Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moser Column: Wayfinding is a vital component of our bike/pedestrian network

Dan's column reminds us of why wayfinding (signs and maps) is important to a successful bike/ped network, helpful to new residents and visitors, and a basic requirement for becoming a bicycle-friendly community (BFC).  Cape Coral and Sanibel (our two BFCs) are leading the way...now we need the other communities in Lee County to step up to the plate, esp. given the federal TIGER grant that was based on connecting our existing loops.

Florida Weekly, Outdoors Section, 2/10/16 

Cape Coral is sometimes known as a “can’t get there from here” place for many, including bicyclists, runners and walkers who are unfamiliar with the city’s extensive canal network. Even though there exists quite an extensive array of pathways, bike lanes and lightly trafficked neighborhood roads that allow cyclists and pedestrians safe passage around much of the city, until recently getting from here to there was often frustrating because of dead-ends created by canals that also serve as effective barriers by default. But thanks to ambitious community volunteers, cooperative city staff and elected officials, and astute business people who seized an opportunity, more than 90 miles of non-motorized routes were signed and marked to make it possible to know where one was and where one was heading.
As motorists we expect — and almost always get — adequate informational and directional markings and signage. In fact, it’s one of the basics of transportation planning and traffic management. So why is that generally not the case for us when we’re non-motorists, at least here in Southwest Florida? Cape Coral and Sanibel are proud exceptions to this problem. Why is it that when we’re on bike and foot we’re expected to speculate on our whereabouts and how to get where we’re going, having to use signs meant for motorists — which frequently don’t provide enough useful/visible information — to find our way? From my perspective, the answer is clearly a matter of priorities among transportation decision makers who are either unconcerned with anything except moving cars or are ignorant of the need. In this day and age it’s hard to believe anyone who’s in such a position could be ignorant of the need.

Signs like this are very helpful, especially for visitors and new residents.
Signs like this are very helpful, especially for visitors and new residents.
At any time the powers-that-be can put forth the resources to do what Cape Coral, Sanibel and many other communities throughout Florida and the U.S. have done by finally adding wayfinding — easy-to-read signs — to our growing bike/ped network. For one thing, it’s a basic requirement for becoming a bike-friendly community, if that even matters to those who can make a difference. 
Wayfinding is also critical for visitors and new or part-time residents, so it makes sense from a tourism and economic development perspective to help folks get to their destinations. And having the confidence to make a trip by bike or foot safely and efficiently will get cars off the road, which equates to reducing the need to continually spend a staggering amount of tax dollars on road capacity projects, something we continue to do in our unattainable attempt to build our way out of congestion.
A partial wayfinding attempt was made a few years ago when two popular bike routes were designated as such and then heavily promoted. Signs were placed on the 20-plus-miles mile Tour de Park route and less extensive University Loop. Unfortunately the work was left incomplete and didn’t include any other part of our network. But because of requirements written into the significant TIGER grant we were recently awarded, that job could and should be completed and eventually expanded to include our entire network. Of course, getting it done is predicated upon cooperation from each of the various jurisdictions, from Lee County to FDOT to our municipalities. 
At least one is questioning the value of providing this very basic and necessary service for its many residents and visitors, even though the cost of doing so would be a drop in the bucket when compared to what is routinely spent on other transportation projects. Ask your elected representatives and transportation officials what their positions are on this matter — you may be surprised about what you learn. In the meantime, efforts to make this happen will continue in the hope that those objecting will see the light or can be worked around. To learn more and stay abreast of progress and continued resistance, visit BikeWalkLee’s blog at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
Upcoming events
Running/walking:
>> Rotary’s Run for the Rose Garden 5K, Saturday, Feb. 13, Rotary Park, Cape Coral, 3dracinginc.com
>> Edsion Fest 5K, Saturday, Feb. 20, downtown Fort Myers, ftmyerstrackclub.com
>> Hooters Half-Marathon, Sunday, March 6, Fort Myers, hootershalfmarathon.com
Cycling and other events:
>> SWFL Critical Mass, Friday, March 4, downtown Fort Myers, meetup.com/Biking-SWFL
>> Ride for Fallen Heroes, Sunday, March 6, Estero Trek, brotherhoodride.com
>> 18th annual Royal Palm Classic, Sunday, March 13, Fort Myers Brewery, Gateway, caloosariders.org
Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at bikepedmoser@gmail.com or 334- 6417.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Feb. 8th: Upcoming running/walking/biking events

Are you planning to ride in the Edison Festival of Light on 2/20 with SWFL Critical Mass?  Should be fun!


