Facebook Share

Friday, December 31, 2010

Bicycle Ministry in Fort Myers provides bikes to SWFAS women



Click here to read the article in this week's Island Reporter (Sanibel/Captiva). Here are a few excerpts:

"Christmas came a week early for the women at the Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS) Transitional Living Center(TLC), when they arrived at the Bicycle Ministry at the First Baptist Church in downtown Fort Myers. Ken Nies, Director of the Bicycle Ministry, played Santa Claus and provided refurbished bikes to the delighted women from TLC....

Nies outfitted each woman with a bike, adjusted the seat, put on lights and a lock and chain, and gave them a few safety tips. Dan Moser, who’s a certified cycling instructor and longtime cycling advocate in Lee County, came over to the SWFAS campus on Tuesday to give them helmets and introduce them to the basics of bicycling safety.

The women were very excited about having wheels, both for transportation and exercise.

” It is so wonderful that someone took the time and thought of us,” said Eloise. “It’s a big deal today since a bike is often our only available transportation. These are awesome bikes — nice and sturdy!”

Another participant, Patricia, said, “This will make it easier to go to work and to church. No... it will make it a lot easier! I love bike riding. I will also use my new bike for leisure and exercise.”

“For them to think of transportation for us is so thoughtful, I am so grateful,” she added.

This volunteer program is a real win-win-win for the Lee County community. Individuals and bike shops donate bikes and equipment to the Bicycle Ministry, which trains homeless people in how to refurbish bicycles, then provides the bikes to the homeless and other individuals in need, who, in exchange, agree to perform community service for charities.

The new bicycle owners now have a reliable mode of transportation so that they can get to work and around town. Who knew a used bike could provide so many benefits?

The women of SWFAS say a special thank you to the Tarpon Bay Explorers of Sanibel for donating the bikes. If you are interested in donating bikes to this good cause, contact Ken Nies at (239) 458-0075...."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Save the Date, Feb. 11th for Reconnecting Lee Symposium:


Lee County in Year 2035--Back to the future?

February 11, 2011
Harborside Event Center
1375 Monroe Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901
(239) 321-8110

8:00-8:30 Registration
8:30-4:30 Program
On February 11, at the Harborside Event Center in the Fort Myers River District, experts from the University of Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University and Edison State College, will join Florida Transportation Commissioner and former Cape Coral Mayor Dr. Joseph Mazurkiewicz, renowned economist Dr. Henry Fishkind, former Appraisal Institute Past-President Woody Hanson, Lee County School Board Chairman Thomas Scott, Florida Department of Community Affairs former Secretary Linda Shelley and other local and state experts in sharing their predictions of what our community will look like in the year 2035 and how we will get there.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Angela Brooks at 800.226.0436 or abrooks@fowlerwhite.com

Traffic Skills 101 Course offered in Fort Myers 12/28


Beginning at 9am Tuesday, December 28, 2010, a League of American Bicyclists' bike education course is being offered in Fort Myers.

Traffic Skills 101 (TS-101) gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. The course covers bicycle safety checks, fixing a flat, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques and includes a student manual. Recommended for adults and children above age fourteen, this fast-paced, nine-hour course prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling. TS-101 is a prerequisite to becoming a League Cycling Instructor (LCI).

There is a $10 fee for the course materials. Please contact Dan Moser, LCI, to register for the course and for information about other bike/ped education opportunities. Dan can be reached at 239-334-6417 or dan@floridabicycle.org.
T

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Estero planning groups' priorities include safer bike paths


News-Press –
Estero's priorities put into panels' list


by christina cepero • ccepero@news-press.com•
December 21, 2010

Defined architectural styles, stricter
signage standards, safer bike paths, improved
access to waterways and partnership with FGCU are
the highest priorities for Estero.

Estero Community Planning Panel and Estero Design
Review Committee members on Monday ranked
topics that were discussed by about 130 people at a
November planning workshop.

The Estero groups will submit a work plan to Lee
County Community Development to make changes to
Estero’s land development code and community
plan.

The two volunteer panels, along with the Estero
Council of Community Leaders, can ask for $50,000
from the county for each of those two requests but
must raise money to match the county’s
contributions.

The Estero leaders also plan to hire professional
consultants to help implement some of the ideas.

The community’s architecture is mostly
Mediterranean style with pockets of Old Florida
characteristics, such as metal roofs. Several
workshop attendees said they’d like to see more
architectural variety.

Monday’s participants said U.S. 41 north of
Corkscrew Road is a redevelopment area that could
be designated for Old Florida-style architecture.
Design review committee member Bill Prysi said they
need to define the Old Florida style elements they’d
like to see.

