Wednesday, November 18, 2015

News-Press editorial: Cape deserving of bike paths honor

 News-Press editorial 11/19/15

We applaud Cape Coral for its ongoing efforts to improve bicycle safety that have resulted in the city achieving national recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

A beautifully planned network of interconnected paths for cyclists and pedestrians, covering 90 miles, is the reason the Cape joins only 351 other communities in the nation earning bronze-level designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Impressively, the city is no resting on what it has already accomplished. Officials and residents are moving forward with a vision and plan that will expand paths, provide bicycle targeted education classes for specific demographic groups, build complete roads that allow for pedestrian/bicycle paths, and continue to seek grants for “high visibility” enforcement and the use of bicycles by police officers.

The city, as well as Carolyn Conant, who is a major reason the city is becoming the place to ride and walk for the region and is the driving force behind the Cape Coral Bike Ped organization and the future development of a master plan (buoyed by Metropolitan Planning Organization funding), along with many others, have made this vision a reality. Cape Coral Bike Ped and the city continue to seek ways to improve safety, tourism and the economy. Its commitment to bicycle safety and awareness is doing just that.

“Our community has really pulled together to make Cape Coral a place where people want to come live, work and play,” said Conant, whose group raised $115,000 over six months to help pay for signs along the seven bike path routes that make up the 90 miles, and also received in-kind contributions from the city to help make and erect the signs, helping reduce costs by over $300,000.

The positive realities of this effort are vital because of the tragic realities of the past and no doubt ones that will occur in the future if other communities in the region do not step up and roll out similar plans. Florida is the deadliest state in the country for cyclists and pedestrians and Lee ranks among the top counties in the state for deaths.

Cape is setting a wonderful example and people are taking notice. Bike Ped has distributed over 30,000 brochures on the city's bike safety efforts to various visitor centers throughout the state "and they are flying off the shelves," Conant said.

People can learn more about Bike Ped's efforts at an 8:30 a.m. meeting today at the Team Aubuchon Building in downtown Cape's Club Square or on the city's website, where a GPS interactive map on the city's bike paths, is available at We encourage more communities in Southwest Florida to develop and execute master plans that look at expanding current roadways with paths, include complete streets in its future road building projects, initiate educational campaigns that focus on fitness and safety and encourage more residents to leave their vehicles in the driveway and pedal and walk to their destinations. 

What people are saying about the designation:

FDOT District One Secretary Billy Hattaway
“As the champion for the FDOT Bike Ped Safety Initiative and Complete Streets effort, I’d like to congratulate the city of Cape Coral for making the kind of concerted efforts being rewarded by this recognition."

Tamara Pigott, executive director for the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau
"Most people who visit Southwest Florida want to spend time outdoors. This impressive bicycle-friendly designation is an asset to the entire community. Safe biking paths offer locals and visitors the chance to spend even more time exploring our slice of paradise.

Bill Nesper, vice president of programs at the League of American Bicyclists
“We applaud the visionary leaders and dedicated citizens of Cape Coral for making bicycling a safe and convenient option to transportation and recreation.

Marni Sawicki, Cape Coral mayor
"Our goal has been to create safer bicycling opportunities in our community, and we have made significant strides toward that goal, thanks to our partnership with Cape Coral Bike Ped."

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