2014-10-01 / Outdoors

Streets Alive! returns to River District

As the Fort Myers River District thrives, the city, business community and engaged citizens continue to work on improving its micro-economy and the many benefits a vibrant downtown offers to residents and visitors. An event that fits perfectly with this ongoing effort is about to take place again.

Streets Alive! returns from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2. Our “Cyclovia” or “Open Streets” event was born of a group of citizens who believe some of our most important and popular streets should be used for more than simply moving motor vehicle traffic. After all, streets are public spaces intended for travel, commerce and socialization. To that end, those who attend this free event will be able to experience all three, as well as engage in a number of physical activities and have fun doing so. The inaugural Streets Alive! had an estimated 5,000 participants, a number that organizers anticipate may double this time around.


Sharrows on Stringfellow Road in St. James City. Sharrows on Stringfellow Road in St. James City. Well over a mile of streets along the river and in the core business district will be closed to motor vehicle traffic and open to everything else. Come to bike, skate/ skateboard, run or walk. Sample various dance styles. Engage in Zumba, Jazzercise, yoga and agility exercises. Try your hand at disc golf, traditional golf and tennis. Or let the kids navigate mazes and obstacle courses, create sidewalk chalk art and join in many other child-friendly activities. Besides the numerous physical activities, healthy foods will be abundant, with many samples being servedup free of charge, along with cooking and food preparation demonstrations.

Over the past decade or so, cities throughout the U.S. and the world have made Cyclovias regular events, which is the ultimate goal of our Streets Alive!. Along with the physical benefits these events provide to individuals, the economics are just as impressive. Local businesses gain new customers, or at the very least, become aware of their existence so they may return at another time. The city-center also gets great exposure as participants enjoy the streets without having to deal with motor traffic. And those who take part in any way get in some exercise while socializing and having fun. What's not to like about Streets Alive!?

Because this event raises no revenue from participants or those providing services and products, sponsorship and fundraising are necessary. A golf outing to benefit Streets Alive! is taking place on Saturday, Oct. 18, at River Hall Country Club. To take part or to become a Streets Alive! sponsor, contact Tom Timmons at cttstreetsalive@gmail.com.

Advocacy update

In previous columns I’ve written about McGregor Boulevard being a “street of shame” because most cyclists dare not use the travel lanes due to a very bad design. Instead, they’re relegated to sidewalks that aren’t intended for both pedestrians and cyclists. But an opportunity to change this dynamic immediately on at least one segment of McGregor Boulevard will hopefully be seized upon by the city of Fort Myers.

Sharrows, or shared lane markings, could make a world of difference on the city’s most famous street from Colonial Boulevard to U.S. 41. Adding these markings — a bicycle and two chevrons — on the pavement in the travel lane wherever cyclists can be expected to be riding near or in the center of the lane reinforces the fact that cyclists do indeed have the right to be there. It also serves as a traffic calmer, meaning speeding will be reduced. This very simple and inexpensive treatment is really the only option to improving McGregor Boulevard since bike lanes will never be added, nor is there room to widen the sidepaths. Getting more bikes off the sidewalk also greatly enhances safety for pedestrians who must deal with bikes and cyclists who are put at risk by motorists exiting and entering side streets and driveways.

The Lee County Department of Transportation has sharrows in place on Gladiolus Drive in Harlem Heights and on Stringfellow Road in St. James City. They are common treatments in other jurisdictions around Florida and throughout the U.S.

If you’d like to be able to ride on McGregor Boulevard with the knowledge that motorists should expect you there, contact the Fort Myers city manager’s office at citymanager@cityftmyers.com or 321-7022. As usual, you can learn more about this and other complete streets matters at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.

— Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate. Contact him at bikepedmoser@gmail.com or 334- 6417.

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