Thursday, September 24, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Racing returns, with restrictions

 BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, September 24, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Are you ready for some racing? Well, you finally might just get that chance.

As the traditional fall racing season approaches, local running clubs are working to fill their calendars with events – some virtual, some in person, and some both.

The in-person events won’t look like the races you may remember. Expect limits on total numbers of racers (and spectators), mask requirements (except when racing), staggered starts to encourage social distancing on the course, limits on water stations during the race and activities after it.

The virtual events will have a time span during which you participate and submit results, software or app requirements to capture and post your time, and possibly other criteria and concerns.

For either type of event, you’ll want to check out the organizers’ website for information and restrictions… and, of course, plan to be flexible in case conditions change and further medical requirements are imposed by local or state officials.

Nevertheless, for those who love to race (or who want to try out their newfound lockdown fitness), it’s a welcome return to a measure of normalcy. Here are some upcoming options from now to the new year:

FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):

  • Cops & Joggers Virtual 5K, July 10-Oct. 10 (virtual)
  • Sanibel Island 10K Race 4 F.I.S.H., Aug. 18-Oct. 31 (virtual)
  • Cape Coral Turkey Trot 5K, Sept. 17-Nov. 26 (virtual)
  • City of Palms River Run 10K, Sept. 17-Dec. 5 (virtual)
  • Lazy Flamingo Half Marathon & 2-Person Relay, Sept. 17-Dec. 20 (virtual)

GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):

  • Snip Collier 5K, Saturday, Oct. 3 (in-person event is full, virtual event still open)
  • Gulf to Gulf 80 Mile Relay, Saturday, Oct. 17 (in-person)
  • Halloween Monster 5K (Naples), Saturday, Oct. 31 (virtual)
  • Old Naples 10K, Saturday, Nov. 7 (in-person & virtual)
  • GCR Thanksgiving 5K, Thursday, Nov. 26 (in-person & virtual)
  • Naples Daily News Half Marathon, Saturday, Jan. 17 (in-person & virtual)

ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):

  • Rocktoberfest 10K and 5K, Naples, Saturday, Oct. 10
  • Fall Classic Half Marathon and 5K, Naples, Saturday, Nov. 21
  • Thanksgiving Day 5K Run and Walk, Estero, Thursday, Nov. 26
  • Naples Christmas Glow Run 5K, Saturday, Dec. 5
  • Naples Distance Classic 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, Sunday, Dec. 6

OTHER RUNS:

  • 2020 LCEC Goblin Gallop 5K, Oct. 31, Jaycee Park, Cape Coral (in-person) (active.com)
  • Run for Foster Kids, Oct. 1-31 (virtual) (runsignup.com)

Cyclists looking for organized events are still limited in their choices… no surprise, since even in non-Covid times the local ride calendars were pretty sparse.

The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar (caloosariders.org) for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.

SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides, although the NE Lee ride seems to be lacking a leader and thus is not on the calendar. The options are below, and you can check out their line-up online (http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times.

  • SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers.
  • Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Tuesday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
  • Saturday Morning Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.

If racing is not your thing but you’d like to support their return nonetheless, consider volunteering to help out at the few in-person offerings ahead. With Covid concerns still corralling some of the club’s usual volunteers, a few new helping hands would certainly be welcomed.


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. 


Monday, September 21, 2020

September 21: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Fall is upon us, but it looks like the Coronavirus will be around for a little longer, with only a limited number of virtual events in the race calendars for the time being. Check the websites mentioned below for updates.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). 

Monday, September 14, 2020

September 14: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

 Upcoming events

Most events are still 'virtual' for the time being. Check the websites mentioned below for updates. Be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change. Meanwhile, last week's BikeWalkLee blog has good advice for all runners and cyclists out on the roads.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Thursday, September 10, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Mindfulness in motion

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, September 10, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Mindfulness is an overused term these days, but it’s still a great way to describe the smart way to approach movement – whether cycling, walking or driving a vehicle.

Being present, being aware and being engaged is also being safe, at least when it comes to motion.

Too many cyclists, walkers and (especially) drivers work hard at being as mindless as possible. By that I mean being distracted, doing too many things at the same or letting emotions take over the wheel (or the handlebars). That’s a recipe for ruin.

What would mindfulness in motion look like?

For cyclists, it would be losing the headphones or the phone and paying attention to the world around you. It would mean watching out for potential problems – cars turning into your space, pedestrians on the path ahead, path conditions that might be unsafe, etc. And it would mean taking control of any threatening situation by taking steps to reduce or avoid the danger... not relying on outside forces or fates to keep you safe. 

As an example, mindful cycling would be aware of all the surrounding activities that might impact you as a cyclist… from the cars at the intersection ahead waiting their turn to turn, to the walkers ahead on the bike path who are more engaged in conversation than they are in walking a straight line, to the debris on the shoulder where you’re riding that might force you into the traffic lane or that might be masking a sloppy surface for cycling.

For walkers and runners, it also means either losing the headphones or, at least, turning the volume down enough that you can also hear what’s going on around you. It means watching where you are in relation to others (especially vehicles) and proceeding in a way that’s predictable and protective. And it would mean being visible, being predictable and being careful. 

