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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Safety conversation about cyclists and walkers wearing headphones



In the “Healthy Living” section of News-Press on March 29th, there was an article “Music hinders runners’ hearing”, which talks about dangers in running or biking with earphones, highlighting people's stories in our community. Kudos to News-Press for highlighting this important safety issue.

Although the article doesn't discuss the legal issues, Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide, statute 316.304 says: A cyclist may not wear a headset, headphone or listening device, other than a hearing aid, while riding. Although it's not illegal for walkers/runners to wear them, as the article relates, it's not smart for anyone who must mix it up with traffic of any sort (so that includes on pathways as well).

What are your thoughts? Share your comments below. Write a letter to the editor of News-Press sharing your thoughts and experiences (mailbag@news-press.com).

p.s. On 4/12/10, News-Press published two letters to the editor in response to this article.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Participate in Lee MPO's traffic survey

News-Press: Lee County planners issue
traffic surveys

Seek help finding congested roads

by christina cepero • ccepero@news-press.com
• March 27, 2010

1:10 A.M. — Lee County transportation planners
want to know which intersections you believe are
congested.

The Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization, made
up of elected officials who discuss transportation,
has used previous surveys to determine which
roads need to be improved.

The MPO's Traffic Operations Coordinating
Committee will review the surveys. If it involves
retiming a signal or restriping a lane, the project is
referred to the local government. Larger projects are
added to the MPO board's list.

Ron Gogoi, MPO deputy director, said the agency
sets aside about $5 million in federal funds every
year for those projects as well as bike path and
public transportation improvements.
Click here to continue reading article.

Click here to go to the MPO online survey. Although the questions are posed in terms of road congestion, this is an opportunity to comment on the role of biking and walking in relieving congestion.

News-Press: Lee County bicyclists offer plans for safety

Biking, walking paths on planners' to-do list

By Chris Umpierre • cumpierre@news-press.
com • March 29, 2010

1:10 A.M. — As he scanned a county map spread
across a table Sunday at Lakes Regional Park, Lee
County Metropolitan Planning Organization director
Don Scott scribbled notes.

Scott listened as bicyclists pointed to intersections
on the map and offered ideas about how to make
local biking safer and more accessible.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thanks to everyone who attended BikeWalkLee's March 28th Lakes Park event




On Sunday, March 28th, BikeWalkLee hosted a successful kickoff for Lee County's bike/pedestrian master plan development. Thanks to a prominent article in the News-Press, a broad cross section of 90-100 cyclists and walkers dropped by Lakes Park to talk to the officials working on the countywide bike/ped master plan--MPO Staff Director, Don Scott, and Patrick Vanesse, with RWA Consulting. Participants also completed surveys about their thoughts--the good, bad, and the ugly--of Lee County's bike/ped facilities. We will be compiling the input you provided and sharing it with the consultant as input to the Master Plan, as we've done with the survey input we got at our November 9th Lakes Park event.

A contingent of cyclists came over to advocate for better biking facilities in the Bayside Estates and Pine Ridge Road area, and we're looking forward to their continued advocacy for their proposal. It was great to see such a good turnout on a day forecast to be thunderstorms and rain. Luckily, the rain held off and we all made it home without getting wet.

Pictured above (left) are Don Scott (back) and Patrick Vanesse(front) talking about participant's ideas for the master plan; and (right) is the Lexington Bicycle Club that biked over to the event together.

If you missed the event, there will be other opportunities to provide input to the master plan development. In the meantime, feel free to contact Patrick Vanasse at pvanasse@consult-rwa.com or you can contact BikeWalkLee at: dletourneau@bikewalklee.org. You can also see the scope of work for the Master Plan on the MPO website.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column: Having the right of way comes with responsibility



Data confirms that we have problems on our roads: high crash and fatality rates have been the norm for many years here. Some of the reasons for this are regularly revealed at Lee Memorial’s Health System’s Trauma Center’s twice-monthly class for traffic infraction offenders who are dubbed “high risk” and who are court-ordered to the course. After almost three years of being part of the team that teaches this eight-hour class, my observation is that personal responsibility is the key thing missing from the public’s mindset when it comes to use of the public right of way.