Upcoming events
Running/walking:
Join SWFL Critical Mass in the 1/20 Edison Parade


·       Saturday, Feb. 13: Rotary’s Run for the Rose Garden 5K. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Rotary Park, Cape Coral. (3dracinginc.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 13: Gold Medal 5K. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Artis Naples, to benefit Gulf Coast Runners Youth Development Fund. (gcrunner.org)
·        Sunday, Feb. 14: Paradise Coast Marathon, Half and 5K. Starts and ends at Florida Sports Park, Naples. (www.naplesmarathon.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 20: Edison Festival of Light 5K, downtown Fort Myers. Starts at 5:45 p.m. with thousands of spectators to cheer you on. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 27: Swamp Stomp 5K, to benefit the Caloosa Humane Society. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Grandeur Oaks Town Center, LaBelle. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
·        Saturday, Feb 27: TALC Scholarship Fund Run 5K. Benefits go to scholarships to local high school seniors. Rotary Park, Cape Coral. (3dracinginc.com)
·        Sunday, Feb. 28: Naples Coconut 5K. Benefits a number of youth groups. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Lowdermilk Park, Naples. (gcrunner.org)
·        Sunday, March 6: Hooters Half Marathon and 2-Person Relay. Starts and finishes at Hooters in Fort Myers. Benefits Barbara’s Friend and Moffitt Cancer Center. 7 a.m. start. (www.hootershalfmarathon.com)
·        Thursday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day 5K Fun Run. Starts at 6:15 p.m. from Rip Tide Brewing Company in Naples (gcrunner.org)
·        Saturday, March 19: Pelican Pride 5K Run/Walk. Supports Pelican Elementary (which is also where it starts and finishes) 7:30 start. (3dracinginc.com)
·        Saturday, March 26: Eggs and Ears 5K and Fun Run. Starts at 8 a.m. at Lakes Park, Fort Myers. (3dracinginc.com)

Cycling:
·        
A Fort Myers Critical Mass Friday evening ride
·        Friday, Feb. 26: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather beginning at 6:45 p.m. for a 7:15 roll-out for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended.
·        Saturday, Feb. 28: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
·        Sunday, March 13: 18th annual Royal Palm Classic. Join the Caloosa Riders for an early Saint Patrick’s Day riding of the green! Starting from Fort Myers Brewing Company, 12811 Commerce Lakes Drive, Fort Myers, at 8 a.m. Ride distances of 15, 40, 62 and 80 miles. Full rest stops and SAG support included. (www.caloosariders.org)
·        Sunday, March 13: Annual Everglades Ride: 16 or 62 miles if you stay on the pavement, 27 miles if you don’t (options to adjust distance with all choices).Started from McLeod Park in Everglades City, benefits Friends of River of Grass Greenway and Friends of Fakahatchee. (http://www.caamevents.com/event/everglades-ride/).
·        Saturday, April 2: Pedal and Play in Paradise, offering ride distances of 62, 30, 15 and a mystery ride (all supported), plus free events Friday afternoon if yu register for the Saturday ridge. It al starts in historic Punta Gorda. (http://pedalandplayinparadise.com)

Triathlons:
·        None scheduled locally, check trifind.com or active.com for events statewide.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

BWL Column: SWFL Community Foundation is Complete Streets Champion

BikeWalkLee presented the Southwest Florida Community Foundation with its annual Complete Streets Champion of the Year award.  Congratulations to the Foundation team for bringing a new voice to the complete streets/ sustainable communities conversation and broadening the dialogue in a way that no government entity or other stakeholder can do on its own. Our column also addresses the question of where to ride--on the road or on sidewalks/paths--which responds to some recent letters to the editor and conversations around town.


News-Press "Go Coastal" section, Feb. 4, 2016
 http://www.news-press.com/story/life/outdoors/2016/02/03/southwest-florida-community-foundation-complete-streets-champion-bikewalklee-owen/79712286/

It’s easy to overlook the people who bring these issues to the forefront (and keep them there). This year, when pondering who to honor with its annual Complete Streets Champion award, BikeWalkLee wanted to rectify that – and recognize that as much work (sometimes more) to complete our streets is being done outside of government than within it.

Thus, BikeWalkLee’s 2015 Complete Streets Champion is the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which has been serving the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, and Collier counties since 1976 by bringing together both funds and people to take on local problems and finding local solutions.

For example, when county officials decided to put the award-wining community sustainability plan on the shelf, the foundation stepped in to pull it back into action, hired the person who had spearheaded the county formulation of the plan, Tessa LeSage, and moved forward on expanding this plan into the community through the things the foundation does best: funding, focusing and facilitating.

