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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Commentary: Life protection act strengthens hit-and-run penalties

 In response to the increasing number of hit-and-run crashes that have injured or killed pedestrians or cyclists and a recent letter to the editor suggesting that new law was giving drivers an incentive to flee the scene, Jay Anderson (Executive Director of Just Drive...Stay Alive!,  vice-chair of the Lee County Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST), and BikeWalkLee partner) penned the following commentary to set the record straight.  Thank you, Jay!  Darla

News-Press Commentary: 12/20/14 By Jay Anderson

Dr. V. E. Delnore’s comment in a recent mailbag letter; “as legislators increase the penalties for hit-and-run drivers, those drivers will have even more incentive to flee the scene,” has me scratching my head.

The Florida Legislature enacted the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, amended Florida State Statute 316.027 (named for Miami cyclist who was killed by a hit and run driver in 2012), which strengthens the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash.

The law clearly states:
The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in injury to a person other than serious bodily injury shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. A person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the third degree.

The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in serious bodily injury to a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. A person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the second degree.

The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and shall remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062. A person who is arrested for a violation of this paragraph and who has previously been convicted of a violation of this section, s. 316.061, s. 316.191, or s. 316.193, or a felony violation of s. 322.34, shall be held in custody until brought before the court for admittance to bail in accordance with chapter 903. A person who willfully violates this paragraph commits a felony of the first degree ... and shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years. A person who willfully commits such a violation while driving under the influence ... shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 4 years.

There are also several other penalties such as restitution and suspension of driver’s license for three years.

The following quotes from our law enforcement community attest to the importance of adding another tool to their tool box.

Springfield Police Chief Philip Thorne, president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association: “Florida’s police chiefs thank Governor Scott for signing this bill into law today. Florida will not tolerate those who leave the scene of a serious accident, and this law will give our law enforcement officers additional tools to combat this serious issue.”

Sheriff Grady Judd, President of the Florida Sheriffs Association: “The Florida Sheriffs Association supported SB 102; we do not want to encourage suspects to leave the scene of a crash because its penalty was greater than DUI Manslaughter. This law creates consistency among law violation penalties.”

Col. David Brierton, Director of the Florida Highway Patrol: “This law is intended to make people think twice before they leave the scene of a crash. By toughening penalties for hit and run drivers, Florida is sending a strong message to motorists to do the right thing and stay at a crash scene.”

Many motor vehicle operators overlook the fact we have traffic laws and view them as suggestions. That’s why driver’s speed, follow too closely and often drive distracted while blatantly disregarding the law. Same holds true for those who leave the scene of a crash. Law Enforcement Agencies and the State’s Attorney’s Office now have the ability to not only charge but convict those who violate this law.

Finally, in response to Dr. Delnore’s reference to calling for help (911), FSS 316.062 has always required a driver involved in a crash to render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.

Jay Anderson is the vice-chair of the Lee County Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST) and executive director of Stay Alive …. Just Drive! www.sajd.org.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

BWL Column: Run, ride or walk to find a great gift

Can you believe that Christmas is only 1 week away?  Still have some last minute shopping to do?  here are some good ideas for the cyclist, walker, or runner on your list.  Happy Holidays!

