If you’ve been out on the bike and shared-use paths in the past few
weeks, you’ve noticed a lot of other people biking and walking out there
with you. Usage is definitely on the rise – which is good for our area
(maybe fewer cars on the road), good for our facilities (that’s what
they are there for, after all) and good for biking and walking in many
There really is safety in numbers
since more bikers and walkers along the roadways reminds motorists to
watch out for us, plus seeing people out enjoying the bike/walk paths
inspires others to give it a try.
if you’re not used to biking or walking in a crowd or in sharing your
path with many other users, there are some simple “rules of the path”
that can keep coexistence peaceful:
• Signal your intentions:
If other bikers or walkers don’t know you’re planning to turn or stop,
you both could be in for a rude (and potentially painful) surprise.
Simple hand signals let those nearby know your intentions – so use them.
• Ride the right direction:
If you’re biking on the road, you’re considered traffic – so ride like
it, not against it (even in a bike lane). It’s safer for you because
motorists have a better chance of seeing you, and it’s smarter if
everyone on the same side is heading in the same direction. (Oh, and
it’s also the law.)
• Warn others when you’re passing:
Both bikers and walkers deserve a shout-out if you’re overtaking them.
It keeps them from being surprised and, even more important, it keeps
them from accidentally veering into your path as you pass them. Also, a
friendly greeting usually gets one in return, and makes everyone’s time
outside more pleasant.
• Give pedestrians the right of way at all times:
It doesn’t matter if they’re in your bike lane, if they’re at fault or
if they might make you slow down in the middle of your training ride.
Common sense and the law dictate pedestrians have the right of way –
• Play nice with others:
Be aware of your surroundings (so no headphones… or at least use ones
you can hear through). Get out of people’s way… don’t stop in the middle
of the bike path, move off to the side. Work it out when waiting at an
intersection… there’s room for everyone (and if there’s not, wait until
there is). Respect that everyone rides or walks at different speeds, so
get out of the way if you’re slow and be patient if you’re fast.
• Walk this way:
You also need to stay on the correct side. On the road, that means you
walk facing traffic (so you can see who’s going to run you over), while
on a shared-use path you typically (but not always) stay to the right.
• Be aware of others: On
a shared path, be aware that bikers could be coming up behind you (or
at you) much faster than you can walk. Also, don’t be so distracted (by
the phone, the iPod or your distraction du jour) that you stop paying
attention to what’s going around you.
• Leave some room to pass: Yes,
you like to walk side-by-side with your friends engaged in
conversation. But if the path is narrow or the traffic heavy, stay
single file for a while until there’s more room for everyone to travel.
• Don’t assume:
Just because you think another walker, biker or motor vehicle is going
to stop/go/turn/swerve doesn’t mean they actually will… so be prepared
when they don’t and pleasantly surprised when they do.
• Watch your kids, pets, strollers and stuff:
This area has great places to walk your dog, stroll with friends and
family or just simply get outside. But if you’re sharing your space with
others you need to be aware of all your stuff… including dogs (always
on a leash, of course) that wander or want to chase a bike, kids who
also wander or can dash around unexpectedly, strollers that can be
unwieldy or roll with a mind of their own, etc.
• Bottom line:
There’s room for everyone on our local bike lanes and shared-use paths
if you combine commons sense with common courtesy. And if these lanes
and paths get too busy… well, then we can all reach out to our elected
officials to build more of them!
• A final note:
In Southwest Florida we know every month is bicycle month, but March is
Florida’s official Bicycle Month. There’s even a proclamation with the
appropriate number of "whereases" to make the point clear. Just another
good reason to go for a ride.
• Saturday, March 29: Scope for Hope 5K, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers. 8 a.m. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
• April 12: African Aid 5K, New Hope Presbyterian Church. 3825 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. 7:30 a.m. (fortmyerstraclub.com)
• May 10: Turtle Trot 5K, Lovers Key State Park, 8 a.m. (fortmyerstraclub.com) Cycling and other events
• Sunday, March 23:
Legacy Trail Tour de Parks Ride. Stat and finish at the historic Venice
train depot, 303 East Venice Avenue. 16-, 37- and 62- mile rides, fully
supported, lunch included (legacytrailfriends.org).
• Saturday, March 29: Walk, Wheel, & Wobble for Ataxia, Florida Gulf Coast University. 10-, 30- and 62-mile rides, 5K run (knowataxia.webs.com/)
• Saturday, April 5: Pedal
and Play in Paradise, five different rides start in Punta Gorda
including 15-, 30- and 62-miles rides, a 10-mile poker run and a City
Manager’s History Tour. All rides benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society and TEAM Punta Gorda’s bicycle-friendly initiatives. SAG support
and lunch included (http://www.pedalandplayinparadise.com/)
• Sunday, April 13: Immokalee Ride for Literacy, 15-, 30- and 62-mile rides. SAG support and lunch included (www.caloosariders.org/)
• Sunday, April 13:
Everglades Ride, McLeod Park, Everglades City, sponsored by Naples
Pathways Coalition and River of Grass Greenway. On-road rides 16 to 62
miles, plus an off-pavement 27-mile ride. SAG support and lunch included
(evergladesROGG.org) — 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 at