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Old 02-04-04, 04:14 PM   #1
tom cotter
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Bike Florida

Just got back from a week in southwest Florida. Ft Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Sanibel. Beautiful places and beautiful weather but TRAFFIC! WHEW!!! I know it's high season but! Outside of Sanibel Island, which looks to be totally bicycle friendly, there didn't seem to be many places to ride without putting yourself at serious risk. The combo of high traffic and roads without shoulders doesn't make biking in this area of Florida look too inviting. I live in the most densely populated state in the country, New Jersey, but can safely ride almost anywhere in the state. How about Florida, is it as bad as it looks? Any areas of Florida where you can ride without undue risk? Any other areas as bike friendly as Sanibel Island?
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Old 02-04-04, 06:11 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom cotter
Just got back from a week in southwest Florida. Ft Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Sanibel. Beautiful places and beautiful weather but TRAFFIC! WHEW!!! I know it's high season but! Outside of Sanibel Island, which looks to be totally bicycle friendly, there didn't seem to be many places to ride without putting yourself at serious risk. The combo of high traffic and roads without shoulders doesn't make biking in this area of Florida look too inviting. I live in the most densely populated state in the country, New Jersey, but can safely ride almost anywhere in the state. How about Florida, is it as bad as it looks? Any areas of Florida where you can ride without undue risk? Any other areas as bike friendly as Sanibel Island?
Florida definately doesnt have any shoulders to ride on, and the blue hairs here dont know how to drive, not to mention all the people from up north driving the northern habits, you combine all of these factors together and you get: Florida has the worst drivers in the US.
I have several trails I ride on, next time you are in Florida be sure to go to Pasco County, Port Richey. There is a trail called Suncoast Trail, its apx 40 miles one way, so 80 round trip with very few crossover streets, Safest trail I have found not to mention I dont have to stop every block for traffic, I can work on my spinning and average speed, I can do sprints when i feel a burst of energy or I can just cruise with out worrying about automobile traffic...
So next time you are in the area take a look, I am sure you will enjoy it..
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Old 02-04-04, 09:12 PM   #3
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There are some outstanding areas to ride in Florida. 3 of my favorite areas are Alachua, Marion and Madison Counties. There are many backroads with little traffic and many roads with paved shoulders on which to safely ride. The roads in Alachua county including Gainesville, Alachua, High Springs, Worthington Springs, Brooker and LaCrosse are my favorites, along with Marion County roads which include Flemington, McIntosh, Fairfield, Orange Lake and Lowell. Do an internet search for "Gainesville Cycling Club" for more information and maps. Madison County hosted the national Cycling Ralleye last Fall which tells you a lot about that area. It is beautiful with many scenic backroads to ride.
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Old 02-05-04, 12:25 PM   #4
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Florida does take a little getting used to. There are some places with paved shoulders but they can be problematic. They often have debris or little breaks in them to keep you on your "toes". Florida does not have an extensive rural road net unlike some other states I have ridden in. So quite a few of the roads have significant traffic. However, there are rural roads with reasonably light traffic volume. You just have to go look for them.

I think your experience was skewed by going to Sanibel. It has only that one road going out to the island and a bunch of tourist traffic. Lots of tourists crowded on a single road is a bad thing no matter where you go. The roads at the coasts tend to have fewer options so you get more crowding.

There is some very nice riding in Florida. You just have to find it.
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Old 02-05-04, 02:51 PM   #5
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Florida has lots of bikers, lots of traffic, and lots of bike vs car accidents. This morning a biker was hit by a car (kid on the way to high school) near my house. This is number four within five weeks in this area.
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Old 02-06-04, 10:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat
Florida does take a little getting used to. There are some places with paved shoulders but they can be problematic. They often have debris or little breaks in them to keep you on your "toes". Florida does not have an extensive rural road net unlike some other states I have ridden in. So quite a few of the roads have significant traffic. However, there are rural roads with reasonably light traffic volume. You just have to go look for them.

I think your experience was skewed by going to Sanibel. It has only that one road going out to the island and a bunch of tourist traffic. Lots of tourists crowded on a single road is a bad thing no matter where you go. The roads at the coasts tend to have fewer options so you get more crowding.

