Fall in Southwest Florida by Michelle Avola-Brown Executive Director


Michelle Avola-Brown, 
Naples Pathways Coalition

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and by this time of year, it was cold enough for sweatshirts and, often, coats and hats, too. Baking pumpkin bread or other sweet treats happened most weekends, as did a fire in the fireplace. It was already darker in the evenings, well before the time changed. I loved the crisp fall air and crunch of leaves when I walked or biked one of the many trails I lived near, and I enjoyed the anticipation of the holidays. Fall in Southwest Florida isn’t quite the same, although never having to worry about shoveling snow or scraping ice off my windshield is wonderful!

With the time change on November 5th, we now have shorter days and cooler weather coming soon, too. Earlier sunsets catch many by surprise. Students walking or biking home from after-school activities can be more challenging to see, and kids need to remember that their visibility is impacted. Cycling commuters zipping down bike lanes and sidewalks are even less conspicuous than usual. Drivers need to be extra alert in the evening.

All of us who enjoy an after-dinner walk or bike ride need to be visible, too. After dark, wearing a white or fluorescent colored shirt and socks is wise. Dark-colored clothing makes you nearly invisible at night. White or neon-colored socks are beneficial because our eyes notice things that move. Reflective arm and ankle bands are also helpful. A reflective leash and collar will help your pup be seen more easily on your evening stroll.

When biking after sunset, be sure to use a headlight and taillight and that both are visible for several hundred feet. (Did you know lights on bicycles and motor vehicles are legally required from dusk to dawn?) We recommend using your front and rear lights in blinking mode during the day to increase visibility, but only your taillight should be flashing at night. The headlight should be a constant beam. Make sure your bike has plenty of reflectors, too.

With the holidays approaching, so is the 19th Annual Iron Joe Turkey Ride & Walk. It’s Naples’ Sunday-after-Thanksgiving tradition for every level of bicycling and walking enthusiast.

When you’ve had your fill of leftovers and shopping, air up your tires, lace up your shoes, and join us at Eagle Lakes Community Park on Sunday, November 26. (For more information and to register, visit bit.ly/IJTR2023).

You can grab a light breakfast and coffee at the park before departing for a 62, 40, 20, 10, or 5-mile ride. The short ride is entirely inside the park on a scenic path – great for those just getting into exercise, families with children, and anyone bouncing back from a health issue or injury. The walk is also on the trail around the beautiful lakes the park is named for.

There will be conveniently located rest stops along the routes to refresh and refuel. Cycle Shack and Island Bike Shop will support anyone who gets a flat. Enjoy a hearty, delicious lunch, music, beer and soft drinks, raffles, and more at the finish.

What better way to cap off the holiday weekend than with some enjoyable exercise, delicious food, laughs, and great conversation with new and old friends? Invite your neighbors, family, and friends – you don’t want to miss the 19th Annual Iron Joe Turkey Ride!

Naples Pathways Coalition is a 501C3 non-profit advocacy group dedicated to improving the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Event proceeds help support our mission, develop the Paradise Coast Trail, and fund our Hands-Free Florida campaign to end distracted driving. For more information, volunteer, or learn about sponsorship opportunities, please visit NaplesPathways.org and HandsFreeFlorida.org.

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