Monday, November 30, 2009
Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation: Requested Actions to address Pedestrian Safety "Dangerous by Design" report
State Representative Gary Aubuchon
Chairman, Lee County Legislative Delegation
3501 Del Prado Boulevard
Cape Coral, FL 33904
Members of the Lee County Legislative Delegation;
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County. We work for 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.
We are alarmed about the epidemic of preventable deaths of pedestrians and cyclists throughout Florida—an epidemic that has been occurring for over a decade with little acknowledgement and minimal action by our state officials. Over the past two years, 1,286 pedestrians and cyclists have died on Florida roads ― including 42 in Lee County ― while more than 10 times that number has been injured in crashes involving motor vehicles during the same period. A national report, “Dangerous by Design,” jointly produced by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has ranked Florida as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians, with a danger index three times the national average. Lee County’s danger index is higher than Florida’s statewide average and ranks 23rd worst in the nation, and 9th worst in Florida.
As our Legislative Delegation, we ask you to consider taking the following actions in the next legislative session. It is important to note that NONE of these items require additional funding. They are all things that can be accomplished through oversight, policy and legislative direction to the state government, and a re-prioritization of existing transportation funds.
1. Establish a statewide goal of reducing by 50 percent the share of all traffic deaths that are pedestrians and cyclists, which would bring Florida in line with the national average. Request the Governor and the state Department of Transportation (FDOT) to submit a plan with for achieving this goal within 10 years, with quantifiable measures to track results. (Currently the national average is 14% and Florida’s is 22%)
2. Require FDOT to prioritize the allocation of its safety funds (Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds as well as State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program (Section 402)) in proportion to the share of all traffic deaths of that mode. Given that 22% of all traffic deaths in Florida are pedestrians and cyclists, 22% of the safety funds should be targeted to make the roads safer for these users.
3. Require FDOT to reprioritize its budget for FY 2010-2011 and beyond to at least double the share of its transportation dollars going to pedestrian/bike infrastructure. Currently only 1.5% of Florida transportation dollars are allocated to provide safe and accessible facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Approximately 30% of Floridians, including many senior citizens, do not have access to their own motor vehicle for transportation and many more citizens walk, run, or cycle for recreation and exercise.
4. Hold the Governor and state agencies accountable for implementing laws that are already on the books that would make Florida communities safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
a. Florida law (F.S. 335.065, attached) requires a complete streets approach to roadway design and operation. Require FDOT to issue guidance and accountability measures for ensuring that these provisions are being implemented.
b. The Florida Legislature enacted a Conserve by Bicycle Program (F.S. 335.067, attached) in 2005, requiring both the creation of a Conserve by Bicycle Program in FDOT and the completion of a Conserve by Bicycle study to help accomplish these goals. Require FDOT to implement this program as intended in 2010.
5. Require FDOT to issue its update of the state’s “Green Book” by the end of 2010. The Green Book is the minimum standards for designing roadways. The bicycle and pedestrian accommodations sections in the Green Book are outdated and no longer consistent with national guidelines from FHWA, the FDOT guidelines in the Plans Preparation Manual (PPM), and guidelines and best practices issued by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Planning Association. FDOT uses the PPM, which has higher standards, while many Florida counties and municipalities use the Green Book. The outdated Green Book has been used too long as the excuse for not accommodating bike/pedestrian/transit users.
6. Request the Governor and FDOT to expand its Recovery.gov website transparency approach to cover all transportation projects, activities, plans, and outcomes. The public should know where its transportation dollars are going, what percentage is being spent on safety of non-motorists, the progress the state is making in meeting goals of reducing the share of all traffic deaths that are bike/pedestrian, etc.
BikeWalkLee has been working with Lee County officials over the past year to promote a complete streets approach and investments to make our roadways safer for all users, and our local elected officials have begun to act. One of the key recommendations of the “Dangerous by Design” report is the adoption of complete streets policies; complete streets are safer streets that save the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, as well as helping to promote healthy lifestyles. In August, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization adopted a resolution which requests FDOT and local agencies to accommodate all users in the design, construction, and operation of all roadway projects. On Nov. 10, Lee County commissioners adopted a complete streets policy resolution, the first step in implementing a complete streets program in our community.