The participants also talked about the possibility of
designating a historic district in the area of
Highlands Avenue, Broadway Avenue and Sandy
Lane east of U.S. 41, which includes about 20
houses.

Steve Elferdink, who lives in a 1915 home he
restored at the corner of Highlands and Broadway,
said adding features to that area, such as
landscaping and old-fashioned streetlights, could
attract the support of longtime residents who are
resistant to change.

“If there’s a way to enhance Highlands, we should
do it,” said Dan DeLisi, a planning panel member.

The participants agreed to reach out to the
BikeWalkLee coalition for help improving bike paths.

Other issues they categorized as medium priority
are park expansions and promoting road and bike
path connectivity within and between developments.

DeLisi said interconnecting roads and bike paths
are required but “not in my backyard” issues arise. “
Everyone wants a connection through someone
else’s property but nobody wants a connection
through their property,” he said.

They also discussed bringing mass transit such as
water taxis, adding communities to Estero’s
planning boundaries and placing gateway signs or
monuments at the community’s entrances.

Friday, December 17, 2010

FDOT agrees to lower speed limit & make bike/ped improvements on Miami street


If FDOT can do this in Miami, transportation officials (state & local) should be able to do this in Lee County. Darla

Miami Herald 12/15/10
Brickell Avenue speed limit to be cut
The Florida Department of Transportation now says it will lower the speed limit and make engineering changes to Brickell Avenue, after complaints that the road was dangerous for walkers and cyclists.

BY ANDRES VIGLUCCI

Bowing to persistent pressure from Brickell residents, bicycle and pedestrian activists, and city and county officials, state roadway engineers have agreed to reduce speeds along busy Brickell Avenue, as well as add crosswalks and ``share-the-road'' markings to improve safety.

The changes will be incorporated into a year-long,$9 million resurfacing of the 1.6-mile state road that is slated to begin in January, Gus Pego, district secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, said Tuesday. Pego stressed that the agency agreed to the bike- and pedestrian-friendly measures after new engineering studies conducted in the past few weeks found them to be justified.

``We've been responsive to the issues brought to us,'' Pego told The Miami Herald.
The alterations to the resurfacing project mark a significant concession by FDOT. Agency engineers had until recently insisted they could make few of the changes demanded by residents, activists and local officials.

Critics argued that a shortage of crosswalks forced people to jaywalk and complained speeding cars imperil the growing number of pedestrians and joggers along the avenue, the spine of Miami's densest district -- a rapidly changing area that residents and city planners envision as a walkable, bikeable urban neighborhood.
The dynamic began to shift for several reasons. Last month, a 30-year Brickell Bay Club resident, Rosa Encalada, 83, was struck and killed by a taxi as she tried to cross the avenue on a Sunday evening.

FDOT engineers, meanwhile, took a verbal beating from angry residents and activists at a public meeting last week and in blog posts by TransitMiami.com and the South Florida Bicycle Coalition. And public officials -- including Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff and Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez -- intervened forcefully with Pego.

Tuesday evening, Encalada's family held a candlelight vigil at the spot near 2300 Brickell where she was struck. `That's wonderful news,'' Teresa Encalada, the woman's daughter-in-law, said of Pego's decision. ``That's what we wanted.''
In return for FDOT's concessions, Sarnoff said, the city will immediately step up traffic enforcement along Brickell, including at a flashing-light pedestrian crosswalk recently installed by the state agency along the residential south half of the avenue.

Sarnoff said too many motorists have been ignoring the yield-to-pedestrians signal, as he found out when he drove the avenue every day for the past two weeks to gauge conditions.
``I watched a few old ladies try to cross from the west side to the east side, and motorists were just gunning it to beat them,'' Sarnoff said.
The issues brought up by residents, bike activists and leaders of the Brickell Homeowners Association included a neighborhood-incompatible speed limit of 40 mph along the residential stretch of Brickell, a shortage of marked crosswalks and a lack of signage or pavement markings indicating that motorists should share the right lane with bicycles.