For example, moving mindfully on foot would use all your senses (not just vision) to know what’s going on around you, especially to be certain the other (bigger and faster) things in motion around you are as aware of your presence as you are of theirs. It would mean being careful and consistent, looking both ways rather than just darting into traffic, adjusting for those around you who are moving faster or slower, and looking at the path ahead for hazards and hindrances.

Finally, for drivers first and foremost it would mean doing nothing else when you drive… no phone, no texting, no personal grooming or feeding, just keeping your eyes and attention on the road and what’s around you. It would mean acting rather than reacting, recognizing that as the biggest thing on the road you similarly carry the biggest responsibility for the safety of all. And it would mean leaving your ego and emotions back in the garage when you head out to drive, so that you’re driving with your head more than your heart. 

So no distractions, no road rage, and no assumptions that the walker, biker or vehicle up ahead will act in a responsible and predictable fashion. It means being a little patient, a little forgiving and a little cautious any time you’re behind the wheel. And it means treating the cyclists and pedestrians you encounter the same way you’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed… as they inevitably will be. 

Now, I understand that one of the attractions of walking, running and biking is to be able to let the mind wander, to enjoy the repetitive routine of motion as a way to shake stress, unleash your creativity or just reboot after a busy day. Being eternally mindful would take that luxury away, you say. 

That’s why mindfulness really matters when you’re sharing space with others in motion, as all the example above makes clear. If it’s just you on the path , lane or road, you can zone out for a minute and let the muscle memory take over while you enjoy the rare opportunity to just walk or run, ride or drive. 

But when there are others nearby, you need to pay attention – and you need to hope they’re paying attention as well. That’s how everyone gets home safe and sound, to bike, walk and drive another day.

Ready to ride or run?


While there are some October events tentatively sticking their noses out on some race schedules, still mostly virtual offerings are all that’s to be found. Unfortunately, until large-group activities are medically prudent, most events – especially running events, where social distancing is almost impossible to achieve – will be on hold. Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


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. 


Monday, September 7, 2020

September 7: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Monday, August 31, 2020

August 31: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

There is still not much going on in terms of organized events, but it is encouraging to see so many people cycling, walking and running every day, even with the heat index numbers we have seen lately.

Check out the last BikeWalkLee column for some advice on the choices you have when it comes to choosing a bicycle.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Thursday, August 27, 2020

BikeWalkLee: No need to pedal through the pain

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, August 27, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Do you love to ride your bike, but find your back, butt or joints are telling you to head home before you’re ready to stop?

You might want to try a few adjustments – or perhaps even a new type of bike.

The first step to tackle biking pain can be to head to your local bike shop or cycling expert and ask them to fit you to your bike. (Ideally, you should do that when you’re buying your bike – so you make the right choices – but after-the-fact fittings can still make a big difference.)

A good fitter – which you can tell by reputation as well as certification – can adjust your bike to make your riding position more comfortable and efficient. A little tweak in seat position or handlebar stem length can make a big difference in comfort, making a fitting worth the cost.

However, they’re not a panacea for all pains. Sometimes, soreness cannot be sized away, or the answer is changes in you (working on your core strength, say, or changing your riding technique) rather than in your bike.

You also need to consider that what and how you rode in your 30s is not going to hold up a few decades later, that your body has changed in ways that may necessitate changes in your bicycle (and, alas, in many other areas of your life, the subject for a different day).

One such change may be to switch from your traditional upright bike to a recumbent, which changes how you sit and pedal in a way that can help ease your sore body parts. Rather than sitting on a narrow seat hunched over your handlebars, you’ll be sitting upright and pedaling by pushing out, not down.


Photo: Caloosa Riders

What are the positive aspects of recumbents?
  • Comfort: A wider seat is easier on your butt, and the handlebars (which can be in a number of configurations) take the pressure off your wrists and hands.
  • Speed: Being lower and with less frontal area means less wind resistance, making you faster -- or at least making it easier to go as fast for a longer period of time.
  • More physically forgiving: Many people who no longer can ride a regular upright bike can still ride a recumbent, regardless of the physical challenges they face.
  • A better view: You’re sitting back and looking ahead rather than down, so you can see the scenery more easily (and keep it easier on your neck as well).
  • Safer: Particularly if you opt for a recumbent trike, it’s easier to overcome balance issues. (But see below for the flip side of this.)

However, there are disadvantages to recumbent that need to be factored in your decisions whether to switch:

  • More expensive: You’ll spend a lot more on recumbents, even the entry-level ones.
  • Bigger and heavier: Especially the trikes (they’re also wider).
  • Less visible: They’re typically lower, which can be a problem if you need to be seen by motorists who don’t look down much when they’re driving.
  • Not as good on trails and hills: Both because of their size and riding position, since you can’t stand on the pedals when they’re in front instead of below you. (Hills are less of a concern around here, which is one reason you see more recumbents.)
  • Still some physical challenges: Switching to a recumbent takes some practice, and the two-wheel ones require a different sense of balance… and the change in riding position may aggravate some body parts (knees and hamstrings) while it takes the strain off others.

Still, for many cyclists recumbents let them keep riding when the upright bike won’t. They’re particularly good for touring, both for their greater efficiency and comfort (which lets you ride longer) as well as for their potential to haul your goods while giving you a great view of where you’re riding.

