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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Agenda for Symposium:Lee County in the Year 2035: Back to the Future?

Friday, February 11, 2011
8:30 am – 4:45 pm
Harborside Event Center
1375 Monroe Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901

8:00 – 8:30 Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:30 – 8:40 Introduction and Welcome
8:40 – 8:50 Lee County in 2035: Back to the Future?
Introduction by Michael Ciccarone, Shareholder, Fowler White Boggs P.A.

8:50 – 10:00 Part I: The Demographics in 2035
Introduction by Wayne Daltry, FAICP
Older and Wiser…Our Health Depends on It!
Jim Nathan, President, Lee Memorial Health System
The Education Landscape of 2035
Dr. Erin Harrel, Edison State College
Public Education in 2035
Tom Scott, Lee County School Board Chairman
Real Estate and Tourism in 2035: A Vision
Gary Verwilt, President, REALTOR Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach
Inc

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:25 Part II: The Economy in 2035
Introduction by Tom Wallace, President, Independent Development Services Corporation
When Will Lee County Recover?
Henry H. Fishkind, Ph.D., President, Fishkind & Associates, Inc.
Managing Change: An Urban Perspective
Woody Hanson, MAI, CRE, CCIM, FRICS, Hanson Real Estate Advisors, Inc.
The Economics in 2035: Demography as Destiny and Economics as the Mechanics Thereof
Tom Wallace, President, Independent Development Services Corporation

11:25 – 12:00 Morning Panel Discussion/Q&A

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 2:25 Part III: The Land Use Pattern in 2035
Introduction by Dawn Jourdan, Assistant Professor, University of Florida
The Land Use Implications of Current Federal Policy: Sustaining the Momentum
Dawn Jourdan, Assistant Professor, University of Florida
What’s Happening in Tallahassee and How This May Impact Our Ability to Plan for 2035
Linda Shelley, Former Secretary, Florida Department of Community Affairs,
Shareholder, Fowler White Boggs P.A.

The Way Forward: Lee County’s Horizon 2035 EAR and Comprehensive Plan Update
Jerry Murphy, AICP, CFM, Murphy Planning
Summary by Dawn Jourdan, Assistant Professor, University of Florida

2:25 – 2:40 Break

2:40 – 4:05 Part IV: Transportation in 2035
Introduction by Dr. Joseph Mazurkiewicz, Florida Transportation Commissioner and
former Cape Coral Mayor
Multi-Modal Transportation Systems: Lessons Learned from Southeast Florida
Kim DeLaney, Ph.D., Growth Management Coordinator, TCRPC
Complete Urban Thoroughfares: Transportation Policies for a Sustainable Lee County in 2035
Richard A. Hall, P.E., President, Hall Planning & Engineering, Inc.
Community Leadership and Vision: Case Studies in Implementing a Balanced Transportation System
Margaret E. Banyan, Ph.D., Florida Gulf Coast University
Summary by Dr. Joseph Mazurkiewicz, Florida Transportation Commissioner and
former Cape Coral Mayor

4:05 – 4:45 Back to the Future. Fiction or Fact? Frightening or Fabulous?
Comments by Michael Ciccarone, Shareholder, Fowler White Boggs P.A.

Afternoon Panel Discussion/Q&A

If you haven't already signed up, please do so by e-mailing Angela Brooks:abrooks@fowlerwhite.com.

NYT:States’ Lawmakers Turn Attention to the Dangers of Distracted Pedestrians


January 25, 2011

By SUSAN SAULNY and MATT RICHTEL

Many joggers don earbuds and listen to music to distract themselves from the rigors of running. But might the Black Eyed Peas or Rihanna distract them so much that they jog into traffic?

That is the theory of several lawmakers pushing the latest generation of legislation dealing with how devices like iPods and cellphones affect traffic safety. The ubiquity of interactive devices has propelled the science of distraction — and now efforts to legislate against it — out of the car and into the exercise routine.