One way for new drivers to avoid ever having to attend the High Risk Driver class is for 15-21-year-olds to take advantage of the Young Driver Program (parents are encouraged to participate as well). The course is free; it’s funded by the high-risk drivers. Call 336-6797 to inquire and register.

My twofold purpose in both classes is to help attendees get around using means other than a car and remind them of the huge responsibility that comes with the privilege to operate a potential weapon. This column and my next will look at a few key laws and concepts included in my portion of the courses. This week I’ll focus on pedestrians and cyclists, next week on motorists.

..Laws and tips for cyclists and walkers. In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadway and must obey the same traffic laws as the operators of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night and yielding the right of way when entering a roadway.

When riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks, a bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian. A bicyclist riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks must yield the right of way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.

Local jurisdictions may ban bicycles from sidewalks (the core of downtown Fort Myers and the river side of West First Street have such a ban)

Pedestrians must use sidewalks when provided. Use crosswalks when available and practical. Walk facing traffic when using the roadway or shoulder. When crossing mid-block, pedestrians must yield to vehicles. Headphones, texting, and other distractions only increase vulnerability, so don’t use them.

Think twice before taking a chance. Here’s a pedestrian’s increased risk of death when struck by a motor vehicle at various speeds: 20 Mph equals 15 percent; 30 Mph equals 45 percent; 40 Mph equals 85 percent.

Advocacy news. A reminder that BikeWalkLee will be offering bike/ped safety sessions and the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization and its consultant, RWA, will be taking your input on the county’s bike/ ped master plan that’s currently under development at an open house on Sunday, March 28. It’s being held at Lakes Park in Shelter B-2, located near the main driveway entrance, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. We hope you’ll ride your bike, run, walk or even drive there to be part of our gathering. There’s no charge, except for parking (if you don’t have a parks pass).

The Florida Bicycle Association is hosting its second annual Bike Summit at the state capitol in Tallahassee on Thursday, April 8. Anyone who would like to get a first-hand look at how our state government works while in session, and who wants to send a message to our elected officials about the bike/ ped environment in Florida, should make the trip — it’s an experience you’ll be glad you had. Go to www.floridabicycle. org/joinus/summit.html for details and to register. 

— Dan Moser is league cycling instructor/ trainer and program manager for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334-6417.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

2nd Annual Florida Bike Summit April 8th


Get Ready to Make a Difference!

Come to Tallahassee for the 2nd Annual Florida Bike Summit at the Florida Capitol Courtyard April 8, 2010, 10:00 am-2:00 pm, and help protect the rights of bicyclists to ride safely and freely.

Learn what Florida is doing for bicyclists
Meet with legislators throughout the day
Connect with other bicycle advocates
Ride to the Capitol from the St. Marks Trailhead at 9:00 am
Secured bicycle parking in the Courtyard
Summit gathering spot: Tallahassee/East KOA Campground
Summit legislative training: 4/7/10; 7:00 pm
Summit celebration reception: 4/8/10; 5:00-6:30 pm
The 2010 Florida Bike Summit is FREE - register today
Press event at 10:30 am

Our first Summit in 2009 focused on educating legislators about the benefits of bicycling. For 2010, we need your input to define what cycling really is and how it can change Florida one rider at a time. Join us to take advantage of these changing times where more people are riding bikes. The time is now to show how powerful and influential we can be as a unified voice

Be a part of the solution to advance Florida as the best state to ride a bicycle.

For more details and to register, visit http://www.floridabicycle.org/joinus/summit.html.

