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Residents, bikers ponder bike/ped master plan

By Staff | Aug 26, 2016

Bikers and hikers got a second look at the city of Cape Coral’s Bike/Ped master plan Wednesday, along with the opportunity to see if there were any improvements from the last go-around.

For the most part there were, especially in terms of connectivity and safety, especially on the busier roads, though maybe not enough for some.

Brad Davis, planner for Alta Planning & Design, the company put in charge of the planning, said among the goals the city has is to earn Bicycle Friendly Community Silver and walker friendly designations, as well as increase the number of bikers and walkers while decreasing the number of bike-ped crashes and build a network of paths and sidewalks.

“We’ve gone through the analysis in May and compared it with public comment. With that we came up with the concept,” Davis said. “The themes were safety, especially on busy streets, and it paired with our safety analysis that really identified the major corridors as having a need for safety.”

Davis said the community expressed during the last meeting a desire for better safety and comfort in walks or bicycling, especially on major roadways, better connectivity for recreation and transportation, and better driver awareness and education.

Those providing input sought multi-use paths along roadways, bicycle friendly intersections and protected bike lanes for the infrastructure. People also asked for car-free events and bicycle and pedestrian safety campaigns and resources.

Statistics show that nearly two-thirds of bike crashes and more than half pedestrian crashes happen on major arteries, even though local roads represent three-fourths of the city’s roadways.

Davis said that while the city’s demographics are changing, there was also an issue with connectivity. While’s there’s a network there, it’s not for everyone.

“We were looking at how we could expand the network so it works for a wider range of people and close the gaps that exist,” Davis said. “We’re looking to expand the network that we have now and on those who were walking and biking for recreation and transportation.”

Only 9 percent of roads in the city have sidewalks on at least one side of the street, while 4 percent have on-street bikeways.

Among the solutions proposed were to repurpose the major roads like Del Prado Boulevard and Cape Coral Parkway to include bike/ped paths and add walkways on other secondary roads, including those where schools are nearby.

The second meeting resulted in a more favorable response from the bike/ped community.

“I think they’re on the right road. This is definitely a step forward. As a cyclist in Cape Coral, the lack of connectivity is a major issue, as well as the high speeds of traffic,” said Jodi Walborn. “Trying to make things safer for all modes of transportation is important.”

But one enthusiast said there is only so much the city can do. Warren Schirado said there needs to be an element of personal responsibility to stay safe, whether it be to use a flashlight, wear reflective clothing or to avoid night walking/riding entirely.

“Many people are out without lights or reflectors, especially on the street I live on, which is narrow and sometimes has people walking and taking half the road,” Schirado said. “There’s a lack of knowledge or even forethought that people should do that. They may know where they’re at, but the driver may not.”

Schirado said the city should consider applying for a Bike-Walk grant, which could get residents free reflectors or flashlights for people. He said he has been looking into it.

Adoption and implementation by city council could happen sometime in the fall.