Thursday, November 21, 2019

BikeWalkLee: Hot to trot?

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, November 21, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

Are you ready for running’s big day?

That day would be next Thursday – Thanksgiving – the most popular day for running races according to Running USA. The group tracked 1.17 million runners participating in some kind of Thanksgiving-based event in 2018 – more than double the runners they found in 2011, the first year the nonprofit tracked the Turkey Trot totals.

That’s a lot of trotting.

What makes the event so popular?
  • It’s meant to be fun, with an array of costumes you would never see at a regular race.
  • It can be a family event where the generations can do something together.
  • It can become a tradition, with runners boasting about how long their streak of participating reaches each year.
  • It’s ubiquitous, with races in every town.
  • It almost always benefits a worthy cause, another draw for participants.
  • And it’s tied to Thanksgiving – a holiday known for edible excess – so burning off a few calories before ingesting vast quantities later in the day is somehow appropriate.
If this has piqued your interest in trying one out, you’ll have plenty to choose from locally (all scheduled on Turkey Day itself):
  • The 40th annual Turkey Trot 5K, 1-mile fun run and tot trot, Cape Coral Hospital (
  • The 6th annual GCR Thanksgiving 5K, plus 1K kids run, downtown Naples (
  • The Thanksgiving Day 5K, Hertz Arena, Estero (
  • The FGCU 9th annual Gobbler 5K and 1K fun run, Alico Arena, Estero (
  • The Gobble Gobble Four Miler, offering a timed event and a fun run/walk, Naples (
  • The 21st annual Turkey Trot 5K run and fun walk, Florida Southwestern State College, Punta Gorda (
If you can’t find one out of that lineup, you’re just not trying.

It’s a bike path!

Maybe it’s the snowbirds flocking back to town. Maybe it’s people just not knowing any better. Maybe it’s just a streak of bad luck.

Whatever the cause, it seems as though more drivers are deciding that cyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t be the only ones who use the local bike paths and lanes. They want in that action, too – so they’re parking vehicles where people should only be biking, walking or running.

How bad is it? On one recent ride, I encountered five different vehicular obstacles in a 15-mile route… two landscaping trucks, one lawn mower, one utility vehicle (actually, two – but they were end-to-end, so I’ll count them as one long obstacle) and one truck that apparently was trying to sneak off the new-car lot but only made it across the bike path before it was stopped.

In case you did not know, parking on sidewalks or bike lanes is illegal in Florida (check out Florida Statutes 316.1945) and many other places.

I understand that there are times when, absent any other option, drivers may need to temporarily park on a sidewalk or bike path… say, for a delivery, or letting a passenger out, or due to a vehicle malfunction. But none of these instances qualified as that.

Most of them were simply a matter of convenience – for the drivers, however, not for the cyclists or pedestrians. As far as the car lots who feel compelled to park their vehicles on sidewalks or bike paths… no one is going to buy your car or truck simply because it’s two feet closer to the road – but it does improve the chances of someone running into your high-priced vehicle.

So, drivers, when you have to pull off the road for whatever reason and you see that stretch of pavement or asphalt so conveniently located just over there… please resist the urge. It’s not a really long parking space… it’s a bike path, and motor vehicles should not be on it.

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? Besides the plethora of Turkey Trots mentioned above, local runners can also choose from two half-marathons – the Fall Classic Half in Naples Nov. 24 and the Florida West Coast Half (and 5K) in Sarasota Dec. 8 – along with a 10K – the 41st annual city of Palms River Run in downtown Fort Myers Dec. 7. Details at, and, respectively.

Ride? Critical Mass has these regularly scheduled rides on tap:
  • Friday, Nov. 29: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m., start at 8 p.m. at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street.
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: 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.
  • Friday, Dec. 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers gathering at 7:15 p.m. and starting at 8 p.m. 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.
Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details at

For cyclists looking for another post-Thanksgiving tradition, try the 26th annual Turkey Leg Metric Century, which leaves from Daniels crossing Shopping Center at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 (details at

If you’re looking for a good ride and some cycling camaraderie, look no further than the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club. Check out their ride calendar and you see a ride for almost every day of the week (and even more on weekends), all mapped and planned for your enjoyment. The Riders even tell you how fast (or not) you’ll need to be to keep up… click on the ride of your choice for all the details and even a map. All at

Both?  Sunday, Jan. 5: HITS Endurance Sarasota Tri, with sprint/Olympic/half distances, Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota (


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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