Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Moser column:No surprise: we’ve got a long way to go to become a cycling-friendly community

Dan's column this week reports on the recent Bicycle Friendly Communities national expert visit to communities in Lee County and the work that lies ahead to make our county more bicycle-friendly.

Florida Weekly, Outdoors section, 2/18/15

Having an outsider who’s also an expert visit a community to provide insight can be enlightening or surprising to some and validating to others. That’s exactly what we hoped would be the case when Steve Clark from the League of American Bicyclists came here to help our various cities, towns and counties become Bike Friendly Communities, one of LAB’s Bike Friendly America designations. Steve was also anxious to provide tips and feedback for those interested in becoming a Bike Friendly Business or University, although, unfortunately, I don’t believe anyone took him up on that offer.

While here, Steve stayed on Sanibel and cycled to most of his destinations, including to Cape Coral, a ride in which he came very close to being taken out by an apparently clueless motorist while making a left turn. Based on his comments about this near hit, he rarely encounters as many motorist-cyclist conflicts as he did here. That’s coming from someone who visited 75 communities last year. After Steve had been here for enough time to get the feel for our infrastructure and traffic dynamics, he was put on the spot by a reporter to give our area a grade, something he said he didn’t really want to do.

But the reporter pressed on, asking him to rate our area on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best. Even considering Sanibel is a Silver-level Bike Friendly Community, we rated “3” in Steve’s opinion.
Such a low number coming from someone who is well qualified to make such a judgment was no surprise to those who ride, run and walk our roads and sidepaths. (Personally, I’m inclined to give us a 2.5 rating.) But it should be a wake-up call to our decision makers. If we expect to continue to lure visitors and new residents to our area we must improve that number. If we want to reduce our transportation spending by encouraging the use of bikes for transportation as much as for recreation and exercise we must improve that number. And if we want to keep vulnerable road users from being injured and killed at totally unacceptable levels that are well above state and national levels we must improve that number.

The good news coming from Steve’s visit is that most local governments engaged him and appear to be interested in improving their cycling environments. Cape Coral and Bonita Springs were especially interested and their citizens and visitors will likely benefit greatly should they truly become Bike Friendly communities. Unfortunately, our main and overarching government entity, Lee County apparently had no interest in even meeting with Steve, other than making an appearance when Steve met with Fort Myers officials after a ride with about 15 staff members and citizens. The county’s disinterest is sad because a number of years ago Lee County applied for Bike Friendly Community designation but didn’t even make “honorable mention,” so it’s quite clear that the “3” ranking is valid and Lee County must be part of improving that number. Let’s hope our commissioners make up for this missed opportunity and direct their manager and senior staff to get back to implementing the Complete Streets policy they approved but that now appears to be on ice, as is the case with so many promising undertakings they’ve abandoned or gutted. Those include an excellent Sustainability Plan, significantly beefing-up LeeTran, and its own main planning document, New Horizon 2035.

Hooters Half-Marathon
It’s almost time for one of the best half-marathons and post-race parties in Florida to take place right in our front yard. More than 1,100 runners participated in Hooters Half-Marathon ( last year with quite a few more volunteers joining in to enjoy the post-race festivities. Whether running or volunteering, this is an annual event that’s well worth the effort and early morning wake-up call. Add to that the fact that the proceeds go to very worthy causes, Hooters Half-Marathon is much more than just another race — it’s an experience that helps define our community.

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

Upcoming Events

¦ Saturday, Feb. 21, Edison Fest 5K, downtown Fort Myers (
¦ Sunday, March 1, Hooters Half-Marathon, Hooters, Fort Myers (
¦ Sunday, March 8, Mission Nutrition 5K & Health Fair, Fort Myers (
¦ Saturday, March 14, Scope for Hope 5K, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (
Saturday, March 21, Lehigh SpringFest 5K, Lehigh (

Cycling and other events:
¦ Saturday, Feb. 28, Cycling for Fallen Heroes, Estero (
¦ Sunday, March 22, Royal Palm Classic, Gateway (
¦ Saturday, March 28, Miracle Limbs Ride, Naples (

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 or 334- 6417.

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