FDOT has agreed to:
• Reduce the speed limit to 35 mph along the residential stretch between Southeast 15th Road and the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway.
That will make the entirety of Brickell 35 mph -- the same speed as the connected Biscayne Boulevard to its north. Though that's higher than the 25 to 30 mph some Brickell residents wanted, Sarnoff said it marks ``a step in the right direction.''
``Thirty-five is a manageable speed,'' he said.
• Add a new marked crosswalk in the 1400 block of Brickell, in the business district. Also, some crosswalks that now exist along one side of an intersection but not the other will be completed so that pedestrians will have marked crossings on all four corners.
• Southbound and northbound right lanes will be slightly widened and marked with ``sharrows'' -- chevron-shaped stripes and an outline of a bike on the pavement to indicate that motorists must share those lanes with cyclists. The road isn't wide enough to accommodate separate bike lanes.
During construction, Pego said, all speeds along Brickell will be reduced to 30 mph.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BikeWalkLee awarded "Injury Prevention Organization of the Year"


At the December 15th 2010 Annual Awards Event by Lee County Florida Injury Prevention Coalition (IPC), BikeWalkLee was named the "Injury Prevention Organization of the Year", and Darla Letourneau accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

The award statement read as follows:
Since BikeWays Lee County, our community's first cycling advocacy group, vanished when its leader left the bicycling business, we've been without an organized voice to fight for better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. Then, about two years ago, and after more than twenty years since the demise of BikeWays Lee County, BikeWalkLee has emerged, only this time as a coalition similar to IPC.

Since coming together, BikeWalkLee has had what could only be called resounding success. From major transportation policy reforms at the various local government levels, to projects that are on the ground, the coalition approach has made significant progress in moving Lee County and Southwest Florida towards routinely having complete streets that accommodate all users.


Thanks to each of you--the individual advocates and supporter organizations, government staff and officials, and concerned citizens--for being part of this effort. Commissioner Ray Judah was the guest speaker and thanked the coalition and all its partners for their contributions to the Lee County community. A special thanks to IPC for this recognition and for their 15-year effort to create a safe community in which to live, play, and work.

Below are other IPC 2010 award winners:

Injury Prevention Media Partner of the Year: Priority Marketing
Injury Prevention Program Program of the Year: Step WiseLee, Lee County Public Safety
Injury Prevention Sponsor of the Year: United Way of Lee County
Injury Prevention Volunteer of the Year: Lowell Gerson
Injury Prevention Professional of the Year: Virginia Cervasio, CARES

Governing Magazine: Bicycles' Popularity Grows in Cities


Bicycling has become fashionable. Urban and transportation policymakers take note.
Alex Marshall | December 2010


Here's an excerpt:
Places with an older network of gridded streets will have an easier time accommodating those fashionable young ladies and men on bikes. But more suburban cities, with swooping arterials and soaring freeways, can do what they can. They risk ignoring this trend at their peril. For cities that aim to be receptive to a creative culture, accommodating bicycles and fashionable urban riders may be just as important as having a light rail line or an abundance of coffee shops.


Click here to read the full article.

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Even old pros can learn cycling savvy


Florida Weekly December 15, 2010

Now, for all the cyclists out there, when you need to travel certain unfriendly key roadways without on-road accommodation or a real multi-use path you’ve got a choice. Your first option is to ride on a narrow, concrete sidewalk that’s populated with pedestrians (who it’s meant for) and obstacles like utility poles and bus benches, as well as the hazards associated with every driveway and side street. Option two is to allow yourself to be part of traffic on a very busy highway. Not surprisingly, some of the most confident, experienced cyclists frequently choose the sidewalk option if an alternative route isn’t available, especially if it’s for only a short distance. Admittedly, I’m guilty of such behavior, even with the knowledge that the possibility of a crash, fall or other mishap is much greater on the sidewalk than on the road. That’s a fact most people have trouble believing. But my use of the sidewalk will become even less frequent now that I’ve taken an urban cycling course.

I’ve been involved in cycling education for more than two decades, teaching everyone from children to adult cyclists to physical education teachers and community educators. But even after all those years of experience I found the newly developed course called “Cycling Savvy” to be like no other class I’ve taken or taught.

Here’s how the course is described on Cycling Savvy's website: “Cycling Savvy is a traffic cycling course developed for the Florida Bicycle Association. The course teaches the principles of mindful bicycling: empowerment to act as confident, equal road users; strategies for safe, stress-free integrated cycling; and tools to read and problem-solve any traffic situation or road configuration.”

The website description goes on to say: “Even most confident cyclists prefer to use quiet routes when feasible. In many cases, it’s only an intimidating intersection or short stretch of busy road which hinders a cyclist’s preferred route. This course is designed to show students simple strategies to eliminate such barriers, and ride with ease and confidence in places they might never have thought possible.”

Indeed, three of the eight who completed the class with me were “returning” cyclists or had minimal recent experience, yet, to an individual, we were very comfortable riding solo in a variety of downtown Orlando traffic situations by the time we hit the roads. And our rides included a number of passes through major intersections and I-4 interchanges. Clearly, the approach Cycling Savvy uses works in ways all other courses I’ve taken or teach fail to do. That being the case, I’ll soon become certified to teach Cycling Savvy and will be offering classes throughout our area. Contact me or check out the website for upcoming opportunities.

