Pedal surges in Cape Coral with Critical Mass events, bike tours
With extensive behind-the-scenes work in recent years, pedal power is stronger and safer than ever for recreational cycling, putting fitness and benefits into high gear.
Cape Coral Bike-Ped, overseen by Michael Swanson with significant help from organization co-founder Carolyn Conant-Adair and Rob Seibert, hosts SWFL Critical Mass âslow-rollâ events on the last Friday of each month. Open tours often involve around 100 runners along an 11-mile loop starting at 8 p.m. in Club Square. The next one is this Friday.
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Inspired by what Seibert started in Fort Myers four years ago, Swanson, the former president of the Caloosa Riders club, designed the special course which includes stretches of Cape Coral and Coronado Parkways and passes through Four Freedoms Park, Veterans Park and the Cape Coral Yacht Club.
âWe have all kinds of bikers and it’s quiet,â Swanson said. âThe police are escorting us, which is particularly useful when crossing intersections on the way. “
âIt’s a great social event that raises awareness of the quality of cycling,â said Tony Prater, who works at Cape’s Trek bike store. He strapped a ‘companion’ bike to his so his 7-year-old daughter Kymberlee could join him and friend Tracy Hendron on a recent ride.
Caloosa Riders also runs bike tours starting at 8 a.m. every Sunday – a round trip between the southeast parking lot of the Pelican Baseball Resort and the Coral Oaks Golf Club. Tuesday and Thursday mornings the ride connects the Cape Harbor Marina and the Golf Club.
Cape Coral Bike-Ped also promotes bike paths and greater safety and works closely with the city’s public works and parks and recreation departments and the BikeWalkLee community coalition.
It has been “a real public-private partnership,” said Conant-Adair. She recounted how seven interconnected cycle paths consisting of cycle lanes, shared roads and sidewalks over canal bridges were first defined and planned in 2012. In two years, more than 90 miles of trails have been designated which line nature reserves, canals, marinas, golf courses, the Caloosahatchee River and more. In addition, over 1,000 direction and take-a-route signs have been installed.
In 2015, Cape Coral was named a Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Cyclists and last year by the Florida Bicycle Association, and an eighth route was created.
âWe believe in complete streets,â she said, which are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for everyone – pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and transit users of all ages and abilities.
Conant-Adair praised Swanson: “He’s a serious cyclist who puts it into practice for the benefit of other bikers – checking routes, making sure signs are in the right places, and done install numerous bicycle racks along the routes. “
She says the organization’s current goals include âcontinuing to educate cyclists and pedestrians about safety; be part of the city’s paving and utility expansion projects; and adding more bike racks through individual and organizational sponsors.
For more information, including interactive bike path maps, visit capecoral.net/bicycling. To learn more about the Caloosa Riders, visit caloosariders.org.