Cape Bike-Ped group earns top honor
A Cape Coral group responsible for helping the city acquire the national distinction as a “bicycle friendly community” was recently recognized for its efforts by a Lee County organization.
Last week, Cape Coral Bike-Ped was named the Lee County Injury Prevention Organization of the Year by the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition during a luncheon at the Cape Coral Yacht Club. Carolyn Conant, spokeswoman for the group, expressed appreciation for the recognition and honor.
“It was an unexpected award, but very nice,” she said Tuesday.
Comprised of residents, the group evaluates the bike lanes, paths and sidewalks in the Cape, then develops and implements a comprehensive, planned transportation recreation system of user-friendly interconnected paths. By working with the city, it aims to improve pedestrian and bicyclist access.
In existence for only a few years, the group has already created a 90-mile network of interconnected bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly paths, as well as seven bike routes that let users explore the Cape.
“We’re trying to make the Cape safer for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians,” Conant said.
The network of paths helps to accomplish this.
“It takes people off more congested roadways and onto some of the 120 miles of buffered bike lanes that exist in the Cape and onto shared roadways, which as less congested,” she said.
As for improving safety, the group has worked with city departments to put down pavement markings, as well as helped to create public service announcements to educate the public, including motorists.
“We’re working in unison with the city,” Conant said.
Last month, the city of Cape Coral earned the distinction of becoming a bronze-level, Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, thanks to the efforts by the Cape Coral Bike-Ped.
“We worked to get it for three years,” she said, adding that the application alone took months.
Only 351 communities in the nation have been recognized with award.
“Which is a very very small number,” Conant said. “Most people who apply don’t receive it.”
In designating the Cape as “bicycle-friendly,” the League of American Bicyclists cited the 90-mile network of paths and bike routes, which enable users to discover landmarks, facilities and recreational activities and border nature preserves, scenic canals, marinas, golf courses and the Caloosahatchee.
“We’re just very pleased that we received bronze level,” she said. “It’s a major compliment to the city and to the partnerships that we have – they let us know that we’re moving in the right direction.”
According to Conant, bicycling contributes $133 billion a year to U.S. economy.
“Bicycle tourism is a huge market, and it’s getting bigger all the time,” she said. “Many more communities are now trying to become ‘bicycle-friendly’ communities.”
Receiving the distinction is important for the Cape for economic growth and tourism.
“We’ve already had people call up and tell us they are coming (for vacation) from different communities because we’ve received this award,” Conant said.
Down the road, Cape Coral Bike-Ped wants to work on more safety initiatives, with school children and the Cape police as they are now. The group is also working at acquiring silver level one day.
For more information, visit online at: www.CapeCoralBikePed.org.