|Cindy Banyai with daughter in "Mama Chari"|
Join the Royal Palm Classic ride on Sunday, be part of the fun, the comraderie, and the discussion of bike safety solutions and action. Hope to see you there!
The News-Press and BikeWalkLee will seek solutions to make roads safer for bicyclists at Sunday's Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club ride.
Caloosa Riders hosts Sunday morning rides that range from 15 to 62 miles for its 17th annual Royal Palm Classic. For information and to register, visit www.caloosariders.org and go to special events pages.
The News-Press, as part of its Share the Road Florida campaign, will host a solutions booth after the rides, where attendees can offer input on paper and video. Journalists will use this feedback to inform continuing coverage.
Cindy Banyai, of BikeWalkLee, will be introducing a "6ft Flag" safety movement, which was inspired by Sarah Owen's guest column in The News-Press as part of its package on bike crashes and fatalities. The aim is to raise money to buy and distribute 2,000 bike lights to workers, groups, neighborhoods and schools.
"When all the newspaper articles and Sarah's column came out, I said, 'Hey let's turn this viral,'" Banyai said. "Let's start our own movement."
The News-Press found darkness and the lack of lighting was a factor in some of the 12 bicyclist deaths in Southwest Florida in the past year or so. The law requires bicyclists use rear and front lights in the dark. A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman has said the lack of lighting on bikes and roads contribute to many bike crashes.
Banyai, a mother of two young children, became involved with BikeWalkLee a few years after moving from Japan in 2009. She brought a bicycle used by mothers in Japan with the hope that she could use the bike with her kids in Southwest Florida.
"I had these dreams of coming and being able to ride around and it became very clear to me that it was not a safe place for me to ride around with my child," she said. "I'm not confident on the road with the other drivers."
She hopes the campaign will motivate regular people to become involved in roadway safety. It could also show policy-makers there's a broad base of concern for making the roads safer for bicyclists and walkers, one that extends beyond advocates.
The Caloosa Riders first ride leaves at 8 a.m. from Fort Myers Brewing Company, 12811 Commerce Lakes Drive, Suite 27-28, in Fort Myers. Lunch and a beer glass are included in the $38 registration. It costs $42 to register on March 21 and March 22. On-site registration starts at 7 a.m. Credit cards cannot be accepted the day of the event. All riders must wear approved helmets. Headphones are prohibited.
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