Wednesday, March 29, 2017

BikeWalkLee: Suggestions on sharing the path

BWL Column
The News-Press, 3/30/2017

by Ken Gooderham

We’ve addressed the issues of sharing the road. What about sharing the path… or lane or shoulder or sidewalk?

That’s one of the issues right there: Each one of those travelways may require a different approach during the interaction of cyclist and pedestrian, because each has a different set of rules surrounding use. A shared-use path, by its very name, states its mission – a shared space for cyclists and pedestrians – while a sidewalk also makes its purposes clear – a place to walk first, with other uses falling in behind that.

Then you have a bike lane, which may or may not be for pedestrians depending on the adjacent facilities, and a shoulder, which really is a place for cars to pull out of the traffic lane but is also used for cycling, walking and who knows what else.

Taking these differences in stride, let’s look at how cyclists and pedestrians can work to share their common space – whatever it is called.

  • Warn walkers (and other cyclists) when you’re passing them, and give them enough room (three feet works for cars, why not bikes as well?).
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way… no exceptions.
  • Stay in your lane… which may depend on which kind of path you’re on. If you’re on a shoulder, ride with traffic. If you’re on a shared-use path, stay to the right as though you were a vehicle. If you’re on a sidewalk… well, go with the flow, but be prepared to be invisible to many drivers.
  • If you need to take a break, don’t just stop… move out of the way so others can get by.
  • Be realistic in your expectations depending on where you ride. If you absolutely must have a hard, fast ride to make your day worthwhile, don’t expect to find that on a shared-use-path. Slower traffic means a slower pace for all… and if that’s not to your liking, then get out on the road and leave the path to the more patient.

  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean you’re always going to get it – and, as the most vulnerable users, you have the most to lose.
  • Keep your pets on a short lease… both for their protection and for everyone else.
  • Keep your kids on a short lease, too (maybe not literally, but figuratively). Keep an eye on them, make sure they know how to share the path and avoid dangerous situations.
  • Walk facing traffic, particularly on shoulders… but it’s usually a good plan wherever you are.
  • Make room for your fellow path users. Don’t walk three abreast so you can chat if the path is barely wide enough already. Sharing the path is literal, so act accordingly. (This counts for cyclists as well… ride side by side only when there’s enough room to do so safely.)

  • Be visible, day or night. Bright colors and bright lights are a bright idea.
  • Be predictable. Act like you’re supposed to, because that is what other users are expecting.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected from everyone… vehicles, bikes, even fellow pedestrians.
  • Be careful. You can get away with doing something stupid only so many times before the odds stack against you.
  • Be courteous. There’s plenty of room for everyone, and being pleasant helps make the experience pleasant for all.

Right now, our bike/walk facilities are probably at the maximum capacity sometimes, as more people and nice weather lures more folks out to bike, run or walk. There’s plenty of room for everyone, as long as we all work to get along.

A million reasons to move

Tomorrow marks the end of this year Million Mile Movement, Healthy Lee’s challenge to county residents to track their actions and hit a million miles in three months.

If you joined in and added your exercise to the total, good for you. If not… well, if you were moving but just not counting, OK; if you weren’t moving, not OK.

Either way, you don’t need a challenge to make your movement count. If you picked up the pace to help the county make its goal, don’t let the end of the challenge be the end of your movement. Commit to be fit and keep your exercise habit alive into April and beyond.

And if you didn’t accept this challenge, it’s never too late to set new goals for yourself anyway. Start walking, running or biking… or find another activity (or more than one) that motivates you to move.

Then, next year you can add your daily actions to help Healthy Lee hit the million mile mark again.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? A slight gap in the race schedule this weekend, but the 5Ks resume April 8 with a dog-friendly Fast and Furriest at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, followed by an Eggs and Ears 5K in Lakes Park, Fort Myers, and a Wellfit Girls To(tu) Peru 5K and yoga event in North Collier Regional Park on April 15. Details at or

Ride? Critical Mass ride tomorrow night (Cape Coral), April 7 (Fort Myers) and April 8 (Sanibel). All are at night to bring your lights (and helmet); details at For something longer head south to the 10th annual Everglades Ride on April 2, with a variety of distances and surfaces (

Both? Try a different kind of tri on Sunday, April 2, with the Lake Avalon Reverse Triathlon, Duathlon & 5K, Naples (

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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