Coalition advocates for 70-mile trail to improve cyclist safety

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Cyclist rides in Collier County. (Credit: WINK News)
Cyclist rides in Collier County. (Credit: WINK News)

Two wheels are hitting the pavement and not too far away from a busy road, like the one on Golden Gate Pkwy, hundreds of cars passing within minutes.

“Collier County completely lacks in safe, connected multi-use pathways system,” said Michelle Avola, executive director of the Naples Pathway Coalition. “The Paradise Coast Trail is going to increase safety for families.”

Avola knows the tension between the drivers on two wheels and four as she has been cycling for decades. But these days, not so much since as a teen she was hit by a car.

“I landed on my hip and then I flipped over onto my elbow and I slid across the road on my face,” Avola said. “Thirty years later, I’m still needing to go to the chiropractor.”

Preventing situations like that is why the coalition is pushing to get a 70-mile trail constructed. That will bring more connectivity from areas like Immokalee, Ave Maria to Naples.

The biggest hurdle is financing the study. On Thursday, Collier County commissioners will meet at a budget workshop. On the side of fundraising, the coalition is working on getting more funding.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Greg Bueno said the trail is a beneficial move for commuters and recreational cyclists.

“It’s a big difference when you’re talking about riding close to the vicinity of a 2000 pound car,” Lt. Bueno said, “as opposed to a trail that’s occupied by other pedestrians and bicyclists.”

The Metropolitan Planning Organization endorsed the project and cyclists like Eduardo Martinez are looking forward to this trail possibly coming to an area near him.

“Do it,” Martinez said. “That’s what I want to see.”

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