There are a number of obstacles to overcome, some manmade and some natural. The natural issues are obvious, at least this time of year… it’s hot and it rains a lot some days. However, there are many places where weather can be an issue for walkers, and yet people walk just the same. Why? Because the manmade issues are less of an impediment, giving people more reason to brave the elements.
The respective Metropolitan Planning Organizations of each county inSouthwest Florida have been working together to create a regional network of non-motorized transportation and recreation facilities and roadway treatments.
Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 10/19/2016 danMOSERbikepedmoser@gmail.comFor as much progress as our area has seen in terms of bicycle and pedestrian improvements, serious and major shortcomings remain. Most egregious is the complete lack of pedestrian access between Fort Myers and Cape Coral and between the mainland and Sanibel Island. As well, many of our urbanized and built-out areas and corresponding roads that are west of (and include) U.S. 41 are lacking in adequate bicycle accommodation. Colonial Boulevard, College Parkway, Cypress Lake Drive and Cleveland Avenue north of Daniels Parkway are chief among them, having nothing more than 5-foot or 6-foot sidewalks and no bike lanes. There’s little option but to use these major thoroughfares and when traversing them, as a pedestrian or cyclist, none offer adequate or safe accommodation. Here’s one way to look at this inequity: For pedestrians to cross the Caloosahatchee River, only one of the four bridges spanning the river between downtown Fort Myers and College Parkway have a sidewalk, meaning anyone who wants to legally cross the river by foot must use the one span of the Edison Bridge that has a 5-foot sidewalk. So, to go from McGregor Boulevard at College Parkway on the Fort Myers side to Cape Coral Parkway on the west side, the difference in distance if the Cape Coral Bridge had a sidewalk is two miles versus the 20-mile trek required by using McGregor, Edison Bridge, Pondella/Hancock and Del Prado. For those wanting to do so from the Fort Myers side to Cape Coral from the base of the Midpoint Bridge, the difference is four miles versus 14 miles.The Edison Bridge is the only bridge from Fort Myers to Cape Coral/North Fort Myers that allows pedestrians. DAN MOSER/FLORIDA WEEKLY Cyclists fare little better crossing the river. Although some have motor vehicle breakdown lanes, none of the approaches to, or exits from bridges accommodate that use. Worse yet, to go from Fort Myers to Cape Coral there’s no shoulder on westbound Cape Coral Bridge so it’s not really an option, considering the traffic conditions most times of the day. The Caloosahatchee River Bridge (“New 41”) has no shoulders in either direction and FDOT indicates both bikes and pedestrians are prohibited, although I believe the bike prohibition is unenforceable since the bridge doesn’t meet the “limited access” standard required to keep bikes and low-speed vehicles off. However, regardless of legal issues, using that structure is an adventure very few cyclists would even consider.Regular readers of this column may find this topic to be little more than me once again beating my head against the wall. Indeed, it’s pretty sad that I have to repeat this drumbeat over and over but I consider it necessary lest things remain the same indefinitely. Even with these transportation inequities being documented there’s absolutely nothing being considered to remedy any of the aforementioned problems. The reason given, of course, is cost, but to me it’s really a matter of priority — plenty of funds are spent on motor vehicle accommodation that are not even necessary (Alico Road improvement east of I-75 is one current glaring example). Other than the fact that all bridges eventually need to be replaced, the river will remain a barrier for the foreseeable future. Retro-fitting them with cantilever sidepaths or reallocating existing space to include accommodations are not options, according to those who dole out funds. The same goes for surface roads that have similar issues; right of way can be reconfigured to add bike lanes or at least widen sidewalks into multi-use paths, but that’s not something our car-centric funders are interested in spending money to do.On any given day you’ll find many walkers and runners on the southbound span of the Edison Bridge — the only one where pedestrians are allowed. Most are there for exercise but some are using the sidewalk to get from one place to another. The exercise and recreation use is just as valid as the transportation function if you put in perspective that many motor vehicle trips are not for critical purposes but are taken for other reasons. The Sanibel Causeway is the most outrageous example of this disparity in access. A conscious and discriminatory decision to deny pedestrian use was made by Lee County when replacing the bridges less than a decade ago. If you think things need to change you’ll have to get involved in one way or another. One place to start is by going to BikeWalkLee’s blog to see how you can take action. Contacting Lee County commissioners is another first step to consider. Fixing these serious problems may not happen in many of our lifetimes but our area’s young people shouldn’t be denied the access we all deserve. ¦ - Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and 334- 6417.