If you’re considering making the switch, head to your local bike shop and test-ride a few to see if they work for you. It may take some time to adjust to the new position – and the new way your body is being worked – so be patient.

Ready to ride or run?


Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


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. 


Monday, August 24, 2020

August 24: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

With not much going on in terms of organized events, it's still a good time to use the dry hours of the day to go for a walk or a bicycle ride.

When you go out to exercise, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid thunderstorms.

If you missed it, check out the last BikeWalkLee column. It offers inspiration for our expanding local cycling community.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Monday, August 17, 2020

August 17: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

With not much going on in terms of organized events, it's still a good time to use the dry hours of the day to go for a walk or a bicycle ride.

When you go out to exercise, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid thunderstorms.

If you missed it, check out last week's BikeWalkLee column. It offers inspiration for our expanding local cycling community.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Support your local bike path

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, August 13, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Today, I want to talk to the pandemic pedalers… those who took up (or returned to) cycling as a result of the coronavirus crisis. (Runners and walkers are welcome to read on, of course, but this is particularly pertinent to cyclists.)

Welcome, or welcome back. We hope your new cycling habit continues… even now, which is a lot warmer than March or April when you first got back on the bike.

Southwest Florida is great for cycling (even in the summer!), with flat terrain, generally clement weather and a goodly number of bike lanes or paths.

It’s the last item I want to talk to you about today. Typically, the biggest obstacle for most new or returning cyclists is have somewhere to ride where they feel safe. Sometimes a lane by the side of a roadway is enough, but many new riders really prefer to be away from motor vehicle traffic as much as possible.

That’s what has fueled the growth in bike paths in our area – and the growing backlog of bike facilities that are sought but not yet bought due to insufficient funding for construction.

Some municipalities are gung ho for bike/ped facilities, while others are just so-so. Outside the cities, the county struggles to keep up with bike/ped demand, although some of that is driven by jurisdictional issues as well as the cost to retrofit roadways built without bikers and walkers in mind. New roadways are being designed to accommodate all (or at least more) users, and new facilities for old roads are moving forward, albeit slowly.

It’s important to keep new facilities in the works, because that’s probably the single best way to encourage new riders as well as keep those who have taken up biking pedaling into the future. If people have a safe place to ride, they’ll keep riding… and if they have a growing network to utilize, one that lets them go where they want to safely, not only will biking not get boring, it might even convince some of them to leave the car in the garage (particularly in season) and bike to run their errands.

So what can you as a new rider (or even an experienced one) do to encourage more bike/ped facilities?
  • Use them. More bikers out and about creates more of a bike-supportive atmosphere, both from other bikers and motorists as well as from government officials and transportation planners. Demand creates demand.
  • Ask for them. Think your neighborhood needs more bike/ped opportunities? Find out who’s in charge of that for your area, get your neighbors together and start a drive to build or improve your infrastructure. In government as in most everything else, if you don’t ask you don’t get. It’s not a task for the impatient (or, frankly, the impolite), but our area has a lot of success stories where neighbors banded together, made their case for better bike/walk infrastructure and now have a bike lane or shared-use path to show for it.
  • Thank them. One of the biggest mistakes people can make when dealing with governments is forgetting to thank officials when they do the right thing. (Giving them hell when they don’t just comes naturally, apparently.) A little appreciation goes a long way, and if someone in office or in government does what you ask of them, they deserve a “thank you” (at the very least) in return.
It would be great if one of the positive things to come out of this pandemic is more people biking and walking in our area. An even greater thing would be if that results in more support for bike/ped facilities as well.

School's out. Image courtesy peopleforbikes.org
School's out. Image: peopleforbikes.org

Support your local run/bike club


For those who like organized group rides or runs, it’s been a long, dry spell since the coronavirus clamped down on in-person events. While some September and October races and rides are tentatively on the calendar, the ongoing spike in cases is undercutting the chances those will actually come to pass (although we can hope that’s wrong).

Just because they aren’t holding events doesn’t mean that local run and bike clubs have disappeared. The runners have turned to virtual races as a way to build camaraderie, while some group rides are being attempted with staggered starts to foster social distancing.

What it does mean is that a significant revenue stream for these clubs has been reduced to a trickle since races and rides (which charge a fee to participate) can’t be held. While these clubs aren’t being run to make a profit, they do have expenses to maintain equipment and infrastructure – expenses that may not dwindle even as events evaporate.

So if you want to keep these rides and races alive for the future – and, yes, there will be a day when we can meet up sans masks and ride or run as one – consider joining in one of these clubs… or renew if you’re already a member.

Members typically get discounts for events and from local bike or run shops, among other benefits. But even without that, these clubs will need your support to survive until the pandemic passes on and life returns to whatever we will be calling normal after this is over.

Ready to ride or run?


Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


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. 


Monday, August 10, 2020

August 10: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

With not much going on in terms of organized events, it's still a good time to use the dry hours of the day to go for a walk or a bicycle ride.

When you go out to exercise, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid thunderstorms.

