Thursday, January 2, 2020

BikeWalkLee: New habits for the new year

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

For many, the end of the holidays means the beginning of a new year – with all the well-intentioned resolutions that can go along with that. If one of those intentions is to get more movement into your daily routine, you can face the crunch of having to adopt new habits during your already time-crunched day.

If the idea of carving out time to get to the gym or go to a class makes you panic, relax… sometimes the best exercise is the one you can do almost anytime and any place – and something you can make part of your already busy day.

The answer? Take a walk or ride your bike.

There are all sorts of studies to convince you that getting up and getting out is good for your health. (Google it and be prepared for a lot of reading.) There are sound medical, emotional and physical reasons why exercise is often considered the best medicine.

But I’d make the case that walking or biking is also a very convenient way to add some action to your day.

Sure, it would be great to schedule an hour-long walk or ride during each day. If you have the time, it’s the best way to make movement part of your daily routine – since doing an activity regularly even for a few weeks can establish a pattern of practice that will carry you forward into doing something without thinking about it.

That’s why walking and riding can be great ways to sneak up on healthier habits. Why? Because you can incorporate the movement into something you already do.

Want to walk more? Park further away from where you work and shop. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Plan a five-minute break every hour or so to walk around the office, around the block or around your house.

Want to ride more? Look at your daily or weekly errands, and see what ones could be done on a bike rather than a car. Something that’s five minutes away by car may not be much longer by bike… and this time of year you can enjoy the fresh air and cooler temps to boot. Maybe even see if you could replace one commute or one errand each week by getting out of the car and onto the bike lane.

Not only will you start to incorporate walking and biking into your day, you’ll be getting something done at the same time. That’s makes it more likely you can continue the habit in the weeks ahead.

If time is not an issue, then walking and biking is an even more attractive alternative. Walking is probably the easier form of fitness around, since all you really need are some good shoes and the desire to start putting one foot in front of the other. Find a friend or a form of entertainment to make it a more social activity if that helps… or use the alone time to process and plan your day.

Biking takes a little more work, since you need to have a working bicycle (and a helmet if you’re smart). But it can take as little or as much time as you can offer, and is a low-impact but high-results option to get moving.

So if you need to figure out how to make fitness fit into your daily life, why not go for a walk, or a ride today?

Please put down that phone…

The new year may mean more walking or biking, but it could also mean less texting.

Starting Jan. 1, texting while driving will now earn you a ticket rather than a warning… and using any handheld device in a school or construction zone is also subject to punishment or penalty.

The texting-while-driving rules went into effect last July 1, but police could issue warnings for the first six months to get drivers used to the new regulations. The same grace period applied to the ban on using handheld devices in school or construction zones since those new rules took effect Oct. 1.

Now, those warnings turn into tickets (and fines), making a dangerous habit an expensive one as well. “No texting” doesn’t mean no phone use at all, although a bill seeking to ban any handheld use while operating a vehicle has been filed for the next legislative session. You can still text at stoplights, as well as use your phone in non-distracting ways while driving.

But the first offense will earn you a fine, with subsequent violations earning you points against your license as well as escalating fines (not to mention increased risk to you, your passengers and anyone else on the road with you).

So make your life simpler (and safer)… just don’t text and drive, period.

Ready to ride or run? 

Run? Ring in the new year with the Jan. 5 Hooters River Roots and Ruts 10-mile and 5K run at Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Alva (details at Next weekend (Jan. 11) brings the Pine Island Kiwanis Club Calusa 5K; details at On Jan. 18 you can join two 5Ks – Run to Home Base at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers or the Tour de Cape 5K at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral; details at and For the more ambitious, plan on the Naples Daily News Half Marathon on Jan. 19; details at

Ride?  Critical Mass has these regularly scheduled rides on tap:
  •  Friday, Jan. 3: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the Publix side lot at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd Details and start times at
  • Saturday, Jan. 11: Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. Details and start times at
  • Friday, Jan. 17: NE-Lee Critical Mass night ride, gathers at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. Details and start times at
Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details at

Jan. 18-19 is the Tour de Cape weekend, with multiple-length bicycle rides, a 5K run and more, based at Cape Harbour, Cape Coral (

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 (never on a Friday, but 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?  The multiple-length HITS Endurance Sarasota Tri is Sunday, Jan. 5, offering sprint, Olympic and half Ironman distances, all running out of 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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