Thursday, February 27, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Runners and riders will be sharing the roadways

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, February 27, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Some upcoming running and riding events will be asking motorists to share the road… or, in one case, get off it altogether for a few hours.

That can draw drivers’ ire for the minor inconvenience, but it really should make motorists happier. Why? Safety.

Safety for the event participants, of course – but safety for motorists as well. By keeping runners or riders either out of traffic or keeping traffic away from them, everyone wins.

Runners and riders have a better experience, both in terms of safety and overall. And motorists ought to feel a little relief by knowing there will be separation from the more vulnerable road users and that this is a well-run event.

Because, trust me, no event organizer wants to close roads – they have to in order to ensure everyone’s safety. And the process of closing a road involves a lot of planning and moving parts, including deputies and other public safety personnel, strict scheduling and, of course, barricades and cones – both the boon and bane of any outdoor-event organizer.

The goal of any running or riding event is safety… fun and camaraderie, too, but safety first. That’s how you build a reputation for putting on a good event, that’s how you get permits (or at least signoffs) from the public safety agencies – and, most of all, that’s how you get people coming back year after year. Frankly, killing off your target audience is bad for business.

For drivers, the impact on traffic from this events this weekend and next will be minimal – again, the result of something that’s carefully planned, not accidentally achieved.

The three events are:

  • Saturday, Feb. 29: The City of Palms Half Marathon and 5K, which will take place essentially on the FGCU campus.
  • Sunday, March 1: The Lazy Flamingo Half Marathon and 2-Person Relay, which runs from the Lazy Flamingo restaurant just south of College Parkway up McGregor Blvd. to downtown and back.
  • Sunday, March 8: The Caloosa Riders offer the Royal Palm Challenge, with bike rides of 12, 40 and 62 miles starting and ending at the Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers.

The first thing to know is that the two runs kick off when many people are still asleep (6:30 a.m.) while the ride starts anywhere between 7:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. depending on the length you choose.

The second is that the impact on motor traffic will be minimal in two of the three. The City of Palms event will only affect traffic on the FGCU campus, which is likely not very busy early Saturday morning. The Royal Palm rides will take off from downtown, but the two longer routes head over the Edison Bridge to North Fort Myers and Northeast Lee County – on roads either with decent shoulders or limited traffic.

As an aside, if you’re interested in riding in the challenge – or just learning more about safety in group rides – the Caloosa Riders offer an excellent one-page Safety Brief on the Royal Palm event website. Worth a look for any cyclist.

The most impact may be with the Lazy Flamingo run, which will close southbound McGregor Blvd. for three hours (6:30-9:30 a.m.) Sunday morning from West First Street to Camelot Drive; north- and southbound McGregor will be closed from Camelot Drive to College Parkway. There’s a strict three-hour time limit to finish the race, which will further minimize impact on the motorists; as the last runner heads south from the West First Street turnaround, crews will follow behind picking up cones/barricades and opening the road.

There may still be time to sign up for any of these events, but if you want to get in on the half marathons check to see when registration actually closes. (Needless to say, you should also be trained and ready to tackle 13.1 miles, as that’s not something you should do on a whim.)

If you’re so inclined, the events are probably still looking for volunteers, if you’d like to sign up and lend a hand. It’s a great way to see what goes on behind an event, and the organizers will be happy to see you – since events such as these live and die on capable volunteers willing to pitch in to make it a success.

Bike me out to the ballgame


With spring training in full swing, a reminder to baseball-loving cyclists that both local parks – Fenway South Park east of the interstate and Hammond Stadium inside the CenturyLink Sports Complex at Six Mile Cypress Parkway – are easily accessed by the Daniels Parkway bike path which ties into the larger bicycle network serving that part of the county. Since Daniels traffic can turn in to a slow-moving slog on game days, those who are willing to pedal to the parks can avoid the traffic hassle and work up a thirst for a ballpark beer to boot.

Ready to ride or run?


Run?  Besides the two half marathons mentioned above, this weekend also offers the Naples Golden Eagle 5K in downtown Naples on Saturday. The following weekend brings the Scope for Hope 5K (plus walk and fun run) at CenturyLink Sports Complex in Fort Myers and the Baker Park 5K in Naples – both on Saturday. Details at ftmyerstrackclub.com, runeliteevents.com, runsignup.com and gcrunner.org.

Ride?  Besides the Royal Palm Challenge on March 8, Critical Mass has these regularly scheduled rides on tap:
  • Friday, Feb. 28: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • Saturday, Feb. 29: Saturday Morning Slow Roll, meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
  • Friday, March 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the Publix side lot at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd.
Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details and start times at meetup.com.