For those interested in the proceedings of the 2020 update of the Fort Myers Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan, the city now has a recording of the public workshop on July 27 online. It can be accessed from this site.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Monday, August 3, 2020

August 3: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

With the coronavirus on the rebound locally and statewide and no sure bets on what lies ahead, expect to see more scheduled races go virtual (or just go away) as Labor Day comes and goes. Check out the BikeWalkLee blog for more information.

When you go out to exercise, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid thunderstorms.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Thursday, July 30, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Bike/ped facilities a good investment

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, July 30, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Want proof that investing in bike/ped infrastructure works? Watch what happens once a bike lane or shared-use path is in place.

To misquote the well-worn movie phrase: “If you build it, they will come!”

One example: The bike path along Palomino Lane has been open less than a year, but it’s in constant use already – even in the summer!

In fact, it’s so popular that one of the communities nearby is working with the City of Fort Myers to construct its own shared-use path to connect to the Palomino pathway. This will boost usage even more, as well as move cyclists off a narrow two-lane road – the scene of a cycling fatality earlier this year.

Another example: Drive along Treeline Avenue some Saturday morning and you might see more bicycles than cars taking advantage of the bike lanes on both sides of the four-lane roadway – a favorite of the faster paceline riders – or the sidewalks along most of the roadway– preferred by more leisurely pedalers.

The coronavirus crisis has sparked a surge in cycling, but the popularity of bike/ped facilities was in place long before the pandemic arrived.

Whether a few streets long or an entire community wide, these facilities bring people out to enjoy a ride, run or walk at all hours of the day.

Why?
  • Safety: Give people a safer place to ride, run or walk and they’ll use it. Getting them out of traffic and into a place designed with these activities in mind is a great attraction.
  • Visibility: More people ride when they see more people riding, same with walking. It’s both a reminder that riding and walking is a viable option and the sense of safety in numbers – more people riding and walking reminds motorists to watch out for them.
  • Convenience: Build a park people can drive to and they will… just not every day. But bring the park to their doorstep – literally – and watch them put it to use day in and day out.


Photo courtesy: www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com


More and more communities are realizing that bike/ped infrastructure is not just a good investment – it’s a public amenity that can attract residents and visitors simply by its presence. Just look at, say, Sanibel, where the extensive shared-use path is a boon to tourists and residents alike, both drawn by the ability to traverse the island without the constant need for a motor vehicle.

Cape Coral is following suit, identifying existing infrastructure that can be adapted for bike/ped use while working to fill in the gaps to make that infrastructure complete – and thus more useful to riders and walkers who want to get somewhere when they jump on their bikes or tie up their shoes.

More communities – existing and developing – tout their fitness amenities as a lure to buyers. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine they could also tout their community’s access to the larger county bike/ped network as yet another draw… which makes the continuing expansion of bike/ped infrastructure a smart move for city and county officials.

The county’s track record on creating bike/ped infrastructure is getting better, although there is still some lingering resistance to such investments (and a still-growing backlog of worthy projects lacking the funding to move forward). The county’s municipalities have done much better, even though some are more facile than others at making bike/ped planning integral rather than an afterthought.

If the coronavirus spike in biking stays in place, bike/ped facilities will see more demand. That’s why some smart cities worldwide are using this opportunity to expand bike/ped options and take back more of the public spaces for non-motorized use. More open space and less pollution, more room to run, walk or ride (at an appropriate distance) and less reliance on cars in places where their transportation attributes are not put to use.

Let’s hope the urge to ride or walk sticks around even when this tiresome virus has waned, and that local governments follow the international trends and keep growing our bike/ped infrastructure.

It should be a no-brainer. Just look around and see existing bike lanes and shared-use paths teeming with bikers and walkers… and you’ll see why building it is (public and private) money well spent.

Ready to ride or run?


Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


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. 


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Public input requested for Fort Myers Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

The City of Fort Myers and the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization are asking the public to join a virtual meeting on Monday, July 27 to discuss the Fort Myers Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Register for the virtual meeting here.

The goal of the meeting is to gather input from the public on the master plan.
For more information about the development of the master plan, please visit the website at www.cfmbikepedmasterplan.com.

July 27: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

With the coronavirus on the rebound locally and statewide and no sure bets on what lies ahead, expect to see more scheduled races go virtual (or just go away) as Labor Day comes and goes. Check out the latest BikeWalkLee blog for more information.

When you go out to exercise, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid thunderstorms.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Monday, July 20, 2020

July 20: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

With the coronavirus on the rebound locally and statewide and no sure bets on what lies ahead, expect to see more scheduled races go virtual (or just go away) as Labor Day comes and goes. Check out the latest BikeWalkLee blog for more information.

When you go out to exercise, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and avoid thunderstorms.

For the latest news on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Thursday, July 16, 2020

BikeWalkLee: A reminder of fallen riders

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, July 16, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

You may have seen them along the side of local roads… bikes painted white, sometimes adorned with flowers or a sign, fastened to a post, tree or other immovable object.

They’re called “ghost bikes", meant as a memorial and reminder that a cyclist was injured or (more often) killed there.

It’s a phenomenon that started in 2003 in St. Louis, prompted by a cyclist being struck by a vehicle. When people saw the impact the white two-wheeler had on drivers, a tradition began to post them around the city. It soon spread to other areas of the U.S. and, soon, around the globe.

