The spot where cyclist Tracey Kleinpell was killed in 2011.
People bike because it’s fun, because it’s convenient and because
it’s safe. But when any of those aspects are at risk, so is the chances
people will truly incorporate cycling or walking and running as a daily
part of their lives.
Fun and convenience
are more subjective, but safety can be quantified in numbers — and, for
Lee County and Florida, those numbers aren’t good. The state regularly
ranks as one of the most dangerous places to ride or walk in the
country, and Lee County likewise often shows up as a disproportionately
dangerous place for pedestrians and bicyclists as well.
why, as a follow-up to its countywide bicycle/pedestrian master plan,
at its Sept. 20 meeting the Lee County Metropolitan Planning
Organization (MPO) adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan,
with specific goals and recommended actions laid out to achieve them
along with milestones for progress.
The plan targets three main areas:
This aims to reduce the frequency and severity of bicycle and
pedestrian crashes by correcting unsafe behaviors of all road users to
increase compliance with existing laws through coordinated education.
This targets people on both sides of the handlebars, to motorists more
aware of bikers/walkers and to make bikers/walkers safer both by
avoiding risky behavior and by taking steps to increase their ability to
survive potential problems.
How roadway and facilities are designed can play a huge role in how
safe they are to use. The impact is not just on making new roads better
but also on fixing safety issues on existing roads — so, beside smarter
designs, this also requires audit to identify current problems and
creativity to craft solutions that work with the road (and right-of-way)
that’s in front of you.
By partnering with law enforcement agencies, especially those in high
bicycle/pedestrian crash areas, you can increase coordinated enforcement
activities — again, looking at both the motorists and the biker or
walker, since both have aspects of the law (not to mention common sense)
to address here.
MPO’s focus on safety is timed nicely to coincide with the recently
awarded federal grant to Lee County for enhancing its bike/walk
facilities. As this improved infrastructure starts to entice more people
to jump on their bikes, an uptick in safety will likewise help lure
more people out onto the bike paths and roadways. And, as studies have
shown, when it comes to biking and walking, there really is safety in
numbers — because more people means more awareness from the other road
users and, sometimes, more awareness of the safer ways to ride or walk.
the end, safety is everyone’s responsibility and avoiding risk likewise
falls on all the parties involved. Logic dictates, however, that any
discussion of safety has to focus a little more on the elephant (the
motor vehicle and its operator) than on the flea (the biker or walker) —
since, in a confrontation between a car and a bike, it’s easy to
predict who’s going come out ahead in that altercation.
is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for
complete streets in Lee County — streets for safe and convenient travel
for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders.
Information, statistics and background online at BikeWalkLee.org.
Cycling and other events:
• Friday-Sunday, Oct. 25-27: Share the Road Celebration of Cycling, DeLand (bikeflorida.org)
• Sunday, Nov. 10: Streets Alive!, downtown Fort Myers River District (streetsalivelee.org)
• Sunday, Nov. 10: River Ride, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva (hcrca.caloosahatchee.org)
Sunday, Nov. 29: Turkey Leg Century Ride, Publix, Six Mile Cypress at
Daniels Parkway (caloosariders.org) (Note: A self-supported ride)
• Sunday, Dec. 8: Everyone Rides, JetBlue Park. 15, 30, 62 and 100 mile rides - Fort Myers (everyonerides.org)
• Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 18-19, Tour de Cape, Cape Harbour Resort, Cape Coral (tourdecape.net/)
• Sunday, March 16: Royal Palm Classic, organized by the Caloosa Riders, details to come (caloosariders.org)