Saturday, November 20, 2010
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column:Bikers and hikers expect detours on their way to complete streets
Florida Weekly 11/17/10
My wife Maria and I recently had the opportunity to push ourselves in a way we don’t usually have the chance to. The two of us flatlanders were hiking in the mountains of North Carolina and north Georgia. Trips like this one always remind me just how good we have it here, at least from my perspective (Maria’s a hiking fool so may not agree). One thing we both concur upon is that the need to drive in order to do anything and everything is overwhelming and not something we could endure for long.
Because of this very real dependence on motor vehicles, the physical effects on locals are predictable. But those who are motivated find many opportunities to get in a good workout. We witnessed quite a number of people who, based solely on observation, did not routinely engage in difficult physical activity. Nevertheless, they truly enjoyed the difficult task of hiking up some of the mountains and features we visited — even if they were huffing, puffing and complaining a bit. From a public health perspective, this is very positive and illustrates that people will become active if conditions are right.
Some may not consider harsh mountain trails to be ideal motivational conditions, but when the air is crisp and clean, leaves are in full color and the views upon reaching overlook areas are spectacular, it’s as good as it gets. We in Southwest Florida obviously have our own version of ideal conditions, both water-oriented and among the rest of our natural surroundings. Man-made environments can be just as alluring — if done properly. Improving that aspect while ensuring the natural environment isn’t further damaged are aspirations that may have become more difficult because of recent events.
I anticipate upcoming months and years to present quite a challenge for proponents of complete streets, transit and other sustainable community measures. Specific to Lee County, there’s good reason to believe that we’ll fare well, although much of the money needed for these efforts flows back to us from state and national sources that may not be as supportive.
As for how things might go in Florida generally, get ready for some setbacks and hard work just to keep what we thought we had achieved. Plan to attend the Florida Bicycle Association’s annual Bike Summit at the state Capitol on March 24, as it will be as important an event as any the organization has ever facilitated. In the meantime, there’s something to do. Ken Bryan, from Rails-to-Trails, has sent this message to everyone concerned about the future of our state’s bike/ped programs and projects:
“Campaign season is over, which means we must turn our attention to communicating our needs to Gov.-elect Rick Scott. He has set up a website to do exactly that, soliciting ideas to advance Florida and, at the same time, save money.
“Pedestrian and bicycle facilities are among the least expensive transportation infrastructure to build and maintain. We also know that shifting short trips to walking and bicycling saves fuel, lessens our dependency on foreign oil, keeps more money in the local economy, makes us healthier and gets people out of their automobiles and into their communities. Let’s show Gov.-elect Scott that there is great demand in Florida for safe, convenient places to walk and bicycle. Please leave a thoughtful message on his website that helps build our case for more walking and bicycling opportunities.”
Finally, leaders of local bike clubs can learn more about these issues, as well as other club-related matters, at FBA’s second annual Bicycle Club Leadership Workshop, being held in Clermont the day before Horrible Hundred. Click here to learn more and register for this free event.
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 the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 334-6417.