NAPLES, Fla. — A family in Naples is switching up their daily commute by switching out their car for a special bicycle designed to carry one passenger and kids.
The Strackbein family owns a "Fetch+ 4," a dutch-style electric bike built to accommodate a rider and cargo. The family says it is the first of its kind in the state and dubs it their "second car."
"I'm able to use it to take the kids to school if I need to, or to the store," says Mary Strackbein.
While the Strackbeins do have a car, they say the bike is increasingly becoming their go-to choice for shorter trips. With a pedal-assist feature, the electric bike can travel over 80 miles on a single charge.
"For shorter trips, typically within 5-10 miles, we're opting for the bike instead of the car," Strackbein told Fox 4.
However, Mary says there are specific areas in the city where she does not feel safe riding the bike. She explained the difficulties of driving such a big bike down pedestrian sidewalks.
"You'll be going down the sidewalk, and suddenly it ends abruptly, and there's not a sidewalk that connects you to the other side," she said. "So you have to take a detour to get to the other side."
These concerns are echoed by the Naples Pathways Coalition, a group actively working to establish safer biking communities within Naples. Michelle Avola-Brown, the executive director of the coalition, acknowledged while progress has been made, there's more that should be done.
"Our roads right now are just too dangerous. We really need multi-use pathways to keep people off the roads, and we need everyone to put away their phones and eliminate distractions," said Avola-Brown.
Avola-Brown says that her coalition is actively advocating for safer policies and has been leading the charge to make biking safer for people in southwest Florida.