This week's Dan Moser column sets the record straight on wrong-way riding, an update on requested McGregor Blvd. improvements, and the Nov. 2nd Streets Alive, including its bike safety rodeo for kids.
Being election season, we’re all too familiar with statements put forth as fact that are really distortions of the truth, half-truths, or sometimes outright lies. How we allow this to be acceptable and without consequences to those who make claims they know aren’t accurate or ethical is hard to understand, although it is clearly the case in our country.
Even commercial advertisers have some degree of truthfulness to uphold lest they must deal with regulators or the civil legal system. Unfortunately, those who spout opinion as fact regarding subjects they know little about or merely want others to see things their way, regardless of established truth, sometimes fall into the same category as political candidates. That is, they are not held responsible for the outcome of their misinformation.
In the advocacy world, whether it be workers’ rights, animal abuse, improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, or any other cause people get involved in, there’s bound to be many examples of statements made that are sometimes totally wrong. Often it’s due to a lack of adequate knowledge of the subject, but that’s not always the case. One such non-fact that frequently rears its head in the bike/ped realm is that bicyclists who ride with the flow of traffic are senseless or suicidal. For those of us who are out in the community and classroom making the case for adherence to traffic laws and safety rules for all road users, having to deal with this dangerous and outdated position is frustrating and creates unnecessary confusion. It’s one thing if a person wants to break the law and operate in a dangerous fashion individually, but another if that person deems the law is wrong and insists others should operate in a way that puts them at risk – and that’s at odds with factual data.
Enhanced “Share The Road” Sign in NaplesBottom line: All credible professional organizations and programs, from the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ite.org) to the American Bicyclist Education Association (abea.bike), to name just two, confirm that bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles when using the roadway. One of the basic premises of being a legitimate part of vehicular traffic means riding with the flow as dictated by design. It also means not being relegated to the gutter merely because of size and speed.
It would be nice to put this matter to rest once and for all so advocates don’t have to spend time on something that’s clearly settled and instead concentrate on other aspects of making our roads and pathways safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. But until those who can’t be bothered with fact and data decide to espouse their opinion in public forums, we’ll have to continue rebutting their misguided message.
Advocacy update — McGregor, Part 2:
Following up on ways to improve McGregor Blvd., the segment south of Colonial and north of College is a two-lane road that has similar features as the city’s portion, except that there is less opportunity for motorists to pass by using a middle turn lane and the speed limit is above 35 mph. The speed limit means sharrows aren’t an option unless Florida Department of Transportation were to reduce it by 5-10 mph. Alternatively, “Share the Road” signs with the three-foot passing law attached could be posted. On the four-lane segments south of College Parkway to Iona, there’s room to reconfigure the space to add bike lanes, something FDOT verbally agreed to years ago. Currently, the inside lane is 12 feet and outside “shared-use lane” is 14 feet; upon resurfacing they would create two 11-foot lanes and add a 4-foot bike lane in the same space. If these options are something you’d like to see, please let FDOT know by contacting Debbie Tower at FDOT’s Southwest Area Office (debbie.tower@dot. state.fl.us or 225-1900). And, as usual, you can learn more about this and other Complete Streets matters at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Streets Alive! update
Plan to spend a couple of hours or the whole day sampling the many activities when Streets Alive! returns to Fort Myers River District from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, (streetsalivelee.org). Among the fun activities for kids will be a bike clinic/rodeo being conducted by the school district, using the bikes, helmets, and other equipment they use in schools. So, even if you don’t come by bike, the kids will be able to learn bike riding skills and have a blast doing so. FDOT will be working with them and will provide reflective items and other useful articles for both kids and adults. Streets Alive! is a free event.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
— Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org 334- 6417.