If you’re looking for a good ride and some cycling camaraderie, look no further than the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club. Check out their ride calendar and you see a ride for almost every day of the week (never on a Friday, but even more on weekends), all mapped and planned for your enjoyment. The Riders even tell you how fast (or not) you’ll need to be to keep up… click on the ride of your choice for all the details and even a map. All at caloosariders.org.

Both?  If you’re planning your tri schedule, here’s what is on tap in the next few months:

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:

Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at info@bikewalklee.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

# # #

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 www.BikeWalkLee.org. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Design matters

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, February 26, 2020
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

This keyhole bike lane won’t exist with FDOT’s new policy. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY
Vision Zero, the effort being undertaken by many governments and organizations to not just reduce traffic-related crashes but to eliminate them, is a worthy goal, but if plans aren’t fully thought through there will be unintended consequences.

Some consequences may result in the exact opposite of what Vision Zero is meant to do, such as making it more difficult to get around efficiently. A major change to Florida’s roadway design guidelines may be an example.

The change — outlining when bike lanes are to be used — was announced locally at the January meeting of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinating Committee — an advisory committee that deals with bike/pedestrian matters throughout the county.

Specifically, bike lanes will no longer be included on state roads that have no curbs and with posted speeds of 45 mph or higher. In Lee County, that means that segments of U.S. 41, Pine Island Road/ Bayshore Road, McGregor Boulevard, San Carlos Boulevard, Palm Beach Boulevard and MLK Boulevard could be affected when resurfacing or other improvements are made. It includes the potential removal of existing bike lanes. U.S. 41 from around Alico Road to just south of San Carlos Park, which will soon be resurfaced, as the first example of this new policy..

Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian
advocate and traffic safety professional
who cycles, runs and walks regularly for
transportation, recreation and  fitness.
Contact him at bikepedmoser@gmail.com
and 239-334-6417.
The standards mandate that in populated areas where bike lanes are not constructed, a shared-use path (meaning at least 10 feet wide and made of asphalt) should be constructed to accommodate pedestrians and those on bicycles. If there’s only a concrete sidewalk (8 feet or less) or no sidepath, a 5-foot paved shoulder with right-turn lane keyholes (moving the shoulder from the right side of a right-turn lane over to the left of it so there’s no conflict at the intersection) is an option but not a requirement.

On U.S. 41 near San Carlos Park there are currently 5-foot concrete sidewalks (which frequently go underwater during rainy season) so a paved shoulder and keyholes may be how the final product ends up, unless the sidepath is upgraded to an asphalt shared use path. Or not.

FDOT’s intentions to separate those on bikes from high-speed motor vehicles is understandable, and the majority of people who ride bikes would prefer that be the case. But there are a number of other elements to consider, including how pedestrians might be affected. Those who prefer operating bikes on the road generally ride at higher speeds than is appropriate on pathways so that means if they are relegated to the path by design they pose a risk to pedestrians when traveling at high speeds.

And at each intersection, whether side streets or driveways, there’s now a much higher risk of conflict for cyclists since many motorists don’t stop where indicated or, in some situations, aren’t required to stop prior to crossing the pathway because it’s set back so far from the road.

Another major factor is the reality that e-bikes and other micro-mobility devices will soon be everywhere and will be operating at speeds way too high for sidewalks and shared-use paths. From my observations and experience it’s already a problem.

I have no doubt that FDOT is making its best effort to implement Complete Streets in a way that balances access and safety and that it’s committed to providing shared use paths wherever they forego bike lanes. But the reality is that it could/would never allocate enough funding to even come close to doing so, since the vast majority of state roads statewide have speed limits at or above 45 mph and without curbs.

To its credit, FDOT recently reversed its short-lived policy that any time it constructs a sidepath wider than a 5- or 6-foot concrete sidewalk local governments must take on maintenance and repair or default to having sidewalks. Most local governments would balk at that requirement and settle for a sidewalk designed and constructed exclusively for pedestrian traffic.

Another constructive step FDOT is taking will be to review all local bike/ pedestrian master plans so it will know where bike lanes on state roads are proposed or expected in order to come to some kind of agreement that will accommodate the most people.

That’s a good approach, assuming the micro-mobility element will be fully considered in whatever facility or treatment type is offered. Operating e-bikes under electric power is currently banned when on sidepaths (unless local ordinances are enacted to allow them) but it’s rarely enforced. And while the most common e-bikes now in use have a top electric-only speed of 20 mph the fact is that there will soon be a lot more in operation that have much higher speeds.

If adequate accommodation for all users isn’t provided, we lowly pedestrians will be most impacted. Bringing outside experts and users into the decision-making process is a must if FDOT is to get it right.