As Lee County embarks on this path to safer streets for everyone, it will need support and leadership from the Governor and state agencies, especially FDOT, since many of the policies and approaches for building our roadways are directed by the state and many of the roadways in our county are actually state roads.
We look forward to presenting these requests to members of the Lee County Legislative Delegation on December 15th, and will be happy to work with members of the Delegation to pursue these reasonable and overdue goals. We have included additional materials for your consideration as you review this request. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
On behalf of BikeWalkLee
1. BikeWalkLee’s 11/20/09 Letter to Governor Crist: requesting action on “Dangerous by Design” report
2. Florida “fact sheet” from the “Dangerous by Design” report (11/9/09)
3. BikeWalkLee’s report: “How Safe are Lee County Streets for Pedestrians” issued 11/9/09
4. Florida Statutes 335.065 and 335.067
Friday, November 20, 2009
November 20, 2009
Governor Charlie Crist
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
Dear Governor Crist,
Once again, Florida is in the national spotlight ―this time, as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians.
A national report, “Dangerous by Design,” jointly produced by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America, found Florida to have a danger index for pedestrians that is three times the national average. There is substantial evidence that pedestrians and bicyclists are being put at risk across the state and we call upon you, as the leader of our state, to present a plan of action to the citizens of Florida.
The "Dangerous by Design" report highlights the top 10 most dangerous large metro areas in the country, the top four being in Florida: Orlando-Kissimmee, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, and Jacksonville. Even more alarming is the additional number of Florida metro areas (under 1 million residents) that are more dangerous than these large metro areas (listed in order of danger):
· Punta Gorda/Charlotte County(2nd highest in the country, and only by a fraction of a percent)
· Sebastian-Vero Beach
· Panama City-Lynn Haven
· Lakeland-Winter Haven
· Palm Beach Bay-Melbourne-Titusville
· Cape Coral-Fort Myers *(in between the top 4)
· Palm Coast* (in between the top 4)
In total, 14 million Florida residents—over three-quarters of Florida’s total population ― live in these 12 metro deemed the most dangerous for pedestrians.
Put in terms of human lives, in 2007-2008, 1,047 pedestrians were killed on Florida roads, along with another 239 cyclists (1,286 in total), with many of these being preventable deaths. In addition, over 24,000 pedestrians and cyclists were injured during the same period. These roads are “dangerous by design” because they fail to provide safe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. In Florida, 22% of all traffic deaths are pedestrians and cyclists, greatly disproportionate to their use of the roadways, and almost double the national rate of 13.6%.
Yet, Florida is not spending its transportation dollars to protect the users most at risk on our roadways. Florida only spends 1.5% of its federal transportation dollars to improve the safety of walking and bicycling, or $1.41 per person. This Is an enormous disconnect ― 22% of all traffic deaths are pedestrians and cyclists, yet only 1.5% of transportation dollars are spent to improve their safety. Clearly, Florida’s focus is almost exclusively on making the roads safer for drivers, not the non-motorists sharing the roadways who are disproportionately at risk of being killed.
A report by the League of American Bicyclists found that FDOT had over $108 million of unobligated funds at the end of 2008—45% of all the funds allocated to it since 2006 ― in the program designed to address highway safety concerns . The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) was enacted in 2006 to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries through infrastructure improvements, education, and enforcement. Bike and pedestrian projects are eligible for HSIP; however, there is no evidence that FDOT targets these funds to improve safety for walkers and cyclists, and we’ve seen no data showing that any of these funds have been used in Florida for this purpose.