Monday, March 22, 2010

BikeWalkLee applauds Lee MPO quick action in support of national complete streets policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 22, 2010

Contact: Darla Letourneau, 239-850-3219, dletourneau@bikewalklee.org

BikeWalkLee applauds Lee County Metropolitan Planning
Organization quick action in support of national complete streets policy


Fort Myers, FL –At the March 19 meeting of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting the board, made up of elected officials from every municipality in Lee County, embraced the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) new policy statement on bicycle and pedestrian accommodation. The MPO board unanimously passed a motion in support of the policy statement and encouraged the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to support it as well.

“BikeWalkLee is gratified by the continued leadership and commitment demonstrated by the MPO led by Chairman Judah to complete Lee County’s streets and to integrate the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in road projects," said Darla Letourneau, a local community advocate and BikeWalkLee leader. "Not only is the MPO leading the county’s efforts, its quick endorsement of this policy statement puts Lee County in the forefront of communities around the country who recognize the significance of this bold action by the Secretary of Transportation. In fact, Lee County may be the first in the country to have officially endorsed the new policy.”

Click here to continue reading the press release.

BikeWalkLee posted this press release on USDOT Secretary LaHood's Facebook page, and even got a response from him. Check it out.

The League of American Bicyclists also highlighted Lee County's action and encouraged other communities around the country to take similar action. Check it out.

The National Journal Transportation Expert Blog
started a conversation about Secretary LaHood's policy, entitled "Should Bikes and Cars be treated equally?" See BikeWalkLee's comments posted on March 25th.


The New York Times Green, Inc. blog on April 5th had a
Q.&A.: Transportation Secretary on Biking, Walking and ‘What Americans Want’
“It’s what Americans want to do,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, of his emphasis on the role of bicycles and walking in good transportation policy. Click here to read the interview.

Secretary LaHood's Blog on April 6th also addressed these issues and is worth reading!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

BikeWalkLee Lakes Park event this Sunday, March 28th!


BikeWalkLee kicks off countywide bike/ped master plan development at March 28 Lakes Park event

Organize your bike group, running partners and neighborhood -- or just come solo to Lakes Park on Sunday, March 28, to provide input to Lee County's bike/ped master planners working on the countywide bike/ped master plan. The event is organized by BikeWalkLee, who will have maps for you to mark-up and other materials.
We’ll also offer short bike-skills clinics for adults and children at no cost -- good for riders of all skill sets and focused on making you safer and more comfortable on your bike no matter the circumstances. Bring your own bike and helmet (it’s required for any on-bike activities), and drop-in anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Shelter B-2 (straight ahead from the main park entrance).
The Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) took the initiative in September 2008 to request the development of a countywide bicycle pedestrian master plan. After development of the scope of work by the MPO, a consultant (RWA Consulting of Fort Myers)was selected at the beginning of 2010; work is just beginning on the development of the plan, which is to be completed by December 2010.
The purpose of the plan is to:
• Effectively integrate bicycle and pedestrian travel on the county’s transportation system.
• Create a more livable environment.
• Allow for viable mobility choices for commuting as well as for recreational purposes.
• Seeks to improve bike/ped access to major trip attractions.
The goal of the plan is to provide a safe accessible and connected bike/ped system, to create a more consistent network of facilities across government jurisdictional boundaries. The plan will identify gaps in our existing bike/ped network, provide a blueprint for filling those gaps, and recommend policies and programs needed to better support bicycle and pedestrian activity. The implementation plan will have both short-term and long-term components.
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. For more information, visit

BikeWalkLee and the county staff look forward to seeing you on Sunday, March 28, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lakes Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers.

See the lead story on the "Great Outdoors" page of News-Press on March 25th.

Lee MPO takes action on 3/19 in support of new USDOT bike/ped policy statement

At Friday’s Lee County Metropolitan Organization (MPO) meeting, the Board, made up of elected officials from every municipality in Lee County, embraced USDOT’s new bold policy statement on bicycle and pedestrian accommodation by a unanimous motion in support of the policy statement, and encouraged the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to also support this policy statement.