"To take the complete streets vision to the next level, the foundation brings a new voice to the conversation and broadens the dialogue in a way that no government entity or other stakeholder can do on its own,” said BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau. “The foundation is rallying the community around this important cause, demonstrating that complete streets are a tool for making our communities more complete, more livable and more walkable – in short, making our community a place where people want to be.”


BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau, left, presents the 2015 Complete Streets Champion award to Tessa LeSage with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. (Photo: Special to the news-press)
This move fits right in with the evolution of the foundation under CEO Sarah Owen, moving it beyond the role of grant-giver and into the position of big-picture thinker and conversation starter – not just on complete streets, but on a host of issues that impact Southwest Florida now and into the future. That’s a role few (if any) other entities have stepped to play regionally… and certainly worthy of an award.

Ken Gooderham compiles this for BikeWalkLee, 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.

Where to ride?
At times we hear from people who ask why bicyclists are riding in the roadway when there are perfectly good sidewalks right there.

The short answer: Bikes are vehicles that can be and have a right to be in the road. Sidewalks are for pedestrians first and foremost.

The less-short answer: Many of our local sidewalks are barely acceptable for walking, let alone riding a bike. (Think obstacles, uneven surfaces, terrible sight lines, narrow widths and more.) For bicyclists with the skills and confidence, sharing the road with the motorized vehicles can end up being the safer solution – especially if there’s a wide shoulder or bike lane there.

Wherever they plan to pedal, cyclists must remember to abide by the rules of that road. If they ride on a sidewalk, they have to act like pedestrians – except to give actual pedestrians the right of way. If they ride on the road, they should act like the other vehicles… which also means giving walkers the right of way as well as going with traffic (not against it), stopping and signaling as appropriate and all the rest.

Ready to ride or run?
Run: One 5K this weekend (Strides for Education at Florida Southwest College – and stay for the farmers market held there every Saturday), two more on Feb. 13 and a trifecta – marathon, half marathon and 5K – on Valentine’s Day in Naples… think of all the chocolate you can eat after that!
Ride: February is bookended with Critical Mass rides, with the Fort Myers ride Friday night, the Cape Coral ride the night of Feb. 26, and the starter ride the morning after that in Fort Myers. Mark your calendars: The Royal Palm Classic ride is Sunday, March 13. Join the Caloosa Riders for what is always a fun event, whatever the distance you choose.

#BeSeenLee: To keep people safe at night while biking, we’re working to provide free bike lights to those unable to afford them (but who have to ride at night). BikeWalkLee partners (including Pawnbroker Marketing and Billy's Bikes) will be coordinating events during this campaign. Be sure to watch the BikeWalklee Facebook and Twitter pages for more #BeSeenLee event announcements and details.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

FGCU Infrastructure Study of Estero lays foundation for creation of walkable/bikeable community


An important first step was taken by the Village of Estero towards the goal of making it a walkable/bikeable community, with the recently completed FGCU Infrastructure Inventory. Kudos to the FGCU team of professors and students, and thanks to BWL's Estero representative for reporting on the progress in Estero. As Doug says, more Estero residents need to speak up in support of a walkable and bikeable future: "We need you to get involved and lend your voice, your energy, your passion, and your connections." To get involved in the next steps, there will be public workshops in the Spring about the recommendations in this report. We'll let you know as soon as those workshops are scheduled. 

The Village of Estero is barely a year old and there are some exciting things happening, especially if you are a bicyclist or a pedestrian. You may have heard last October, the Village Council signed an agreement with FGCU to perform an assessment of the condition of our roads, bike lanes, sidewalks and median landscaping by the end of January 2016. FGCU presented their findings to the Village Council at a Workshop on January 20th and proceeded to knock it out of the park. 

