Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Don’t let summer torridity be an excuse for torpor

This week's column focuses on the League of American Bicyclists' Bike-Friendly States and Communities, highlighting the "F" for enforcement received in Lee County's application and the need for training of enforcement professionals.

Florida Weekly 6/15/11
Daylight comes early and wanes late so darkness isn’t an excuse to skip an outdoor workout this time of year. Afternoon showers may hinder such activities during that time of day but conditions often clear and even cool down significantly before the sun sets. Of course, if you want to be sure of getting an outdoor workout in, early mornings are usually ideal for beating the heat, traffic, thunderstorms and the dangerous lightning that accompanies them.

For those who can’t get in a morning workout, it can be difficult to convince ourselves to get out there when the thermometer is routinely in the mid- to high- 90s. That may mean heading instead to the air-conditioned gym or even a trip to the couch. Having a goal, such as running a local race or organized bike ride, can provide some motivation to hit the road. And it just so happens that three upcoming running events fit that bill:
This Saturday, June 18, the Fort Myers Track Club is conducting its annual Membership Run 5K. It’s being staged at McGregor Baptist Church on Colonial Boulevard and starts at 7:30 a.m. This race is unique in that there aren’t traditional awards. Rather, by entering you’ll automatically become a member of FMTC for the year.

A new event, the 4-Miler on the 2nd of July, will be happening at Shell Point Village near Sanibel Island. Again, due to the heat and early daylight, the race begins at 7:30 a.m.

Finally, in conjunction with Cape Coral’s Fourth of July celebration, the Freedom 5K takes off at 6:30 p.m. from the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge (on the Cape side, of course).

Advocacy update
How interesting it is that Florida continues to move up on the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike-Friendly State list even as our crash/injury/fatality statistics remain the worst in the country. It’s definitely a mixed message that has both good and bad implications. On the one hand, those who work so hard to make improvements to our undesirable reputation as well as the reality cyclists face in Florida might actually be seeing some progress. On the other hand, being ranked as America’s seventh most “bike-friendly” state could lull our transportation policy makers and money managers into a sense of having done enough and believing we should now go back to a more traditional road building mentality.

Although Florida does have a few LAB-designated Bike-Friendly Communities peppered throughout — including our own bronze-level Sanibel Island — these places make up but a tiny portion of the state and are the exception rather than the rule. As an example, Lee County made application to LAB a few years ago and didn’t even make “honorable mention” status, an outcome that would probably be the case for most counties, were they to make application. (A side note: If Lee County was to resubmit an application I believe it would fare much better now. The county’s policy and planning having improved so much in the years since our original submission.)

According to LAB, Florida received a “C” overall, with five of six sub-categories being either a “B” or “C.” Not surprisingly, we got an “F” for enforcement, something that should seriously concern law enforcement agencies from Florida Highway Patrol all the way to county sheriffs’ offices, municipal police departments and university and other special jurisdiction traffic enforcement entities. The reason for our failing grade, according to LAB, is the lack of training for not only enforcement professionals but for those involved at the judicial end of the system as well. The good news is that this problem has a solution that’s relatively easily implemented. The only question remaining is: What more than consistently having the worst record in the nation in terms of injuries and fatalities will it take to provide the necessary training?

You can read more about LAB’s ranking and other matters related to our bike and pedestrian environment and efforts taking place at BikeWalkLee’s blog site

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

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