Monday, February 18, 2019

February 18: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Swamp Stomp 5K run/walk. The beautiful 5K course takes runners and walkers through a lovely area of LaBelle with glimpses of the Caloosahatchee River. The race will Start & Finish at Grandeur Oaks Plaza. All of the proceeds for the Swamp Stomp 5K Run/Walk go towards the care of the homeless pets that temporarily reside at Caloosa Humane Society. We are a no-kill shelter and care for approximately 1,000 animals each year. 6:30 a.m, Grandeur Oaks Town Center, 850 W. Hickpochee Ave, Labelle (caloosahumanesociety.org) (ftmyerstrackclub.com) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 23:Naples High School Golden Eagle Run. The Golden Eagle Run is a chip timed race, starting at Lowdermilk Park and traveling a course through the tranquil streets of Coquina Sands and the Moorings neighborhoods and returning to Lowdermilk Park to the finish line. 6:15 a.m, 1301 Gulf Shore Blvd N, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Run the Lakes for Cypress Lake Middle 5K. Cypress Lake Middle School is hosting a 5K Run/Walk at beautiful Lakes Park. We are raising funds to be able to continue to support our students as they strive for success in academics, arts and athletics at Cypress Lake Middle School. Lakes Park is a popular 5K course winding through one of our beautiful Regional Parks! 9:00 a.m, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers (runsignup.com) 
  • Saturday, March 2: City of Palms half marathon & 5K. The inaugural City of Palms Half Marathon and 5K at FGCU will take you on a tour of the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast University campus and surrounding areas. 6:00 a.m., Fort Myers (eliteevents.org/cityofpalmshalf.com
  • Sunday, March 3: Lazy Flamingo half marathon and relay, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, March 9: The Yo Taco Shrimp Run 5K, Fort Myers Beach (active.com)
  • Saturday, March 16: Scope for Hope 5K run and 2-mile walk. 8 a.m., CenturyLink Sports Complex, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, March 16: Lee County Medical Society Foundation 2019 Fun Run, 5K run, 2K walk, Lakes Park, Fort Myers. (3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, March 23: The Inaugural Marlins 5K run or walk, begins and ends at Marlins Brewhouse on Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers (3dracinginc.com
  • Saturday, March 23: Baker Park 5K, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Friday, Feb. 22: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7 p.m., start at 7:30 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 24: Tour de Marco, 5-, 15- and 30-mile routes (active.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 24:Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths).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. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 24: Dirty Hamster Hundred, off-road ride at Babcock/Cecil Webb Wildlife Management Area, Punta Gorda. 25-mile loop, 10- mile loop, 10-mile paved route, no registration and no SAG (caloosariders.org)
  • Friday, March 1: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers gathering at 7:14 p.m. and starting at 8 p.m. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, March 3: Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths). 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. (meetup.com)
  • Saturday, March 9: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, March 10: Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths). 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. (meetup.com)
  • March 9-10: Royal Palm Challenge, 32- or 42-mile bonus ride Saturday (new), with the traditional RPC rides Sunday of 15, 40, 62 and 80 miles. Full support, swag and more. (calusariders.org)
  • March 22-23: Pedal & Play in Paradise, 15-, 30- and 62-mile routes plus a Mystery Tour Sunday, plus a City Manager’s Tour Saturday (pedalandplayinparadise.com/)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Triathlons:
  • Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri. The race features a 1/4 mile swim from the Yacht Club Beach, 11 mile bike ride and a 5k run through the beautiful, historic area of Southeast Cape Coral. (trifind.com)
  • Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.









Sunday, February 17, 2019

News-Press Op Ed: Lee County is growing so fast, we are losing the quality of life

BikeWalkLee's mission is to promote complete streets and livable communities.  Today's commentary in News-Press focuses on what it means for our communities to be walkable, bikeable, and livable.  This is key to the quality of life for our citizens.  "This is not a partisan issue...We all seek a good and healthful way of life no matter how we vote."  Kudos to Charlotte Newton for her thoughtful commentary.  What has been happening to the quality of life in your community? Is your area safer or more dangerous than it used to be for walking and biking? Let your elected officials know you care about having walkable, bikeable, and livable communities.

News-Press Opinion
Feb. 17, 2019
Lee County is growing so fast, and we are losing the quality of life
By Charlotte Newton, Guest contributor 
Do you enjoy living in Lee County?  I do – but will admit to worrying about its future.
Rampant development is increasing traffic and impacting our schools.  Lee Health tries, but can’t seem to keep up with our growing population, resources for early childhood learning are limited, and there is minimal funding for mental health treatment.  Clean water appears to be a thing of the past.  Increasingly, Lee County is becoming unlivable.

So how do you define livability?  According to AARP, “a livable community is one that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and offers supportive community features and services.”   When you bike on our roads, do you feel safe?  Can you walk to your local Publix without having to dodge cars?  When you take your child to the school bus stop, are there sidewalks, lighting?  How long do you have to wait to see a doctor, either at the local emergency room or at a medical office?  And how long does it take you to travel the Cape Coral Bridge to get home after a tiring workday?

