Thursday, November 10, 2016

Don’t be afraid of the dark

BikeWalkLee column, the News-Press, 11/10/2016
by Ken Gooderham

After last weekend’s falling back of the clocks, it’s a little tougher to walk or ride in the daylight – there being less of it, after all. That’s even more troublesome as temperatures become more inviting (at least to some) for outdoor activities.

You don’t have to let the growing gloom keep you off the sidewalks and bike lanes. But you do need to take a few precautions to keep your exercise safer.

  • Be visible: Think bright… both colors and lights. When the sun goes down, it’s not the time to grab your darkest outfit for a ride, run or walk. Instead, go for the high-vis colors. Throw in some reflective materials as well, to help you stand out when lights sweep over you.
  • Light it up: This deserves another mention… use lights both to see and be seen. Flashing red lights get drivers’ attention, while bright white lights let you see where you’re going.
  • Stay in the light: If you have that choice, opt for a well-lit route for your run or ride. Easier for you to see and been seen, and a boost to safety overall.
  • Know where you’re going: It’s often wise to pick a route you know, both for overcoming any obstacles and to ensure you know how to find your way home… and so that your ride or run doesn’t go longer than you want because you can get there from here. 
  • Strength in numbers: If you like to run or ride with others, extra people can also improve your chances of being seen – and in dealing with any issues along the way. If you really prefer to go solo, at least let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return, so they can worry if you’re not back in a reasonable time.
  • Pay attention: It’s even easier to make mistakes in the dark, even on a route you know. So don’t make any risky moves, don’t go where you don’t know what’s there (like a pothole or a tree branch, say) and ditch the headphones as well… you’ll need all your senses to compensate for the decreasing vision driven by dusk.
  • Carry ID (at least) and a phone: You’ll want the former if something happens to you, and the latter if you (or someone else) needs some help.

A little darkness shouldn’t impinge on your exercise routine. But it shouldn’t put you at risk, either. A few simple steps will keep you safe.

Bike/ped video deadline nears

Attention, Lee County middle and high schoolers: You still have time to submit your PSA video to the “BikeWalkSafely2Live” contest, being held as part of the city of Cape Coral’s bike/ped safety initiative. Your winning entry could earn your school $1,000 to buy media equipment, as well as get your fine efforts aired on local TV and websites.

The deadline for submittals is Nov. 18; details and an upload link is online at So let your creativity soar to help keep your fellow students (and all bikers and walkers) safer.  

Ready to ride or run?

Run? Some unique opportunities for runners ahead. Tomorrow (Nov. 11), you can run across the Midpoint for the Veterans Day 5K, which begins at 7 p.m. ( On Nov. 12, you can try a 10K (not your usual distance) at the Olde Naples 10K (… and, if you like the extra miles, try a half-marathon Nov. 20 at the Naples Fall Classic. Of course, with Thanksgiving nearing, there will be a trio to Turkey Day 5Ks in Cape Coral, Estero and Naples.

Ride? There’s a new Critical Mass ride for you to try: On Nov. 18, CM adds Estero to its growing list of offerings with a 7-8 mile ride around Estero and San Carlos Park. Gather at Our Lady of Light Catholic Church, 19680 Cypress View Drive, around 7 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. rollout… and bring your lights and helmet. Of course, the usual Northeast Lee (Nov. 11) and Sanibel (Nov. 12) rides should be on your calendar as well. Details at

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.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, 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

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