Important event

Whether you’re a runner or not, come on out to Fort Myers High School this Saturday morning to support FMHS Cross Country Coach Yancey Palmer and his family. A 5K walk/run is being conducted to benefit the Palmers, whose home burned recently. Call 823-0174 for details.

Advocacy update

What should be a no-brainer — adding 4-foot shoulders/bike lanes on Bonita’s Hickory Boulevard — has become controversial, thanks to resistance from the city of Bonita Springs’ city manager as well as some Hickory Boulevard residents who would be impacted (and who would directly benefit) from this improvement.

Although Hickory Boulevard is a county road, Lee Department of Transportation and our commissioners take input from residents and the municipality involved in matters like this, a policy that makes sense. Nevertheless, some residents who forget that the roads belong to everyone are opposed to the common-sense project. For more on this matter, check out the BikeWalkLee blog post. 

— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and a former bike/ped coordinator who cycles regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He may be contacted at moserdeleon@juno.com or 334-6417.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Find Your Ride Day Event: Jan. 19th

Take the challenge--take the bus for a day in December!



News-Press Op Ed: State must move now on green transportation
Any delays will make our problems worse
News-Press Dec. 14, 2010

By Marti Daltry. conservation organizer for the
Sierra Club,
(Fort Myers Office, 1415 Dean Street,Fort Myers, FL 3390; 313-7202)

Recently the Florida Department of Transportation
unveiled its 2060 Transportation Plan designed to
address the growing transportation needs of the
Sunshine State, and Floridians were invited to
submit comments.

The 2060 Plan identified long-range trends and
their attendant challenges, and outlined areas of
focus: economic competitiveness, community
livability and environmental stewardship, and six
major goals:

- Investment of transportation systems to
support a prosperous, globally competitive
economy

- Make transportation decisions to support
and enhance livable communities

- Make transportation decisions to promote
responsible environmental stewardship

- Provide a safe and secure transportation
system

- Maintain and operate Florida's transportation
system proactively

- And improve mobility and connectivity for
people and freight.

While these goals are noteworthy, the plan failed to
define specific strategies and a deadline for
implementation. We can't wait 50 years for a better,
greener transportation system in Florida.

The transportation sector is the second-largest
contributor to Florida's gross greenhouse gas
emissions. If we want to reduce global warming, we
need to work now not later to reduce these
emissions.

The governor's Florida's Energy and Climate Change
Action Plan recommends a set of seven policies that
offer the potential for major economic benefits and
emission decreases. The Florida 2060 Transportation Plan
should be aligned with this plan.

In 2011, a huge wave of baby boomers will be
turning 65 and that means more new retirees
moving to Southwest Florida. With this growth will
come more vehicular traffic, more highway
congestion and more pollution - pollution that will
impact the health of our residents as well as the
health of our environment.

Green transportation alternatives such as public
transit, carpooling, bicycling or walking instead of
hopping into the car for every small errand are
doable, but many Southwest Florida residents do
not take advantage of these opportunities. Many,
including seniors, would prefer to use alternative
forms of transportation but are not familiar or
comfortable with green transportation options.

If people are ready to try alternatives, here's one
easy way to get started: I am challenging Southwest
Floridians to give their cars a vacation this holiday
season and take the bus for one day in December.

Perhaps, get a group of friends together and take
LeeTran to your favorite mall for lunch and
shopping.

For information on planning your trip, go to the
LeeTran Trip Planner. All you need to do is supply your departure address, the time you plan to depart and your destination. The trip planner will provide you
with all the pertinent information you need. Come
try LeeTran and let them do the driving while you
relax! See you on the bus!

Note: Send Marti (marti.daltry@sierraclub.org) an account of your bus experience and she'll post it on the Sierra Club Florida News blog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lee County Complete Streets-related commitments & deliverables


BikeWalkLee has created a chart for tracking all the complete streets-related commitments and deliverables in 2010-2011 that the County has committed to as part of several recent reports and communications:
The Complete Streets Action Plan approved on 10/27/10
The County's resurfacing contract recommendations by LeeDOT to BoCC: 11/9/10
Commitments made to BPAC and BWL during 2010

Click here to see the matrix. We will be tracking these deliverables throughout the year and will update when commitments have been completed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bill Spikowski’s Presentation to the MPO Board: “An Integrated Transit Network for Lee County”


Background: At the November MPO Board meeting, BikeWalkLee suggested that the board begin a discussion on rail and its potential place in a future Lee County transit network, and Chairman Judah asked for Bill Spikowski to make a presentation at the Dec. 8th meeting.