News-Press Go Coastal Section, Dec. 18, 2014

Have a cyclist or walker on your Christmas buying list? Stumped for ideas of things they might like? Let’s see if we can help, with an eye to different levels of talents and treasury.
Bicyclists:
Obviously, if they don’t ride at all but would like to, the best gift (if your budget allows) is a new bike to get them started. If you’re dealing with a lapsed cyclist — with a bike that hasn’t been touched in a while — why not get them a tune-up at a local bike shop to make their old ride good as new?
If they’re new to the road, get them a helmet to keep them safe. (Also works for current riders who like to live dangerously sans head protection.) For current (helmeted) bikers, if the expire-date sticker inside their helmet is illegible due to wear (or, worse, has disappeared altogether), that’s probably a sign a new helmet is overdue.
Bike gloves can help those who find gripping the handlebars tough on their hands, or those whose current gloves are literally hanging on by a thread. Wintertime riders might even appreciate full-finger gloves to keep their hands warmer on chilly mornings.
In the “more is better” school, if they ride at night (or plan to) cyclists can’t have enough lights — both head and tail — to let other riders, drivers and anyone else out there know they’re out for a ride. Lights that can attach to either the bike or helmet/body are particularly useful, as they can allow riders to double up for night-time safety.
If your gift recipient has any mechanical skills (or just needs to be ready to deal with mid-ride mishaps), all-in-one tools and the other necessities for on-the-road repairs are essential … as are the bike bags to carry them. Check out your local bike outlet for an array of options, along with the advice necessary to put them to use. Another though is a good air pump (with gauge) to keep tires properly inflated … the simplest way to avoid flats.
Attire for the ride is always welcomed, whatever way they prefer to dress. A new bike jersey or shorts may be in order, or perhaps a jacket to keep them dry (or warm) or a high-visibility vest to make them easier to see. Same thing for reflective straps that improve visibility and can keep loose clothing from getting caught on something vital.
Speaking of keeping things dry, most riders won’t leave home without their phones. Since our weather can be unpredictable — even in the winter — a dry bag for their phone is a smart gift … and can offer the phone a little padding as well, should things get a little impactful out there.
Walkers, runners:
 If they’re not walking/running but would like to, the best gift you might be able to give is to join them so they can get started to make it a habit. People have a better chance of sticking with a new routine if there’s someone to do it with — both as incentive and to help make the time pass faster.
Of course, aside from company the most crucial thing for walking or running is the right footwear. Each activity has a range of options when it comes to defeating foot pain, so talking it over with someone who knows feet (or shoes) might be wise. Also wise is replacing worn-out shoes before they hamper your scamper.
 For many, walking or running is time to listen to music. Those folks might appreciate new earbuds (unless your budget and their ears can handle headphones … that still allow them to hear surrounding noises, of course). In the same vein, new music is also a lift for walkers and runners, so gift cards for i-Tunes, Amazon or other music suppliers will be welcomed by them.
One of the reasons to walk or run is to improve your health through movement — so an activity tracker will help them monitor their steps and energy usage — not just during their walk/run, but all day (and night) long. Prices have been coming down while features have been on the rise, so check your options online or in stores to see which might work best for them. (Don’t know for sure? Then a gift card will let them make their own decision.)
Lights are prudent for walkers and runners, too — especially if they tend to go out early morning or at/after dusk. There are a number of clip-on blinking lights available which, in combination with a good flashlight, enables walkers and runners to see and been seen.
Attire also matters here, both for comfort and visibility. Either see if something they currently wear needs to be replaced, or if there’s something new you think they might enjoy on their walk or run. (Again, gift cards let them make their own choices if you can’t figure it out.)
Florida is all about the sun — so walkers and runners need to be all about staying shaded and cool. Hats help with the former, while sweatbands and visors can staunch the latter. Materials and design can range from low- to high-tech, and there’s style and comfort as well.
These are just a few ideas to get you started... stop by your local bike or sporting goods store for many more options. (Ride your bike or walk there, and a real gift inspiration might strike along the way!)
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.
Upcoming events
Running/walking:
Sunday: Knights of Charity 10K (3dracinginc.com), in the Three Oaks neighborhood. Registration 6:30 a.m., race begins 7:30 a.m.
Jan. 10: Seahawk Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral. Registration 7 a.m., race 8 a.m.
Jan. 11: 12th annual River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva. Half marathon and relay 8 a.m., 5K fun run 8:15 a.m. (www.rrrtrail.com)
Jan. 17: Tour De Cape 5K Run/walk, is designed for advanced and novice runners. Check in begins at 6:30 a.m. Race time is 8 a.m. Starts at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (tourdecape.net)
Jan. 24: Cypress Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Lakes Regional Park inFort Myers. Registration 7:30 a.m., race 8:30 a.m. (3dracinginc.com),
Cycling, other:
Jan.18: Tour De Cape. Routes from 15, 30, 60, and 100 mile courses in the west and north sections of Cape Coral. The event provides a continental breakfast, lunch, on route rest stations with snacks and beverages, SAG vehicles, Police support, and route maps. All rides start from Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (http://tourdecape.net)
Triathlons:
Sunday: Christmas Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (www.active.com)
Jan. 10-11: HITS Triathlon Series, Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. Open, sprint Olympic half and full. (www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com)

TELL US
Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at info@bikewalklee.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BWL's Ann Pierce receives Lee County Injury Prevention Volunteer of the Year Award

Kudos to Ann Pierce on her much deserved award!  Thanks to the Injury Prevention Coalition for recognizing those in our community that have worked tirelessly to make it a safer community.



