Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hazards for cyclists, walkers include behavior of others

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, August 28, 2019

It’s no surprise that bikes are never seen parked at this rack near downtown Fort Myers. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY

I regularly hear from folks complaining about behavior from others on our roads and pathways.

In particular, cyclists passing on narrow sidewalks without warning and pedestrians not hearing or acknowledging warnings and obstructing the path. The latter is especially problematic when pedestrians walk dogs and the leash becomes a hazard. The former — cyclists not warning when passing — is much too common as so many people ride bikes on narrow sidewalks. The obvious solutions to each of these problems is to remain aware of one’s surroundings and to always have consideration for others.

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
and 239-334-6417.
With the new school year comes the usual problems created by parents and other adults who drive their kids to school or wait with them at the bus stop — parking on or otherwise blocking sidewalks and bike lanes. Unfortunately, based on reactions of those who are guilty of this when it’s pointed out, all that matters is their own convenience. There’s no way to really measure the frequency of this behavior but based on my observations it’s extremely common and rarely addressed by either law enforcement or school officials.

Leaf blowers, mowers and weed eaters can be quite daunting when the operator is unaware of those who must pass by them. The dirt and dust from leaf blowers are especially problematic. In general, professional landscapers are very courteous but because there are so many of them it can be like playing whack-a-mole this time of year. Lawn sprinklers are another pesky element of a daily walk, run or bike ride. Although they shouldn’t be on during daylight hours, they often are. Often, they are misadjusted so are watering the sidewalk and roadway more than the grass, causing folks to avoid them by sometimes making erratic and risky detours. Just recently the sprinklers came alive in the park in front of Lee Memorial Hospital at 3:30 in the afternoon, scrambling folks sitting on park benches. I saw one hospital worker leave behind her shoes as she hastily abandoned her seat. Why there’s any need to water at all this time of year is beyond my understanding.

Uneven, broken or missing segments of sidewalks; road hazards like potholes, open storm drains, spilled and hardened concrete; shoulder drop-offs; and construction taking place in the right of way are hazards we face on a daily basis. Sidewalks along U.S. 41 are frequently closed or restricted due to utility construction beneath them, sometimes resulting in both sides being impassible. The contractor reworking 41 between Winkler Avenue and downtown Fort Myers is actually doing a good job of ensuring pedestrian (and bicycle) access, but the same can’t be said of those doing work along 41 from College Parkway to points south, work that seems to be in a perpetual state.

I think anyone who uses his bike on a regular basis will agree that adequate bike parking is something our part of the world is sorely lacking. Even our most urbanized and updated areas, (Fort Myers River District, Fort Myers Beach, South Cape Coral) do not provide it to the degree necessary and surely not enough to attract others who might ride a bike to the destination rather than drive there. Even where it is provided it’s usually spartan and hardly enticing. Locating them under cover and close to obvious destinations would be nice but it’s a rarity here. Utility poles, signposts and landscaping features are where you’ll see most bikes parked and locked. But thanks to them being designated Bike Friendly Communities, Sanibel is somewhat of an exception and Cape Coral is making strides.

To learn about this topic and more, visit and

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( 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.

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