Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moser Column: Enjoy running season’s last blasts

Dan Moser
Florida Weekly, Outdoors Section, April 30, 2014

Today's Moser column highlights running events in May and focuses its advocacy spotlight on some troublesome "wrong way for cyclists" signs on Palm Beach Blvd.  Note: since this article was submitted, FDOT has covered these signs and will be removing them soon.  Great work, Dan, MPO staff, and FDOT. And thanks to the citizen who contacted Dan about the problem...YOU are our eyes and ears out there!

Along with late October, when our seemingly endless summer weather pattern of stifling heat and moisture has mercifully given way to reasonable temperatures and tolerable humidity, this time of year is hard to beat for taking part in outdoor activities. But the oven is cranking up and it won’t be long before the daily thunderstorms, tropical systems and associated humidity settle in. So now is the time to take advantage of the many running and walking events still being offered in Southwest Florida.

Unlike the relatively few summertime events that we can look forward to through September these shouldn’t be too much of a challenge because it’s not too hot yet. However, getting acclimated to the rising temperatures now so you’re prepared to bake a bit as we get into mid- and late May is a good idea. In other words, don’t do all your training on a treadmill in the air-conditioning.
Beginning this weekend and through May there are quite a few choices. In fact, some are on the same day and at the same time, so you’ll have to make some choices. All of the events raise funds for good causes.

Below is a sampling of the offerings.

 Saturday, May 3: Run for Kayla 5K, Cape Coral  Sunday, May 4: Tropicool 5K, Old Naples
Saturday, May 10: Turtle Trot 5K, Lovers Key State Park
Saturday, May 10: Cape Coral Sprint Triathlon, Cape Coral Yacht Club
Saturday, May 17: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club
Saturday, May 17: Color Collier 2-Miler, North Collier Regional Park
Monday, May 26: Memorial Day 5K, Eastwood Golf Course
Monday, May 26: Goodwill 5K at Sandoval, Cape Coral
Saturday, May 31: Pink Heels 5K, Fort Myers River District

Among those listed are two that are run on unpaved surfaces, at least for the most part. Lovers Key’s trails are a bit soft and sandy but the surroundings make for a very enjoyable run or walk. And the Eastwood Golf Course route is on the grassy fairways and paved cart paths, creating a cross–country race experience. There aren’t too many organized off-road runs in our area so anytime there’s an opportunity to do so it’s worth taking.

Advocacy matters

One-way lanes for bikers and pedestrians on Palm Beach Boulevard approaching the I-75 interchange punish those of us using nonmotorized modes of transportation.
One-way lanes for bikers and pedestrians on Palm Beach Boulevard approaching the I-75 interchange punish those of us using nonmotorized modes of transportation.

I’ve written more than once about the problems cyclists and pedestrians face when navigating our I-75 interchanges on the surface roads. Some don’t even have the most basic features, such as paved shoulders or sidepaths. Others have those features but are frequently unmaintained. None are really designed well for anyone other than motorists but some have recently been made even more difficult for non-motorists by recent “improvements” that are part of the I-75 expansion to six lanes.

Colonial Boulevard, with its dedicated exit lanes and double right turn-lanes has become an intersection from hell, whether on the sidepaths or roadway’s travel lanes and shoulders. And now it looks like Palm Beach Boulevard / SR 80 is joining the ranks of interchanges that are built for moving cars at near interstate speeds onto and off of I-75, creating a potential deathtrap for non-motorists who dare venture there. All the signs and markings in the world have little effect on motorists flying through crosswalks at 55 miles per hour as they begin their merge to or from the interstate. And yes, there are enough signs and markings to make anyone’s head spin.

A new and troubling twist, however, has been added to the SR 80 interchange: the 10-foot-wide multi-use sidepaths have been designated as one-way. While the reasoning may be sound — it’s much safer to ride in the direction of traffic versus against it, whether on the road or sidepath — there are other issues that make it inherently unfair to users. One is having to cross six or more lanes of interstate mind-set traffic for no other reason than to be traveling in the prescribed direction. The other is one of post-crash justice; if a cyclist is hit in a crosswalk, he or she would have some legal protection. But if it was a case of traveling in the “wrong” direction, the motorist might be let off the hook for any traffic violation as well as the responsibility to pay for damages to the cyclist victim.
Finally, there’s a question of whether that same potential loss of legal protection would apply to a pedestrian struck in a crosswalk since the same reasoning requiring one to be traveling in a certain direction should apply, but the signs refer only to bicyclists.

FDOT has been made aware of this and is looking into the matter. You’ll find more about this and other items of interest 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 the Florida Bicycle Association. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

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