Bill’s Dec. 8th presentation looked at the different modes of transit and their applicability to the different parts of our community. The key is to have an integrated transit system. He suggested that the update of the LRTP needs a broader vision of a transit plan and the board needs to give staff direction to make sure that happens. He recommended that a key step for moving forward was for Lee County to become the landlord of the Seminole Gulf rail right-of-way. Click here for the NBC-2 story.

MPO Board adopted two resolutions to provide policy direction on LRTP


Throughout the Lee MPO’s LRTP development process, the Hillsborough 2035 LRTP served as a benchmark for the kind of visionary plan that we hoped Lee County would develop. Although there was a great deal of discussion and consensus on the board about needing a new transportation paradigm and recognition that it was not possible to build our way out of congestion, many of the desired changes could not be incorporated in this plan given the time constraints. BikeWalkLee developed two resolutions for the Board's consideration to "codify” thir conversations into policy statements. These resolutions direct the staff and committees to move in a new direction and spell out steps needed to get us there.

Darla Letourneau, on behalf of BikeWalkLee, spoke in support of these resolutions at the Dec. 8th meeting. The MPO board unanimously adopted the resolutions. (Click here for the resolutions

Resolution 2010-12
: policy statement on balanced multi-modal transportation system:
1. Maximum use of existing transportation facilities & improve connectivity before adding new facilities
2. Integrated prioritization approach (all modes integrated into one priority list), to be developed and used for making recommendations to FDOT every June for the 5-year work plan priorities, beginning June 2011.

Resolution 2010-13: policy statement re: major LRTP update in 2012:
1. To incorporate new plans:
EAR & Comp Plan amendments—land use & economic development
2010 Census
County’s transit 10 year plan (initiated by BoCC on 12/7)
Rail Feasibility Study
Final report of ATPPL study
2. Enhance plan development process:
better modeling techniques (scenario analysis and policy options)
Use innovative public participation techniques (like Hillsborough)
Incorporate quantitative performance measures (none in this plan)

Bottomline: BikeWalkLee participated in every phase of the development of the 2035 LRTP over the past year and we believe that our input, along with that of other concerned citizen groups and individuals who also advocated for a more balanced and forward looking transportation system, made a difference. While the county has a long way to go, thanks to the leadership of the MPO board and efforts by the MPO staff, progress was made this year in beginning to shift the transportation paradigm.

MPO Board adopted proposal to include a larger & more effective transit component in the 2035 LRTP Needs Plan



From the beginning of the LRTP development, BikeWalkLee has advocated for a Needs Plan that reflects a visionary & effective transit system that promotes “choice riders”. BikeWalkLee requested 15 minute headways on all routes & design changes for a more efficient system. The Needs Plan that the Board tentatively adopted in October had mostly 60 minute headways, which meant it lacked the framework for an effective transit system. At BikeWalkLee’s request, the MPO staff modeled 15 minute headways and presented the new option for consideration by the committees in December, which both committees endorsed. This option increases projected ridership 450% over the tentatively adopted Needs Plan and adds about $900 million to the LRTP Needs Plan.

Dr. Margaret Banyan, representing BikeWalkLee, spoke in support of this proposal at the Dec. 8th MPO meeting, arguing that this proposal was consistent with the goals in the LRTP and would provide a path forward for transit. This proposal shows the magnitude of a transit commitment that is needed to reach goal of reaching choice riders, and having this in the needs plan will provide guidance to the Lee County Transit 10-year plan now being developed. The Board agreed with this proposal and it was reflected in the final LRTP they adopted on Wednesday. This was the most significant decision that the board made in moving in the direction of a more balanced multi-modal system.

FDOT’s Work Plan for 2011-2016 includes news projects that benefit bike/ped


This time every year, FDOT develops a 5-year project-specific funding plan for each county. This year, Lee County is scheduled to receive $625 million for the next 5 years, with $306 million of that programmed in 2011. This is about $300 million more than the county was expecting. As part of this plan, there are 19 stand-alone bike/ped projects worth about $10.6 million (approximately the same level as last year’s work plan). About 40% of these funds will be available in July 2011. In addition, there are 19 road projects, worth $124 million, that will include bicycles and pedestrian facilities. [Note: the FDOT Work Plan has to be approved by the State Legislature before it is final.]