To learn about this topic and more, visit bikewalklee.blogspot.com and www.streetsaliveswfl.org


For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.

Monday, February 24, 2020

February 24: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, Feb. 29: City of Palms Half Marathon/5K. The event will take you on a tour of the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast University campus and surrounding areas. Florida Gulf Coast University (runeliteevents.com)
  • Saturday, Feb. 29: Naples Golden Eagle 5K. The course winds through the serene streets of beautifully maintained beachfront neighborhoods before looping back to Lowdermilk Park to the finish line. Downtown Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • Sunday, March 1: Lazy Flamingo Half-Marathon & Two-Person Relay, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, March 7: Scope for Hope 5K run, 2-mile walk and fun run. Century Link Sports Complex, Fort Myers (21stcenturycare.org)
  • Saturday, March 7: Baker Park 5K, Naples (gcrunner.org). 
  • Saturday, March 14: The Shrimp Run 5K, Fort Myers Beach (3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, March 21: Cape Coral Animal Shelter Rescue Run 5K, 325 SW 2nd Avenue, Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, March 21: Homeless Hustle 5K run/walk, Lakes Park, Fort Myers (runsignup.com)
  • Saturday, March 28: Lee Count Medical Society Foundation Wellness 5K, Jaycee Park, Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, April 4: The Fast and the Furriest 5K run/1 mile walk, JetBlue Park, Fort Myers ((3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, April 4: Run for Music 10K or 1-Mile Walk, Artis-Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, April 11: Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top, 5K run and 1-mile run/walk, North Collier Regional Park (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 9: Tropicool 5K, Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Monday, May 27: Snip Collier 5K, Cambier Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, June 13: Sugden Stride 5K, Sugden Regional Park, Naples (runeliteevents.com)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; runeliteevents.com and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Monday, Feb. 24: Monday Minions Ride. This is a weekly ride that rolls in the 13-15 mph range. Total distance around 15 miles. After the ride most go over to Square 1 restaurant for the $5 burger and fries deal. If you are looking to get into cycling beyond the casual roll, this is an ideal ride for you. 6 p.m., Fort Myers Cyclery, 3630 Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL) 
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25: Taco Tuesday Ride. Every Tuesday night, We Ride For Tacos! After a 21 mile ride on Treeline/Old Airport/Daniels/6 Mile Cypress roads and paths, we'll finish at Tijuana Flats for Taco Tuesday. B RIDERS: 16 to 18 mph for the basic group. A RIDERS: The faster group rides at 20mph plus. We finish well after dark, so Front And Rear Lights are Required. 6:30 p.m., Trek Bicycle Store of Fort Myers, 8291 Dani Drive, Fort Myers (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL)
  • Friday, Feb. 28: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. Details and start times at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL.
  • Saturday, Feb. 29: Saturday Morning Slow Roll, meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. Details and start times at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL.
  • Sunday, March 1: Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. This is a weekly ride for riders of most skill levels and most types of bicycles (hybrids, fitness, and road). The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, thus helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group. 7.30 a.m., location varies, visit meetup.com/Biking-SWFL for details.
  • Friday, March 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the Publix side lot at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd Details and start times at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL.
  • Sunday, March 8: 22nd annual Royal Palm Challenge. The Caloosa Riders offer a fun-filled day – and rides for everyone, at 15, 40 and 62 miles. Starts and ends downtown at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Collaboratory, so make a day of it! Online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • Saturday, March 14: Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. Details and start times at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL
  • Friday, March 20: NE-Lee Critical Mass night ride, gathers at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. Details and start times at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL.
  • Saturday, March 28: Pan Florida Challenge, distances of 10, 30, 62, 100 and 200 miles (this one is a two-day ride). All start and end at Florida Gulf Coast University. (panfloridachallenge.org)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). On Sanibel, you’ll find the Sanibel Bicycle club at http://sbcsite.altervista.org. For Collier cycling, visit naplesvelo.com; for Charlotte biking, see peacerivrridersbicycleclub.com.

Triathlons:
  • Saturday, March 28: Escape from Fort Desoto Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon, plus Aqua Bike (thunderboltmultisport.com)
  • Sunday, April 26: St. Anthony’s Triathlon, sprint and Olympic distances, St. Petersburg (satriathlon.com)
  • Saturday, May 30: Sarasota Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon, Siesta Key (trisarasota.com).
  • Sunday, June 7: Naples Fitness Challenge reverse triathlon, Naples (thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)
  • Saturday, June 13: Heartland Triathlon, sprint and Olympic triathlon, duathlon and Aqua Bike, Sebring (runsignup.com)
  • Check trifind.com and active.com to find more regional and state tris.