Another case in point: Florida receives over $48 million a year for Transportation Enhancements (TE), primarily for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects. According to a report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, in October FDOT chose (as part of a federally mandated rescission) to take the bulk of the cut from two programs, Transportation Enhancements and the Recreational Trails program — the programs that fund projects to make our roadways safer for walkers and cyclists. Almost $25 million was taken out of the TE program—double of “fair share” amount recommended by US DOT. The Recreational Trails program was cut $1.6 million—triple the “fair share” amount.
This rescission is a reflection of the state’s view of walkers and cyclists as second-class citizens when it comes to our roadways. These federal programs are not viewed as FDOT’s priority, and thus, are often put on the back burner. As a result, funds in these two programs haven't been spent, resulting in unobligated balances which became a target for the rescission. On the other hand, FDOT over-obligated on road projects, and then used the “unobligated” funds from the bicycle/pedestrian programs to bail them out. This should never happen again.
Every community in Florida has a long list of bicycle/pedestrian projects awaiting funding. In Lee County alone, more than $50 million in projects have been identified. If FDOT can’t give this program the priority it deserves as intended by Congress, then the TE funds should be directly allocated to the MPOs that can be counted on to expeditiously use these funds for urgently needed bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure projects in their counties.
As residents of Lee County, the findings of the “Dangerous by Design” report come as no surprise to us. Lee County ranks 23rd in the nation as the most dangerous metro area for pedestrians, and ninth in Florida. Over the past two years, 32 Lee County residents have died (and another 422 were injured) while crossing the street, walking to school, going to a bus stop, or strolling to the grocery store. Another 10 were killed while bicycling (190 injured). BikeWalkLee, a community coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, issued its own report in conjunction with the national report to take a closer look at what’s happening in Lee County, and what actions are needed to address this crisis. (The report is available at www.bikewalklee.org.)
Our coalition has been working with Lee County officials over the past year to promote a "complete streets" approach and investments to make our roadways safer for all users, and our elected officials have begun to act. One of the key recommendations of the “Dangerous by Design” report is the adoption of complete streets policies, since complete streets are safer streets and save lives of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, as well as to help promote healthy lifestyles. In August, the Lee County MPO adopted a resolution which requests FDOT and local agencies to accommodate all users in the design, construction, and operation of all roadway projects. On Nov. 10, Lee County commissioners adopted just such a complete streets policy resolution, the first step in implementing a complete streets program in our community.
As Lee County embarks on this path to safer streets for everyone, it will need support and leadership from FDOT, since many of the policies and approaches for building our roadways are directed by the state and many of the roadways in our county are actually state roads.
You have called a special session of the state legislature to fund two commuter railroads (Tri-Rail and SunRail). It is important to remember that for a commuter rail system to work, it must be connected to places where people live, work, and play. Now is the time to incorporate sidewalks, shared use paths, and bicycle lanes in the initial planning so that there are intermodal links.
Other agencies within your administration are beginning to plan for change. Last month, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) issued draft regulations for implementing the Florida Energy and Climate Act of 2008. These regulations will require counties to incorporate complete streets policies and strategies in the Comprehensive Plan evaluation process where land use, transportation, energy, climate, and conservation will be required. These envision a multi-modal transportation system that places emphasis on public transportation and the expansion of alternative transportation modes, such as public transit, bicycle, walking, and rail. Other departments need to coordinate their planning and funding to be consistent with this new approach, including FDOT.
Governor Crist, we call upon you and your administration to develop an action plan in the near future to address this crisis. Aggressively promoting a complete streets approach to the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of our roadways is a good place to start. In 1987, Florida was one of the first states to adopt a complete streets policy (Section 335.065), yet this Florida statute and its intent have never been implemented in any meaningful way.
In these difficult economic times, Florida must reinvent itself if it wants to continue to be economically viable and attractive to future generations. It makes good economic sense, as well as safety sense, to become a state that fosters walkable, bikeable and livable communities. We are paying dearly, both in human lives and in lost economic opportunities, for our auto-centric approach to transportation and growth and development. There is no better time than now to make this paradigm shift.