The first ghost bike reportedly appeared in Lee County in 2011, marking the spot on the Sanibel Causeway where a cyclist was killed. Since then they have shown up to mark an injury or fatality, a memorial for those who died and a reminder for those who drive by the site every day.

No one claims responsibility for their appearance, not that it matters. The important message is awareness… for drivers to watch out for cyclists, for cyclists to ride defensively.

A look at the Caloosa Riders website underscores the need: The club lists 39 cyclists who have been killed by motor vehicles since 2011, including four (so far) this year. This may not be a complete list of fatalities… which is even more unnerving.

So if you’re driving or biking past one of these memorials, take a moment to remember the cyclist who died. More important take more than a moment to remember that cycling safety is the responsibility of both the driver and the cyclist.

Drivers need to watch out for cyclists, drive sensibly and recognize that bicycle are vehicles with the same right to use the road as motorists have.

Cyclists need to be smart, be visible, be predictable in their riding and be careful whenever they share the road (or, actually, anytime).

Image courtesy rvamag.com





 

When will racing resume?


With the coronavirus on the rebound locally and statewide and no sure bets on what lies ahead, expect to see more scheduled races go virtual (or just go away) as Labor Day comes and goes.

No surprise… who would want to put themselves at risk for even a mild case of Covid with so much uncertainty about the disease’s course (and even more about the timetable to see a viable vaccine arrive).

It won’t take a government order to keep events on hold (although limits on crowd size and the continued need for social distancing help). Like any other activity that easily draws too many people and brings them too close together, most sensible folks just won’t take that risk.

Nor should they. What little we hear about the long-term effects of Covid-19 so not encouraging – and that’s with very little real research on its impact thanks to its young age and very impressive infectiousness.

But to hear doctors exclaim that even mild cases of the virus have impacts on so many parts of the body should give everyone pause. It should also give everyone (not just the at-risk groups) real motivation to keep taking the common-sense preventive steps to reduce the risk of infection.

Remember: Coronavirus doesn’t care who you are or what political views you espouse. It cares about how vulnerable your health is and how diligent your efforts to control its spread end up being.

Ready to ride or run?


Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


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. 


Monday, July 13, 2020

July 13: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Understandably with the amount of Covid-19 cases climbing as it does, there is not much on the race calendars. But with indoor exercise options limited, many people have discovered that riding a bike combines exercise, transportation and social distancing in a tidy little package. If you haven't already, check out these great tips for new (and existing) bicycle owners.

When you go out, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and do not go out in thunderstorms. First and foremost, always be aware of motorized traffic, behind and in front of you. Use bike paths and lanes if possible. Adhere to the rules of the road. Stop where you must, signal your direction, ride on the right side. Do not try to mingle with high speed multi-lane motor vehicle traffic.

The number of Covid-19 cases in our area is still rising. It seems reasonable advice to keep protecting your own health and that of others by practicing social distance (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) and using a face mask when and where appropriate. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

For the latest on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Monday, July 6, 2020

July 6: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

There's nothing new on the race calendars for now. That doesn't stop many of us from going out for a bicycle ride, and with good reason.  If you haven't already, check out these great tips for new (and existing) bicycle owners.

When you go out, use common sense for your safety. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and do not go out in thunderstorms. First and foremost, always be aware of motorized traffic, behind and in front of you. Use bike paths and lanes if possible. Adhere to the rules of the road. Stop where you must, signal your direction, ride on the right side. And by all means, do not try to mingle with high speed multi-lane motor vehicle traffic.

The number of Covid-19 cases in our area is still rising. It seems reasonable advice to keep protecting yourself and others by practicing social distance (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) and using a face mask when and where appropriate. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

For the latest on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Thursday, July 2, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Pedaling through the pandemic

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, July 2, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic pop up in the most unusual places.

Take cycling… which many people have, discovering that riding a bike combines exercise, transportation and social distancing in a tidy little package. The fact that it also gets you out of the house and helps elevate your spirits - both things we all need during the age of Covid - is just a little extra incentive.

However, no one expected a pandemic would boost biking to the degree it has… which means bike shops are busy and bike supplies can be low.

Checking out the websites for local bike shops, most are ready and willing to sell to you or serve you – but most also include the caveat that inventories are down and parts might be more difficult to find. Reports are similar from the big-box stores, meaning it’s an industry-wide issue.

If you don’t already have a bike, then procuring one might take a little work (or flexibility). Discuss your needs and plans with your local bike shop staff and they probably can find you what you need with a little initiative or ingenuity. They can also help fit you to your new ride (recommended if you’re serious about this), hook you up with the other items you’ll need to make riding safe and enjoyable, and show you how to take care of your new mode of transportation.

If a bike doesn’t have to be new (just new to you), that opens up some options. Check online or on websites for local bike clubs to see anything is for sale, or try one of the buying apps to see what’s available. Also decide what condition you expect a bike to be in order to buy it – absolutely perfect, needs minor repairs or requires serious overhaul – and adjust your pedaling pursuits accordingly.

Many people have bikes but they may have not ridden it in quite some time… meaning a tune-up and other touches are in order. Once again, local shops are sometimes seeing longer wait times on service, driven by both demand (for repairs) and supply (for parts). This is an easier problem for many shops to fix, since working longer days and adding some skilled wrenchers (both welcome in our current economic doldrums) is easier to do than to ramp up manufacturing and assembly.