More: We need to expand roadways in Lee County to offset population growth: your say
The fact is that Lee is growing so fast, we are losing the quality of life we have enjoyed and until we get the situation under control, it is not going to get any better. 

This is not a partisan issue; it doesn’t matter one’s political party.  We all seek a good and healthful way of life no matter how we vote.

Nobody is calling for a halt to development, which is an important part of our economy.  But unfortunately, development is the tail wagging the dog and negatively impacting our quality of life in so many ways.  For example, in Lee, we have a plan called Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DR/GR) which originally was aimed at controlling overdevelopment in southeast Lee County due to the potential for wetlands destruction and the demands on our water resources from increased housing density.  Time and again, the DR/GR plan is either simply ignored or cast aside by those charged with county zoning.

Building more roads just invites more cars.  Our population is aging and our roads are jammed to capacity. We need a viable bus network that covers the entire county and offers those who cannot or do not want to drive alternatives to getting around. 

We also can no longer wait for our county leaders to act on the blue-green algae in our waterways.  It’s still there – we just can’t see it. The governor’s water quality proposals are welcomed; however, they will take years to implement. 

Our county leaders are turning a blind eye to taking action here, now.  The economy is one reason to act, but let’s also prioritize the health and recreational effects on our year-round residents.
Third, a livable community is one that invites its citizens out – out biking, out walking and hiking, out enjoying public gatherings.  With so many gated communities, it’s a difficult challenge but one from which we should not shy away.  Cape Coral has built a network of bike paths and is developing a system of parks. 

The rest of Lee County should follow suit by requiring developers to build these amenities for all our citizens, not just those who buy houses inside their gates. 

Our concerns are not new and have been voiced by others over the years.  But no matter how many speak up, nothing seems to change – or slow down.  Perhaps the answer is to remind our county officials that listening to those they represent – rather than those who donate to their campaigns – is critical to staying in office. 

Charlotte Newton is a citizen member of The News-Press Editorial Board.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

It’s a great time to get outside!



BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, Febuary 14, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

It’s gorgeous outside! What are you doing sitting here reading a newspaper?

Yes, if you like to ride, run or walk, it’s a great time of year weather-wise to be outdoors. Moderate temperatures and low chances for rain (mostly)… what’s not to love?

The only real obstacles you might face are wind and traffic – and both can be made more bearable with a few simple hacks.

Windy days are more frequent during the SW Florida winter, especially as cool fronts approach or pass through. We’ve had a few days this year where it was wiser to stay home than to brave the 25+ mph winds, but that’s rare. Otherwise, here’s some idea on how to cope:

    • Pick your route to lessen your time riding into a headwind, or tackle that stretch of the ride first, when your legs are fresher. If you’re going out and back, that means either going into the wind first and last or adjusting your route to avoid heading directly into the breeze.

    • Make yourself a smaller target, at least when it gets gusty. When riding into the wind, get as aerodynamic as you can so the wind has less of you to push against. Bend over your handlebars even if you don’t have a road bike (and use the drop handlebars if you do. Similarly, when the wind is at your back make yourself as big a target as possible to let nature give you a boost.

    • Drop down a gear (if you have that option) when headed into the wind, to give your legs a break and keep your pedaling cadence closer to normal. It will also keep you steadier on the bike, which is handy if the winds are pushing you around.

    • Dress appropriately. Think layers (to add or subtract depending on the direction) and fabrics (something more wind/water resistant on the outside to help you keep body heat, something wicking closer to your skin to keep moisture under control.

    • Know your limits. Wind is the closest things we have to hills here, in terms of making you work to make headway... which means if your legs aren’t used to extra resistance, you may want to work up to a long windy-day ride.

As far as traffic, it’s that time of year for both roadways and pathways. A lot of users, many of whom aren’t familiar with where they are or where they’re going, and a range of skill sets to boot.

That means the smartest thing you can do as a rider, runner or walker is be aware, be patient and be in control.

    • Be aware: On the pathways, know what’s going on around you and watch out for other creatures (human and otherwise) who may not know what to do as you approach. On roadways, paying attention is even more crucial in case other vehicle drivers are not watching out for you. Use all your senses (especially hearing, so lose the earphones so you can hear vehicles approach), ride bright (colors and lights) and smart (obey the rules, painful as that can be, when there are other vehicles around).

    • Be patient. If there’s a bottleneck on the bike path or construction on the roadway, don’t barrel through and hope for the best but back off and let things sort themselves out. You’re never in such a rush that putting yourself at risk is a smart idea.

    • Be in control. If there are dangers on the path ahead – be it inattentive children, wandering dogs or debris on the path – take charge of the situation and take whatever steps necessary to keep you and everyone else safe. That could mean warning people you’re coming through (always a good idea in a crowd, as well as required by law), even dismounting to walk past the problem (or move the problem out of the way if necessary).

