Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dan Moser Column: Lee’s pedestrians and cyclists deserve better

Florida Weekly, July 24, 2013      This week's Dan Moser column focuses on the need for more than "bare bones" bike/ped facilities and amenities in Lee County and highlights the "Fix-it Buddy" in Punta Gorda.  Dan also comments on the great work of the Injury Prevention Coalition's David Kainrad, who is retiring this month. 
Dan Moser
What do you do when your bike has mechanical problems while out on a ride? Maybe a fellow cyclist with the right tools and skills will stop and assist. If you have a phone, you might call someone to pick you up. Or a friendly motorist might happen upon you and take you and your bike where you need to go. But if you break down in Punta Gorda, you could find everything you need right on the city’s network of trails, pathways, connectors and linear parks. The Fix-It Buddy is a user-friendly device that includes a bike stand, air pump and all the tools you’ll need, free of charge and accessible any time of the day or night. I mention this excellent feature for a reason: It’s one example of something Punta Gorda’s bicycle and pedestrian network has that Lee County doesn’t — something more than a hard surface.

Regular readers of this column know I frequently talk about the good, bad and ugly of our area in terms of how we treat and accommodate non-motorists. One of the many issues I have with the way much of our system in Lee County has been developed is the very spartan nature of almost each and every one. Regardless of whether it’s a municipality, a county or state that built it, it’s generally  bare-bones, without even basic upgrades like shade trees or enhanced intersection crossings. More attention is spent on roadway median landscaping than amenities that benefit those operating a along its edges and who don’t have their motorized living rooms to keep them safe and comfortable.

Punta Gorda’s Fix-It Buddy along Linear Park.
Punta Gorda’s Fix-It Buddy along Linear Park
Exceptions to that rule include the Town of Fort Myers Beach’s North Estero Boulevard and Old Downtown; some parts of downtown Fort Myers (at least for pedestrians); and the John Yarbrough Linear Park Trail.

But when compared to other places throughout Florida and the U.S., we seem to believe that by simply plunking down concrete or asphalt dedicated to non-motorists’ use we’ve done what’s needed.

If you think it’s being greedy to expect more, visit Punta Gorda and see what it’s done in the past few years. But even its progress pales in comparison to communities that truly embrace the concept of Complete Streets and placemaking for people, not just for moving motor vehicles — something too many of our transportation officials apparently still believe is the job they’re paid to do. And although the general public and even the majority of our elected officials agree that Complete Streets are the way to go, we mostly continue to design and build in ways that leave a lot to be desired. Go to Lee County Town Hall  and BikeWalkLee’s blog to help change things.

Sincere thanks to a Lee County champion
One of Lee County’s most effective injury prevention professionals, who most people don’t know of because he operated out of the public spotlight, has retired. David Kainrad, who worked for Lee County EMS for more than three decades, brought significant skills and resources to our area, including the bicycle and pedestrian safety education and outreach efforts that would have otherwise disappeared when the health department shuttered its Injury Prevention Program as a result of the economic meltdown of 2008. Even before that program’s demise, Dave was working to ensure the important work of the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, a multi-organizational partnership, was effective in any and all preventable injury efforts needing to be taken on.

Keeping folks out of ambulances, hospitals and morgues is the goal of IPC. Its mantra is “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” Anything from drownings, motor vehicle crashes, disaster preparedness, firearms, suicide, and, of course, pedestrian and bicycle incidents, are included. We’ll continue to work toward reducing and even eliminating all of those, and hope Dave will remain an integral part of what’s become a model of prevention that’s recognized nationally.

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 or 334- 6417.

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