by Dan Moser
We watched with a mixture of horror and amazement as the spandex-clad cyclist on a high-end bike maneuvered around us, zipped into the intersection of U.S. 41 and Six Mile Cypress / Gladiolus, then somehow dodged the thick Saturday afternoon traffic to make his way across the highway in a manner that was as illegal and dangerous as it gets. More than a dozen of us who were taking part in a Tour de Parks guided ride were gathered near the intersection, being sure to keep the way clear for others as we waited for the signal to indicate it was safe to proceed, when this rogue cyclist provided us with the perfect example of why bicyclists are often looked at with disdain by motorists.
As we got back to Lakes Park, we witnessed this same middle-aged wannabe racer speeding around the park, terrorizing pedestrians and families riding their bikes on the pathways as well as startling unsuspecting motorists on the parks’ roadways as he got his training miles in. We could only shake our heads and hope he’d be stopped by a park ranger or other law enforcement officer before he injured someone or ended up as a statistic himself. But other damage was already done.
To cyclists like this one, traffic at signals and stop signs are just suggestions. Courtesy toward others is a concept foreign to them since that might slow them down (they are, after all, in training, so the world revolves around them). On the other end of the spectrum are the clueless bicyclists who only want to get from here to there but routinely do so without any apparent understanding of traffic law or common sense principles.
Those who engage in these behaviors know who they are, yet, even the ones who are also motorists don’t acknowledge the hypocrisy or sociopathic nature of their behavior. The price they may pay for blatantly and consistently breaking all the rules of the road and pathway is their own well-being. Unfortunately, the cost to all cyclists is the perception among many motorists that we don’t belong on our roads, and among pedestrians, that we don’t belong on the sidewalks and paths. In other words, the boneheaded actions of some convince many that bicyclists have proven they can’t behave and that they don’t deserve access to our roads and sidepaths.
Decades of working in the bicycle/ pedestrian world have convinced me that there’s some hope, as evidenced by the fact that not all parts of the world have nearly as many boneheads as here. Perhaps, as our overall bike/ped environment improves in our community, fewer cyclists will choose to make us all look bad.
It’s hot, hot, hot, but running across the Cape Coral Bridge for the Freedom 5K on Thursday, July 4, will make those holiday beverages taste that much better (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com). A few days later, on Saturday, July 6, the Peace River Riders holds its annual Wheels & Wings Ride (www.peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com) in Punta Gorda. And later in the summer the Galloway Captiva Triathlon (www.captivatri.com) takes place on the weekend of Sept. 14-15. There’s already a wait list for some divisions, so register ASAP.
An update for anyone hoping they’d see the day when cycling across the westbound span of the Cape Coral Bridge would be anything less than a death-defying ride: Lee County DOT recently stated in an article about our country’s aging bridges and other infrastructure that we may finally see reasonable accommodation for those using the span on their bikes, but not until 2027. Yikes! After having just missed an opportunity to make things right for cyclists as part of the one-way tolling project, that wait time seems a bit excessive, to say the least. But Lee County DOT can still create a space for cyclists on the existing span — and at a reasonable cost — if the agency just had the political will. Check BikeWalkLee’s blog for more on that matter and many others affecting you at bikewalklee. blogspot.com.
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 Bicy cle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 334- 6417.