A new group is working with the city to develop a system of interconnecting routes to help improve pedestrian and bicyclist access within Cape Coral.
The volunteer organization Cape Coral Bike-Ped seeks to make a difference in the way the city improves and builds its bike lanes, paths and sidewalks.
"It's good for the economy, improves quality of life and increases tourism," Carolyn Conant, a spokeswoman for the organization, said of the project.
City officials agreed.
"It provides the community a great opportunity for healthy lifestyles and exercise, as well as connectivity between shopping, parks and schools," Steve Pohlman, the director of the parks and recreation department, said.
Cape Coral Bike-Ped's strategy is to:
* Identify phased improvements and routes to create a network
* Mark the routes with standardized signage and pavement markings
* Improve critical areas where potential problems may exist
* Publicize the routes online through a Web site and elsewhere
"Tourism is a big business," Conant said, adding that the Cape has great weather, flat ground and miles of canals and scenic routes available.
"This is an ideal condition to bring people in," she said.
According to Conant, cyclists alone contribute an estimated $133 billion to the United States economy. More than $46.9 billion is spent on meals, lodging, transportation, gifts and entertainment during bike trips and tours.
"This is not only good for people who like to exercise, it's good for the entire community," she said. "It really can be a big boom for our community."
Pohlman agreed, noting that cycling is a popular sport worldwide.
"People would take advantage of touring throughout our city," he said.
Eco-tourism would also come into play.
"Those that enjoy nature can travel to their points, whether walking or bicycling," Pohlman said.
Cape Coral Bike-Ped has been working with the city for about a year.
Pohlman explained that the group communicated a desire to enhance bike and pedestrian access, but knew that the city had limited financial resources.
"They wished to help with fund raising and master planning our pedestrian and bicycle transportation system," he said.
Cape Coral Bike-Ped will collect donations and sponsorships from businesses and individuals to fund road markings and signs, which the city will install.
"They will actually do the work," Conant said.
Pohlman called it is a "great public-private partnership."
"We look forward to working with them as we go through our utility expansion program," he said. "Looking for opportunities to lead people on short or long journeys throughout the city and enjoying our assets."
Since recently launching its Web site and online donation page, Cape Coral Bike-Ped has received $1,000 from Realmark Development and $900 from Lee County Electric Cooperative, along with other individual contributions.
One hundred percent of the donations go toward creating routes.
To donate, visit online at: www.CapeCoralBikePed.org.
Other opportunities include sponsoring a route sign for $300, buying a foot of bike lane for $100 or more as a memorial contribution or being listed as a Wing Partner on the organization's Web site for a $1,000 or more donation.
"It takes the big donations and the small donations to really make it work," she said.
Cape Coral Bike-Ped is currently seeking volunteers.
For more information, visit online: www.CapeCoralBikePed.org.