Link to Report
The FGCU team was led by faculty member Dr. Margaret Banyan (who focuses on smart growth, public transportation, and community issues in Southwest Florida) and Dr. Claude Villiers (who has an extensive background in civil engineering, materials and construction). They were joined by a team of seven civil engineering, public administration, and political science students. The Team logged many miles around Estero working on this project.
FGCU Team Leaders: Dr. Villiers and Dr. Banyan
 
At the January 20th presentation, Dr. V (as he is called), went into a detail analysis on how each of the road’s conditions were analyzed. He went on to state that the roads in Estero are in pretty good condition with only 12% requiring immediate attention. One of those roads is Estero Parkway. The report stated that there was “severe raveling throughout the entire road.” It also noted that, the “pavement appears to be very thin and is not flush with curbing (~1 inch)…and that immediate attention is recommended.” The Team provided pictures and took videos to demonstrate the conditions.
Estero Parkway has severe raveling
     
Next up was the review of our bike lanes and sidewalks or lack thereof. Dr. Banyan led that discussion. Again, no surprise that Estero Parkway is lacking in biking and walking facilities. The recommendation is “new 10’ Shared Use Path – Asphalt and Buffered and Marked Bike Lanes” on both sides would improve connectivity, usage, safety and access. Another area of concern in Estero is River Ranch Road which requires new sidewalks to repair gaps to protect those that walk to and from the high school. These findings are certainly no surprise to anyone that drives, bikes or walks in Estero.

The final report included a “heat map” using data provided by Walk Score. This data highlighted the areas that have the closest proximity of amenities in the Village. These maps are a good tool to measure the Estero baseline of walkability and to help to prioritize infrastructure improvements. 

Sidewalk "heat map" shows highest Walk Score at Coconut Pointe
 Estero has a lot of work to do. Thankfully, the Village Council had the vision to reach out to FGCU to perform this assessment. Based on discussion at the meeting between the Council, Dr. Banyan, and Dr. Villiers, it sounds as if the Village Council is very pleased with the results.

As stated in the News-Press article Three Worst Estero Roads" Identified published on January 23rd, Councilman Jim Boesch called the involvement of the university terrific,” and expressed hope that FCGU will remain involved with the Village in the future. The article went on to say "It provides a baseline assessment of our infrastructure of roads and sidewalks and landscaping throughout the entire village,” said Village Manager Steven Sarkozy. The Village and Lee County are due to negotiate an agreement to settle what roads will remain with county government and which will become property of Estero. It does add to the understanding of what the conditions are, it will influence whether we take property back that is not well-maintained,” Sarkozy said. For Sarkozy, the question is one for Estero’s elected officials. The village council will ultimately decide,” Sarkozy said. To read the entire article, click here.
Bike "heat map" shows need for additional biking facilities
The next steps
The Village Council has estimated that they will have a surplus of approximately $5M at the end September (FY 15/16). In addition to putting some money in Reserves, the Council has always had a vision to develop a 5 year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to put some money back into Estero on things that the community is interested in. Now that we know what needs to be corrected and in what timeframe, it will be up to the Village of Estero Council and the County BoCC to work together and agree on a solution. 


Also, I am hopeful that money will be put in next year’s budget to hire a consultant to help create the Village’s first Bike/Ped Master Plan. Our neighbors Bonita Springs and Cape Coral are each presently working on their Bike/Ped Master Plans with the help of consultants.  



How you can help? To make Estero a safer and more inviting village, we need many more Estero residents to speak up for a walkable and bikeable future. The Village Center is in the process of being planned. We need you to get involved and lend your voice, your energy, your passion, and your connections. The residents of Estero will have an opportunity to have their voices heard at public workshops later this Spring to help determine what is in the 5 year CIP. Stay tuned for dates and times. Until that time, I hope you will all join me and let the Village Council know that keeping bicyclists and pedestrians safe is a priority.



Just as everyone enjoys the vision that our leaders had and continue to support regarding the “look and feel” of Estero, I too, have a vision that the Village of Estero will be leaders in Lee County for safe multi-modal transportation. I am hopeful that one day the Village of Estero will be named a Bicycle Friendly Community, just like Sanibel and Cape Coral. Too often in Estero, we are all competing for the same space on our roads. Bicyclists and pedestrians are on the road with motor vehicles due to a lack of bike lanes and shared use paths. When you walk out the door, you should be able to make a choice as to your mode of transportation. Am I going to drive, bike or walk to my destination? When each of these modes of transportation has its own space, we are all safer. This is our chance to shape the future of the Village of Estero. I am excited, are you?
Doug Saxton
Many thanks to Dr. Banyan, Dr. V and the FGCU team for an eye-opening report. It’s time for visions to become reality.