On the road with other vehicles? Know your rights and know the rules – but also know that, in an argument between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, the little guy never wins. So if you have to yield even though you have the right-of-way, or if you run into a motorist who’s not altogether happy about sharing the road, you need to do whatever is necessary to keep yourself safe first, not count on everyone else to do the right thing (or anything at all).

Remember, wind and traffic are temporary inconveniences, and a small price to pay for getting to ride, run and walk in paradise.

So put down this newspaper and get outside!


Ready to ride or run?

Run?  A big running weekend, with the Edison 5K (featuring a new route with a start/finish downtown) Saturday and the Paradise Coast half (and 5K) in Naples Sunday. Back to the 5Ks the next weekend, with Feb. 23 events in Labelle, Naples and Fort Myers. Details at ftmyerstrackclub.com, gcrunner.org, 3dracinginc.com, and runsignup.com.

Ride? Critical Mass ahead… tomorrow in NE Lee, Feb. 22 in Cape Coral and Feb. 23 in downtown Fort Myers for a slow roll. ON Feb. 24, two options: The Tour de Marco with 5-, 51- and 30-mile routes on the island’s roads and lanes, or the Dirty Hamster Hundred in the Babcock/Webb wildlife preserve south of Punta Gorda, with a 10- and 25-mile off-road loop and a 10-mile paved loop where you can ride till you drop, if that’s your thing. (meetup.com)

Both? Upcoming events include:
  • Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri (trifind.com)
  • Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Willing to drive? Check trifind.com or active.com for tris around the state.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:

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

# # #

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 www.BikeWalkLee.org. 


 

Action Alert: Feb. 19th Senate Committee considers SB 76," Hands-Free Florida Law"

The Florida Legislature is in session and this year's "Hands-Free Florida Law" bills are beginning through the legislative process.  The first action is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19th, when the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee considers Senator Simpson's bill, SB 76, "Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving". 

Below is the letter that BikeWalkLee sent to the Committee today, urging them to support SB 76 on Tuesday. At the end of this blog, there are also links to other related documents, including the action alert by the FL DNT TXTNDRV Coalition.

It is important for citizens to contact (phone or email) members of the Senate Committee prior to their Tuesday Feb. 19th 4:30 p.m. meeting.  See the list of members and links to how to contact them. 
Best way to contact them is to CALL:
 
Chair:  Senator Tom Lee (R) 850-487-5020
Vice-Chair: Senator Keith Perry (R) 850-487-5008
Senator Aaron Bean (R) 850-487-5004
Senator Janet Cruz (D) 850-487-5018
Senator Ed Hooper (R) 850-487-5016
Senator Travis Hutson (R) 850-487-5007
Senator Linda Stewart (D) 850-487-5013
Senator Annette Taddeo (D) 850-487-5040
February 14, 2019
 
 
 Members the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee:
 
BikeWalkLee, a coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County, has long urged the Legislature to improve the safety of all road users in Florida.  In particular, our top legislative priority for the past six years has been passing a bill to strengthen Florida's laws dealing with distracted driving, in particular the weak “texting while driving” law. 
 
As the Committee considers SB 76 “Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving” on Feb. 19th,  we urge you to support this bill that would make texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone a “primary” offense.  It is critical that Florida, one of the most dangerous states in the country for all road users (drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists), strengthen roadway safety laws to address the growing dangers of distracted driving.
 
Across the nation, overall traffic fatalities have surged in the past four years.  In Florida, traffic fatalities climbed by 25% between 2014 and 2017.  In Lee County, fatal traffic crashes increased much faster –40% between 2014 to 2017. According to the Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were almost 50,000 crashes involving distracted driving in Florida in 2016, and these crashes accounted for more than 3,500 serious injuries and 233 deaths.
 
Most experts agree that the primary cause of the surge in traffic fatalities is distracted driving, increasingly caused by the use of smart phones and internet apps. The National Safety Council reports that the risk of a crash is four times greater when a cell phone is in use. According to the national “Safe Driving Report: 2016-2017” (issued by the insurance firm EverQuote Inc.), Florida ranked the second-worst state for distracted driving.
 
Recent studies show there is a relationship between individual state roadway safety rankings and that state’s driver safety laws and enforcement of those laws. While Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the country for road users, it ranks as the seventh worst state for driver safety laws (2016 study by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety). Florida is one of only four states that doesn't make texting while driving a primary offense—which allows police to pull over motorists for offenses. Clearly, one of the reasons Florida's traffic fatalities are among the highest in the nation is that it has very weak driver safety laws in place. 
 
Florida's alarming increase in traffic fatalities is not only a concern for driver safety, it is of particular concern for vulnerable road users -- pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists -- who are at the greatest risk when drivers take their eyes off the road.  The national 2019 “Dangerous by Design” report ranked Florida as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians, and eight of the most dangerous metro areas in the U.S. are in Florida. This is a crisis that can no longer be ignored by the Florida Legislature.
 