In New York, a bill is pending in the legislature’s transportation committee that would ban the use of mobile phones, iPods or other electronic devices while crossing streets — runners and other exercisers included. Legislation pending in Oregon would restrict bicyclists from using mobile phones and music players, and a Virginia bill would keep such riders from using a “hand-held communication device.”

In California, State Senator Joe Simitian, who led a successful fight to ban motorists from sending text messages and using hand-held phones, has reintroduced a bill that failed last year to fine bicyclists $20 for similar multitasking.

“The big thing has been distracted driving, but now it’s moving into other ways technology can distract you, into everyday things,” said Anne Teigen, a policy specialist for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks legislative developments.

Exercising in Central Park on Tuesday, Marie Wickham, 56, said she understood what all the fuss was about: “They’re zigging, they’re zagging, they don’t know what’s around them. It can definitely be dangerous.”

But Ms. Wickham added that she would be opposed to any ban of such devices. “I think it’s an infringement on personal rights,” she said. “At some point, we need to take responsibility for our own stupidity.”

Pedestrian fatalities increased slightly for the first time in four years in the first six months of 2010, according to a report released last week by the Governors Highway Safety Association, an organization based in Washington that represents state highway safety agencies.

Among the states, Arizona and Florida had the largest increases in pedestrian fatalities, followed by North Carolina, Oregon and Oklahoma. Nationally, pedestrian traffic fatalities had dropped to 4,091 in 2009 from 4,892 in 2005, the report stated.

“One of the reasons we think the trend may be turning negatively is because of distracted pedestrians,” said Jonathan Adkins, spokesman for the safety group.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Just do it for a cause


Florida Weekly 1/26/11

Saturday and Sunday mornings are popular times for physically active people to plunk down some money for the privilege of breaking a sweat running a 10K, cycling 60 miles or walking a 5K. For our hard-earned cash, the payoff might be as little as the satisfaction of knowing we participated in an “official” event or as big as being the best in the field or age group that day.

Many of us who are out there engaged in one or another physical activity day in and day out may not really think about the reasons we do it beyond the obvious physical and mental benefits gained. For others, training for races and other competitive events is the primary motivator. More and more, however, opportunities to combine personal gain with doing good for others by being part of events that are fundraisers for a variety of causes is a strong incentive.

In most cases, profits from organized road races, walk-a-thons, bicycle rides and other physically challenging events go to charitable causes, usually bringing in a modest amount of money — much less than the value of staff time spent. But others take it to another level by asking participants to secure pledges or additional monies beyond the entry fees in order to make the event a significant source of revenue for their cause. In those kinds of events, the proceeds might be one of the primary sources of income for an organization for the year.

Thanks to the friendly and generous residents of High Point Place on West First Street in downtown Fort Myers, the local ALA chapter has found the perfect location. Participants will climb 32 stories to reach the top where you’ll get the best view from anywhere in Fort Myers of the river and well beyond. This well-managed and fun event allows you to push yourself to your max — or you can simply make it a nice, easy 32-flight climb (although that may be a bit hard to do after you witness firefighters from various departments and districts seriously competing against each other while in full gear). And the post-event celebration at High Point’s pool overlooking the Caloosahatchee River is a blast.

Click here for details and to register. Proceeds are used to ensure we have clean air, get help to quit smoking, and find cures for asthma, emphysema and other lung diseases.

Advocacy update

BikeWalkLee recently conducted a strategy session that included a review of the past year’s successes and unmet goals as well as a look ahead to 2011 and beyond. One issue discussed is the need to educate decision-makers at various levels of government as well as the general public as to the meaning of “complete streets.” There seems to be a bit of confusion and certain preconceptions the term itself may be helping to create and that could be working against acceptance of the concept and its implementation. BikeWalkLee will be making education and awareness a priority in 2011. Visit the blog to learn more about this and other bike/ped/transit matters.

