Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Bridges that can't be crossed

This week's column focuses on the lack of connections for pedestrians and cyclists between Cape Coral and Fort Myers, and the annual "bike ride with the city manager" in Punta Gorda to view progress in bike/ped improvements.

“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.

If you’re interested in seeing these glaring examples of access discrimination addressed, BikeWalkLee would like to hear from you. You can go to or e-mail your comments to 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.

Be counted
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 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 in 2010.

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 or 334- 6417.

1 comment:

  1. Everyone needs maintained for safe and convenient travel. I think this is very nice place and excluding entire modes of travel on infrastructure. It is informative post.


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