It is time to address the larger problem of use of cell phones while driving, not just texting.  Not only is the current Florida texting law weak, it is difficult to enforce.  Laws prohibiting all motor vehicle drivers from using hand-held electronic communication devices while driving can be more effectively enforced. 
 
We know that stronger laws will reduce Florida’s roadway fatalities.  Of the 15 states and the District of Columbia that have enacted “hands-free” laws, 13 saw an average 17.5% decrease in traffic fatalities within two years after passing and enforcing their new laws.  Applying these findings to Florida, if HR 45/SB 76 were enacted an estimated 545 lives could be saved each year.
 
In each of the past six years, the Florida Legislature failed to take any action to strengthen its weak anti-texting law, and took no action to address the broader causes of distracted driving.  It is critically important that the Legislature take action this year to address the growing dangers presented by the use of electronic devices while driving.
 
We urge the Committee to support SB 76 and work to ensure that it becomes law this year.
 
Thank you for your support. 
 
Darla Letourneau
on behalf of BikeWalkLee
  
Related Links:
 
 
FL DNT TXTNDRV Coalition 1/28/19 handout re: SB 76 and HB 107:
 
Senate Bill #76

Florida Senate Bill Tracking for SB 76

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Share your comments on Sanibel’s Shared Use Path at Feb. 19th Open House, Interactive Comment Map, and Online Survey


If you live, work, or play on Sanibel, please take advantage of one or all of the channels and opportunities for participating in the update of the City’s Shared Use Path Master Plan.  www.sanibelbikeped.com Public input is important for developing a visionary plan (with a 10-20 year time horizon) for one of the community’s crown jewels—its shared use path system.  Be sure to check out the cool Interactive Comment Map online, which is easy to use (see step by step instructions below) http://www.sanibelbikeped.com/interactive-comment-map/


Background
The City of Sanibel’s Shared Use Master Plan was adopted in 2009 and has guided the implementation of updates to our shared use path system over the past decade. The City of Sanibel, in collaboration with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is currently updating the Sanibel Shared Use Master Plan. The Master Plan Update is being conducted to recognize the improvements completed over the past decade and will guide the long-term vision for the Shared Use Path system. During this process the City and MPO will solicit and receive public comment through a variety of channels including Open Houses, surveys and emails. A webpage has been created just for the Update of the Sanibel Shared Use Path Master Plan project now underway. www.sanibelbikeped.com

How to Participate:
There are three ways you can provide your input to Sanibel's Update of its Shared Use Path Master Plan, which is now underway:
1. On Tuesday, February 19, 2019 the community is invited to drop-in any time between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to provide your input directly to the team preparing the Shared Use Master Plan Update. The Open House is being held at the Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, FL 33957.
2. You can respond to an online survey with the click of your mouse.
3.  Input comments about specific locations on Sanibel where you have comments, concerns, or suggestions by using the Interactive Comment Map.
4. The project website www.sanibelbikeped.com also has links to the Project Calendar, Resources (which includes previous studies and source documents related to the Master Plan), and a “Contact Us” button to allow you to communicate with the project management team.


INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE INTERACTIVE COMMENT MAP
This is an excellent online tool for using the map of Sanibel to indicate specifically where you have concerns, comments, and ideas.  You can also see everyone else’s comments and can comment on their comments.  It is easy to use, once you have a few instructions:
1. The link to the website is: www.sanibelbikeped.com. This site includes links at the top (orange icons) to the following components:
2. Click on orange icon, "Interactive Comment Map". http://www.sanibelbikeped.com/interactive-comment-map/
3. Then move to the Green heading below and click on the tab "About and Help".
4. A drop down menu will appear. Click on "Instructions" tab.
 
5. Instructions for using the Map:
  • To begin the comment process; please zoom to your location of interest.
  • Once you have identified the location, click on the “Issues and Concerns” tab in the header.
  • Click on the map at the location that you wish to identify as an issue or concern – a comment box will appear for you to describe the specific issue or concern.
  • Once you are done entering your comments, please click on “Submit.”
  • If someone has already identified a similar issue at the same location, you can click on the icon to view the respective comment.
  • If you wish to Agree or Disagree with the comment or want to add an additional comment, please click the Show Comments/Surveys button to provide your input.
  • Click “Add Comment” once you have completed your entry.

Sidewalks are not shared use paths


Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, February 13, 2019
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

This FDOT side path on Cleveland Avenue is clearly a sidewalk intended for pedestrians. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY
Just when it appeared that the Florida Department of Transportation had transformed itself from the auto-centric roadbuilding agency of the past to one that had finally embraced Complete Streets, it backslid in a big way. Although it’s been under the radar for much of the general public and the media, a decision made in Tallahassee last year has drastically changed the policy related to side-paths construction and maintenance.

The new policy requires local governments to fully maintain any side path on FDOT roads that are meant for more than just pedestrians, meaning shared use paths over 8 feet wide and constructed of asphalt will no longer be built on state roads unless locals take over all aspects of maintenance (storm water management, surface repair and replacement, and other elements like railings and fences), an expense most governments will not agree to absorb.