At the Injury Prevention Coalition award event on Dec. 16th, BikeWalkLee's Ann Pierce was named the 2014 Lee County Injury Prevention Citizen Volunteer of the Year.  IPC's program had the following citation for Ann's award:
Ann Pierce presented with award by ICP's Chair Syndi Bultman

Ann Pierce has been one of the driving forces behind BikeWalkLee since its inception in 2008. Ann's research on everything from Complete Streets to cyclovias has resulted in both becoming realities here in Southwest Florida. The expertise she's gained from book and internet research is greatly enhanced by her relentless first-person interviews and visits to locations that have implemented many of the concepts BikeWalkLee is working towards. Serving on various boards and committees over the years - a thankless task - confirms Ann's commitment to the cause.

Ann also works exhaustively on the local level, seeking to improve quality of life and safety in her own back yard (i.e the City of Fort Myers), an undertaking that is often times more time consuming and frustrating than her big-pictures efforts.

For all her hard work and the expertise she provides to our community and its governments - all at no charge - Ann Pierce's IPC's Citizen Volunteer of the Year award is long overdue.
Ann's BWL teammates, Darla and Dan


IPC also honored others in the community that have contributed to the IPC mission of fostering a safe community to live, play, and work.  Two of the award winners have made important contributions to bike/ped safety issues and complete streets.  First, Waterman Broadcasting was named the Media Partner of the Year, citing their coverage of bike/ped crashes and for advising the community about how to prevent injuries resulting from distracted driving, unsafe bicycling and walking practices, incomplete streets and sidewalks, among other things.

Bob from Waterman Media accepting Media Partner of Year

 Second, Dr. Judith Hartner received the IPC Lifetime Achievement Award for her 20-years of effort as the Department of Health Director and founder of the Injury Prevention Coalition.  She has been a long-time advocate for bike/ped safety and a champion for complete streets.
Dr. Hartner with two previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners

Lee Co. Sheriff's Youth Activities League Partner of Year


Report and photos by Darla Letourneau

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dec. 15th: Upcoming running/biking/tri events

It's Monday morning again and time to sign-up for one of the many upcoming events....have you signed up yet for the Jan. 17-18th Tour de Cape (both running and biking events!)?

Upcoming events
Running/walking:
2014 Tour de Cape

 Sunday, Dec. 20: Knights of Charity 10K (3dracinginc.com), in the Three Oaks neighborhood. Registration 6:30 a.m., race begins 7:30 a.m. 

Saturday, Jan. 10: Seahawk Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral. Registration 7 a.m., race 8 a.m.
 
·         Sunday, Jan. 11: 12th annual River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva. Half marathon and relay 8 a.m., 5K fun run 8:15 a.m. (www.rrrtrail.com)

·         Saturday, Jan. 17: Tour De Cape 5K Run/walk, is designed for advanced and novice runners. Check in begins at 6:30 a.m. Race time is 8 a.m. Starts at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (tourdecape.net)

·         Saturday, Jan. 24: Cypress Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers. Registration 7:30 a.m., race 8:30 a.m. (3dracinginc.com).
Riders from across Florida were at 2014 Everybody Rides!

Cycling and other events:

·         Sunday, Jan. 18: Tour De Cape. Routes from 15, 30, 60, and 100 mile courses in the west and north sections of Cape Coral. The event provides a continental breakfast, lunch, on route rest stations with snacks and beverages, SAG vehicles, Police support, and route maps. All rides start from Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (http://tourdecape.net).

Triathlons:
·         Sunday, Dec. 21: Christmas Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (www.active.com)

·         Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 10-11: HITS Triathlon Series, Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. Open, sprint Olympic half and full. (www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com)

League of American Bicyclists visiting Lee County in January to provide assistance as part of Bicycle Friendly Community program

Lee County continues in the national spotlight, with LAB official coming to Lee County communities next month to bring bicycle-friendly expertise directly to the local level. Kudos to Trek for providing funds for this important LAB national initiative.