We urge you to respond to this call to action with a bold and specific plan. We also urge you to provide better reporting and transparency on what Florida is doing to address the needs of all users of the roadways. The approach established for the Recovery.gov website should serve as a model for reporting and tracking all transportation program funding and outcomes, not just ARRA funds. We look forward to your response.
On behalf of
BikeWalkLee –a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets
cc: Jeff Atwater, Senate President
Larry Cretul, House Speaker
Andy Gardiner, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman
Richard Glorioso, House Transportation Committee Chairman
Debbie Hunt, Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary
Stephanie Kopelousos, Department of Transportation Secretary
Jeff Kottkamp, Lieutenant Governor
Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer
Welcome to the new format for the BikeWalkLee News. Thanks to Bert Hamilton for setting up BikeWalkLee’s blog site. On this blog, you’ll see regular postings of press releases and news stories about BikeWalkLee and related issues. At least for now, this “News” will be communicated to you by e-mail about weekly, but you should start checking the blog on a regular basis (http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/). We’re also featuring a weekly video clip, so check that out. The past issues of the blog will be kept on the blog site, attached to our website (www.BikeWalkLee.org) so that you can easily find them again. Stay tuned for additional new features coming soon.
This newsletter contains the following news items and action requests:
1. County Commissioners unanimously adopt Complete Streets Resolution 11/10/09
2. November 10th: release of national report on pedestrian safety, “Dangerous by Design” (previously called “Mean Streets”) & BikeWalkLee’s companion report of Lee County pedestrian safety—extensive press coverage
3. November 8th: BikeWalkLee Lakes Park Event: “Turning Lee County’s Mean Streets into Complete Streets” a big success
4. Update on National Legislation & Activities
5. Sanibel’s Successful Bike Rodeo for Sanibel School Students
1. County Commissioners unanimously adopt Complete Streets Resolution 11/10/09
On November 10th, Lee County commissioners (BoCC) made an historic first step to make Lee County's streets safer for all the people who use them, thanks to its unanimous passage of the county's first Complete Streets resolution. Almost as gratifying as the unanimous support from county commissioners was the broad range of support shown for the resolution this morning. During the public comment period, commissioners heard from senior citizens who want to maintain mobility after they no longer drive; parents who want a place for their children to safely walk and bike; high school and college students who want a more livable community as they make their careers here; public health officials concerned about the obesity epidemic, and emergency room doctors who see the tragic results every day of Lee's dangerous roads. Thanks to all the supporters who spoke at the county commission meeting or sent letters of support. They really made a difference! http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/2009/11/bikewalklee-applauds-commission-vote-to.html
A special thanks to Jim Nathan, CEO of Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS), for his excellent commentary on pedestrian safety, published in the News-Press on November 10, 2009: http://www.news-press.com/article/20091110/OPINION/911100322/1015/opinion/Jim-Nathan--Complete-Streets-can-save-lives-of-walkers--bicyclists; and to News-Press for the November 9th editorial in support of the Complete Resolution. http://www.news-press.com/article/20091109/OPINION/911090321/1015/Editorial--Support-bike--walk-resolution
If you are interested in watching the BoCC proceedings, just click on the link below, then choose the video icon for the 11/10/09 BoCC agenda and from 17.20 – 1:01 (timeframe on video) are the public comments made in support of complete streets. The BoCC discussion of the agenda item occurs between 1:12 – 1:38 on the video.
Lee County’s success in adopting the complete streets resolution was highlighted on Transportation for America’s blog: http://t4america.org/blog/2009/11/13/florida-county-heeds-call-for-complete-streets-days-after-reports-release/
Now comes the hard part: implementation. The Resolution directs the County Manager to develop guidelines for creating a complete streets program and report back to the County Commissioners (BoCC). The planning process is underway as part of the County Manager’s Strategic Planning Process, which will culminate in a 2010 goal-setting session with the Commissioners in late February. Once those goals have been established, the proposed complete streets program will be presented to the BoCC in April 2010, and October 1st of each year there will be a report to the BoCC on the status of implementation of the complete streets program. Stay tuned for updates as this unfolds.
