How To Solve The Beach Biking Problem

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Today at 9AM, the Fort Myers Beach Public Safety Committee will discuss the town’s messaging about bike safety. It’s become a very hot topic as of late. Elected officials often discuss getting more people to bike and walk the island yet they haven’t really done much to make that possible in a safe way.

The rules on Fort Myers Beach now state that only pedal bikes are allowed on sidewalks. Any battery-powered bike is prohibited on sidewalks. It does not matter if you’re pedaling without power because that’s impossible for law enforcement to determine from a vehicle.

The biggest challenge for anyone on any kind of a bike is the stretch of Estero Boulevard from Red Coconut to Times Square where there is no bike lane.

The Public Safety Committee will discuss all of this Tuesday at 9AM. The meeting will be held at the town hall trailers where everyone has 3 minutes to speak during public comment. We will not be able to carry the meeting live today but encourage you all to watch it on the town’s YouTube Channel. We will rebroadcast the meeting as soon as we can.

 

28 COMMENTS

  1. Designate one side of the roads sidewalk for bikes and the other for walking. The one side is wide enough to accommodate two way bikes regular or motorized and the beach side can be left for walking (walkers can cross over to bay side as needed).

  2. As people age peddle assist is handy. And what age group live on the beach? I don’t know why the E-Bikes are being vilified. Most of them have the fat tires and are more safe than a regular bicycle. There are always people who are not safe. It don’t matter what type of bike they have. North of red coconut E-Bikes need somewhere to ride. Let’s at least open the beach to them. And maybe a speed limit would be a good compromise.

  3. I agree with Charles Meador. Reactionary local codes rarely result in positive outcomes. We all need to get over the concept that e-bikes are a bad. It is a few misbehaved riders that cause the conversation. Regular bicyclists misbehave as well. Anyone who forced by local rule to go out in the traffic lanes on FMB is risking life and limb. The town needs to take a more surgical approach to the bicycle and e-bike issue. Obviously, the downtown area is different than the outlying areas. And certainly the beach south of the Lani Kai area is different as well. Let’s open this up at the committee and town council levels and have a re-look at all the options. The town should be encouraging bike and e-bike use in an effort to minimize traffic loads instead of finding fault.

  4. Ban cars on the island except for property owners, commercial vehicles & busses. Speed limit 25 mph . Traffic solved. You’re welcome!

  5. My wife and I ride our pedal bikes on the beaches, roads and sidewalks a lot. With the traffic the way it is, it’s the only way to get around. Plus it is a great to see the island. Finding a solution that would encourage more bikes would go a long way to help traffic and parking. I agree with the idea of bike lane separation cones or posts south of Red Coconut. We would use the bike lanes more if we didn’t worry about the cars swinging in to and out of the lanes. However north of Red Coconut to Times Square is different. It may be inconvenient for some but if we have directional sidewalks meaning one meant for those going north bound and one going south bound. Then the pedestrians and the bikes could coexist better because they are traveling the same way. Many forest preserves have these types of paths. These paths also are split into a fast lane and slow lane so people can walk and not be bothered, and the bikes and runners can travel in the faster lane. Still should have a speed limit for safety. I believe with a little more signage and some informational enforcement people can and will get along. I would bet they have automated speed detecting signs that could help encourage the correct safe speed for bikes in that area. For the few that are consistently non-compliant the police who are there to manage the traffic should be able to enforce the safe speed to get compliance.
    Just a thought.

  6. I like the speed limit signs on sidewalk. Everyone needs to be respectful no power when riding if pedestrians are near. Sometime’s the fix is simple if people will follow the rules. You will never please all the people. Main priority should be safety for bikers & pedestrians

  7. No bikes of any kind on the sidewalks. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. No bikes in the bike lane either, way too dangerous. Come up with a better solution.

  8. I would ask those that appose bike riding on the sidewalk to just simply walk a few blocks in the bike lane during any normal day on our Island and experience what your senses tell you (It’s nuts)!

    I was pushed to the curb by a car riding my bike on the street North of the Red Coconut, I no longer ride the street and when I meet someone now on the sidewalk I simply get off my bike and walk it past them, then when it makes since to get back on I do so.

  9. E-bikes are basically low-powered motorcycles, or mini bikes. The way people ride these things, you’re telling me it’s ok on a sidewalk? They’re a damn nuisance, and the people riding them are idiots! I ride a human-powered bicycle (no motor attached) and I’ve never had a positive or pleasant experience with an e-bike rider. They think they own the sidewalks! E-bikes, by virtue of having a motor, should be licensed like a motorcycle. Stop the insanity!

    • Gee Chuck, thanks for calling me an idiot. I, too, ride a regular bike but now that I’m in my 70s, I need a little help getting over the bridge to FMB. I’ve put more than 2,000 miles on my e-bike, and I can assure you, the only negative experience I’ve ever caused anyone involves “human-powered” bikers who think I ride too slow. My bike is nothing like a motorcycle or motorbike—I am required to pedal before the motor will engage, and I rarely ride it in anything higher than Pedal Assist 1, which has a top speed of 10 mph, which most human-powered bikers can easily surpass. It shouldn’t be hard for the police to identify rude or dangerous bikers regardless of which type of bike they’re riding, so for goodness sakes, let’s try and coexist so we all can enjoy the beach and support all the businesses that are trying to recover from Hurricane Ian. Sheesh!