BikeWalkLee is excited that Lee County has been selected as one of the 100 communities that the League of American Bicyclists will be visiting in 2015, as part of its new initiative to bring bicycle-friendly expertise directly to the local level, thanks to the support of Trek and Trek dealers.  Click here for the LAB letter about their upcoming visit to southern Florida.

The goal of the visit is to help Lee County (and cities within Lee County) become more bicycle friendly and ultimately become recognized as a "Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC)."  Steve Clark, the League's new Bicycle Friendly Community Specialist, hired in 2013 for this initiative, has been a long-time bicycle advocate, a League Certified Instructor and trainer of instructors, and was the bicycle coordinator in Boulder, CO for many years--one of the most bicycle-friendly communities in the country. To read more about Steve, check out LAB's article.


Steve Clark will be coming to Lee County for a full week, from Jan. 12-17, and is the process of setting up a series of visits to be hosted by city/county staff.  The basic format for these visits is for Steve to request each city/county jurisdiction he's visiting to invite the participants (approximately 12 people--mix of citizens, staff and policy makers) for a half-day event that includes a short (5-7 mile) bike ride for the participants and a debriefing session.  While Steve's itinerary is still being worked out, he plans to set up these visits with a Lee MPO team, Sanibel (Lee County's only BFC), Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and possibly Bonita Springs and Estero.

Steve Clark
Steve is in touch with BikeWalkLee about his visit and we'll keep you informed as his plans are firmed up.  This is an exciting opportunity for Lee County (and its cities) to get some hands-on technical assessment of its bicycling infrastructure and to learn about best practices from other communities, with the goal of making Lee County more bicycle friendly.

Report by Darla Letourneau

Cape Coral to Pine Island shared use path project feasibility study funded by FDOT

Every year in June the MPO submits its transportation projects funding request to FDOT for consideration as part of the update of their 5-year workplan.  Then in December of every year FDOT decides what of the request will be funded, adding the new 5th year projects.  This year's FDOT workplan was pretty disappointing for Lee County overall (more on that in a later post); however, there was one definite bright spot--approval of the feasibility study for a shared use path to connect Cape Coral and Pine Island.

Last spring LeeDOT submitted an application to the Lee MPO for a feasibility study for a shared use path connecting Pine Island to Cape Coral.  This project was one of two regional projects approved jointly by the Lee and Collier County MPOs to compete for funding from an FDOT District-wide fund called "Transportation Enhancement Projects".  On June 20th, the Lee MPO Board recommended funding of this project as part of its request to FDOT. FDOT has now released its workplan decisions, and they approved the Lee MPO request. This means that FDOT's 5-year funding plan for Lee County has programmed $1.1 million for the study in FY 2019-20. [Note: While this is good news, we were disappointed to learn that rather than additional funds from a district-wide "pot", the funds came out of the amount of funds already set-aside for Lee MPO bike/ped projects.]
It's important to keep in mind that this is the very first step in a long process--the study itself doesn't start for 5 years, but that's just how long the planning horizon is for transportation projects. The feasibility study will determine what type of facility should be used (multi-path, etc.) and will deal with challenges such as right-of-way issues and wetland mitigation.  Public meetings will be held during this study process to hear from affected communities.  Once the study is completed, hopefully in 2020-21, then there's design and construction work to be planned and funded.
 There was strong community support for this project from Pine Island, Matlacha, and Cape Coral residents, as well as BikeWalkLee and the Cape Coral Bike-Ped group. The application was also supported by both the County's bike/ped advisory committee (BPAC) and the MPO's bike/ped committee (BPCC).  Take the time to thank the Lee MPO Board and FDOT for approving this project, and LeeDOT staff (Andy Getch) for submitting the grant application and BPAC and BPCC members for endorsing the application.  Citizens also have an opportunity to speak at the Dec. 19th MPO Board meeting (9 a.m. in Cape Coral City Council Chambers) when the Board will hear a presentation of the overall workplan by FDOT and will vote on adoption of the FDOT 5-year workplan.

Below are links to two BikeWalkLee blog stories from June on this issue.