BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, June 2, 2022
by Ken Gooderham
|Gulf Coast Trail (as planned)|
A new bike trail is coming to southern Lee County… and officials want your thoughts about where and how it should run.
The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is holding a public meeting tonight (June 2) at 6 p.m. to hear your thoughts on where and how a north-south multi-use trail should go.
The MPO has developed three alternatives for public consideration, all running from roughly U.S. 41/Michael C. Rippe Parkway and Alico Road south to roughly Bonita Beach Road and Old U.S. 41. Eventually, this trail will continue into northern Collier County.
The three options are:
- A rail-to-trail path that follows the Seminole Gulf right-of-way… replacing the existing tracks with a trail.
- A rail-and-trail alternative that also follows the railway right-of-way, but puts the path next to the railbed (and keeps the tracks intact).
- A path that instead uses existing road rights-of-way running east on Alico to Three Oaks Parkway, south on Three Oaks to eventually turn westward and tie into Broadway, south on Sandy Lane and Via Coconut Point to eventually tie in to Old U.S. 41 at Strike Lane and ending at Bonita Beach Road (approximate directions… go to the meeting to get the specifics).
This input is part of a feasibility study commissioned by the MPO (along with the City of Bonita Springs and Village of Estero) to look at putting a multi-use path in the railroad right-of-way vs. using road rights-of-way instead. The study is funded by a Florida Dept. of Transportation SUN Trail grant, with matches from the two municipalities.
Getting a new multi-use path in southern Lee County is good news by itself (hey, getting one anywhere is welcomed), as this growing area of the county is underserved by true paths separate from the roadways.
But the better news is that this will eventually be part of the much larger Gulf Coast Trail, a 336-mile-long corridor running from Pinellas to Collier. The trail will incorporate existing and proposed pathways to link the seven Southwest Florida counties, and will also connect into the statewide SUN (Shared Use Non-motorized) Trail network that will eventually run from the Panhandle to the Keys (and coast to coast).
If you have an opinion about the most appropriate route for the proposed trail, this is your time to speak up. But even if you simply support the idea of the trail regardless of route, might be good idea to share that with the MPO as well. Interest at any level is better than apathy when it comes to keeping projects such as this on track.
The public meeting will be held at the Estero Recreation Center, Estero Rooms 103 A & B, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Boulevard, Estero (off Corkscrew Road west of Via Coconut Point). The meeting starts at 6 p.m. Thursday, with the formal presentation at 6:30 p.m.
Can’t attend? Don’t worry… comments are being accepted into October and can be emailed to info@LeeCollierRailTrail.com
More information is available at https://leecollierrailtrail.com/ or https://leempo.com/. Complete meeting details are at https://leempo.com/wp-content/uploads/Lee-MPO_Rail-Trail-Newsletter-FINAL.pdf.
Proposed trail alternatives 1, 2 and 3 (click to enlarge)
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
- 2022-23 FMTC Annual Meeting & Membership 5K Fun Run, Sunday, June 5, 6:30 p.m., Eastwood Golf Course, Fort Myers. Kindergarten through fifth grade, limited space.
- 2022 S.H.A.R.C Youth Running Camp, June 6-10, 8-11 a.m., Bishop Verot High School track, Fort Myers.
- Priority Business Solutions Freedom 5K Run/Walk & Gunterberg Charitable Foundation Kid's Fun Run, Monday, July 4, 7 a.m., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce.
- Tunnel to Towers 5K, Saturday, Sept. 10, FSW campus, Fort Myers.
- Downtown Dash 1 Mile Run, Friday, Sept. 16, downtown Fort Myers.
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- 2022 Firecracker 5K, Monday, July 4, 7 a.m., Lake Park, Naples.
- Friends of Foster Children Forever Labor Day 5K, Monday, Sept. 6, Lowdermilk Park, Naples.
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- USA Independence Day 5K, Monday, July 4, 7 a.m., Hertz Arena, Estero.
- Naples Distance Classic Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K, Saturday, Oct. 8, Eagle Lakes Park, Naples.
- Sunday, June 4: First Annual CRBC Pride Ride, 40+ mile ride from Bike Bistro to northern end of Captiva and back, starts at 7:30 a.m. Variety of speeds accommodated, including a no-drop ride that includes a “Ding” Darling loop. Donations welcomed to support Equality Florida and Cape Coral Pride.
- July 5-9, 12-16 and 26-30: Wheel Lee Fun, 8-11:30 a.m. Help your kids learn bike safety and maintenance (and much more), with riders from learning to ride all the way to advanced. Three-one-week sessions
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.
- Naples Fitness Challenge, reverse sprint triathlon, Sunday, June 5, Naples (thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com/)
- Heartland Triathlon, sprint and Olympic tri, duathlon and aquabike, Sunday, June 5, Sebring (heartlandtri.com/).
- Fort Desoto Triathlon Series Race #1, Sunday, June 19, Olympic & sprint triathlon, Fort Desoto Park, St. Petersburg (fortdesototrilogy.com/). Also July 17, Aug. 21 and Sept. 18.
- Siesta Key Sirens & Merman Triathlon, Sunday, June 26, Siesta Key (run941.com/).
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDEHave a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.