On The Road With "Olivia"

Adventures on a Folding Bike

Tropical Cycling

I just returned from a trip to southwest Florida to visit with family and celebrate my Mother’s 90th birthday! It was a wonderful time and I was so pleased to be able to see all my sisters and their families, my brother and his family, as well as my favorite cousin that I hadn’t seen in 40 years.

I took advantage of the opportunity to bring “Olivia” with me on the flight to Florida and ride all over the city where I grew up.   I was very pleased that Cape Coral had put in 90 miles of interconnected bike routes. I sure could have used those paths back then. But the fact is that there simply wasn’t the level of traffic then as there is today.

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Me wearing my bright yellow Cape Coral cycling t-shirt.

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The beginning of the Veteran’s Route North near my mother’s place.

The cycle paths are well thought out and (mostly) maintained.  There are still intersections where it is very dangerous to cross. Specifically crossing Del Prado, Country Club, Santa Barbara, and Skyline Boulevards. Additionally, some of the routes force you to share the path with pedestrians (this is allowed per city ordinance) so long as cyclists exercise due regard and defer to those walking the path.

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One of the many spots on the path where you cross over a canal.

There are more than 400 miles of canals in Cape Coral (Amsterdam only has 60 miles). The paths often cross these canals. The Veteran’s Route also ends at the far east end at the Caloosahatchee River (at the Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve on the north side and Horton Park on the south side).

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“Olivia” parked in front of the entrance to Horton Park at the far east end of the south Veteran’s Route. It is a very pretty little park on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.

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“Olivia” in Horton Park. You can see one of the bridges that cross the Caloosahatchee River that takes you over to Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Naples, and Sanibel Island.

I also took the opportunity to go over to Sanibel Island to visit the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge and ride the island’s cycle paths. If you ride your bike across the causeway, it is free. However, due to time constraints, I drove my rental car ($6.00 toll!) and parked at the wildlife refuge parking lot.

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And of course it was a Friday that I was there (see the bottom of the sign)!

Unfortunately, since it was on a Friday, the wildlife drive was closed. So I decided to ride the cycle path along Periwinkle Way to the Lighthouse at Point Ybel.

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The Sanibel Lighthouse at Point Ybel.

The paths on Sanibel are well laid out to allow you to get almost anywhere on the island. The only sections of the path that are exposed to the bright sunshine for an extended distance is north of the wildlife refuge entrance. Otherwise, you roll in and out of nice shade-covered patches.

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A bike rack with rental bikes that tourists use parked at the lighthouse.

Walking and cycling is very popular with both tourists and locals alike. Additionally, low speed limits  and a large number of pedestrians and cyclists on the paths, seem to have “tamed” the drivers to be more courteous to other road users.

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I stopped at a nice shady picnic area along the path to eat the lunch I bought at a local store.

Rather than going to a more expensive restaurant, I did what most locals would do and go to a convenience store to buy the ingredients for a light lunch (sandwich, fruit, chips, and a sports drink).

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I was torn when I saw this sign. If a ‘gator came after me, I was thinking that I would probably risk the fine if he went after my sandwich!

Although the island is truly a tropical paradise, there are some hazards to consider.

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Rather than slowing down cyclists with stop signs, Sanibel warns them to be cautious and look both ways. Drivers are expected to stop and allow cyclists and pedestrians to pass.

Pedestrians and cyclists have priority at most sections of the path. There are just a couple of places where you see stop signs and you must wait to cross traffic.

I truly enjoyed my visit to Florida to see my family and ride the new (to me) cycle paths. I look forward to my next visit!

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2017 by .
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