On the state level, it’s almost time for the legislature to begin its annual session in Tallahassee. As usual, Florida Bicycle Association is organizing and will be hosting the Florida Bike Summit. Start making plans to be part of the summit, which takes place on Thursday, March 24. You’ll find more at the website.

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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

News-Press Editorial: Transit will be needed as traffic grows


Editorial • news-press.com• January 22, 2011

Traffic congestion may not be too bad these days in
Lee County, partly because the economy is so weak.

But congestion is coming back slowly, like the
economy.

This county is going to start growing again, and it
will be brutally expensive in dollars and disruption
to try to build enough roads to keep up with
increased traffic. It may be impossible.

In the longer run, we are going to need alternatives
to the car - more bus service, maybe even light rail.

The future prospects for traffic here also make it
imperative for planners to include bicycle and
pedestrian use in road designs, and make it safe for
those users to coexist with motor vehicles.

Public transit is heavily subsidized now, and
probably always will be. But the trade-off in reduced
congestion can be worth it.

A study released Thursday by the Texas
Transportation Institute found that drivers here lost
7.5 million hours to traffic delays in 2009, up from
7.2 million the year before. With 5.9 million gallons
in wasted fuel, the study put the cost of traffic
delays in Lee County in 2009 at $183 million,
ranking 69th of 439 areas studied.

"We're only seeing free flowing traffic today because
of the downturn in the economy," Commissioner Ray
Judah said. "That's going to build back up and
necessitate more public transportation."

The Metropolitan Planning Organization, which
develops regional transportation plans, last month
wisely rejected flyovers along the busy Colonial
Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Parkway corridor.
They pushed instead for investment in public
transportation.

A recent MPO study found that creating a system that
would attract wide ridership would cost 2.5 times
the current budget.

But roads are costly, too, especially when they are
congested. We need to keep subsidizing and slowly
expanding Lee Tran, and planning for a mixed
transportation system.


Also read News-Press article: Lee County traffic delay cost
adds up


By Brian Liberatore • bliberatore@news-press.
com• January 21, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Draft Lee Plan: New Horizon 2035 Evaluation & Appraisal Report


Hot off the presses! The draft Lee Plan New Horizon 2035 EAR report is now posted on the County's website.

Excerpt from Executive Summary: The purpose of the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR), as required by state law, is to evaluate how well the county’s comprehensive plan is performing. The EAR process provides the opportunity for the county to work with community stakeholders to identify Lee County’s needs for and concerns about the future, establish a new county vision, and identify planning strategies to achieve that vision in the future.
During development of the EAR, the county initiated an extensive community-based effort. This effort focused on allowing stakeholders to provide guidance on two key topics: 1) the issues and opportunities they see facing the county and 2) the future they would like to see for Lee County. In addition to this broad-based community effort, the planning staff conducted several interdepartmental workshops to allow the
operational departments within the county to participate in helping to shape a strategic planning response to the county’s issues and opportunities.

The County's Local Planning Agency (LPA) will be holding a workshop/public hearing to review this plan on Monday, January 31st at 8:30 a.m. in the County Commission Chambers in downtown Fort Myers. There is an opportunity for public comment at this hearing. The LPA will make recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on this report and the Board will hold a workshop and vote on this report in February.

As BikeWalkLee stated in its Jan. 9th letter to the Board of County Commissioners, the Board's decision on the EAR and subsequent amendments is perhaps the most important action that they will take to determine the county's direction over the next decades. We have urged the county to develop an EAR that is visionary and bold. It must provide the blueprint for changes in land use that promote transit-oriented development, transit, livable communities, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, and complete streets. BikeWalkLee will be reviewing this draft report and plans to present its comments at the Jan. 31st LPA meeting.

News-Press:Fix studied for Del Prado stretch where boy was killed


don ruane • druane@news-press.com•
January 20, 2011


Del Prado Boulevard’s median could be
improved to help people cross the busy road where
a boy was killed by a car last spring, a Lee County
traffic engineer told the Cape Coral City Council on
Wednesday.