BikeWalkLee is gratified by the continued leadership and commitment demonstrated by the MPO led by Chairman Judah to complete Lee County’s streets and to integrate the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in road projects. Not only is the Lee MPO leading the county’s efforts, its quick endorsement of this policy statement puts Lee County in the forefront of communities around the country who recognize the significance of this bold action by the Secretary of Transportation. In fact, Lee County may be the first place in the country to have officially endorsed the new policy.

BikeWalkLee brochures available for distribution




BikeWalkLee now has brochures about our coalition available for distribution. The brochure describes what we do, what we value, what we support, and the list of organizations supporting BikeWalkLee. You can pick them up at most bike stores. We are also distributing them at biking, running, and related events around the county. In the photo above, Salli Kirkland from Billy's Bikes on Sanibel is distributing the brochure as part of her biking-related booth at the Sanibel Sunday Farmer's Market. If you're interested in distributing these brochures at your event, please contact dletourneau@bikewalklee.org and we'll provide you with copies. Thanks! Darla

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Senate Committee rejects cuts in Florida's Office of Greenways & Trails

From: Ken Bryan
Sent: Tue 3/16/2010 6:36 PM

Subject: Update on the Florida Office Of Greenways and Trails
Dear Friend of Florida Trails,

I wanted to share some wonderful news with you and explain what has just happened, and is expected to happen, as it relates to the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT). OGT is the reigning recipient of the National “Best Trails State” as awarded by American Trails and, as you know, is a highly valued partner. Again like last year, they were circled for elimination earlier this week by the Florida Senate despite their success in building partnerships and leveraging funding. However due to the enormous and coordinated grassroots support that was demonstrated by us last year, the threat for the most part was quickly dropped. We owe a special thank you to Senators Aronberg, Lawson and Baker of the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee! ....

Thank you and stay tuned. I hope to have an important announcement concerning the Florida Department of Transportation soon!!!!

Take Care.
Ken Bryan, Florida Director
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
e

Monday, March 15, 2010

Secretary LaHood announces sea change in bike/ped transportation policy


I wanted to alert you to this afternoon’s important announcement by Secretary LaHood on the importance of accommodating bicyclists and pedestrians. He is truly providing national leadership on complete streets and the need for a balanced transportation system. This new national policy statement is one more reason for the Florida Department of Transportation to promote complete streets and to pay greater attention to the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. Darla

Today, I want to announce a sea change. People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

To set this approach in motion, we have formulated key recommendations for state DOTs and communities:

* Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.
* Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.
* Go beyond minimum design standards.
* Collect data on walking and biking trips.
* Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.
* Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)
* Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.

Now, this is a start, but it's an important start. These initial steps forward will help us move forward even further. To read the full story, click here

Friday, March 12, 2010

Florida Greenways and Trails Office again on chopping block--take action to defeat proposal

Team,
Once again, the Florida Greenways and Trails Office is on the chopping block in the State Legislature. Please e-mail the members of the Senate General Government Appropriations Commmittee before Tuesday’s 3/16 vote on this proposal. Below is the lettter I sent, which includes the e-mail addresses for all the committee members. Add your voices! Darla

From: Darla [mailto:dletourneau@bikewalklee.org]
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2010 2:02 PM
To: (lawson.alfred.web@flsenate.gov); (oelrich.steve.web@flsenate.gov); Senator Carey Baker (baker.carey.web@flsenate.gov); Senator Charles Dean (dean.charles.web@flsenate.gov); Senator Dave Aronberg (aronberg.dave.web@flsenate.gov)
Subject: Urge you not to cut Greenways & Trails program

Members of the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee,

At Tuesday’s Committee meeting, I urge you to reject a proposal to eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails and merge its functions with the state park system. The elimination of the 16 positions that run the Greenways and Trails program would essentially kill one of the shining stars of Florida’s recreation and tourism business, all to save $1 million. The Greenways and Trails system receives 4 million visitors a year in Florida has an economic impact of $95 million a year. This program cannot run without a staff and this small investment is yielding strong returns on our investment.