Report by Doug Saxton, Estero Resident and BikeWalkLee Estero Representative

Links:
Village of Estero post 2/1/16:  FGCU submits final report of infrastructure inventory


FGCU Study: Estero Infrastructure Inventory (prepared for Village of Estero), Jan. 29, 2016

FGCU PowerPoint presentation on Inventory study to Estero Village Council, Jan. 20, 2016

NBC-2 News 1/28/16: Potholes, cracks in Estero roads need 'immediate attention'

News-Press 1/23/16: Three worst Estero roads identified

BikeWalkLee  related blog posts:
Jan. 6, 2016:Invite to Jan. 12th Estero Village Center workshop

July 13, 2015: Estero citizens press for bike/ped facilities on Estero Parkway 
 
February 7, 2012: Estero: Roadside revisions begin

March 8, 2011:Commissioners back Downtown Estero--mixed use project

February 16, 2012:NBC-2 News: STEM students contribute to street safety [Estero H.S.]

March 20, 2014: ULI Forum, All Eyes on Estero, at FGCU last week points to ways to make Estero walkable/healthy community

December 21, 2010:Estero planning groups' priorities include safer bike paths

November 17, 2010: Estero river district plan includes complete streets features 





Feb. 1st: Upcoming walking/running and biking events

The weather is going supposed to be nicer next weekend, so plan to participate in a group run or ride...it's fun!And don't forget to sign up for the great Royal Palm Classic ride on March 13th.


Upcoming events
Running/walking:
News-Press: 2015 Edison Festival of Lights 5K

·        Saturday, Feb. 6: 5th annual Strides for Education 5K, to benefit Take Stock in Children. 7 a.m. at Florida Southwest State College in Fort Myers (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 13: Rotary’s Run for the Rose Garden 5K. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Rotary Park, Cape Coral. (3dracinginc.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 13: Gold Medal 5K. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Artis Naples, to benefit Gulf Coast Runners Youth Development Fund. (gcrunner.org)
·        Sunday, Feb. 14: Paradise Coast Marathon, Half and 5K. Starts and ends at Florida Sports Park, Naples. (www.naplesmarathon.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 20: Edison Festival of Light 5K, downtown Fort Myers. Starts at 5:45 p.m. with thousands of spectators to cheer you on. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
·        Saturday, Feb. 27: Swamp Stomp 5K, to benefit the Caloosa Humane Society. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Grandeur Oaks Town Center, LaBelle. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
·        Saturday, Feb 27: TALC Scholarship Fund Run 5K. Benefits go to scholarships to local high school seniors. Rotary Park, Cape Coral. (3dracinginc.com)
·        Sunday, Feb. 28: Naples Coconut 5K. Benefits a number of youth groups. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Lowdermilk Park, Naples. (gcrunner.org)
·        Sunday, March 6: Hooters Half Marathon and 2-Person Relay. Starts and finishes at Hooters in Fort Myers. Benefits Barbara’s Friend and Moffitt Cancer Center. 7 a.m. start. (www.hootershalfmarathon.com)
·        Thursday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day 5K Fun Run. Starts at 6:15 p.m. from Rip Tide Brewing Company in Naples (gcrunner.org)
·        Saturday, March 19: Pelican Pride 5K Run/Walk. Supports Pelican Elementary (which is also where it starts and finishes) 7:30 start. (3dracinginc.com)
·        Saturday, March 26: Eggs and Ears 5K and Fun Run. Starts at 8 a.m. at Lakes Park, Fort Myers. (3dracinginc.com)

Cycling:
·        Friday, Feb. 5: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. Greet the New Year and join a family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix (beginning at 6:45 p.m. for a 7:15 p.m. roll-out) at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (twitter.com/swflcm)
A Fort Myers Critical Mass Friday evening ride
·        Friday, Feb. 26: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather beginning at 6:45 p.m. for a 7:15 roll-out for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended.
·        Saturday, Feb. 28: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
·        Sunday, March 13: 18th annual Royal Palm Classic. Join the Caloosa Riders for an early Saint Patrick’s Day riding of the green! Starting from Fort Myers Brewing Company, 12811 Commerce Lakes Drive, Fort Myers, at 8 a.m. Ride distances of 15, 40, 62 and 80 miles. Full rest stops and SAG support included. (www.caloosariders.org)
·        Sunday, March 13: Annual Everglades Ride: 16 or 62 miles if you stay on the pavement, 27 miles if you don’t (options to adjust distance with all choices).Started from McLeod Park in Everglades City, benefits Friends of River of Grass Greenway and Friends of Fakahatchee. (http://www.caamevents.com/event/everglades-ride/).
·        Saturday, April 2: Pedal and Play in Paradise, offering ride distances of 62, 30, 15 and a mystery ride (all supported), plus free events Friday afternoon if yu register for the Saturday ridge. It al starts in historic Punta Gorda. (http://pedalandplayinparadise.com)

Triathlons:
·        None scheduled locally, check trifind.com or active.com for events statewide.