First, the county wants another traffic study, said
senior traffic engineer Steve Jansen during a city
Transportation Advisory Committee meeting. Del
Prado, from Pine Island Road to Cape Coral Parkway,
is maintained by Lee County. The city controls the
side streets.

“We will do the count again before we decide to do
the median,” he said.

The county is looking at Del Prado’s intersection
with Northeast 3rd Terrace and Northeast 2nd
Terrace. It’s where Ryan Santos, 13, was struck by a
car and killed April 27 while crossing to a city park.
Del Prado has six lanes and a 45-mph speed limit in
that area.

A study last June showed enough traffic on Del
Prado for a signal, but not enough on side streets,
Jansen said. The county wants data from February or M
arch before deciding what to do, Jansen said.
About 30,000 cars travel Del Prado in the area daily.

If approved, the narrow median separating the left
turn lane on Del Prado from oncoming traffic would
be widened so pedestrians will have room to stop
for approaching cars before continuing on.

The plan also includes eliminating left turns from
Northeast 3rd Terrace and Northeast 2nd Terrace.
Only right turns on to Del Prado would be allowed,
Jansen said. Eliminating the left turn eliminates a
source of traffic for pedestrians to watch for, he
said.

“The median idea is not a bad idea. The median
(now) is not even as wide as a bike,” said Kerri
Santos, Ryan’s mother. She presented the county
with a petition for improvements signed by 1,300
people.

The county also is willing to put up brown
information signs letting drivers know the park is
nearby.

“The signs would be a good thing,” Santos said. A
new RaceTrac gas station at Northeast 3rd Terrace
and Del Prado makes it harder to see the park, she
said.

The plan is a good first step, said Darla Letourneau
of BikeWalk Lee, a group promoting bicycle and
pedestrian safety. Better signage is needed, she
said.

“You can’t see the park from the road. It’s set back a
block,” Letourneau said.

She also asked the city council advisory board to
consider flashers and other traffic calming steps.

Changing the medians creates an inconvenience for
residents who live near the park but safety of
children is important, said Andres Rodriguez of
Northeast 3rd Terrace. The gas station, a RaceTrac,
increases the danger, he said. Children will be
tempted to cross Del Prado for a cold drink or snack
or to hang out with friends.

Officials could do more, Rodriguez said. They could
put slanted crosswalk lines on the pavement, reduce
the speed limit, add flashing lights and safety signs
and increase enforcement.

There are no marked crosswalks, TAC Chairman Pete
Brandt said.

See yesterday's story: Cape traffic committee urged
to add more safety measures for busy road


Here’s NBC-2 news story on the Del Prado intersection. Clip on right hand video with this title.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Public meeting to discuss locally preferred alternative for Ding Darling transit


A formal presentation and comment session for the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Alternative Transportation Study will be held at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at the Sanibel Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel, FL. At this meeting the project team will present the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative to the public. This alternative, which the public helped generate last year in Phase I of the study, includes non-motorized elements in and near the Refuge and motorized circulators (shuttle/tram) connecting the Refuge to other areas of the islands.

Meeting Agenda (4:30 - 6:30 p.m.)
4:30 - 5:00 p.m. Open house and project overview
5:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Formal presentation of Draft Locally Preferred Alternative
5:30 - 6:30 p.m. Comments/questions on the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative

Doors will open at 4:30 p.m. to allow the public to view display boards and review project information. At 5 p.m. there will be a formal presentation of the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative. This will be followed by a question and answer session. Representatives from the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, City of Sanibel, LeeTran, and the consultant team, will be available to answer questions and take comments.

In 2008 Lee County Transit (LeeTran) in cooperation with its partners, the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and the City of Sanibel, Florida, was awarded a grant through the Federal Transit Administration under the Alternative Transportation in Parks and Public Lands Program (ATPPL-now funded by the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Public Parks Program). The program is designed to assist national parks and public lands (including wildlife refuges) in managing their visitation, while protecting habitat for wildlife and flora.