2. Release of “Dangerous by Design” and BikeWalkLee’s report on Lee County pedestrian safety
Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians, and Lee County is even more dangerous than the statewide average. Lee County is among the most dangerous communities in the nation for pedestrians, ranking 23rd out of all 360 metro areas in the nation, according to a report released by Transportation for America (T4America.org) and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (STPP). In 2007-2008, 1,047 pedestrians were killed on Florida roads. Over the past two years, 32 Lee County pedestrians have died and another 422 were injured.
The report notes that most pedestrian deaths are preventable, because they occur on streets that are designed to encourage speeding traffic and lack safe sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals and other protections. Fixing these problems is a matter of will on the part of state departments of transportation and local communities, and of shifting spending priorities, the report concludes.
"Dangerous by Design" also examined how states and localities are spending federal money that could be used to make the most dangerous streets safer, and found that Lee County spends only $1.12 per person ― far below the national average of $1.63 per person or the statewide average of $1.41 per person. There is a big disconnect between who is dying on our roads and where our road safety dollars are going. To check out the full reports (both national and local), here are the links:
National report: “Dangerous by Design”: http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign
BikeWalkLee report on Lee County:
Listen to Dan Moser’s interview on WGCU “Gulf Coast Live” on Tuesday, discussing the Dangerous by Design report: http://wgcu.org/audioplayer/6308.aspx
Visit the BikeWalkLee Blog to read more of the local media coverage of this report.
3. Nov. 8th BWL event at Lakes Park: “Turning Lee County’s Mean Streets into Complete Streets”
We had a great turnout on Sunday, with 200-250 people showing up to fill out surveys about their views on biking and walking in Lee County, to chat with other local walkers and cyclists, talk to officials from Lee County’s Department of Transportation and Parks and Rec Department, Just Drive, Stay Alive! Coalition, to mark up maps of the sidewalks and biking facilities of most concern to them, and to enjoy a few snacks and bottled water (thanks to Sanibel’s Billy’s Bikes). The Caloosa Riders made Lakes Park the destination of their Sunday morning ride, which was great. Ken and Kate Gooderham did an excellent job of making sure everyone in Lakes Park on Sunday participated in our survey. Fox-4 News did a story on the event on their Sunday evening news, and the News-Press posted a photo gallery from the event.
Thanks to Dan Moser and his team for organizing the event and working hard to make sure we had a good turnout. We got over 175 completed survey forms and Ken and Kate, with the assistance of FGCU students, are busy analyzing them. We’ll share a summary of what we heard with you, as well as communicate your comments to the local elected and public officials. If you indicated an interest in volunteering, you’ll be hearing from us soon. I’ve already contacted one of those who volunteered, and he will be attending Friday’s MPO meeting to speak during public comment period about the need for completing all segments of the Buckingham Rd. shoulders project. There’s lots of work to do, so don’t be shy! Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you to work on something that matches your interests and skills. Thanks again to everyone who came. We hope to make it an annual event.
4. Updates on National Legislation and Activities
Transportation Bill: The current transportation legislation (SAFETEA-LU) has been extended temporarily on a series of “continuing resolutions” (stopgap funding measures). In January, there could be a longer extension of maybe 6 months. Debate on the reauthorization legislation is unlikely to move forward until after the short-term extension expires. The House leadership is also beginning to talk about a possible “jobs bill” that they hope to take up before Christmas. One of the elements could be spending on public works, like transportation projects. Stay tuned.
Climate Change Bill: the Senate is beginning to move forward on its draft of a climate bill (S. 1733). This bill would set a national goal for reducing transportation related greenhouse gas emissions, require states and metropolitan planning organizations to incorporate emission reduction targets and strategies in existing transportation planning processes, and then provide the tools, technical assistance and funding to states and MPOs to create plans as well as set up a competitive grant program to invest in smart growth and green transportation projects. The Senate bill also includes funding for public transportation agencies. Allocations for clean transportation and smart growth programs would average out to about 2.4% over the life of the bill. This legislation is lined up behind health care and financial reform, making Spring a better bet for when this legislation will be considered.
