Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dan Moser Column: Show-and-tell rides provide valuable insight

Dan's column focuses on the bike ride and audits for elected officials and staff and the latest on bike/ped safety and law enforcement efforts, including the recent FHP ped detail event.
Florida Weekly, April 2, 2014
Dan Moser
“The devil is in the details” is a common phrase, and one that applies to our pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure as much as it does in any other context. Traveling along our sidewalks, multi-use paths, and roads on foot, skates or bicycle gives one a very close-up and personal view of the public right-of-way.

Sometimes, it’s quite clear when something’s wrong, even when experienced only from behind the windshield of a motor vehicle, as is the case when driving along roads like Hanson Street in central Fort Myers. The total lack of pedestrian or bicycle accommodations on significant portions of this very busy thoroughfare are problems anyone can see. (I’ve featured Hanson Street as one of our community’s enduring “Streets of Shame.”) Other streets and pathways with dysfunctional or positive elements for non motorists aren’t always as clear-cut. That’s where show-and-tell rides come in.

In past columns I’ve mentioned this ongoing effort of taking key people who have an impact on our transportation system on guided bike rides so they can see for themselves the conditions anyone who uses our public space deal with on a regular basis. As I noted earlier, it isn’t all about the bad, but when put in the context of what we deal with as right of way users in our cars and trucks, bike/ped accommodation is all too frequently substandard and unacceptable in many ways, especially where non-motorists and motorists must interact. Granted, human behavior has a lot tot do with conflicts at those locations, but designed that generally favors motor vehicles over people outside of machines plays a major role in why we behave as we do — motorists and non-motorists alike.

Getting those who really need to experience our transportation environment in this manner has been a challenge. Elected officials and key staff from the city of Fort Myers, Lee County government, the Florida Department of Transportation and Fort Myers Beach have joined past outings, but there are many more who would gain vital insight if they’d participate. And we’re willing to take the ride to any area of Lee County, so we’ll continue to offer this opportunity for as long as there’s interest. Get in touch with me if you think you know of a decision-maker who would be willing to take part.

For the second column in a row I need to make a correction: Fight for Air Stair Climb will take place Saturday, April 26. The date was wrong in my last column.

Advocacy matters
Thanks to the leadership of Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass , along with Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization and FDOT, efforts to engage law enforcement more fully to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries to vulnerable users of our roads is inching forward. The Fort Myers Police Department reported having conducted crosswalk operations over the past month. And just last week, the Florida Highway Patrol, with assistance from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, spent more than four hours at two high crash locations educating non-motorists and motorists on a one-on-one basis.

Members of the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, including me, were out there with them to provide additional educational and safety material such as bike lights, bike maps and reflective items. At U.S. 41 and Crystal Drive, troopers and deputies spoke to pedestrians and cyclists who traversed the intersection about pedestrian signal compliance and explained to motorists who stopped in the crosswalk while waiting to turn right on red that: a) they blew by the stop bar and b) were illegally blocking the crosswalk. From what I observed, the operation reached quite a number of people in a nonthreatening manner. Hopefully, all those who were made aware of their illegal and/ or unsafe actions will change their driving/ walking/cycling behavior for the better.

During my four hours on the stretch of highway in the area of Fort Myers Villas and Pine Manor I witnessed and videotaped many traffic violations that confirmed my belief that we are too soft on drivers, that increased driver education and testing is necessary for anyone who gets behind the wheel, and that our roadway designs favor motor traffic flow to the point of creating unsafe and inhospitable conditions for vulnerable road users. More on last week’s law enforcement operation and other related topics can be found at BikeWalkLee’s blog.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and program director for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

Upcoming Events

African Aid 5K, Saturday, April 12,
New Hope Church, Fort Myers (

Ears & Eggs 5K, Saturday April 19, Gateway

Run for Kayla 5K, Saturday May 5, Patriot
ES, Cape Coral (

Cycling & Other Events:
Pedal & Play in Paradise Ride, Saturday,
April 5, Laishley Park, Punta Gorda (

Ride for Literacy, Sunday, April 13,
Farm Worker Village, Immokalee (

Fight For Air Stair Climb, Saturday, April
26, High Point Place, downtown Fort Myers

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