If you live in one of 31 communities in Lee or Collier counties, you also have the option of having service come to you via Florida Bike Medic. They schedule service days and accept appointments for a range of repairs… and all you have to do is bring them your bike (usually at the community center) and pay your bill. Details at floridabikemedic.com.

Of course, you always have the choice of doing your own repairs… a good option for the handy (and hearty) as long as you know your limits. It’s always wise to know how to do some simple fixes – repair flats, change tires, adjust brakes, etc. – especially if you like to ride far afield where mechanics are few and far between. But there are some repairs that warrant more skill than basic tools and a YouTube video can generate. Save those for the experts, and you’ll both be happy.

You can always buy your own parts and bring them to your favorite shop to install, a good workaround when supply lines are tight. But ask if that’s OK first before just showing up, and expect to pay a small fee on top of the usual charge for not buying things from the shop itself.

Another front where the pandemic has meant inroads for cycling is… roads. Major cities (more often in Europe than here) are seeing the rise in riding as an excuse to expand bike routes and convert some road spaces into bike lanes. That’s cutting in to center-city car congestion as well as recognizing the bike boom, so a win-win if you like cycling and cleaner air.

Will we see a similar rise in facilities locally? Doubtful, both because the car culture is too entrenched and because mass-transit alternatives are not in place to make fewer cars more likely.

We do hope local officials see the ridership rise as validation for whatever efforts in the past have resulted in improved bike facilities throughout Southwest Florida… and, perhaps, motivation to stay the course if not expand the two-wheeled options locally.

It should not take a pandemic to push more people into cycling, but if that’s the result the least we can do is keep expanding the bike lanes and paths to make it easier and safer to leave the car at home.


Ready to ride or run?

Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.



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. 


Monday, June 29, 2020

June 29: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

There's nothing new on the race calendars for now and covid-19 cases are on the rise. Don't let that stop you from taking a run or a bicycle ride but use common sense. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and do not go out in thunderstorms. Whether you are cycling or running, always be aware of motorized traffic around you.

The number of Covid-19 cases in our area is rising. It seems reasonable advice to keep protecting yourself and others by practicing social distance (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) and using a face mask when and where appropriate. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

For the latest on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Monday, June 22, 2020

June 22: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

There's nothing new on the race calendars for now. Don't let that stop you from taking a run or a bicycle ride. Just make sure your are safe and hydrated. Keep an eye on the weather and do not go out if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Whether you are cycling or running, always be aware of motorized traffic around you.

For the latest on organized events, check the usual websites such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

The number of Covid-19 cases in our area is still rising. It seems reasonable advice to keep protecting yourself and others by practicing social distance (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) and using a face mask when and where appropriate. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

BikeWalkLee: The rains reign again

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, June 18, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Right on cue, the summer skies have opened and routine (and often rambunctious) rains are back.

For those of you new to cycling and/or Southwest Florida, adjusting your cycling habits to accommodate inclement weather can be challenging. (As for runners, the higher temps should have already driven you either earlier or inside, so thunder and lightning should be less of an inconvenience… as least compared to heat and humidity.)

The first step is to coping with the cloudbursts is to avoid them, if at all possible. Riding early in the day improves the chances of
missing the downpours (not to mention offering lower temperatures in the morning hours). Since on most summer days the storms don’t start rolling in until after noon, making sure your ride is done by lunch should keep you dry (at least from rain).

If your schedule is not your own and the chances of you being on a bike as the chances of rainfall increase, the best response is to be prepared. Wear clothes that dry quickly (which is a good idea in summer, rain or not), and have a packable water-resistant jacket at hand that you can easily include when the risk of rain rises.

Make sure said jacket is brightly colored (to make you more visible) and has a hood if possible (that fits either over or under your helmet). If you really want to stay dry, think waterproof (which can cost more and be less packable) rather than water-resistant and – for the serious cyclist – you could look into making more of your attire waterproof… such as shorts, pants and even gloves and shoe covers. That’s a serious financial commitment, so decide how dry you really want to be. (Also note that any attire sealed enough to keep water out is also sealed enough to keep perspiration in… so use accordingly.)

What if you have no choice about riding in the rain?

Then it comes down to choices: How wet do you want to get? How heavy is the rain? Where are you riding? How much traffic (primarily motor vehicles) will you have to interact with? What if there’s more than just rain?

Tackling those in order:

  • Wet: Most riders will brave a sprinkle, but draw the line at a downpour – and rightly so, as being pounded by raindrops and drenched to the core is pretty uncomfortable. Lightweight and quick-dry clothes will help (as opposed to water-absorbing cottons, let’s say), but your “damn the raindrops” attitude may change the first time you get really soaked and try to keep on pedaling.
  • Heavy: See above, with the additional admonition that heavy downpours not only cut your ability to see but also to be seen, which can be a major problem. Downpours also can flood roads and paths fast, making forward motion more treacherous.
  • Where: How much and what kind of traffic will you share the road with? Walker, runners and other riders will avoid the rain, so you might be OK to keep going on a bike path… but riding along a road full of fast-moving vehicles may be more dangerous than you’d want.
  • Traffic: Speaking of which, drivers will keep moving forward despite the rain (and be nice and dry), but their ability to see other traffic is diminished in a downpour – especially cyclists, bright colors or not. Street flooding is also a risk, both due to what is obscures (potholes and debris, for example) and what it creates (a lot of wake and spray as vehicles push through the puddles). Finally, water and any traffic markings on the pavement are a dangerous combination, turning them slick enough to slide on with the slightly swerve.
  • Beyond rain: By this we mean the thunder and lightning that often accompanies summer storms. If that starts where you’re riding, take shelter immediately – preferably in a building or other solid structure. Don’t hide out under trees and, if you don’t have anywhere else to escape, then avoid being the highest thing around in case a bolt of lightning is looking for a place to land.

