Thursday, March 12, 2020

BikeWalkLee: Why we walk

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, March 12, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

I was looking for inspiration on what to write about this week… so I decided to go for a walk.

It’s a common occurrence for many, a chance to get away from the computer screen, clear your head, move around a little and see if it dislodges any ideas.

So I put on a decent pair of shoes, added an extra layer of attire (since it was one of those cool and breezy days we get this time of year), put my phone in a pocket (because you never know), and headed out the door.

Right off, I ran into one of the neighborhood dog walkers. We exchanged greetings and gossip – this is a neighborhood where if you want to know what’s actually going on, you talk to someone who’s out walking their dog. It’s rarely an aerobic activity thanks to a dog’s curious nature, but it is a great source for on-the-ground information – literally.

After we parted ways, I hit the main road through the subdivision. It has a driving lane and a shared-use lane on each side of a divided road, so the walkers and cyclists (and, occasionally, a golf cart or two) cohabitate the narrower lane while keeping an eye out both for each other and for the errant motor vehicle that decides to inch out of its space and into ours.

The shared use lane gets a lot of use, with people out walking and riding all through the day and into the evening. This being a more temperate day than usual weather-wise, people were able to enjoy a walk or ride at will, rather than being driven to early mornings or after dusk sojourns thanks to the heat and humidity.

So there were a wealth of walkers, ranging from the ambler to the ambitious and from the overdressed native (hey, a windy 60 degrees is cold) to the underdressed snowbird (who’s happy the temps and humidity went down a little). Pedestrian traffic was broken up by the occasional cyclist, a couple of serious riders coming home from their morning tour and a father and (young) son duo where dad kept the cars away while the young rider wobbled and wandered and worked on getting his bike balance better.

Pedestrians passed by, cyclists cycled through and the motor vehicles came and went at their Sunday speeds, lighter and less harried than the workday traffic. All this provided a pleasant white noise that, combined with the restive process of putting one foot in front of the other, let my mind start to meander.

That’s one of the less-cited benefits of walking, but one that’s worth a lot in the right circumstances. Yes, walking is a good, accessible mode of exercise, a path to fitness that most people can undertake and one that fits most lifestyles and schedules. It can lower stress and elevate moods even as it moves you around and burns calories.

But it’s also a great time to think – not in a focused and frenetic fashion, but more in letting your mind wander to work on things in the background while you amble along on your merry way. That’s one of the reason I bring along a phone – not to make calls or read texts (no twalking for me!), but to jot down ideas or thoughts as a note or email to work on later. (It also can serve as a source of entertainment if you’re in need of more distraction to make the walk work for you… but that wasn’t the goal here.)

Another less-known benefit of walking is the ability to notice things – really notice them, at a pace where you can take it all in. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to new places, and some of my best time traveling have been walking around a place I have never been before and seeing the sights, smelling the smells and hearing the sounds that are unique to where you are right now.

That’s another good reason not to block off your senses with, say, loud music or headphones that cancel any outside noise. First, if you’re walking in the vicinity of other traffic (pedestrian, bicycle or motor), you need to be able to hear what’s approaching in order to be prepared to do something if necessary. But even more valuable can be the opportunity to hear what’s going on around you – the sounds of other people living their lives, enjoying one another or simply just being.

Meanwhile, time clearly has passed… and the vibrating reminder on my wrist tells me I hit some movement milestone for the day. That’s also a good reminder it’s time to loop back to the beginning and head back to the office, where the computer waits for no one.

So, did the walk do its inspirational magic? You can be the judge of that.

Ready to ride or run?

Run?  A collection of 5Ks upcoming: The Shrimp Run on Fort Myers Beach Saturday, while both the Cape Coral Animal Shelter (Cape Coral) and the Homeless Hustle (Lakes Park) 5Ks are March 21. You can Run 4 the Cause in an Estero 5K on Friday, March 27, or run for the Lee County Medical Society Foundation at Jaycee Park on March 28. Details at and or

Ride?  Besides the Royal Palm Challenge on March 8, Critical Mass has these regularly scheduled rides on tap:

  • Saturday, March 14: Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. 
  • Friday, March 20: NE-Lee Critical Mass night ride, gathers at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. 
  • Friday, March 27: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape.
    Lights required for night rides, helmets recommended for all, details and start times 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 (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?  If you’re planning your tri schedule, here’s what is on tap in the next few months:


    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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