Worse yet, FDOT made this major decision without any input from the many jurisdictions throughout the state that the policy has already begun to impact, which is totally contrary to a key principles of Complete Streets.

Like many states’ transportation departments, FDOT’s old motto was “we build them to ’em and through ’em,” referring to the way they operated without taking into consideration how roads would change communities or what local governments’ wishes were. The scars of this mindset are obvious when visiting just about any town in Florida where “main street” is or was the state highway ripping through its central business district, meaning there’s little chance of it being pedestrian-friendly unless locals forced it to be rerouted or redesigned.

Fort Myers is one such community that was able to convince FDOT to change the nature of SR 80 (Palm Beach Boulevard and Second Street) and SR 82 (Martin Luther King Boulevard). To FDOT’s credit, it recently put into place its own Complete Streets policy which includes much more bike/ped-friendly designs on surface roads (i.e., non-interstates and turnpike). Cleveland Avenue, from Winkler Avenue to downtown Fort Myers, should be a good example of this change of approach once work is completed.

However, this latest side path policy change will have many consequences that are clearly not complying with its own Complete Streets policy, a policy that first and foremost includes input from as many sources as possible, but especially those being directly impacted.

The effects of FDOT’s regression are significant. Even when buffered bike lanes are provided, narrow, concrete sidewalks rather than wider asphalt paths will reduce the number of folks who would use their bikes for transportation or to recreate, meaning more motor vehicles on the roads (motor vehicle travel lanes are much more expensive to build and maintain than SUPs). It will also severely impact the statewide trail system by creating many gaps because most jurisdictions simply will not take on maintenance of another jurisdiction’s right-of-way. Narrow concrete sidewalks do not meet the standards for the statewide trail network. And many funding sources specific to the statewide system or trails in general will be off the table due to adjacent segments on state roads not meeting standards, thus there would be no continuity. Already affected locally are SR 80 east of I-75, SR 78 (Bayshore Road) from just west of I-75 to SR 31, and SR 31 (the road to Babcock, which will have its own trail network open to the public).

At this point there seems to be little willingness by FDOT to reconsider its unilateral decision. For those local governments that have SUPs included on bike/ ped master plans or otherwise expected SUPs have two bad choices: let FDOT reduce them to sidewalks (as Lee County has already done) or agree to an unexpected, unknown, and unfair burden by taking on all maintenance expenses. These choices would never be required for elements of FDOT’s network that serve motor vehicles. To learn more about this and similar matters visit bikewalklee.blogspot.com. ¦

 
- 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 bikepedmoser@gmail.com and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.






Monday, February 11, 2019

February 11: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, Feb. 16: Edison 5K run/walk. Over the years, the Edison Festival 5K Race has gained international notoriety. Well over 1,400 participants and thousands of spectators take over the streets of the Downtown River District. Register your team for this 3.1 mile race for fun and a chance to win cash prizes. 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m, 2500 Edwards Dr, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com) 
  • Sunday, Feb. 17: Paradise Coast half marathon &5K, Naples (eliteevents.org/paradisehalf.com) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Swamp Stomp 5K run/walk, Labelle (ftmyerstrackclub.com) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 23:Naples High School Golden Eagle Run, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Run the Lakes for Cypress Lake Middle 5K, Lakes Park, Fort Myers (runsignup.com) 
  • Saturday, March 2: City of Palms half marathon & 5K. The inaugural City of Palms Half Marathon and 5K at FGCU will take you on a tour of the beautiful Florida Gulf Coast University campus and surrounding areas. 6:00 a.m., Fort Myers (eliteevents.org/cityofpalmshalf.com
  • Sunday, March 3: Lazy Flamingo half marathon and relay, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, March 9: The Yo Taco Shrimp Run 5K, Fort Myers Beach (active.com)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Friday, Feb. 15: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 17:Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths).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. (meetup.com)
  • Friday, Feb. 22: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7 p.m., start at 7:30 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, Feb.24: Tour de Marco, 5-, 15- and 30-mile routes (active.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 24:Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths).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. (meetup.com)
  • Friday, March 1: SWFlorida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers gathering at 7:14 p.m. and starting at 8 p.m. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (meetup.com)
  • March 9-10: Royal Palm Challenge, 32- or 42-mile bonus ride Saturday (new), with the traditional RPC rides Sunday of 15, 40, 62 and 80 miles. Full support, swag and more. (calusariders.org)
  • March 22-23: Pedal & Play in Paradise, 15-, 30- and 62-mile routes plus a Mystery Tour Sunday, plus a City Manager’s Tour Saturday (pedalandplayinparadise.com/)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Triathlons:
  • Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri. The race features a 1/4 mile swim from the Yacht Club Beach, 11 mile bike ride and a 5k run through the beautiful, historic area of Southeast Cape Coral. (trifind.com)
  • Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.









