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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Call for stories for BikeWalkLee's bi-weekly column in News-Press "Go Coastal" section.

Here's an opportunity for you to share your stories of biking and walking in Lee County for use in BWL's bi-weekly News-Press column.

In November 2012, at the invitation of News-Press when it launched its new "Go Coastal" section, BikeWalkLee began a biweekly series of columns focused on getting outdoors in SWFL.  The emphasis of this section is on encouraging readers to get outdoors and giving them some ideas of places to go and things to do.  However, we also use this column to educate the community about the concept of complete streets, bike/ped safety and BikeWalkLee's mission.  Our columns cover events and opportunities to make our area a better place to walk, run, bike and try transit; share tips for safer walking and biking; explain why street design matters for use and safety; discuss how local, regional, state and federal policies impact what our streets look like now and into the future; and much more. 

Go to our blog to see all the columns we've written over the past two years.  

Call for Stories
In our April 17th column, we included a request:

Tell Us About Your Ride: 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.

The idea is to provide some interesting information to our readers but to also inspire and motivate them...to show them they also can do whatever you're doing.  We also want to inspire them to get involved in advocating for biking/walking facilities (note the column about the Pioneer Trail/Boca Grande ride...focused on the grassroots advocates that made those trails happen). Show what else you combine with the ride or walk...how you plan your route and what delightful connections to the community and your neighbors you experience along the way. 

Your story should be about 500 words and include 2-3 photos (which could include a map). Your input will be turned into a BikeWalkLee column by our column/writer, Ken Gooderham, so don't worry about submitting "final copy".

If you're interested in submitting a story, please email us with your idea and estimated submission date by May 2nd. (info@bikewalklee.org).  Thanks!!

Report by Darla Letourneau

Monday, April 21, 2014

BikeWalkLee urges local elected officials to provide collaborative leadership on bike/ped safety at April 18th MPO Board meeting

At the April 18th MPO Board meeting there were updates and a discussion about implementation of the bike/ped safety action plan.
One of the standing agenda items on the monthly Lee MPO Board meetings is an update on implementation of both the TIGER grant and the Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (BPSAP).

At the 4/18 MPO Board meeting, the MPO Director, Don Scott provided the monthly status report to the Board on implementation both of these items.  Scott provided the timeline for the two TIGER RFPs (see blog post: March 28,2014 TIGER grant implementation moves forward: First of two RFPs issued by Lee MPO.  He also discussed the performance measures that will be used for measuring the success of this project.  Mayor Ruane asked the staff to provide a timeline and milestones for all the tasks in TIGER implementation, with identification of where policy decisions may be needed by the Board.

With respect to implementation of the BPSAP, Scott reported on the trends in bike and pedestrian fatalities and injuries, presenting the following graphs with data through March 31, 2014:

Scott also reported that the bike/ped "Road Safety Audits" called for in the BPSAP on four high crash corridors are now getting underway by FDOT and their team.  The corridors targeted are: Six Mile Cypress and Colonial Blvd; US 41 and Six Mile Cypress; SR 80 and Marsh Ave; and SR 78 and Santa Barbara Blvd.

BikeWalkLee Comments and Board Discussion
BikeWalkLee's representative Darla Letourneau spoke on the safety issue after Scott's presentation, urging the elected officials to make bike/ped safety a higher priority and provide collaborative leadership. The value of our local jurisdictions working together was recently demonstrated in the team of five mayors who provided collaborative leadership on water quality issues, and Letourneau urged the mayors to use this same kind of approach for bike/ped safety.  Letourneau commented that as she was researching best practices around the country over the past week in anticipation of  the first meeting of BPCC's safety working group, she was struck by two common elements of successful communities:  how involved the elected officials were in the bike/ped safety campaign; and the importance of having a broad coalition of stakeholders at the table in the campaign.

Letourneau outlined some of the actions that BikeWalkLee is taking to educate the community through our communication channels, including using our  biweekly column in News-Press in "Go Coastal" section.  Several recent columns have focused on what walkers and cyclists can do to be safer road users.  Dan Moser's biweekly column in Florida Weekly Outdoors section also hammers on safety issues. FDOT District 1 has also made bike/ped safety a top priority and is offering assistance as well as grant resources.

Letourneau closed her comments by saying that this isn't just about bike/ped safety--it's about the safety of all road users and Lee County's track record on traffic safety is abysmal.  Addressing the most dangerous behavioral problems by drivers-- distracted driving, DUIs, speeding, road rage, hit and run crashes--will save the lives of other motorists, not just pedestrians and cyclists.  

MPO Board members expressed interest in knowing how our bike/ped injuries and fatalities compare with usage, with Scott responding that the rates we use are based on population since we don't have usage numbers.  Other members were interested in getting backup data on where the crashes are happening in their jurisdictions, which staff will provide.  Fort Myers members suggested that there may be a need for more crosswalks on some of the major roads in Fort Myers, such as MLK and Palm Beach Blvd.