Vision of Florida interconnected trail systemThe City of Cape Coral announced today that it has received an $1.8 million FDOT grant to design a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trail in North Cape Coral along Kismet Parkway. The trail will be part of the Florida SUNTrail, a statewide system of paved multi-use trails for bicyclists and pedestrians, physically separated from vehicular traffic.The new trail will be a welcome addition to the existing bike/ped facilities in the Cape, in particular for residents of the Northern parts of the city. It will expand the opportunities for safe outdoor exercise and recreation in the area.The trail will eventually connect Cape Coral to the statewide network of bicycle pedestrian trails, enhancing the city's profile as a tourist destination and its image as a bike/friendly community.BikeWalkLee was an early supporter of SUNtrail and has submitted letters of support. Our annual letter to the Lee Legislative Delegation for the past four years has made bike tourism and the statewide network of bike/ped paths, now called SunTrail, one of our top priorities. Congratulations to the City of Cape Coral and the volunteers of Cape Coral Bike Ped who have been instrumental in this grant application.From the 10/12 Cape Coral press release: ‘The City of Cape Coral has received a $1.8 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation for the preliminary engineering and design of a multi-use trail along Kismet Parkway in the north Cape. The Cape's individual trail project was one of 45 projects to receive funding for bicycle and pedestrian trail expansion in Florida through the new Shared Use Nonmotorized (SUN) Trail Program. FDOT awarded $44.4 million in statewide grants in the first year of the program. "Cape Coral continues to achieve success in obtaining grant funds to help with our goal of expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities throughout the city," said Connie Barron, Public Affairs Manager for the City. "This project along Kismet Parkway will provide a signature destination for recreational activity in the north Cape." The multi-use trail will be on the north side of Kismet Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard west to El Dorado Boulevard, and passing by the City's future Festival Park. The trail will continue on the west side of El Dorado south to Van Buren Parkway, and then on the north side of Van Buren Parkway west to Burnt Store Road. The 12-foot-wide trail spans about seven miles and potentially could include exercise components similar to the linear park along Del Prado Boulevard. The Cape Coral Bike-Ped group was instrumental in the successful application for grant funding from the SUN Trail Program. The volunteer group continues to work in partnership with the City to advance the goal of developing a bicycle and pedestrian friendly Cape Coral. Lee Co. segment of SW Coastal Regional TrailFrom the 10/11 FDOT press release:‘All of the selected projects are in the identified SUN Trail network, which consists of the developing statewide system of paved multi-use trails for bicyclists and pedestrians, physically separated from vehicular traffic.FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold said, “This initial SUN Trail funding will provide safer opportunities for bicyclists and pedestrians, advance the completion of the state trail system and enhance the state’s partnership with local communities throughout Florida.”Twenty-two of the funded projects help to advance two major regional trails systems selected as priorities by the Florida Greenways and Trails Council. Five of these are part of the Coast to Coast Connector, a 250-mile trail system linking the Gulf and Atlantic coasts through Central Florida, and 17 are part of the St. Johns River Sea Loop, a 270-mile trail system that will link together several communities including St. Augustine, Daytona Beach, Titusville, DeLand and Palatka. 23 projects are for individual trail segments throughout the rest of the state. The SUN Trail Program was established during the 2015 legislative session. More information about the program can be found at floridasuntrail.com.’