Saturday, February 9, 2019

Participate in Sanibel's Online Survey re: Shared Use Path Master Plan Update

 

Here's your chance to provide input with the click of your mouse, to Sanibel's Shared Use Path Master Plan Update process.  If you live, work, or play on Sanibel, please take a few minutes to have your voices heard. 
If you're on island on Feb. 19th, you can also provide input at their day-long Open House at the Rec Center.

Feb. 8, 2019 Press Release: City of Sanibel
Shared Use Path Survey Open

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS SURVEY


Citizen input is an important component of decision making by our local government on Sanibel. Historically, our citizens participate at significant rates when we conduct surveys. As of today, we are soliciting public input regarding the City's Shared Use Path Master Plan. All citizens, including motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians, are welcome and encouraged to participate in this important survey. Throughout the Shared Use Master Plan update process, public input will be solicited through various means. In addition to this survey, all residents and path users are also welcome to attend the Shared Use Master Plan Update OPEN HOUSE which will be held on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, FL 33957.

The current version of the City's Shared Use Path Master Plan was adopted in 2009, and has guided the implementation of updates to the shared use path system for the past decade. The City of Sanibel, in collaboration with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is currently updating the Sanibel Shared Use Path Master Plan. The Master Plan update is being conducted to recognize the improvements completed over the past decade and will guide the long-term vision for the Shared Use Path system.

If you have questions about the Sanibel Shared Use Path Master Plan Update or Project Advisory Committee meeting, please visit the project website at www.sanibelbikeped.com
Sanibelbikeped@mysanibel.com or contact Keith Williams, P.E., Director of Community Services Department, at (239) 472-6397, ext. 507. 

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS SURVEY

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Sanibel Feb. 19th Open House: Public Input on Shared Use Path Master Plan Update

City of Sanibel Shared Use Path Master Plan Update OPEN HOUSE BRING YOUR INPUT!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel Captiva Road Sanibel, FL 33957

02/05/2019 01:34 pm


The City’s Shared Use Master Plan was adopted in 2009 and has guided the implementation of updates to our shared use path system over the past decade. The City of Sanibel, in collaboration with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is currently updating the Sanibel Shared Use Master Plan. The Master Plan Update is being conducted to recognize the improvements completed over the past decade and will guide the long-term vision for the Shared Use Path system. During this process the City and MPO will solicit and receive public comment through a vareity of channels including Open Houses, surveys and emails.

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019 the community is invited to drop-in any time between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to provide your input directly to the team preparing the Shared Use Master Plan Update. The Open House is being held at the Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, FL 33957.

If you have questions about the Sanibel Shared Use Path Master Plan Update or the Open House Meeting, please visit the project website at www.sanibelbikeped.com or contact Keith Williams, P.E., Director Department of Community Services, at phone (239) 472-6397, ext. 507.

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, PERSONS NEEDING A SPECIAL ACCOMMODATION TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PROCEEDING, TO INCLUDE HEARING IMPAIRMENT, SHOULD CONTACT PAMELA SMITH, CITY CLERK, NO LATER THAN ONE DAY PRIOR TO THE PROCEEDINGS AT (239) 472-3700. FOR ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE IF HEARING IMPAIRED, TELEPHONE THE FLORIDA RELAY SERVICE AT 711.

Monday, February 4, 2019

February 4: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, Feb. 9: Scout Strong 5K run/walk. Boy Scout Troop 243 is hosting its 5th annual Scout Strong 5K Run & Walk at North Collier Regional Park. The course is on flat, paved trails that pass through a shady, wetland preserve in the park. 8.00 a.m., North Collier Regional Park, Naples (gcrunner.org) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 9: Rotary's Run for the Rose Garden 5K. Run in the Cape Coral Rotary Club's annual 5k race beginning at Rotary Park and winding through the lovely Rose Garden area of South Cape Coral. 7.30 a.m., Rotary Park, Cape Coral (active.com) 
  • Sunday, Feb. 10: Edison Junior Races, downtown Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 16: Edison 5K run/walk, downtown Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com) 
  • Sunday, Feb. 17: Paradise Coast half marathon &5K, Naples (eliteevents.org/paradisehalf.com) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Swamp Stomp 5K run/walk, Labelle (ftmyerstrackclub.com) 
  • Saturday, Feb. 23:Naples High School Golden Eagle Run, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Run the Lakes for Cypress Lake Middle 5K, Lakes Park, Fort Myers (runsignup.com) 
  • Saturday, March 2: City of Palms half marathon & 5K, Fort Myers (eliteevents.org/cityofpalmshalf.com
  • Sunday, March 3: Lazy Flamingo half marathon and relay, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, March 9: The Yo Taco Shrimp Run 5K, Fort Myers Beach (active.com)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:

  • Saturday, Feb. 9: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Saturday, Feb. 9: Ride for Tiny Town, with 60-, 30- and 15-mile rides starting from Arcadia, to benefit Desoto Cares Homeless Services (caloosariders.org).
  • Sunday, Feb. 10: Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths). 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. (meetup.com) 
  • Sunday, Feb. 10:Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths).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. (meetup.com)
  • Friday, Feb. 15: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 17:Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths).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. (meetup.com)
  • Friday, Feb. 22: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7 p.m., start at 7:30 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com)
  • Saturday, Feb. 23: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com)
  • Sunday, Feb.24: Tour de Marco, 5-, 15- and 30-mile routes (active.com)
  • Sunday, Feb. 24:Wakey, Wakey! Weekly Sunday Morning Ride. All levels, all bikes, leaves from Fort Myers Trek store at 7:30 a.m. on a different route each week (mostly on bike paths).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. (meetup.com)
  • Friday, March 1: SWFlorida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers gathering at 7:14 p.m. and starting at 8 p.m. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (meetup.com)
  • March 9-10: Royal Palm Challenge, 32- or 42-mile bonus ride Saturday (new), with the traditional RPC rides Sunday of 15, 40, 62 and 80 miles. Full support, swag and more. (calusariders.org)
  • March 22-23: Pedal & Play in Paradise, 15-, 30- and 62-mile routes plus a Mystery Tour Sunday, plus a City Manager’s Tour Saturday (pedalandplayinparadise.com/)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Triathlons:
  • Sunday, Feb.11: Tri Your Heart Out sprint. Do the winter blues get you down? Tri Your Heart Out is a great way to dip your toes into the world of triathlon, or jump back in after the holidays. It's an affordable, safe, friendly race designed for first timers and those who enjoy having the rest of the day to relax. No fancy bike or spandex needed, no pressure, just a good time swimming, biking, and running! 8501 Potter Park Dr., Sarasota (runsignup.com
  • Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri. The race features a 1/4 mile swim from the Yacht Club Beach, 11 mile bike ride and a 5k run through the beautiful, historic area of Southeast Cape Coral. (trifind.com)
  • Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.









Thursday, January 31, 2019

Are pedestrians in peril?



BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, January 31, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

So just how dangerous is it to walk in Southwest Florida? It really depends on where and when you walk, with perhaps a little “why” thrown in as well.

The recently released “Dangerous by Design” 2019 report noted a rise in overall pedestrian deaths nationally, with Florida as the most dangerous state for pedestrian fatalities (again) and Lee County remaining in the Top 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas (albeit moving from its No. 1 position in 2016 to No. 8 in this edition) in the country – and eight of the top 10 most dangerous areas are in Florida).

Looking over a broader arc of time, from 2008 to 2017 nationally:
    • Vehicle miles traveled increased by 8.1%,
    • Walking as a share of all trips increase by less than 1%,
    • Traffic deaths among motor vehicle occupants decreased by 6.1%
    • And pedestrian deaths increased by 35.1%.

So we’re not really walking more, and it’s safer to be in a vehicle than it was before – but pedestrian deaths have jumped more than four times the increase in vehicle miles traveled. What gives?

A lot of the problem is being chalked up to street design – specifically, streets designed only to move motor traffic and not foot or bicycle traffic – as well as more distracted drivers… yes, we’re talking about you there texting on your cell phone as you drive to work.

Think about it… streets designed to move only motor vehicles (and move them as quickly as possible) usually leave out safe places for people to walk and bike – places away from fast-moving motor vehicles such as off-road sidewalks and shared use paths and buffered bike lanes – as well as safe places to cross the traffic lanes – crosswalks and other pedestrian crossings that are safe and convenient to use (for the walkers, that is).

Without those safe places, pedestrians and cyclists are either forced to find another route or forced to share the road in a way that’s not really sharing – and not really safe. Then add in the motor vehicle operator who is paying more attention to his or her electronic devices than they are to the demanding work of driving – and a momentary lapse in attention becomes a life-threatening situation for a nearby walker or biker who unfortunately has nowhere else to go but right next to the traffic lanes.

Enticing distractions and bad road designs – a recipe for pedestrian disaster.

But to go back to the initial question: How dangerous is it to walk or ride here? If you have choices – of routes, let’s say, or times of day or any other option that would let you take a safer route – you can probably feel pretty safe. Walk on the sidewalk or shared use path, ride on a bike path or bike lane – and, of course, keep your wits about you while you doing this – and you’ll more often than not return home safe.

But if you don’t have the luxury of making those kind of choices, if you have to walk along a busy road to get to work or school or shopping, and you have to do it during rush hour, before dawn or after dusk – being a pedestrian can be dangerous.

A lot of our major roadways – where jobs and shops and schools tend to be – weren’t design for pedestrian or bicycle traffic. They were designed to move vehicles as quickly as possible from A to B… and even with upgrades to overcome design flaws, they can still be a pretty scary place to walk or bike.

Pedestrians and cyclists can (and should) do whatever they can to be safer, more visible and more aware when they are biking or walking, Bright colors, flashing lights or reflectors and smart walking or biking make a difference.