In the afternoon of April 18th, the MPO's Bicycle Pedestrian Coordination Committee (BPCC)'s newly formed safety working group met to review crash reports for the Del Prado and US 41 corridors with the goal of coming up with a way to categorize the crash details and causes that can then be used to identify countermeasures that could be implemented in those locations to improve safety.  Based on those discussions, staff will prepare maps of all the crashes on those two corridors over the past six years and will develop a matrix of how to categorize those crashes prior to the next meeting of the working group.

Report by Darla Letourneau

Participate in annual Ride of Silence May 21st

Plan to join the downtown Fort Myers Ride of Silence event on Wed. evening May 21st to honor fallen cyclists and promote road safety.

 What began in 2003 in Dallas as a spontaneous outpouring of grief for a friend and fellow rider, struck and killed by the mirror of a passing vehicle, has rolled across the globe to become an international annual event memorializing and honoring cyclists who have been injured and killed while riding.
The many hundreds of events share the same goals:  "To honor fallen cyclists, to promote road safety, and to make a difference."

Bike safety is not a fleeting issue, especially here in Florida which ranks as the very worst in the nation for cyclist safety with the highest fatality rate for nine years in a row.  Just within the past four months, here in Lee County four cyclists have been killed in crashes.
The Ride of Silence, in memorializing riders injured and killed, seeks to draw motorist's attention to cyclist's legal rights to full use of the roadways, to inform motorists that we are here, to watch for us--as if our lives depended on it.  Please come out to show your support and send the message that we deserve our right to operate on our own roads.  We are not just bike riders, but friends and neighbors and we must all Share the Road.

Locally there is one Ride of Silence planned--downtown Fort Myers.  At the moment, neither Bonita Springs or Sanibel have rides planned, but we'll let you know if that changes.  Below is the CRBC website and announcement about the Fort Myers Ride of Silence.

[Note: there was a 4th bike fatality in April 2014--cyclist hit on 4/8 at US 41 and Halgrim died of his injuries on 4/18.]

AARP releases Complete Streets Toolkit for Southeast USA

A great complete streets toolkit is now available from AARP and it's nice to see Lee County's efforts recognized in the document, including some Lee County photos demonstrating best practices.  AARP of Florida has been a valued BikeWalkLee's supporter organization since our beginning in 2009.
Last week  AARP and the National Complete Streets Coalition released its "Complete Streets in the Southeast" tool kit.

The new resource shares information about Complete Streets in cities across the southeast and provides tools for practitioners—in the region and beyond—who are developing or implementing Complete Streets policies. The toolkit offers regional perspectives on how to most effectively discuss and promote Complete Streets, case studies of successful local implementations, and fact sheets for every state in the region. Other resources include links to videos and presentations based in or tailored to the southeast, sample editorials and letters to the editor, a template Complete Streets audit and implementation plan, and worksheets for local residents examining local documents and procedures. Download the full toolkit.

 Both BikeWalkLee and the County's Complete Streets team were interviewed in the development of this report and Lee County's efforts are mentioned in several places (see p. 3, 5, 8, 12, 48, 49). They particularly highlight Lee County's implementation plan and its annual reports on implementation, along with the BWL complete streets annual awards and our website/blog resource documents. For the FL case study they chose Broward County and there's an excellent write-up about their program (p. 18-22).  

The accompanying Power Point presentation (see second document linked on right hand side of AARP article) is something any community can use to information various audiences about complete streets. The Power Point includes three photos from Lee County:
LeeTran bus, highlighting the sidewalk connections

North Estero Blvd. complete street in Fort Myers Beach

Also on N. Estero Blvd. in Fort Myers Beach

April 21st: Upcoming running/walking/biking events

It's Monday morning and time to plan a run or ride event before it gets too hot....and be sure to mark your calendar to participate in the annual Ride of Silence on May 21st.
Upcoming events
·         Saturday, April 19: Ears & Eggs 5K, Gateway (endurancesportstiming.com)
·         Saturday, May 3: Run for Kayla 5K, 7:30 a.m., Patriot Elementary School, Cape Coral (www.3dracinginc.com)
·         Saturday, May 10: Turtle Trot 5K, Lovers Key State Park, 8 a.m. (www.fortmyerstraclub.com)
·         Saturday, May 17: Cape Cops 5K, ,Cape Coral Yacht Club Community  Park, 5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7:30 a.m. (www.fortmyerstraclub.com)

Cycling & other events:
·         Saturday, April 26: Fight For Air Stair Climb, 26, High Point Place, downtown Fort Myers (fightforairclimb.org)
·         Saturday, May 10: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Triathlon,Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park,5819 Driftwood Parkway, Cape Coral, 7 a.m. (http://www.active.com/)

·         Wednesday, May 21: Ride of  Silence, 7 p.m.  Centennial Park, 2000 West First Street, Fort Myers (under the Bridge at Heitman and Bay Streets). Cyclists will ride in a silent funeral-style procession at 10-12 mph for 8 miles to honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Riders are requested to wear black arm bands or red if they have been injured in a cycling versus motor vehicle accident. More details www.caloosariders.org/rosfm. Everyone welcome. Free of charge. No registration necessary