Image: fiets.nl

In all the talk about keeping you dry, don’t forget your bicycle – since water is not a friend to moving parts. If you’re caught in the rain there’s not much you can do… but when you get home, be sure to dry everything out and lube all the essential parts – chain, brakes, gears and shifter, etc. – ASAP before rust can set in.

Rain riding is also a good reason to have plenty of lights (front and rear) to be more visible, and perhaps even fenders (either permanent or snap-on) to keep the spray where it belongs (not on you).

Summer rains may be inevitable, but they don’t need to be completely inconvenient. Just be flexible and be prepared, and you can keep on riding regardless.


Ready to ride or run?

Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.



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. 


Monday, June 15, 2020

June 15: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events


For the latest on organized events, visit the event websites, such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Most of the near-term upcoming events are still postponed or cancelled, but don't let that stop you from taking a run or a bicycle ride. Just make sure your are safe and hydrated. Keep an eye on the weather and do not go out if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Whether you are cycling or running, always be aware of motorized traffic around you.

Protect yourself and others by avoiding group activities and close proximity to other people.  Remember to practice social distancing (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) to keep yourself and others safe. If you feel sick, consider wearing a face mask or staying home. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

Monday, June 8, 2020

June 8: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

The latest BikeWalkLee Column has some valuable information for every walker, runner, and bicyclist still out there in our hot and humid season.

For the latest on organized events, visit the event websites, such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).

Most of the near-term upcoming events are still postponed or cancelled, but don't let that stop you from taking a run or a bicycle ride. Just make sure your are safe and hydrated. Keep an eye on the weather and do not go out if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Whether you are cycling or running, always be aware of motorized traffic around you.

Protect yourself and others by avoiding group activities and close proximity to other people.  Getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors is fine. Just remember to practice social distancing (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) to keep yourself and others safe. If you feel sick, consider wearing a face mask or staying home. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Coronavirus scrambles the schedule

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, June 4, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Covid-19 continues to infect the running race schedule locally, pushing some events to later dates and others to virtual venues.

That doesn’t mean you get the summer off from running. It just means you may get the summer off from racing.

Here are some of the latest changes:
  • The Freedom 5K is changing holidays, moving from its usual July 4 date to Saturday, Sept. 5, the start of the Labor Day weekend. The race is still planning to run over the Cape Coral Bridge, and information on the event can be found via the Cape Chamber of Commerce website. (The race website was being blocked the times I tried to get to it, but hopefully that will be rectified shortly.)
  • The Gulf Coast Runners’ usually summer schedule has gone virtual, but you can still participate, post times and compete at a safe distance. In fact, they are offering a special price on a package of all three events – Global Running Day on June 3, the Firecracker 5K around July 4 and the Tropicool 5K around Aug. 15. They have a very complete guide to their virtual events at gcrunner.org/virtual, so check it out.
  • The Independence Day 5K has also gone virtual, with a twist – compete within a certain time window and you could win prizes, or compete when you want and just have the satisfaction of the run itself. Details at runeliteevents.com
Another coronavirus casualty is the Wheel Lee Fun safe cycling program for kids, four one-week courses that should have run from mid-June to late July.

Staying with all things Covid, there still have been concerns about social distancing, mask wearing and exercise. This issues seem to fall in two camps:
  • The rules in general involving masks and exercise.
  • Concerns about runners leaving a trail of viral exhalations in their wake.
  • Cyclists passing too close to nearby pedestrians.
So, in that order:
  • According to the New York Times, few cities nationwide require mask-wearing while exercising – as long as an appropriate distance is maintained. It is recommended that exercisers have a mask on hand in case they run or ride up on a situation where they need to interact at a less-than-appropriate distance… but not to wear during normal exercise when six or more feet is maintained between people. If you’re exercising inside or in a crowd, perhaps masking is worth it – even though it’s harder to breath and traps heat and humidity from your breath, both things runners and riders already have an abundance of when outside in Southwest Florida.
  • The risk from runners? Low if you keep enough distance, both around and behind someone. Some studies have suggested increased the safe-space buffer to double the recommended six feet or more, but there’s not substantial research back that up or refute it outright.
  • The same goes for cyclists: Keep six feet away and limit your exposure, and there’s not a lot of risk expected. Some bikers have adopted a “Four D” rule – Double the Distance (from six to 12 feet) and Don’t Draft (following another cyclist closely to enhance aerodynamics).
Obviously, avoiding other bodily fluids from exercisers – sweat and spit, in particular – is recommended regardless of virality. And runners or riders should respect both their fellow exercisers and passersby by refraining from rude behavior and masking when necessary.

