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Wheels of government turn against Naples becoming bicycle-frien

Naples News: Wheels of government turn against Naples becoming ‘bicycle-friendly’

NAPLES — Naples didn’t make the list, but that’s OK with some of the city’s leaders.

The League of American Bicyclists in November decided against awarding the city with a bicycle-friendly community designation.

The organization, according to a November letter to Naples officials, said that while “reviewers were impressed with the potential and commitment,” the organization also saw that “considerable work remains to be done” before the designation could be awarded.

That work likely would come at a high cost, said Ron Wallace, the city’s director of streets and storm water.

“There’s a definite commitment of manpower and funding to complete these projects, (and) it’s going to be large funding commitments,” Wallace said during a December City Council meeting.

The organization cited several improvements that should be made to receive the designation, including a safe route to school program, expanding the bicycle network and collecting data on bicycle usage and crashes.

Those statistics, according to the league’s report, should be used to prioritize improvements to aid cyclists, along with targeting enforcement and education efforts.

“I was in favor of going through the effort, but agreed (with other council members) that if you were going to come back looking for dollars for infrastructure improvements I wasn’t interested,” Councilman Gary Price said. “(I think) we continue to make budget amendments that are appropriate for us, and this be the end of this discussion.”

During the summer, the city began the bicycle friendly community application, after Naples resident Alan Ryker initiated the process.

Wallace said that in October he received notice the league was interested in awarding the designation, but further improvements were recommended before it could move forward.

About 50 communities in the United States have been given the title on some level. Four Florida cities — Boca Raton, Gainesville, Orlando and St. Petersburg — have been recognized.

The city has taken some steps to make the road safer, for both drivers and cyclists.

The city recently met with local bicycle groups to discuss the rules of the road and remind them that cyclists need to follow the same rules as drivers, Naples police department spokesman Michael Herman said.

“We’re not picking on anyone,” Herman said. “We have introduced a few targeted enforcement areas, (but) we didn’t spring this on anyone.”

The city won’t continue to pursue the designation.

“I knew we were going to get nailed, and this just proves my faith in governmental agencies, which is absolutely no faith at all,” Councilman Bill Willkomm said.