      • Agree Sue! I also don’t appreciate being called an idiot! I ride a pedal assist bike since the storm, don’t go any faster than I did on my old non power bike and always ring my bell, announce I’m passing and thank them for moving over. I will continue to ride on the sidewalk from Red Coconut and Times Square. Be safe everyone!

    • We are going to see more and more e-bikes on the island with our the increased traffic delays. It is the town’s responsibility to assure a safe area for walkers and riders alike. As for walkers?…I have encountered groups of 10 or more walking abreast thinking they collectively own the entire area they are in causing me to have to leave the sidewalk to pass. If the town is going to enforce laws, then they need to enforce pedestrian laws having them walk facing traffic and bikes going with traffic. These laws are made for everyone’s safety. In an injury law suit, ask an attorney how important that is for either party.

    • your bike Chuck is no safer than our bikes with Electric assist. It’s not the bike it’s The operator. We can pedal our bikes with without battery back up, which we are happy to do when we do all the time. And if we can’t be trusted that somebody else’s problem. Don’t let one bad apple spoil it for the whole bunch. You, my friend Are a self entitled idiot. You only deserve to paddle your bike where I’m allowed to paddle mine with battery assist.

      • “Paddle”?????

        Watch the name calling….

        I hope motorized vehicles are allowed on the sidewalk. I promise I won’t ride my motorcycle more than 10 mph and be safe…

  10. Whether on the streets or sidewalks, if riders don’t follow the law of traffic direction they don’t need to be on the road. It’s for safety folks. Someone mentioned in a previous article for bike riders to inhibit traffic in the areas with no designated bike lane by riding slow in large groups. This form of protest just might get the attention riders need.

  11. No uses bikes because all the traffic comes from off island. This will always be a issue when there are more hotels off island over FMB along with 700k Lee county residents who want to go to the beach. Happens to every other barrier island in Florida….

  12. No motorized anything on the sidewalks!!! Some of the e-bikes are rentals and they are not always respectful. And what about the skate boarders and roller bladers that are motorized – they can be reckless and you better get out of their way. As a manual biker, I also will not ride in the road as it’s too dangerous with distracted and road raged drivers. 10 MPH on the sidewalk is too fast unless there is absolutely nobody around. BUY a manual bike and pedal. FMB – educate or post signs that the sidewalk is shared.

  13. Unfortunately, the actions of a few ruin it for the bunch. That’s why E-bikes are banned on sidewalks and the beach. Because a few idiots can’t follow the rules, and will speed.

    As far as safety in bike lanes…install the pylons on the bike lane stripes (like what’s at the base of the bridge creating 2 lanes at the traffic light), or at least the rumble reflectors. That would help keep traffic out of the lanes.

  14. My 7 year old granddaughter was run over by an E-bike on the beach, black and blue with road rash the entire right side of her body. The guy just kept going, probably had been drinking. Then just a few weeks ago a guy clipped me from behind while riding his E-bike and simultaneously video taping the sunset and not watching where he was going. Just like driving a car, there needs to be enforcement of drunk and distracted driving, on the beach or the road.

  15. E bikes should be allowed on the sidewalk but going less than 10 mph. By biking in the biking lane you are basically throwing your health and your life at the cars who do not pay attention or care that there is a bike lane. If you enforce this law you will cause a lot more fatalities and maiming of bicyclists. I wish I could go to this meeting but I have to work. If this is gonna be a prerequisite that you can’t even bike on the sidewalk when there aren’t pedestrians on the sidewalk well this is absolutely wrong. For anybody who doesn’t bike and thinks that bikers should be in the bike lane have not been in the bike lane on their bike. Once you experience this you will change your mind.

    • E-bikes should be allowed to go on sidewalks at less than 10mph when there is no bike lane available, you can’t tell me a law enforcement can’t tell the difference between that speed and one who is using their motor. No motors should be used on the sidewalk, that is just common sense with pedestrians walking it at the same time.

  16. Prohibiting e-bikes on the beach and sidewalks was an Ill conceived ordinance from the start. If anyone recalls it was passed after someone on an e-bike almost collided with a pedestrian on the beach. That could have happened as easily on a human powered bike. If we’re going to allow any bicycles at all on the beach and sidewalk then pedal powered e-bikes should be allowed. There’s no public safety distinction between a collision with an e-bike or human powered bike at five mph.

      • Respectfully, I disagree. The idea of a sidewalk speed limit is useless . First, the vast majority of people on an e-bike will not adhere to it, and second, it’s not enforceable. Are you suggesting we have sheriffs deputies on foot with speed guns? As someone who has been struck by a car while biking in the bike lane on a peddle bike, I absolutely sympathize with everyone wanting to be on the sidewalk. But human nature being what it is, people on bikes designed to let you go faster with no effort will go faster and should be in the road. If you want to be on the sidewalk, use a pedal bike.

  17. Ebikes should be allowed on the beach just like regular bikes are allowed. It’s using the ebikes in a irresponsible way that should be monitored and penalized. The older cyslists need the power assistance of the bike and will not risk their lives to use the road with no safe bike lane. They do not wan to become another statistic of a drunk driver.

    • Thank you BobK, I totally agree and all that needs to be done is a have a speed limit sign of under 10 mph on the sidewalk. This would totally make everyone to understand if you wanna go faster than you put your hands in your life and go in the bike lane.

  18. They should allow E-bikes on the actual beach itself; most e-bikes have a reduced speed setting, perfect for the ‘beach’ or sidewalks; as people age, pedal-assist bikes are popular

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