Thursday, August 30, 2018

Your mistake, my problem

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 8/30/2018
by Ken Gooderham

This week, we’re going to make some amends:

To the guy driving the pickup truck on Crystal Drive: I’m sorry the cyclist pulled in front of your moving vehicle and, when you hit the horn after slamming on your brakes, responded with a rude one-handed gesture rather than thanking you for not running him over.

To the line of vehicles on Captiva Drive one recent weekday morning: I’m sorry those three cyclists were riding side-by-side-by-side slowly up the island in a “No Passing” area, rather than riding in a line that would have easy to pass safely (and legally).

And to the motorists on West First Street in downtown Fort Myers: I’m sorry you had to stop, swerve and (probably) swear at the cyclist weaving through traffic who was too engrossed in some cell-phone conversation that he did not have the time to either pay attention to his fellow vehicles OR keep his hands on the handlebars while pedaling (erratically) down the street.

Why the apologies? Well, even though I did not commit any of these offenses, as a cyclist I will eventually be held responsible for them… because each of those drivers sped away from those incidents with a new disrespect (or at least distrust) for cyclists in general.

It’s only human nature… stupid actions by one individual tend to be projected onto the larger group. Since there’s an almost innate distrust of cyclists by some drivers already, one bad action by one bad actor only serves to confirm the existing enmity. And if the driver generally has (had) a positive view of pedalers, that one bad interaction will linger in the memory for a while, until savvy cyclists act in sufficiently sane ways to erase that error.

I can’t blame them, frankly. When on a bicycle, I hold the same view of motor vehicle drivers: The default defense is they are all out to get me, so I ride accordingly and am pleasantly surprised when drivers end up doing the right thing on the roadway. But I never assume that driver is going to not stop in the crosswalk, or will not open their car door when I’m riding, or any number of actions that will put me at risk (intentionally or inadvertently).

Because I also know that any one of those drivers could assume I’m going to do something stupid that they will have to react to in order to avoid a collision… because some other cyclist on some other roadway did exactly that.

So, to all the boneheaded bicyclists who ignore the rules of the road, common sense and even their own self-preservation: Knock it off.

You’re putting yourself at unnecessary risk, and you’re giving the rest of us cyclists a bad reputation. Worst of all, you’re giving motor vehicle drivers an easy excuse to view all bicyclists by your bad actions… and we want them to share the road with us cyclists, not view us all as an enemy who must be driven back to the sidewalks where we belong. (We’re not, and we don’t.)

And the rest of you cylists? Remember to ride right… because any stupid mistake one of us makes, all of us end up having to live with.

Ready to ride or run?

Run?  It may be too hot to run for most, but the hardier harriers can get up early for a Labor Day 5K on Monday, Sept. 3, kicking off at 7 a.m. at Lowdermilk Park in Naples ( Otherwise, hang on until October, when the fall race season kicks off.

Ride? Critical Mass rides ahead include the Cape Coral ride Friday night, the downtown Fort Myers night ride on Sept. 7, and the Sanibel night ride on Sept. 8. Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all; details at Looking for a longer ride? Look east to Sebring, for three days of riding and camaraderie for all skills over the Labor Day weekend Saturday-Monday, Sept. 1-3 ( You can also join the no-drop Wakey, Wakey! Sunday morning ride leaving from Fort Myers Trek. The ride is sanctioned by the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, so helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group.

Both? Upcoming events include:
  • Saturday, Sept. 8: Venice Sprint Triathlon, Sharkey’s on the Pier, Venice (
  • Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 15-16: Galloway Captiva Tri, with the kids’ events (three age groups) Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday. (
  • Saturday, Sept. 22: (“The Original”) Siesta Key Sprint Triathlon, Siesta Key (
  • Sunday, Nov. 18: Longboat Key Triathlon & Duathlon, sprint and Olympic tris, sprint and Olympic duathlon. Longboat Key Club & Resort (



Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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