There is some very nice riding in Florida. You just have to find it.
Actually, I thought the causeway going to Sanibel wasn't bad. I asked at the toll plaza if bikes were allowed to cross the bridges and causeway and the answer was yes. Sanibel itself has bike lanes that go the length and width of the island. Very nice! What put me off was that very few of the main roads in the area have shoulders. Without that network of secondary roads or streets there are few options.
Interestingly, there was a group of riders with hi viz lime green jackets on with "Crossing America" written on the back. They were making their way north on RT 41, a busy 4 lane highway. All the bikes were equipped with hi viz pennant flags on the back of each bike. I don't know if this was a local group or adventurers looking to freeze their butts off once they got north of Pensacola. Either way my hat's off to them for crossing the Calousahatchie(sp)river on the RT41 bridge.
I love Florida. I was born and raised there. Now I'm looking for a place in the sun and south Florida is my first choice. Wherever I end up it's got to have sailable water and bikeable roads. The search continues.
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Old 02-07-04, 07:23 PM   #7
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I live in Sarasota, (West Coast, South of Tampa). There are some places where you can ride that are "less dangerous", but you still have to ride defensively. There are also a lot of places I wouldn't even consider riding my bike, (US 41 Tamiami Trail is one of these!). You really just have to know where to go.

We have a lot of barrier islands (like Sanibel) where the traffic isn't so bad that you can get a good ride in. One of the most popular rides is a Tues/Thurs evening ride that leaves from a LBS near the hospital, rides through downtown and out to Longboat Key, up to the North end and back. It's a 37 or 38 mile ride. Relatively safe with only a few "Hairy" parts.

However, my favorite ride starts in Venice and heads out to Manasota Key to the South end and back. During the summer (or during the day in season) there is very little traffic and you ride right along the beach!

L8R
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Old 02-08-04, 04:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H. Star
Florida has lots of bikers, lots of traffic, and lots of bike vs car accidents. This morning a biker was hit by a car (kid on the way to high school) near my house. This is number four within five weeks in this area.
Florida does have a high rate of car/bike accidents. However, you have to look at the kind of cyclists that are being hit. Here in central Florida, we have a large number of these accidents and virtually all of them are inexperienced cyclists or cyclists riding at night without lights. Virtually none of the club cyclists get hit by motorized vehicles. In the 12 years I have been here, I can think of 5 incidents and 4 of them were the cyclists fault (3 of them the cyclist rode into the vehicle). Two of them were going around a blind corner at high speed and going wide. These were club cyclists but I guess our local club cyclists can be a little careless or just plain reckless.
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Old 02-08-04, 09:10 AM   #9
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I have lived in Florida now for 1 1/2 years. Before that I lived in the NYC metro area. Florida is better than NY when it comes to cycling. After several rides I have found many side roads where I can go and if 10 cars pass me in 25 miles I consider that a high traffic volume day. My general rule of thumb is to stay away from major roads and "snowbird" areas.
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Old 02-08-04, 09:34 AM   #10
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You were right in my neighborhood... my girl and I moved here to Fort Myers last April... and we'll be moving to Cape Coral in 9-12 months whenever our house is built...

I cant comment on the cycling experience down here... or anywhere for that matter as I'm new to this... but, the normal automobile traffic SUCKS! It's all the snowbirds though... There's like no traffic at all during the summer months... like May-October... and then starting in October it starts getting worse and worse until it hits the worst peak right after Christmas and New Years... but, once it gets nice and hot (90s and 100% humidity) all them snowbirds will be heading back up north and our roads wont be congested anymore... yay!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tom cotter
Just got back from a week in southwest Florida. Ft Myers, Cape Coral, Naples and Sanibel. Beautiful places and beautiful weather but TRAFFIC! WHEW!!! I know it's high season but! Outside of Sanibel Island, which looks to be totally bicycle friendly, there didn't seem to be many places to ride without putting yourself at serious risk. The combo of high traffic and roads without shoulders doesn't make biking in this area of Florida look too inviting. I live in the most densely populated state in the country, New Jersey, but can safely ride almost anywhere in the state. How about Florida, is it as bad as it looks? Any areas of Florida where you can ride without undue risk? Any other areas as bike friendly as Sanibel Island?
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Old 02-13-04, 01:49 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by a2psyklnut
I live in Sarasota, (West Coast, South of Tampa). There are some places where you can ride that are "less dangerous", but you still have to ride defensively. There are also a lot of places I wouldn't even consider riding my bike, (US 41 Tamiami Trail is one of these!). You really just have to know where to go.

We have a lot of barrier islands (like Sanibel) where the traffic isn't so bad that you can get a good ride in. One of the most popular rides is a Tues/Thurs evening ride that leaves from a LBS near the hospital, rides through downtown and out to Longboat Key, up to the North end and back. It's a 37 or 38 mile ride. Relatively safe with only a few "Hairy" parts.

However, my favorite ride starts in Venice and heads out to Manasota Key to the South end and back. During the summer (or during the day in season) there is very little traffic and you ride right along the beach!

L8R

Sounds great. I'll have to check it out. Thanks
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