Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Don’t let them turn bike paths into roads
Low-powered vehicles, such as electric golf carts, are becoming ever more popular almost anywhere you go. Although I prefer human-powered travel, there’s something to be said about the calming effects these vehicles have on our road traffic. Like bicycles, they usually travel at speeds under 20 miles-per-hour, which is especially appropriate for neighborhood streets, where these vehicles are frequently found, usually operating illegally there.
But as much as I like the speed-lowering effects their presence has over other motor vehicle traffic, they have no place on our side paths, the preferred place for many low-powered vehicles because they generally aren’t street-legal (nor allowed on side paths, but that doesn’t seem to deter users). As if pedestrians don’t have enough problems from pathway users who don’t always understand or follow common share-the-path courtesy, now they’re facing the threat that these motorized vehicles could be allowed to dominate their already limited space. For the sake of safety and appropriateness, enforcing and retaining laws prohibiting motorized vehicles on side paths is vital, whether they are allowed on certain roads or not.
In the past few weeks, there’s been a move by Pine Islanders to convince Lee County commissioners to approve lowpowered vehicle use on island roads with speeds under 35 miles-per-hour. But for some Pine Islanders, that doesn’t go far enough — they want the commissioners to use newly enacted state legislation that gives local authorities the power to grant them access to the Stringfellow bike path, which runs the 13-mile length of the island from St James City to Bokeelia. What’s worse, because of the nature of this relatively large rural island, the types of low-powered vehicles preferred by many aren’t electric golf carts. Rather, they’re gas-powered ATV-type vehicles that will essentially be the SUVs of the bike path.
It’s bad enough that nonmotorist users of the path sometimes must contend with careless fellow users I described previously in this column and drivers who frequently fail to yield to us when crossing the path, but now there’s a possibility of turning our paths into roads.
Getting the Stringfellow path built was no easy task. Committed residents, interested non-island citizens and visitors, Lee County elected officials and county staff worked for more than a decade to see this important asset come to fruition. To have it now turned into something it was never intended to be would be setting a very dangerous precedent that will surely open the door to others like it becoming just another roadway, not to mention the impact it’ll have on Pine Island’s livability. Considering Lee County’s commitment to Complete Streets, I trust a decision to make such a negatively impactful change won’t even be considered by our commissioners.
Many long-distance runners have been training for Sunday, March 4: The Hooters to-Hooters Half Marathon. Just as each individual runner’s preparation is a major undertaking, so is organizing and conducting the event. It takes many volunteers, a long-term commitment from Hooters’ management and staff, plenty of sponsorship resources, and the assistance of Fort Myers Public Works and law enforcement. This team effort has paid off every year with an excellent event — including the post-race activities — and significant funds being raised this year for Barbara’s Friends / Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund and Moffitt Cancer Center. For those not participating in any way and who want to stay out of any traffic-related delays, the course includes Colonial and McGregor boulevards, parts of downtown, southbound Edison Bridge and Broadway Avenue.
Finally, training for Fight for Air Climb 2012 www.lung.org/pledge-events/fl/fortmyers climb-fy12/ has begun in the stairwells of High Point Place, the location of the event being held on Saturday, April 28. Those registered may train on Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m. and Wednesdays from 5-7p.m.
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 who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 334- 6417.
Running/Walking: ¦ Hooters Half Marathon, Sunday, March 4, Fort Myers Hooters @ Edison Mall (www.hootershalfmarathon.com) ¦ Lehigh Spring Fest 4-Miler, Saturday, March 17, Lehigh Acres (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing (www.3dracinginc.com). Cycling & Other Events: ¦ Royal Palm Ride, Sunday, March 4, Buckingham Park (www.caloosariders.com) ¦ Fight for Air Climb, Saturday, April 28, High Point Place, downtown Fort Myers (www.lungusa.org/ pledge-events/fl/fort-myers-climb-fy12/). Visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club at www.caloosariders.com.