Cape Coral mulls $63 million bike, pedestrian safety project

Published: March 27, 2017 11:07 PM EDT

CAPE CORAL, Fla. The city is considering how to pay for a $63 million plan to address one of its most ignominious distinctions.

The Cape Coral-Fort Myers area was recently named the most dangerous for pedestrians in the country. City Council is mulling the addition of 200 miles of sidewalks and bike paths.

“It is a lot of money,” avid cyclist Mike Swanson said. “But I think there will be a payback for improved property values and livability of the city.”

The project would add a bike lane to a section of Diplomat Parkway where Swanson’s friend Scott Johnsen was hit and killed while riding his bike in 2014. It would also add a wide path for walkers and cyclists along Pine Island Road, where 27-year-old Joel Nichols was run over on his bike in 2015.

Only narrow bike lanes exist on either side of that road now, as cars whip by at 55 mph or faster.

Changes wouldn’t happen quickly, as the city considers it a 10- to 20-year endeavor.

“Those kinds of improvements always take a long time, but they’re worth it in the end,” Swanson said.

The city has slightly more than $7 million in grant money to spend on the project, but the majority of the funding would likely come from taxpayers. Swanson is optimistic it would pay off.

“The city has bike lanes and bike routes, but there’s an opportunity to add a lot more infrastructure that will improve the livability, the walk-ability, the bike-ability, and be an attraction to tourists in our area,” he said.