Dan Moser, representing BikeWalkLee, spoke in support of the Work Plan, and emphasized the need to work together on the design of the road projects to ensure that the needs of bike/ped/transit users are fully integrated into the plans. We are pleased to see that Lee County will be receiving its first Regional TE grant, (worth $1.8 M)which will provide a new bike/ped trail in the SR 80 (Palm Beach Blvd) corridor, which will connect to Collier County. This project is not slated to begin until 2015. In addition, a pedestrian safety improvement project is funded (almost $1 million) on US 41 from Hanson St. to downtown Fort Myers.

Click here to see the list of all the bike/ped projects (thanks to Trinity Scott at FDOT for preparing this special analysis).

Countywide MPO bicycle/pedestrian master plan update


The bike/ped master plan is still a work in progress, but a draft version of the executive summary (which was distributed at the December TAC & CAC meetings) was incorporated into the MPO's draft 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) that was adopted by the MPO on Dec. 8th. The draft report will soon be reviewed by the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) (which includes BWL representatives) and then presented to the various MPO committees for review. The final master plan is tentatively scheduled to go to the MPO Board in February and the LRTP will be amended to be consistent with the final Master Plan.

Steve Rodgers spoke about the plan on behalf of BikeWalkLee at the Dec. 8th MPO meeting. He highlighted the importance of the master plan to the county’s complete streets efforts and the need to fill gaps and provide connectivity across jurisdictional lines. One of the features we’re excited about is the proposal for three demonstration projects that will highlight different aspects of the system we need and be instituted fairly quickly. Such pilot projects can build public support for implementation of the overall plan. Watch the MPO’s project website for upcoming materials.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feasiblity study for River of Grass Greenway (ROGG) included in FDOT WorkProgram for 2011/12


Friends of the ROGG,

Great news! A feasibility study for 16 miles of “ROGG-west” will be included in FDOT program next year.
At the December 10th meeting the Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) demonstrated their support for the ROGG by voting to include the ROGG-west PD&E study (between CR92 and SR29) in FY 2011/12 of the FDOT work program, at an estimated cost of $3 million. This vote was opposite of recommendations of the County transportation staff, as well as two of three advisory committees (TAC, CAC). The price tag for the ROGG feasibility study has increased significantly, which led County staff to question the most appropriate use of limited funds.

-- THANKS to everyone who contacted MPO members.
-- THANKS to the Collier MPO for their support of the ROGG
-- THANKS to FDOT District 1 for their support


River of Grass Greenway Committee

MPO’s Traffic Control Committee discusses modifications at Del Prado/NE 3rd Terrace intersection for enhancing pedestrian safety





Background:
On April 27th, a 13 year old child was struck and killed by a car while attempting to cross Del Prado Blvd. south of NE 3rd Terrace (at Burton Park) on his bicycle. The intersection at this location does not have any traffic signals or crosswalks (see 1st photo above). BikeWalkLee and others have urged LeeDOT to make improvements at this location to enhance pedestrian safety. In August, LeeDOT completed its study and has recommended only one improvement at this location: modification of the existing median openings on Del Prado Blvd. in this area. LeeDOT is scheduled to present its report and recommendations to the Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Committee on January 19th. Since this traffic operations issue is multi-jurisdictional, it was placed on the agenda of the MPO’s TOCC (Traffic Operations Coordinating Committee) on 12/7/10 for discussion.

BikeWalkLee Request
: On behalf of BikeWalkLee, Darla Letourneau commented at the TOCC meeting that LeeDOT’s recommendation to modify the existing median openings (add directional openings, reconfigure existing openings) is a good idea. It would provide a refuge for crossing, and limit the amount of conflicting movements at each opening, which would help pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists by giving each a few less things to worry about. However, this treatment by itself is insufficient to address pedestrian safety at a location that is directly across from city playing fields at Burton Park. She recommended the following additional improvements and actions:
1. Cautionary playground signs should be installed (and maybe even a brown sign with the name of the park itself), with a yellow speed placard attached to remind them of the speed limit.
2. A Pedestrian Warning Flasher (standard ground mounted), like the one just installed on Gladiolus Drive in Harlem Heights, be installed at this location. (see the 2nd and 3rd photo above.) A warrant is not required to install this equipment. This type of flasher should be considered for other intersections near schools or parks where children are at greatest risk crossing busy roads.
3. The speed limit on De Prado (6 lanes) in this area is 45 mph, with cars often going 50-55 mph. Serious consideration should be given by LeeDOT to find ways to lower the speed limit in areas with large concentrations of children playing, whether near schools or near parks frequented by children. This is a problem throughout the county and a plan needs to be developed for instituting traffic calming features in these kind of locations.
4. While BikeWalkLee had recommended that the county consider either the Enhancer or HAWK traffic signals for this location, the counts didn’t support a warrant. However, these surveys were done in June. She requested that the county consider redoing the surveys in season, as they suggested in their report.

