Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Fort Myers Beach bike project makes riding safer

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, September 25, 2019

Four fitness stations mysteriously popped up along McGregor Boulevard in Fort Myers recently. (photo: Dan Moser)

A number of projects and initiatives are underway to make Lee County more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

The complete reworking of Estero Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach is coming along, although those who must traverse it on a regular basis are likely thinking it’s happening much too slowly.

I recently had an opportunity to ride my bike from the Park & Ride lot on Little Carlos Island just across the bridge to Bowditch Park south through the just completed Estero Boulevard segment from Lovers Lane down to Strandview Avenue.

It was a pleasant ride throughout, thanks to bike lanes on the town’s well-established section north of Times Square and on the newest segment south of Red Coconut/Lovers Lane.

Sharrows painted on the roadway reminding drivers that bikes would be using any part of the travel lane where there is no room for bike lanes from the foot of the bridge to Red Coconut/Lovers Lane made riding there comfortable as well. In that segment the side paths are nine feet wide so those on bikes who don’t want to ride in the road can opt for that option, although I found road riding to be safe and stress-free.

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.
I was especially impressed with the transition design between side path and bike lane where that occurs at Red Coconut/Lovers Lane: a parallel curb ramp allows southbound cyclists to seamlessly get off the side path when the bike lane begins or jump onto the side path where the bike lane ends for those traveling north. One problem, however, persists: some side path bike riders do not understand that they must warn pedestrians and others on bikes when passing, operate at slow speed and must behave in a way that doesn’t put others at risk. As well, e-bikes are not allowed to travel under electric power on side paths but some do, and at inappropriately fast speeds.

As for any kind of bike, except for children or those who aren’t physically capable of operating on the road, the combination of sharrows and a middle turn lane that allows motorists to easily pass makes road riding in the segment with no bike lanes safe and more efficient than the sidepath.

What seemed to be a double-super-secret project that appeared earlier this year but to no announcements or even a mention on the city’s website (at least until after an exhaustive search that finally resulted in finding one city staffer who knew about this project’s background), the “Steel Challenge Course,” a multi-station outdoor fitness course, has popped-up along McGregor Boulevard between the Alliance for the Arts and a mile north of Fort Myers Country Club.

Unlike those in Cape Coral along North Del Prado Boulevard and others found in a few of our parks, this one has only four stations along this two-mile stretch of McGregor (three of the four are on either end), meaning it has far fewer stations and they are located much farther apart than what would seem to be more appropriate.

Besides the city’s failure to let its residents and visitors know it even exists, I’m thinking the tax money used for a project like this, especially in this particular part of town, makes little sense (it’s not like it’s an underserved area in any way other than for cyclists who would rather use the road than sidewalk). Why not instead have used the funds to install public bike repair and air pump stations where they’d be most utilized, or for fixing sidewalks that are in disrepair and building them where they are sorely needed? Oh, well, at least it was well-intentioned.

Although not infrastructure projects but rather vital planning tools, bicycle/pedestrian plans (or plan updates) for a number of our municipalities were either recently completed or are in the works. Along with the existing overall Lee County Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan and Lee County Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (also soon to be updated) these local government plans combine to create a complete overview of the needs, feasibility, and costs for creating a much needed improved environment for non-motorists. Also, our current third edition bike map that was created in 2014 is long overdue for updating to a fourth edition, so I’m hoping that will be coming soon. Check-in with Lee MPO ( for details.

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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