Thursday, December 19, 2013

BikeWalkLee: Thanks to those who make our biking and walking better

This week's BWL column highlights our recent "Complete Street Champions of the Year" awards to Cape Coral and Sanibel.  Thanks again to both cities and their advocates, CCBP and SBC, for making biking and walking better in Lee County communities. 
One of the many new crosswalks on Sanibel to help facilitate bicyclists and walkers navigating island roads.
One of the many new crosswalks on Sanibel to help facilitate bicyclists and walkers navigating island roads. / Special to The News-Press
BikeWalkLee likes to encourage biking and walking to enjoy the natural beauty and abundant amenities of our area. But many of those amenities wouldn’t exist without the perseverance of government officials and staff and involved community groups to make them happen, and BikeWalkLee wants to encourage those efforts as well as an integral part of expanding biking and walking in our area. 
To do that, BikeWalkLee created the “Complete Streets Champion” award as a way to honor public and private efforts to enhance biking and walking in Lee County. This year, we honored two citizen groups and two municipalities for extraordinary efforts that have meant significant improvements for bikers and walkers in these communities. They are: 
• The City of Cape Coral and Cape Coral Bike-Ped (CCBP) for its innovative public/private partnership to create a safe and connected system of more than 90 miles of cycling routes within Cape Coral. 
• The City of Sanibel and the Sanibel Bicycle Club (SBC) for a decade of incredible work to make Sanibel a model walkable, bikeable community. 
Two years ago, Carolyn Conant, a long-time Cape Coral community leader, brought together other community and business leaders and interested citizens to form CCBP with a goal of developing a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly Cape Coral. 
In the past year: 
• CCBP went to Cape Coral City Council to request a resolution establishing a fund-raising tool and a dedicated account for pedestrian and bicycle paths within the city, which the Council unanimously approved. 
• CCBP identified more than 90 miles of interconnected bike-ped routes, and came up with an innovative approach to seek funds through sponsors. 
• CCBP got the community behind this effort with over 70 distinct businesses, clubs, civic organizations and individuals helping to sponsor or support this effort. 
• In less than six months, CCBP raised the funds for seven named sponsored routes; all route signage will be complete by the end of 2014. It was exciting to see the signs for the first route – Team Aubuchon Route – being installed before Thanksgiving.  
To see the progress that has been achieved in just one year is amazing, and a real harbinger of the good things yet to come for making Cape Coral more bikeable and walkable.
In 2010 Sanibel was the first Southwest Florida community to be designated a “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists, a sign of the city's commitment to a comprehensive program of engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation (the five Es). 
The city's policy of promoting biking and walking to island events is a model for others. Just look at the new T-shirts, promoting "walkable bikeable Sanibel Island": The city clearly sees biking and walking as transportation modes and a way to reduce cars and congestion. 
So, the next time you’re out riding or walking on Sanibel or in Cape Coral, thank the efforts of many (public and private) people who made these routes a reality. Then, enjoy your walk or ride. 
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 
Upcoming events 
  •  Sunday, Jan. 5: River Roots and Ruts, half marathon and 5K fun run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva (
  •  Saturday, Jan. 11: Mud Run, to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital. 3-mile adult run, 0.5- and 1-mile kid’s runs. Red Neck Yacht Club, Punta Gorda (
Cycling and other events:   
  • Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 18-19, Tour de Cape, Cape Harbour Resort, Cape Coral (
  •  Saturday, Feb. 15: Ride for Hope, Bonita Springs. 10- 25- and 50-mile options (
  • Sunday, March 16: Royal Palm Classic, organized by the Caloosa Riders, details to come (
  • Saturday, March 29: Walk, Wheel, and Wobble for Ataxia, FGCU . 10-, 30- and 62-mile rides, 5K run (
NOTE: The published column deleted details of the Sanibel award due to space constraints.  Click here for the Sanibel full report from our earlier blog post (which also includes photos); and click here for the full Cape Coral report (also with photos).

This story was also highlighted on Friday's News-Press Op Ed page, in their "Thumbs Up" section. 

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