Next Steps: LeeDOT is scheduled to present its report and recommendations to the Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Committee on January 19th. LeeDOT will listen to comments by the Cape Coral City Council, but the decision re: what action to take rests with the County, since this is a County road.

Action Alert: If you are interested in seeing pedestrian improvements at this intersection on Del Prado, plan to attend this Jan. 19th meeting (9 a.m. in Cape Coral city hall), and make your views known.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Conversation with an engineer....

This You Tube video of an engineer talking with a resident about why a road project is needed in their neighborhood is worth watching. Bottomline message: "We need to stop this nonsense and start building strong towns."

Letter to Editor: Reduce Carbon


News-Press

Letters to the Editor • mailbag@news-press.com • December 9, 2010

We need a plan that will provide transportation choices for all Floridians while reducing our oil dependence and greenhouse gas pollution from transportation in both the short and long term.

In 2008, Florida’s Energy and Climate Action Plan outlined how to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from transportation. Any transportation plan going forward should be in line with those recommendations.

Prioritize public transit and provide appropriate infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation riders in the next few years.

Carpooling, cycling, walking or using public transportation should be a viable option to all members of our communities. Availability of these resources will enhance our counties and reduce our carbon footprint.

BJ GERALD
Alva

Monday, December 6, 2010

St. Petersburge Times: Few motorists aware of Florida law to stop at crosswalks with signs


Stopping at pedestrian crosswalks with signs or signals is the law, but most drivers don't.
By Danny Valentine, St. Petersburg Times, 12/2

Hoping to combat Florida's history of dangerous streets and pedestrian fatalities, state lawmakers passed legislation in 2008 requiring motorists to stop at most pedestrian crosswalks. More than two years later, few people even know about it.
The law requires drivers to stop, not just yield, at crosswalks with traffic signals or signs. But signs across the Tampa Bay area still tell drivers to "yield for peds," and some communities have even erected new signs that do not reflect current law. A Hillsborough County transportation planner said she could only think of one place where a sign informed drivers to stop. And in St. Petersburg recently, police gave warnings to motorists advising them to yield to pedestrians.

"Why are we seeing new signs that say yield when that is not the law?" said state Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, who sponsored the bill in the House. "The frustration is obvious."

Traffic experts say the correct signs are a vital part of improving crosswalk safety in one of the most dangerous states for pedestrians. In 2009, Florida had 466 pedestrian fatalities, the highest pedestrian fatality rate in the country, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The definition of yielding can be ambiguous, they say. It could mean the car slows, comes to a rolling
stop or stops completely.

That creates a cat-and-mouse game between pedestrian and driver, said Brian Smith, executive director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization in Pinellas.
"It is confusing" Smith said. "We were trying to make it black and white."
Before the bill was drafted, Smith's organization researched how pedestrians could more easily cross roadways, determining that the "yield" issue was key.
The old law "does not give a pedestrian a clear indication as to whether the vehicle should go first or whether they should let the vehicle pass before proceeding," the group wrote to Sen. Mike Fasano, R New Port Richey, in 2007.

"When people think about yielding, they look at it as, 'I have room,' " said St. Petersburg police traffic commander Bill Korinek. Kriseman said it has been a long battle to get the Florida Department of Transportation to inform agencies about the change. As the organization in charge of transportation in Florida, he said it is
FDOT's responsibility to see that counties implement the change.

"Certainly, DOT didn't make it a priority to get the message out," Kriseman said.
FDOT recently acknowledged that the law was not being implemented uniformly.
"There was a big inconsistency," said Ananth Prasad, FDOT's assistant secretary.
On Nov. 17, the agency adopted a policy to replace all signs for state roads to reflect the change in law, he said. They also resolved to work with local municipalities to implement the change statewide.

St. Petersburg is gradually switching out the signs as the old ones need replacing, said Joe Kubicki, director of transportation and parking for the city.
Even though some correct signs are out there, he said he doesn't think many people know about the change. Michele Ogilvie, a transportation planner with the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization agreed. She said she only knows of one sign informing motorists to stop. "I know to do it because I read the law and said, "Oh, okay," she said.

Informing the public about the change was more difficult because the bill didn't come with funding to do so, Kriseman said. He initially proposed increasing fines for motorists who didn't stop for pedestrians at intersections, but it was cut out of the final version, he said.

