BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, February 25, 2021
by Ken Gooderham
As February continues its march into March, naturally one’s thoughts turn to… the Florida Legislature?
Perhaps not the answer you were expecting, but bear with me.
First, March is Florida Bicycle Month, auspicious enough on its own. To celebrate (among other efforts), the Florida Bicycle Association is offering a Virtual Ride Leader/Ride Marshal Certification. This course teaches you the basics of leading bike rides or events, in the expectation we’ll all be able to participate in them again some day soon.
Offered online (of course) over four Saturdays in March, the skills-and-smarts course has limited availabilities. Find out more at floridabicycle.org/fba-virtual-ride-leader-ride-marshal-certification/.
March also marks the start of this year’s legislative session, 60 days of semi-controlled mayhem that ultimately generates a whole host of new laws (sometimes old grudges).
For those of us who bike and walk, there’s something to cheer… proposed changes in the state’s Move Over law that helps define how motor vehicles and bike/ped traffic interacts. It includes:
- Cleans up definitions of bike/ped infrastructure.
- Specifies how vehicles overtaking and turning in front of cyclists must signal and how much space they need to allow.
- Specifies how cyclists should make turns while in traffic.
- Encouraging more education and awareness of bike/ped safety issue for drivers, including as part of earning or renewing a license.
Hardly scintillating stuff, but how many laws keep you on the edge of your seat, after all. It’s still important, not least of which because until things are codified in laws they can’t be enforced… and clarifying rules and rights is usually beneficial for all concerned – but especially for the more vulnerable parties (which means those on bikes and on foot here).
With sponsors in both chambers, the chances of this bill moving forward is good. You can find out more by looking up the bills – HB 605 and SB 950 – or getting more details at floridabicycle.org.
For those of you with a more federal orientation to your lawmaking, the annual National Bike Summit is (like so much else in our lives) virtual this year, running Feb. 28 to March 3 and organized by the League of American Bicyclists. Find out more at bikeleague.org/summit or floridabicycle.org/fba-legislative-platform/team-florida
Finally, for many this time of year brings thoughts of baseball… specifically spring training, which returns to our area this year with a new look courtesy of the coronavirus.
You can find more detail in the sports pages, of course, but expect smaller crowds, limited teams (to create a regional bubble), social distancing and contactless interactions… and no interactions between fans and players.
What does this have to do with cycling? Well, if you’re headed out to the ball game, you might want to grab your bike rather than your car keys.
Lee County’s two spring training teams play in stadiums about five miles apart along Daniels Parkway – which, this time of year, is already struggling to handle the seasonal traffic load. Each of those stadiums are right next to sites tied to the coronavirus… either testing (at the CenturyLink Sports Complex right next to the Twins site) or vaccination (at the old airport facility just south of Fenway South Park).
Add in the game-day traffic once the season starts on Feb. 28, and you may decide you’ll make better time getting to the game by bike than by car. Fortunately, Daniels has both bike paths and lanes between the two sites and is well connected to other bike paths, making it an easy ride for fans from south Fort Myers to Gateway and Lehigh.
Also fortunate is that the only day both teams have a home game (meaning both stadiums will see action) is the last day of spring training on March 30.
So, come game day, if the sun is shining and the breezes are balmy, maybe it’s smart to bike on out to the ball game for a change..
EVENTS: Here’s the latest in organized running and biking events locally… but confirm with the organizers and be flexible in case conditions change and large-group activities are limited. Of course, wear a mask and act appropriate to your age, physical condition and medical concerns.
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
- Hooters River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Sunday, March 7
- Downtown Dash, 1-mile run/walk, in person in downtown Fort Myers Friday, April 16
- Head & Neck Cancer A Hard Thing to Swallow 5K Run & 2-Mile Walk (in-person and virtual), Saturday, April 24
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- Baker Park 5K, Saturday, March 27
- Run for the Music 10K, Saturday, April 10
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- Paradise Coast Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, March 13
- Venice Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, March 27
- City of Palms Half Marathon and 5K, TBD
- Cape Coral Animal Shelter Rescue Run 5K (dogs welcome), Saturday, March 20, 3dracinginc.com.
- Publix Run to the Arts 5K run/walk – iin-person is now delayed to April 18 runsignup.com or runtothearts.com
Sunday, March 7: Naples Bike Brunch rolls out with five different distances (all mapped for your convenience) starting from Lowdermilk Park in Naples (or from your own home, if you prefer). Serious cyclists can tackle a century (100 miles) or a metric century (62 miles), while those looking for a more reasonable ride can pick from 40 or 20 miles or a 5-mile family fun ride. Proceeds support the Naples Pathway Coalition’s effort to promote safe biking and walking. Details are at www.naplespathways.org/event-3028591.
March: CSW Florida Bike Challenge. Individuals, workplaces and bike clubs can sign up to see how many miles they ride and how many people they can encourage to get out on their bikes. Miles add up to points, which add up to prizes. The challenge covers Central Southwest Florida (hence the CSW), from Polk County to Collier County, and kicks off March 1. Details are online at www.lovetoride.net/csw.
March 14: CRBC-Trek-Member Appreciation Day/Royal Palm Challenge Ride. Caloosa Riders members only, limited to 100 riders (they may open it up to the public if they don’t hit the cap, but don’t count on it). Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva; 33, 45 and 60 mile rides, no support.
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. Check out their line-up
online (www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).
- 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 Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
- NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
- 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 confining some of the usual volunteers, a few new
helping hand would certainly be welcomed.