Just as the country is focused on alternative forms of transportation and on more healthy lifestyles to fight obesity, Florida would be eliminating one of its most successful programs to make progress on both those fronts. The residents and visitors of Florida consider the greenways and trails important to the quality of life here and what brings visitors back each year. I urge you to make smart economic decisions when you make budget cuts, and this proposal is not one of them. This office actually brings in revenues to the state.

I am part of the steering group of BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets—streets that provide safe and convenient travel for all road users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. We value active recreation and promote the benefits of bicycling and walking. Florida has so much potential to be a biking/walking destination given its weather, however, we are ranked in the bottom third of all states for our bike and pedestrian investments and safety, according to a recent national study by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, “Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report”.

This report provides new evidence of Florida state government’s neglect of pedestrians and bicyclists, as shown in the poor scoring by every benchmarking indicator—from the share of commuters who bicycle and walk to work, to safety, funding, staffing, and bike/pedestrian policies. Florida is already lagging behind most other states. I urge you not to make the situation even worse by adopting the proposal to eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails.

Darla

Darla Letourneau
Steering Group
BikeWalkLee
a coalition to complete Lee County's streets
www.BikeWalkLee.org
dletourneau@bikewalklee.org
239-472-1179

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BikeWalkLee Letter to Florida Legislature: Take action to make roads safer for pedestrians & cyclists


On March 9th & 10th BikeWalkLee sent the following letter to the Lee County Legislative Delegation, the House & Senate Leaders, members of the House Roads & Bridges Committee and Members of the Senate Transportation Committee. A copy of the letter was also sent to Governor Crist. Add your voices to the conversation!


Senate President Atwater,
BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, urges you to take action this legislative session to make Florida a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists. A complete streets approach is needed by the state in designing roads so that they provide safe and convenient travel for all road users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

We are pleased that the News-Press published an editorial on Saturday, urging the State Legislature to act. (See editorial.

BikeWalkLee wrote the Lee Legislative Delegation on February 22nd (BikeWalkLee study on FL federal safety programs, pedestrian/bicycle improvements & recommendations for action, with a specific list of the budget-neutral proposals we would like to the Legislature act on this session:

• Urge FDOT to aggressively promote “complete streets” as a statewide approach for design and operations of roadways.
• Require FDOT to allocate all its federal safety funds for safety improvement projects, and then ensure that pedestrian/bicycle safety improvement projects receive a “fair share” of those funds, using the share of all traffic fatalities that are pedestrians and bicyclists (21 percent).
• Enact the strongest legislation possible to prohibit texting while driving.
• Urge FDOT to issue the long-overdue updated road design standards to reflect the latest guidelines for accommodating bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users.
• Reinstate a state-level Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board that would make recommendations to elected officials and FDOT.
• Encourage another Florida Safety Summit to develop Florida’s next five-year plan with goals to reduce traffic pedestrian/bicyclist fatalities by at least 50 percent to bring Florida in line with the national average.

The need for these actions was reinforced by a March 1st featured article in USA Today: Fla. deadliest state for walkers, cyclists. This article quoted a FDOT official who said, "The roadways aren't as dangerous as the (study) would have made it seem,"…. "It's not the roads. The roads are just sitting there by themselves.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Florida has been either the deadliest or the second deadliest state in the nation for walkers and cyclists for the past seven years (2002-2008). Yet, this quote demonstrates that FDOT refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem with road design, that measures can be taken to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and that it is its responsibility to take action.

FDOT should be setting rigorous goals to reduce pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, developing effective strategies for reaching those goals, targeting safety funds to reduce the unacceptable rates, and closely monitoring progress towards those goals to ensure that they are reached.

On November 20, BikeWalkLee sent a letter to Governor Crist asking for a plan of action to reverse this long-standing stain of being the most dangerous state for pedestrians and cyclists. To date, our letter has been met with deafening silence. In the absence of any leadership from the Governor on these issues, we are appealing to the Florida Legislature to direct FDOT to take necessary actions and to hold them accountable for results.

