The official Blog for bikewalklee.org. BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County, FL.
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Dan Moser Column: Active events depend on volunteers
Dan's column spotlights the important and often thankless job of the many volunteers that put on active events. Be sure to thank them next time you participate in an event...better yet, be one of the volunteers. Thank you!
Talk about dedication and commitment — River, Roots & Ruts Half-Marathon and Tour de Cape, two of our local area’s most popular and volunteer-intensive events, highlighted the strong commitment of local volunteers. Both events took place recently, each happening a week apart but each also on a day after our area experienced wet and rough weather that made conditions for participants quite challenging. It was extremely difficult for volunteer organizers as well.
For RRR volunteers it meant climbing over downed vegetation and trudging through slippery clay trails — some completely submerged in water from the deluge the day and night before — to man their posts. Besides being race director Steve Brookman’s last as the organizer, it was also one of the messiest of his 13-year tenure. Less muddy but just as messy in its own way, Tour de Cape volunteers had to contend with unbelievably windy conditions following a night of thunderstorms that forced a late start to the rides. This severe weather happened less than a week after tornadoes struck the city, meaning many were a bit on edge. Bike riders who braved the gales were able to do so because of the support provided by volunteers who did whatever necessary to ensure rest stops and breakdown assistance services were available, a feat in itself considering the relentless winds. Organizers from both events are to be commended for how well they and their respective teams of staff and volunteers pulled things off under such conditions. On days like these it’s pretty easy to roll over and stay in bed, something participants can easily do — forfeiting only their entrance fee and maybe their pride (or perhaps risking razzing from others who did make it) — but organizers depend on their volunteers and most are committed and do indeed make it to ensure the event takes place, even under difficult circumstances.
The next time you take part in a running, walking or cycling event, thank the volunteers who make it happen. Better yet, pick one or two events a year to work rather than enter as a participant. You’ll get a much better understanding of how much work goes into them, be more forgiving when things aren’t quite perfect and come away knowing you did your part. Your efforts will be appreciated by the organizers and participants alike. Check out the list of upcoming events on this page for volunteer opportunities. Whether you’re wanting to take a break from competing or just wish to help out, your efforts will be welcome and appreciated.
Continuing on the theme of volunteerism, a Lee County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee citizen member recently brought to the committee’s attention a problem seldom even considered as such by the general public and transportation professionals alike: the routine carnage that takes place on our roads involving wildlife and domestic animals. Although we all too frequently read about Florida panthers being killed by vehicles on our roads, they represent only a very small number of the many other animals killed on a daily basis. Nationally, according to the Federal Highway Administration, “death by car represents a serious threat to 21 endangered or threatened species, including Key deer, bighorn sheep, ocelot, red wolves, desert tortoises, American crocodiles and Florida panthers. Nine panthers were killed by vehicles in 2011, 16 in 2012.” The final Florida panther death count from 2015 is 38 with 26 caused by motor vehicles. (Source: floridapanthernet.org)
Lee County BPAC member Ileana Sisson is asking that this issue be addressed by the committee that’s made up of community volunteers. In her letter to Lee DOT staff facilitators she states, “Roads are being built dividing sensitive and protected lands without thought to the animals and our natural habitat. I believe it’s time to make positive changes and to consider the impact of all roads on wildlife and the surrounding habitat and to adopt new road rules, laws and regulations that take nature into consideration as well.” She closes her request with, “I encourage everyone to view the video below and to think how future roads can be made safer for all pedestrians including our fellow earthlings and for DOT, engineers and County Commissioners to take action. Paradise is not paradise without nature.”
18th annual Royal Palm Classic, Sunday, March 13, Fort Myers Brewery, Gateway caloosariders.org
— Dan Moser is a longtime bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him firstname.lastname@example.org and 334- 6417.