“You can’t get there from here” is a common saying that, around here, usually refers to obstacles to traveling around Cape Coral due to the many canals that exist there. But on a much more significant and impactful scale, it applies to getting between Cape Coral and Fort Myers for anyone not in a motor vehicle. There exists no pedestrian accommodation on the two Caloosahatchee River crossings between the two cities, and in fact, pedestrian traffic is prohibited on both bridges. That means a 20-mile walk versus one less than three miles for anyone wanting to travel by foot from McGregor Boulevard and College Parkway to Cape Coral Parkway and Del Prado Boulevard since the Edison Bridge in downtown Fort Myers is the only option for crossing the river.
For cyclists, while it’s legal to cross the Midpoint and Cape Coral
bridges by bike, doing so isn’t for the faint of heart, especially for
those heading west on the Cape Coral Bridge since it lacks a shoulder of
any width. On the eastbound span of that structure, and in both
directions on the Midpoint Bridge, wide shoulders serve as places for
cyclists to avoid highspeed, often dense traffic. However, neither is
intended for cyclists (they’re actually breakdown lanes for motor
vehicles), and neither the approaches to nor the exits from the
emergency lanes are designed in any way to assist cyclists. In fact, I
have been told more than once by transportation officials that bicycles
are not accommodated on their bridges, merely tolerated. And that
includes Lee County’s other major facility, the Sanibel Causeway, which
also prohibits pedestrian use. Bottom line: You can’t get to Sanibel or
between Fort Myers and Cape Coral by foot.
you’re interested in seeing these glaring examples of access
discrimination addressed, BikeWalkLee would like to hear from you. You
can go to www.bikewalklee.org or e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let BWL know what you think about excluding entire modes of travel on
infrastructure that will be in place for many decades and what can be
done to change that.
Unlike our transportation departments’ practice of keeping a keen eye
on how many motor vehicles use various roads, bridges and intersections
on a regular basis so appropriate planning and adjustments can be made,
there’s little, if any attention paid to doing the same for other modes
of transportation. It was recently brought to my attention that the
data being inputted by participants of this month’s Taking it to the
Streets, a campaign that encourages alternatives to single-passenger
driving for commuting to work or school, as well as other trips, is one
of the only sources there is for such information. If for no other
reason than to provide some much-needed documentation of the trips taken
by means other than single occupant motor vehicles, register and use
Commuter Services’ tracking system at http://triptrack.commuterservicesfl.com/Florida/.
We’ll likely never see significant change if transportation
decision-makers and traffic managers don’t understand the need for
improved access for non-motorists. This method, while only scratching
the surface, is at least a start.
Best practices in Punta Gorda
I recently had the opportunity to witness an excellent example of how
government officials can literally take the lead in improving bike/ped
conditions. Soon after cyclists on Punta Gorda’s Pedal and Play in
Paradise were back from their rides and had eaten lunch, city of Punta
Gorda Manager Harold Kunik led anyone who was interested on a bike tour
of the city’s bike/ ped infrastructure and the improvements made over
the past year or so. This was the seventh annual “ride with the
manager,” an informal tradition that began not long after work to
rebuild Punta Gorda from the effects of Hurricane Charley was beginning
and that now is established as part of Pedal and Play.
Around 200 bicyclists took part, many who came just for the manager’s
tour and who don’t consider themselves cyclists, merely residents and
visitors who ride bikes and are eager to see what progress is being
made. Knowing a bit about the city’s recent history, I can attest to the
fact that since the recovery began, much has been done to improve the
bike/ped infrastructure of Punta Gorda, primarily in the form of
multi-use pathways and parks. It’s easy to see why the Florida Bicycle
Association named the city winner of its Bike Friendly Community award
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and 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.