We look forward to working with you to make our roadways safer for all users.

Darla
Darla Letourneau
Steering Group
BikeWalkLee
a coalition to complete Lee County's streets
www.BikeWalkLee.org
dletourneau@bikewalklee.org
239-472-1179

Attachments:
News-Press 3/6/10 editorial: Make roads safer for bikes/pedestrians
Links to related BikeWalkLee documents

Cyclists and pedestrians get plenty of opportunities to be put in motion


Florida Weekly, March 10, 2010

danMOSER moserdeleon@juno.com
Beginning this month, some important events are coming up for anyone who believes conditions on the roads should be better for cyclists and pedestrians.

BikeWalkLee hosts an event at Lakes Park from 10 a.m. to 2p.m. Sunday, March 28. The county’s bike/ped master planners have been invited to take some input from the public. We’ll also offer short bike skills clinics for adults and children at no cost. Bring your own bike and helmet (it’s required for any on-bike activities).

Florida cyclists gather at the state capitol in Tallahassee on April 8 to get the message out that much improvement to the bike/ped environment is needed throughout our state. The Florida Bicycle Association’s annual bike summit begins with an optional bike ride to the Capitol from St Marks Trail. At the Capitol courtyard, elected officials and government department heads will address those gathered before heading out to meet with senators and representatives. Connecting with legislators in Tallahassee is a great way to connect with those who make the important decisions that affect our bike/ped environment.

The ProBike/ProWalk Florida Conference takes place in Lakeland in mid- May. Besides all of the learning opportunities offered there, the Florida Department of Transportation will take public input on its 2060 plan. Although it may seem that planning for something that far out is little more than busy-work with effects we’ll never see, the fact is that what results from this effort will begin to take shape sooner than might be expected. Because it’s more about direction than specifics, convincing FDOT to move toward concentrating on complete streets and transit is vital if we want to change the status quo.

Upcoming local events

Not only are there two 5K runs to choose from this Saturday, March 13, but the City of Fort Myers is hosting “Get Out, Get Moving,” with multiple activities taking place in Centennial Park. There’ll be a marked walking course, opportunities to take part in yoga, Zumba, and stretching led by Lee Memorial Wellness Center staff, kids’ activities and more. The event is free.

A unique event is coming to Fort Myers that’s being organized by the American Lung Association. It’s a highrise stair climb, just like ones in the John Hancock Tower, Empire State Building, and Peachtree Tower. The 2010 “Fight for Air Challenge” is hosted by the residents of the 32-story High Point Place in downtown Fort Myers on Saturday, May 1. Those who register can train right where the event will happen. It is the same stairwell used by local firefighters for their training. As an added perk, a rooftop poolside celebration takes place after the climb.

Advocacy news
Readers of this column might remember that last year Gov. Charlie Crist was asked, via a letter sent by BikeWalkLee, to address the problem. A response has never been received, even after followup attempts were made. The question, now that the legislature is in session, is whether anyone will recognize the need to take actions that will result in Florida finally losing the inexcusable standing of having the worse environment in the nation for those who walk and bicycle.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. 

— Dan Moser is league cycling instructor/ trainer and program manager for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreati on and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334-6417.

Google Announces Google Biking Directions at the League of American Bicyclists' 2010 National Bike Summit

Google is announcing today that they are adding biking directions in the U.S. to Google Maps. This new feature includes: step-by-step bicycling directions; bike trails outlined directly on the map; and a new "Bicycling" layer that indicates bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly roads. The directions feature provides step-by-step, bike-specific routing suggestions - similar to the directions provided by our driving, walking, or public transit modes. Simply enter a start point and destination and select "Bicycling" from the drop-down menu. You will receive a route that is optimized for cycling, taking advantage of bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly streets and avoiding hilly terrain whenever possible.