Of course, we all should encourage our public officials to design and build better roadways (and fix the ones that need to be updated), roads that take into account ALL the users… because well-designed roads make ALL of us safer, whether we’re driving, biking or walking.

Finally, we should all start paying more attention to what we’re doing – whether we’re walking or biking or driving (but especially driving). Put down the phone, turn down the music, take off the headsets – and focus on the most important task at hand, getting yourself safely from one place to another.

Some dangers are done by design, others out of bad habits. Either way, we can and should do something about them.


Ready to ride or run?

Run?  Plenty of 5Ks this weekend and next, where you can run for education, clean water, the arts, scouting and even Rotary.. and there’s even a special Edison Festival race for kids! Details at ftmyerstrackclub.com, gcrunner.org, 3dracinginc.com, runforthearts.com and trifind.com.

Ride? If the weather lets you hit the road, a few rides ahead: Critical Mass amasses for the downtown Fort Myers ride Friday night and the Sanibel ride Feb. 9 (meetup.com) Looking for more? Head to Arcadia Feb. 9 for Ride for Tiny Town and 60-, 30- or 15-mile rides. (caloosariders.org). Not enough? Then throw in the Wakey, Wakey! Sunday morning rides (helmets are required, no ear buds, and no aero bar use while in the group). 

Both? Upcoming events include:
  • Sunday, Feb.11: Tri Your Heart Out sprint, Sarasota (trifind.com
  • Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri (trifind.com)
  • Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (trifind.com)
  • Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (trifind.com)
  • Willing to drive? Check trifind.com or active.com for tris around the state.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:

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

# # #

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 www.BikeWalkLee.org. 


 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Lee County shows very slight improvement in safety ranking


Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 1/30/2019
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

Unenforced sidewalk parking violations is one reason we have such a poor pedestrian record. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY
The 2019 Dangerous by Design report has been released and once again Florida is the most dangerous state in America for pedestrians. Eight of the top 10 worst metro areas are in our state. While the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metro area — all of Lee County — moved from first to eighth most dangerous, it’s primarily because other communities had a reduction in pedestrians walking to work, and that factors into the index used for the rankings.

So there’s really nothing to celebrate when it comes to Lee County’s improvement. Admittedly, there have been a number of bike/ped infrastructure additions since the last report, but many of our elected representatives and transportation officials’ mindsets remains focused on moving as many motor vehicles as efficiently as possible with the plight of non-motorists being of secondary concern.

In 2018, pedestrians accounted for 23 of the total of 93 overall traffic fatalities in Lee County, meaning approximately one of every four of those killed was a pedestrian — well above the national average — as has been the case for many years. Cyclists fared better, accounting for four of the total fatalities. However, the 473 non-fatal reported crashes among vulnerable road users frequently result in serious and life-changing injuries, keeping in mind that law enforcement agencies frequently fail to report crashes involving non-motorists. So, besides our elected representatives and transportation officials implementing Complete Streets with improvements such as reducing speed limits through redesign and road diets, what else must be done?

One way that communities become bike/ped-friendly is when a critical mass of people on foot, bike and other non-motorized means are part of traffic and become impossible to ignore. When that occurs drivers and non-motorists alike change behavior accordingly. Sanibel Island is probably the only local community that even comes close to reaching a critical mass that has actually created an environment much different than the rest of our county, hence they’ve earned silver-level Bike Friendly Community status.

A few other pockets of critical mass are in some of our cities’ downtown areas and beach communities. However, none of these places can truly be considered bike/ ped-friendly, at least based on the way drivers routinely fail to stop for folks in crosswalks, the fact that many pedestrians aren’t assertive in exercising their right to compel drivers to allow them to cross streets at crosswalks and the tendency of cyclists to ride against traffic and operate on sidewalks rather than roads, even where bike lanes exist.

Enforcement of traffic laws that put non-motorists at risk is another area that should be beefed up. In particular, speeding and failing to stop before making a right turn would be good violations on which to focus. Stopping cyclists who ride against traffic is another common violation that’s never addressed unless a crash has occurred. Also, law enforcement personnel should have a better understanding of laws that pertain to non-motorists because all too often motorists are wrongly let off the hook when they are involved in a crash with pedestrians and cyclists or the non-motorist is incorrectly deemed at fault. When this occurs, motorists continue to drive with the mindset that they rule the road and non-motorists realize they don’t really have the rights our laws provide them.

Of course, individual and societal responsibility are paramount. How often do we see signs posted in residential areas that remind motorists to “Drive Like Your Kids Live Here”? Why is this even necessary? There will always be a small percentage of bad actors but it should be socially unacceptable to operate a weapon (i.e., motor vehicle) that can kill in an instant in any way other than to treat it as such. Far too many of us operate as if we were sitting in our living room, paying little attention to the complex act of driving.

Obviously, it will take everyone to change our traffic environment reality. Let’s hope the latest report that re-confirms our severe problem will be taken seriously by everyone. For much more on this matter, look to bikewalklee.blogspot.com

 
- 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 bikepedmoser@gmail.com and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.