Thursday, April 11, 2019

Drivers, do your part to keep students safe

This week's column focuses on the responsibility of drivers to make our streets and bus stops safer for students on their way to school. Be part of the community effort to take action to address these problems--attend the School District Town Hall Meeting on April 16th. 
BikeWalkLee's April 11, 2019 Column in News-Press "Go Coastal" Section

Drivers, do your part to keep students safe

The community response to the death of a little girl waiting for her bus has been as heartening as the tragedy itself was heart-breaking.

But amid all the actions and activism following the death of Layla Aiken, there has been one glaring omission in the overall discussion: The responsibility of motor vehicle drivers to operate their vehicles responsibly.

It’s good that people have come together to push for better bus-stop safety. It’s good that the school district and the Sheriff’s Office have partnered with others to raise money for LED lights that student can put on their backpacks to ward off the early-morning darkness and make themselves more visible.

It’s good to have the discussion about benches and sidewalks and lights. It’s good to debate whether having students standing in the dark waiting for a bus to school is a smart idea.

It’s even good to publish reminders on how students can stay safe while at bus stops. But it would be better to remind drivers to do their part to keep students safe as well.

That means being extra careful in the pre-dawn hours, particularly in the vicinity of bus stops. That means watching out for kids (and, well, anyone else) along the side of the road. Mostly, that means hanging up the phone, putting down the breakfast sandwich and getting rid of any other distraction – and make driving the only thing you do behind the wheel.

It’s tragic – and galvanizing – when a child is killed in a hit-and-run. That’s the stuff that can bring about real change.

But beyond this very sad event, we’re seeing a lot of carnage along the roadside of Lee County, with cyclists and pedestrians at increased risk. We’re seeing concern about better lighting, better evasive measures, better visibility on the part of the vulnerable road users.

So why aren’t we seeing drivers being asked to do their part to keep our roadsides safer? Why is the focus on what the potential victims can do to be more visible, and not on what the potential perpetrators should be doing to keep us all safer?

Still time to comment on Sanibel paths

Since February, the City of Sanibel has been working on the update of its Shared Use Path Master Plan, and the period of public input ends on April 30. If you live, work, or play on Sanibel, please take advantage of this opportunity to help update the city’s Shared Use Path Master Plan. Go online to to include your comments.

Public input is important for developing a visionary plan (with a 10- to 20-year horizon) for one of the community’s crown jewels—its shared use path system.  Be sure to check out the Interactive Comment Map online at

Rather make your comments in person? On Monday, April 22, there’s an open house between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., to share citizen input and recommendations to date, at the Sanibel Recreation Center, 3880 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? On Saturday, head to the North Collier Regional Park for the Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top 5K timed run and fun run, and 1 mile walk. The following Saturday (April 20) there’s the 21st annual Rotary of Fort Myers-Sunrise Eggs and Ears 5K at Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers, and the One Human Race 5K at Golden Gate High School, Naples. Details at, and

Ride? Upcoming Critical Mass rides include the Sanibel ride on Saturday night, the NE Lee ride April 19 and the downtown Cape Coral ride April 26.Lights are required and helmets are recommended; details at

Both? Upcoming events include:
·         Saturday, May 11: Cape Coral Sprint Tri (

·         Saturday, May 18: Life’s a Beach Tri, Sarasota (

·         Sunday, June 2: 33rd Annual Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples (

·         Sunday, June 9: Heartland Sprint and Olympic Tri, Sebring (

·         Sunday, June 23: Sirens Sprint Tri, Sarasota (

·         Registration is open for this year’s Galloway Captiva Tri on Sept. 7-8, which offers a new format this year with the sprint race on Saturday morning and the kids’ events Sunday morning. Details at

·         Willing to drive? Check or for tris around the state.
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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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