Nobody wants to get sick, after all, be it coronavirus, cold and flu or whatever else is out there.



Ready to ride or run?

Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.



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. 


Monday, June 1, 2020

June 1: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events


Check out this BikeWalkLee Column for our take on organized running and biking events this summer. Visit the event websites, such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL) for the latest updates.

Most of the near-term upcoming events are still postponed or cancelled, but don't let that stop you from taking a run or a bicycle ride. Just keep an eye on the weather and do not go out if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Whether you are cycling or running, always be aware of motorized traffic around you. Avoid dehydration. Drink before you get thirsty.

Protect yourself and others by avoiding group activities and close proximity to other people.  Getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors is fine. Just remember to practice social distancing (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) to keep yourself and others safe. If you feel sick, consider wearing a face mask or staying home. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

Monday, May 25, 2020

May 25: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events


Check out the latest BikeWalkLee Column for our take on organized running and biking events this summer.

Most of the near-term upcoming events are still postponed or cancelled, but don't let that stop you if you want to take a run or a bicycle ride. Just keep an eye on the weather forecast now that rainy season is around the corner, and watch out for motorized traffic as always.

Virtual events are fun and offer a sense of community. Check out the event websites, such as Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com), Gulf Coast Runners (gcrunner.org), Caloosa Riders (caloosariders.org), and South West Florida Critical Mass (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL) to find out more.

Protect yourself and others by avoiding group activities and close proximity to other people.  Getting some exercise and enjoying the outdoors is fine. Just remember to practice social distancing (at least 6' distance, more when you're exercising, use common sense) to keep yourself and others safe. If you feel sick, consider wearing a face mask or staying home. Stay healthy. Visit floridahealthcovid19.gov and cdc.gov for more information.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Races? Not quite yet

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, May 21, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

Gyms are open, albeit at half-capacity. Can organized running and biking events outside be far behind?

Unfortunately, while local race sites are posting the possibility of an event in mid-June and beyond (with the expected qualifiers that any event may be postponed or rescheduled), the reality is that mass-gathering events are probably a long way off.

It’s not just coronavirus that’s the problem. There’s also the cliff-like drop-off in business activity and the normal patterns of fitness that come into play.

First, of course, come the coronavirus. Organized races are very definition of mass gatherings, with a horde of people assembled at the start and finish (plus, usually, another horde of people watching and cheering them on). No social distancing there, and exerting at that level while masked is another challenge.

Sure, you could use timed starts to keep competitors the appropriate distance apart… which works right up to the time they start really competing by passing others and sprinting in groups. Plus, finding a finish line that isn’t a mob of people would be both unlikely and unsatisfactory for most dedicated racers.

So, until the government guidelines allow for some degree of mass gathering, you won’t see your typical run or triathlon (although cycling events might be able to handle distancing more effectively). Even if the participants were willing to abandon distancing for the sake of competition, an event organizer with any sense would not want the liability of potentially putting people at risk for coronavirus exposure.

Which leads to the second issue: Most race organizers are small businesses as well, and they have been hammered by the ban on the events that keep them in business. Even if an event is organized by a nonprofit, “nonprofit” does not mean “no profit” – which is what most of them have seen since the coronavirus close-down.

The bigger national event organizers have laid off employees and scaled back operations in hopes of surviving the shutdown, and they’ve had no access to the federal funding Washington has been shoveling out the door. There is a push to include nonprofits in the next round of stimulus spending, but whether that will come to pass (or if the funding actually sees the light of day) is an open question.

The final obstacle is fitness – specifically, whether potential participants will be ready and able to compete once races return.

For some events, this won’t be an issue. Either fitness is not the main goal of the event (in the case of group cycling, where the camaraderie counts as much as the speed) or the degree of training is either achievable or irrelevant (such as for 5K runs, where – except for the elites – the endurance required is within reach of most runners).

But getting ready for a half-marathon or longer takes some focused training, at least if you want to compete at anything above a brisk-walk pace. While folks may have had the time for the long runs necessary to make a marathon survivable, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to tackle one right away – or that organizers would be willing to attempt to hold one until next fall when cooler weather returns.

Even more at issue are triathlons, both for the combination of skills and endurance necessary and for the very real issue that training for one-third of the event (swimming) has been difficult for those who don’t have access to their own private pool or beach (since the public ones have been off limits).

Since swimming can be the most dangerous leg of a triathlon, you really want people in the water who’ve been building some endurance – even for the shortest tri, where the quarter-mile swim can still be more than your average person is ready to tackle without practice.
Of course, this is Southwest Florida – so weather works against mass-gathering events over the summer already (with the exception of 5Ks that can start and finish before temperatures start to rise). Even if the virus were to disappear tomorrow (not happening), the heat and humidity are here to stay for the next few months.

Add it all up, and you should not expect to see a return to the usual roster of races until the fall. Bad news for competitors, good news for those who want to train for their first (or next) race or ride.


Ready to ride or run?


Keep checking the usual websites for updates, since some organizers are hold out hope for in-person events towards the end of June – or at least in time for the usual Fourth of July flood of 5Ks. Be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.



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.