Sunday, December 11, 2011
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Cyclists expect fair — not special — treatment
This week's column focuses on malfunctioning loop-sensors for cyclists at Lee County signalized intersections.
Florida Weekly, December 7, 2011
by Dan Moser
Being the Rodney Dangerfield of our public roads and getting no respect from a few motorists just because they’re bikehaters is one thing, but when roadway designers and transportation managers treat cyclists as second-class users it’s little wonder why otherwise bike-friendly fellow road users do the same.
A few examples of this unfair treatment include: roadway designs that may or may not provide accommodation for cyclists, including features like bike lanes and paved shoulders that unexpectedly disappear; roadways built like racetracks which induce drivers to speed and scare many cyclists off the roads; and intersection configurations that only the bravest bicyclists will traverse in traffic, forcing most to become pedestrians-on-wheels, who are then even more at risk because of design meant to move motor vehicles first and foremost. But one glaring casein point stands out to any cyclist who’s waited in vain for a traffic signal to change — it simply won’t.
The loop-sensors that are installed in the ground at signalized intersections are notorious for sensing only motor vehicles, thus leaving cyclists a few bad choices in order to proceed: 1) Wait for motorists to pull up and set off the sensor (hoping they understand the need to pull up over the loop). 2) Become a pedestrian — or at least call the pedestrian signal by going to the sidewalk and pushing the button (assuming there’s a pedestrian signal/button in place). 3) Break the letter of the law and treat the malfunctioning traffic control device as a stop sign and proceed when deemed safe.
The question I have for those who manage our traffic signals and for others who don’t think it’s a problem is, “Do motorists routinely — or even occasionally — have to deal with such situations?” The answer, of course, is that it’s extremely rare. So why must one class of road user be forced to deal with it on a regular and predicable basis?
As many readers of this column are aware, Lee County and the city of Fort Myers have adopted a “complete streets” policy. They have formally agreed to accommodate all road users equally and in a context-sensitive manner. Clearly, this situation is a contrary to such an agreement. To be fair, the complete streets policy is in its early stages of implementation and it will take time to add necessary features such as bike lanes, sidepaths, and major intersection improvements that make crossing safe and practical. And to give credit to those working to make those positive changes, Lee County, in particular, is very committed. But one thing that can be done almost immediately and relatively inexpensively is fixing the problem cyclists face at loop-sensor intersections. Other communities’ transportation departments have addressed the problem by increasing the sensitivity of the sensors and painting a bike symbol directly over the best spot to trigger the signal. So, until photo-sensors are installed everywhere our transportation managers should treat cyclists fairly by making the necessary changes to the existing technology.
Before changing gears from bicycling to running I want to remind everyone about Everyone Rides on Sunday, Dec. 11 and CyclingSavvy sessions in mid-January.
Being prime running season, some excellent long distance events are right around the corner. The rain has subsided so the challenging trails at Caloosahatchee Regional Park should be in good condition for those training for the River, Roots, & Ruts Half-Marathon and 5K Fun Run. Registration numbers are limited and the maximum is reached every year well before the race date, which is on Sunday, Jan. 8. Exactly one week later, on Sunday, Jan. 15, the annual Naples Daily News Half Marathon takes runners on a route through some of Naples’ finest neighborhoods. After recovering from those backto back races you’ll be in good shape for Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon, happening this year on Sunday, March 4. Go to www.ftmyerstrackclub.com for all the details and registration link.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a League Cycling & CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 334- 6417.
¦ Mangrove Marathon & Half, Sunday, Dec. 11,
¦ River, Roots, & Ruts Half & 5K, Sunday, Jan. 8,
Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva
¦ Naples Daily News Half, Sunday, Jan. 15,
For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track
Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing. For Naples/ Collier running info, it’s the Gulf Coast Runners. Charlotte County running information is at www.zoomersrun.
com. Walkers can visit www.meetup.com/Walking-SWFL.
Cycling & Other Events:
¦ Everyone Rides: 7:30 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 11,
¦ CyclingSavvy: Truth & Techniques classroom
session, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, Fort
¦ CyclingSavvy: Train Your Bike parking lot session,
8:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, Fort Myers
¦ CyclingSavvy: Urban Tour session, 12:30-4:30
p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14, Fort Myers
>>Visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club at
www.caloosariders.com; Florida Mudcutters at www.
mudcutters.org; Naples Pathways Coalition at www.
naplespathways.org; Naples Velo at www.naplesvelo.
com; Peace River Riders (www.peaceriverriders.
com); and Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club (www.
coastalcruisers.net) for more information on local
bicycling activities, including weekly rides. The Florida
Bicycle Association (www.floridabicycle.org) is your
source for statewide happenings.