Visit Google to try out this new feature. Biking directions for Google Maps is currently in Beta.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

News Press Editorial: Make roads safer for bikes, pedestrians

I urge you to write individually to the members of the Lee County Legislative Delegation urging their action & telling them why it’s important to you. Click here for BikeWalkLee's complete request on 2/22 to the Legislative Delegation: Thanks!
Darla



Make roads safer for bikes, pedestrians: Editorial
The News-Press Editorial • news-press.com • March 6, 2010
It’s past time for Florida — the most dangerous state in the union for pedestrians and bicyclists — to exit the dark ages of road design.
The useful BikeWalkLee organization, which recently persuaded Lee County commissioners to embrace a “complete streets” philosophy, is part of a worthy effort to get the state Legislature to do the same.

Complete streets (and highways) accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and public transit in their design from the beginning, which avoids expensive retrofitting. This makes roads and streets safer for everybody, including motorists. There are also health and tourism benefits from making biking and walking easier, and alternatives to individual vehicles reduce pollution and save resources.
Among other things, the complete streets people want the Legislature to require the state Department of Transportation to actually allocate all its federal safety funds for safety improvements (duh!), and then ensure that pedestrian/bicycle safety improvements receive a share of that money commensurate with the percentage of traffic fatalities made up of cyclists and pedestrians — a whopping 21 percent.
Let lawmakers know you want to make our roads safer, healthier and more inviting for all their many users.


CONTACT THEM
• Sen. Garrett Richter, District 37, 338-2777, richter.garrett.web@flsenate.gov
• Sen. Dave Aronberg, District 27, 338-2646, aronberg.dave.web@flsenate.gov
• Sen. Mike Bennett, District 21, 225-3697, bennett.mike.web@flsenate.gov
• Rep. Ken Roberson, House District 71, 941-613-0914, ken.roberson@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Paige Kreegel, House District 72, 941-575-5820, paige.kreegel@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Nick Thompson, House District 73, 533-2411, nick.thompson@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Gary Aubuchon, House District 74, 344-4900, gary.aubuchon@myfloridahouse.gov
• Rep. Trudi Williams, District 75, 433-6775, trudi.williams@myfloridahouse.gov
On the Web
• BikeWalkLee Official Blog
Related Stories
• Study: Florida deadliest state for walkers, cyclists

Monday, March 1, 2010

USA Today: Fla. deadliest state for walkers, cyclists



By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY
MIAMI, Florida — Florida is the deadliest state in the U.S. for pedestrians — and bicyclists don't fare any better.

In 2008, the most recent year for which federal statistics are available, 11.1% of pedestrians and 17.4% of bicyclists killed in the U.S. died in the Sunshine State, which has 6% of the nation's population.

The top four of the 10 most dangerous metropolitan areas for walking are in Florida, according to a study last fall by two Washington, D.C.-based non-profit groups. The state has been in the top three in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities every year since 2001, federal data show.

The statistics perplex state officials. "There are so many factors involved and most of them are random," says Marianne Trussell, chief safety officer for Florida's Department of Transportation. "We're trying to figure out root causes and how we can fix it."

There's a debate over those causes: Is Florida so deadly for walkers and cyclists because of the behavior of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists? Or because of inherent flaws in the way roads are designed and built?

....................Underlying these factors, transportation safety officials say, is behavior: "Somebody is doing something they shouldn't be doing," Trussell explains. "Drivers are making a right turn and not yielding to pedestrians, or making a right turn on red. Pedestrians are not paying attention to traffic, or they're crossing the street midblock instead of going to the intersection."

She takes issue with the November study by Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership that spotlighted dangers to pedestrians in Florida. The study found pedestrians in Florida — and around the U.S. — are endangered by the nation's shift from development clustered around traditional streets to wide, high-speed roads designed to move thousands of vehicles.

"The roadways aren't as dangerous as the (study) would have made it seem," she says. "It's not the roads. The roads are just sitting there by themselves.".....

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