quick to remove but takes a little practice… and remember to tighten those straps. Others use a trailer hitch mount, which is more secure if you already have a hitch. Still others allow you to put bikes on your roof – good for lighter bikes, but watch for low-hanging everything. If you have a pickup truck, there are racks that fit in every bed that can haul a host of rides. You can even put your bike in your trunk… which is easy but limited, and can be hard on the more breakable bicycle parts.

Rent it there: Renting a bike where you're planning to ride not only makes the process simpler, it can be a way to get you riding more (if your current ride is a wreck) or to try a new approach (if you're thinking about upgrading your ride down the road). The down side can be that you'll be riding an unfamiliar bike on unfamiliar territory (so be careful) and your choices (or at least styles) can be limited – often toward the lower end.

There are local shops that specialize in short-term rentals – Billy's Bike Rentals on Sanibel is a local institution, and you can rent bikes at Lakes Park as well. Most bike stores will rent as well as sell bikes, but many won't let you have one for less than a week (or at least a few days) minimum. However, if you're here (or elsewhere) on vacation, a bike store can be a great option over bringing your bike with you… longer rental terms and wider bicycle choices can make a cycling vacation much more achievable (and affordable, if you have to pay to ship you own bike).
Exploring new places is more fun on a bike, where slower speeds and an inquiring mind can turn any day into an adventure. Give it a try soon.

BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at

Why do bicyclists break the law?
Q: "As cycling grows more common in a city, does peer pressure to obey the law follow? As cities build more bike infrastructure, does that make cyclists less likely to run red lights?"
A: Cycling driving interaction has been a hot-button issue around here. Now, researchers are asking cyclists — and others — about what might make them break (or at least bend) the law. You can add your voice to the conversation.

Daniel Piatkowski, an assistant professor at Savannah State University, along with colleagues at the University of Colorado Denver, are conducting a study about bicyclist behavior. Their survey, which will take about 10 or 15 minutes to complete, asks questions about your travel patterns and experiences as bicyclists under various situations. The survey is part of a larger study intending to better understand our transportation system and what factors might correlate with different behaviors.
You can find it online at

Share and learn about ideas to make the roads safer on The News-Press Facebook page, Share the Road Florida.

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