The official Blog for bikewalklee.org. BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County, FL.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Moser Column: Wayfinding is a vital component of our bike/pedestrian network
Dan's column reminds us of why wayfinding (signs and maps) is important to a successful bike/ped network, helpful to new residents and visitors, and a basic requirement for becoming a bicycle-friendly community (BFC). Cape Coral and Sanibel (our two BFCs) are leading the way...now we need the other communities in Lee County to step up to the plate, esp. given the federal TIGER grant that was based on connecting our existing loops.
Cape Coral is sometimes known as a “can’t get there from here” place for many, including bicyclists, runners and walkers who are unfamiliar with the city’s extensive canal network. Even though there exists quite an extensive array of pathways, bike lanes and lightly trafficked neighborhood roads that allow cyclists and pedestrians safe passage around much of the city, until recently getting from here to there was often frustrating because of dead-ends created by canals that also serve as effective barriers by default. But thanks to ambitious community volunteers, cooperative city staff and elected officials, and astute business people who seized an opportunity, more than 90 miles of non-motorized routes were signed and marked to make it possible to know where one was and where one was heading.
As motorists we expect — and almost always get — adequate informational and directional markings and signage. In fact, it’s one of the basics of transportation planning and traffic management. So why is that generally not the case for us when we’re non-motorists, at least here in Southwest Florida? Cape Coral and Sanibel are proud exceptions to this problem. Why is it that when we’re on bike and foot we’re expected to speculate on our whereabouts and how to get where we’re going, having to use signs meant for motorists — which frequently don’t provide enough useful/visible information — to find our way? From my perspective, the answer is clearly a matter of priorities among transportation decision makers who are either unconcerned with anything except moving cars or are ignorant of the need. In this day and age it’s hard to believe anyone who’s in such a position could be ignorant of the need.
Signs like this are very helpful, especially for visitors and new residents.
At any time the powers-that-be can put forth the resources to do what Cape Coral, Sanibel and many other communities throughout Florida and the U.S. have done by finally adding wayfinding — easy-to-read signs — to our growing bike/ped network. For one thing, it’s a basic requirement for becoming a bike-friendly community, if that even matters to those who can make a difference.
Wayfinding is also critical for visitors and new or part-time residents, so it makes sense from a tourism and economic development perspective to help folks get to their destinations. And having the confidence to make a trip by bike or foot safely and efficiently will get cars off the road, which equates to reducing the need to continually spend a staggering amount of tax dollars on road capacity projects, something we continue to do in our unattainable attempt to build our way out of congestion.
A partial wayfinding attempt was made a few years ago when two popular bike routes were designated as such and then heavily promoted. Signs were placed on the 20-plus-miles mile Tour de Park route and less extensive University Loop. Unfortunately the work was left incomplete and didn’t include any other part of our network. But because of requirements written into the significant TIGER grant we were recently awarded, that job could and should be completed and eventually expanded to include our entire network. Of course, getting it done is predicated upon cooperation from each of the various jurisdictions, from Lee County to FDOT to our municipalities.
At least one is questioning the value of providing this very basic and necessary service for its many residents and visitors, even though the cost of doing so would be a drop in the bucket when compared to what is routinely spent on other transportation projects. Ask your elected representatives and transportation officials what their positions are on this matter — you may be surprised about what you learn. In the meantime, efforts to make this happen will continue in the hope that those objecting will see the light or can be worked around. To learn more and stay abreast of progress and continued resistance, visit BikeWalkLee’s blog at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
>>Rotary’s Run for the Rose Garden 5K, Saturday, Feb. 13, Rotary Park, Cape Coral, 3dracinginc.com
>>18th annual Royal Palm Classic, Sunday, March 13, Fort Myers Brewery, Gateway, caloosariders.org
— Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org 334- 6417.