Kriseman said the change needs to be a high priority. Crashes involving pedestrians account for more than 20 percent of traffic fatalities in Tampa Bay, compared with about 11 percent across the country. More than 1,000 pedestrian-involved crashes are
reported every year in Tampa Bay. "We knew it was going to be difficult to get the word out," said Kriseman. "Clearly, that's exactly what happened.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Travel souvenirs: Transportation lessons we can learn from



Florida Weekly 12/1/10
No matter how much you love your home it’s always a good idea to get away in order to put certain things in perspective. For me, it’s a chance to compare livability and sustainability characteristics. Visiting other communities, large or small, causes you to realize things are pretty good at home as well as discover there’s a lot of room for improvement. It can also provide hope that the seemingly impossible can become a reality. A recent trek I made to parts of Florida, North Carolina and Georgia provided just such an opportunity to compare and contrast each other’s pedestrian and bicycling environments, among other quality-of-life features. One community that stands out in a very positive way is Charlotte, N.C.

Based on something I learned just before my trip, I arranged to meet with staff from the city of Charlotte to study things for myself. What prompted this visit was a presentation by the director of Hillsborough County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, the body responsible for transportation planning in the Tampa area, to Lee County’s MPO. At that meeting it was explained that instead of putting almost all of their eggs in the road building/widening basket, as is the case for most Florida communities, elected officials from throughout Hillsborough decided to follow Charlotte’s model and make a major commitment to transit and the required infrastructure, which includes access and accommodation for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Charlotte, N.C. light rail station features art and bike parking. Charlotte was indeed different than most in the region in that there was a light rail line (two more to come) and an extensive bus system. But what made the Queen City unique regionally is its commitment to bicycle infrastructure, from bike lanes to secure bike parking (lockers) at transit stations and other places. While it may have a way to go to get where places like Portland and Denver are today, the leadership of Charlotte is moving in the right direction. If the home city of NASCAR can do it, Fort Myers and all of Southwest Florida can surely do what seems almost impossible to imagine today.

Advocacy update

All that being said, and as I mentioned in my prior column, the outlook for getting where we need to be in terms of creating sustainable communities has become decidedly more difficult, thanks to incoming leadership at many levels that’s expected to be less than supportive of this direction. There have already been indications that sound growth and transportation policies and practices, which include increased focus on transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects are targeted to be significantly cut or even eliminated. Some of the comments by those seeking to derail the progress that’s been made make it sound as if sustainability and smart growth are code words for some kind of plot to control the populace. It’s interesting that these “patriots” don’t see the need to move away from our energy-wasting, environment-damaging, resource-depleting ways and instead go back to the “good old days” of development and policy. Where do common sense and reality checks come into the picture?

The latest word is that those of this regressive mindset will be joining local boards, committees, and any other government advisory bodies as a way to turn back the clock on efforts such as complete streets — or keep things as they are if reform hasn’t yet occurred. The only hope there is of beating back this shortsighted assault on sound growth principles is to engage as those in opposition plan to. That means connecting with your local elected officials, participating in community and local government meetings, and, perhaps most importantly, being appointed to advisory committees and boards. Otherwise, get prepared for what’s to come. And based on research, projections, and numerous examples, it ain’t gonna’ be pretty.

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 can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle. org or 334-6417.

SIGN RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY'S PETITION TO AAA

AAA wants trail and bicycle/pedestrian funding cut from transportation funding. Please sign RTC's petition today!

Our friends at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy are fighting the good fight for trails and bicycle/pedestrian programs, and they need your help! AAA is advocating for the elimination of the Transportation Enhancements (TE) program from the transportation trust fund. Trails and bike/ped get less than 2 cents of every dollar in the fund, but AAA wants that money to go to highways and roads, turning back the clock on 20 years of progress toward a balanced transportation system.

It started with AAA Mid-Atlantic in Delaware. Since then AAA National (Heathrow, FL) has indicated they support Mid-Atlantic's position. Incidentally, other AAA locations have trails. Take a peek at this video taken last week of AAA Mid-Atlantic headquarters that shows the trail just steps from the AAA building. Go figure! Our friends at YouTube support trails too.

RTC has launched a petition to ask AAA to reconsider their position. More than 30,000 people have signed so far, and supporters-and AAA members-are flooding their regional AAA chapters asking one simple question: Will AAA support critical, established walking and bicycling programs-and the funding source that allows them to thrive-now and into the future?

So far, AAA has yet to provide a satisfactory answer.

With AAA National headquarters right here in Florida (and with the TE-funded Seminole-Wekiva Trail in their front yard), let's add as many Florida voices as possible to the petition. Let AAA know that we value safe, accessible places to walk and bike, and that modern transportation is about more than just highways!