Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column:Dealing with the "captive cyclist”
June 2, 2010
This week I’m following-up on more of the happenings at last month’s Pro- Bike/ProWalk Florida Conference, the Florida Bicycle Association’s annual gathering of transportation and planning professionals, advocates and others interested in what’s happening in the bike/pedestrian world. I’ll begin with an update to House Bill 971, the legislation passed this session that will likely have negative impacts on Florida’s cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike.
To summarize some provisions of the bill, it will: authorize local governments to adopt ordinances to allow golf carts and other motorized vehicles to be operated on sidewalks; require a cyclist traveling at less than the “normal speed of traffic” to ride “in the lane marked for bicycle use”; and give back the privilege of driving to those who have been convicted of a forth DUI.
In another, more upbeat conference matter, our neighbor to the north, the city of Punta Gorda, was recognized as Florida’s Bicycle Friendly Community as part of FBA’s annual awards. The city recently announced plans to build a $4.5 million ring around the city. The ring is a 17-mile interconnected trail for bicyclists, joggers, pedestrians and anyone else who wants to get around without a car. To see the complete list of award winners you visit www. floridabicycle.org.
The conference theme being “The Dollars and Sense Of Bicycling & Walking,” one of the most interesting session presentations was titled “This Biking Stinks, but I Gotta Eat: The World of the Captive Cyclist.” The presenter, Bruce Epperson, is a civilrights attorney and professional community planner from the city of Davie on the east coast. His analysis of the plight of those who have little choice but to use a bike for everyday transportation was thorough and informative. One of the points he makes is that mainstream bicycle planning is of little use to this particular sub-category of cyclists because they have no desire to improve their skills and are primarily sidewalk riders. That being the case, traditional planning models don’t really address this type of user, and to do so, he contends, means accommodation for recreational and training-style cyclists would have to be sacrificed in some cases.
For those of us who are working to create a bike/ped-friendly environment for all users — and especially folks who deal with this type of cyclist on a regular basis, Mr. Epperson’s insight is indeed something to consider. On Friday, May 21, National Bike to Work Day, I spent the morning seeking out these people. They were easily found by looking for bikes parked behind restaurants and at the downtown bus depot.
There are numerous examples of progress being made for the bike/ ped community in Lee County: Buckingham Road paved shoulders. Reworked and re-paved shoulders from Shell Point Road to the Sanibel Causeway. Soon-to-be constructed improvements for cyclists at the MidPoint Bridge, Cape Coral Bridge, and Sanibel Causeway toll plazas. Attempts to create better conditions for cyclists and pedestrians through I-75 underpasses. The very real possibility of bike-specific signing and markings being added to our roadways. Development of a countywide bicycle/pedestrian master plan by a top-notch team of consultants, local government staff, and community-minded individuals and organizations.
To help ensure these good things keep happening, BikeWalkLee and others must continue to stay in the mix to offer input and apply pressure where needed. To stay abreast of what’s going on and to find out how you can help, visit BikeWalkLee's website.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and program manager
for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly
for transportation, recreation and fitness.
He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-6417.