5. Sanibel Holds Successful Bike Rodeo for Sanibel School Students
On October 22nd, the Sanibel Rec Center, Billy’s Bikes, the Sanibel Bicycle Club, and Kiwanis Club, along with Dan Moser, teamed up to do a great bike rodeo for 50 Sanibel students. It was a great way to teach beginning riders about bike safety. Kudos to our “partners” for their great work! If you’re interested in setting up one of these in your community, contact Dan Moser (email@example.com ), or ask the Sanibel Bicycle Club (SanibelBC@comast.net ), for tips from their experience.
6. Dan Moser’s Florida Weekly Column—November 18th
Complete Streets: Moving from concept to implementation
In the opinion of many, myself included, their action came not a moment too soon.
“Dangerous by Design,” the latest edition of the report formerly known as “Mean Streets” that rates the state of the pedestrian environment in communities throughout the U.S., indicates that the Fort Myers/Cape Coral metro area has improved somewhat from our third most dangerous-place position in the last ranking, but our Pedestrian Danger Index is still off the charts, as is the case for so many Florida communities.
What the report tells us isn’t anything new; “Dangerous by Design” merely documents the problem. And the solution being put forth — that government — in particular, transportation departments — must change the way they design and develop our public rights of way and reform land-use policies — isn’t much different from the two previous documents’ conclusions. So, even with the recent commission decision directing county staff to move toward complete streets, League of American Cyclists denying us even the lowest level Bike Friendly Community designation, and “Dangerous by Design” confirming again that we have a major problem, the question still remains: Will key department leadership do what is now clearly laid out before them or will they continue to find ways to continue to do business as usual?
You can view the “Dangerous by Design” report at http://t4america.org/ resources/dangerousbydesign/. For an in-depth look at the local situation, BikeWalkLee’s corresponding report is at http://www.bikewalklee.org/pdfs/ BWLPedreportFINAL.pdf. Thanks to Darla Letourneau, Margaret Banyan, Mindy Collier [and Ken Gooderham]and other BikeWalkLee members who worked hard to compile this report in time to coincide with “Dangerous by Design” publication.
As is usually the case on a beautiful Sunday, Lakes Park was teeming with people engaged in all kinds of physical activity, enjoying the unique surroundings of these former rock quarries. BikeWalkLee was there as well, asking anyone who dropped into “Turing our Mean Streets into Complete Streets” what they thought of our county’s built environment for getting around outside one’s car. Maps and literature were offered, refreshments were served, and representatives of agencies that plan and build our roads and trails were on hand to answer questions, listen to suggestions, and socialize with people who enjoy being active and outdoors.
Although the surveys BWL asked attendees to complete weren’t analyzed as of the time of this column’s deadline, it was quite evident from comments and discussions that folks really want to be able to take advantage of our area’s assets: weather, natural environment, flat terrain, outstanding parks and recreation opportunities and extensive road system. Results of the survey will be posted on www.bikewalkle.org soon, perhaps by the time of this being published.
With improvements to the infrastructure — changes that make it safer and more appealing to all users — perhaps we’ll see a change for the better in behavior by everyone, something I think is vital for Lee County to become an LAB Bike Friendly Community and to significantly reduce our Pedestrian Danger Index in the next “Dangerous by Design” report. It’ll take a while, but it looks like we’re finally on the right track.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. �
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and program manager for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He may be contacted at dan@ floridabicycle.org or 334-6417.
· Updates on bike/ped stimulus projects
· Lee Department of Health’s grant application for the CDC’s national grant competition a Prevention and Wellness project that will focus on promoting healthy/livable communities.
· Happenings at recent BoCC, MPO & Smart Growth meetings
· What’s ahead with the MPO’s countywide bike/ped master plan, to get underway in December
· If there’s something you’d like to hear about, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
a coalition to complete Lee County's streets