Alternative transportation strategies aim to protect environmental resources by reducing congestion, pollution and automobile dependency. The Refuge, LeeTran and the City of Sanibel desire transportation options that will complement the mission, goals and objectives of the Refuge and Sanibel Plan and improve transportation conditions on Sanibel Island. This public information meeting is being held to give people an opportunity to express their views concerning the Draft Locally Preferred Alternative.

To review project documentation prior to the workshop, visit the project website.

Are you for Transit?


Below is a link to register to be one of 100,000 Floridians to Stand Up And Be Counted as supporters of Public Transportation through the non-partisan organization IM4TRANSIT.ORG

• IM4TRANSIT is a campaign of the Board of the Florida Public Transportation Association to identify, recruit, and mobilize at least 100,000 pro-transit Floridians.
• IM4TRANSIT is a ready community of transit supporters in Florida that can be mobilized “to give transit a voice” during transit-related debates in the public marketplace of ideas.
• The organization is nonpartisan and has no views outside their core mission of educating the public and elected officials about the benefits and importance of public transportation to Florida.
• It is a virtual community of transit riders, employees and stakeholders sustained by social media, web, and e-newsletters.
If you want your elected officials to support public transportation solutions that help make America energy independent, create jobs, help the environment, and provide an alternative to fighting traffic congestion, please click here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Opportunity next week to participate: Public Transit Open House


Click the photo above for a larger image. If you're interested transit and want to have input to the county's future transit plan, please consider attending one of these two workshops. If you are unable to attend these public open houses but would like to participate in the transit discussion, please contact me about participating in BikeWalkLee's upcoming workshop with LeeTran: dletourneau@bikewalklee.org. Thanks!

Lee County bike/ped fatalities trends: 2005-2010




As a follow-up to the Jan. 9th News-Press report on traffic fatalities in Lee County, we asked LeeDOT to provide us with the bike/ped fatalities during this same period. Above is the date (click the pictures for a larger view). Thanks to Steve Jansen (LeeDOT) for the quick response.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sanibel Bicycle Club advocates for shared use path along Dunlop & Wooster roads


The Sanibel Bicycle Club (SBC) has been busy advocating for the planned shared use path along Dunlop Rd., which is home to the library, city hall, the historical village and BIG Arts. This path was included in the Bike/Ped Master Plan adopted by the City Council in 2009, and funding for the project was included in the City's 2011 budget. Unfortunately, the project has hit a snag and it's unclear whether it will move forward as planned. Keep up the good work, SBC! We'll keep you posted.

Advocate for safer shared use paths
January 12, 2011


To the editor,

The possibility of a new shared use path along Dunlop and Wooster roads was anticipated with excitement by many Sanibel residents who frequent this busy area containing the Library, City Hall, the Historical Village and BIG Arts. Last month, all these groups agreed that a safer path system was a necessity. But even with six options to choose from, no consensus could be reached on which plan would be best. Even though the Island Reporter responded by accurately reviewing the events that took place at City Hall last week, unfortunately they came to the false conclusion that no improvements were needed in this area.

These roads have already been referred to as a shared use path, since they have always been used by a mix of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. In this heavily traveled area, this is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. Police Chief Tomlinson said that he gave the area an “F” as far as safety was concerned.

This is a safety issue! Anyone who has driven this stretch of road is well aware of the narrow divided lanes where visibility is often obstructed by the “lush, natural canopy” and sharp curves. And with these blind spots and confusion about which driveway to turn into, occasionally a car will actually head down the wrong lane. With the hundreds of people converging on BIG Arts from a variety of parking lots on both sides of the road, the safety of these patrons often walking in a darkened area should be the primary concern of any proposal suggested.

The Sanibel Bicycle Club has always been an island-wide advocate for safer shared use paths and it was our hope that a separate path to link all of these heavily used locations would come to fruition. Accomplishing the section from St. Michael's Church on Periwinkle to the Library on Dunlop will be an important step, but let’s not let the rest of the project die because of the inability to come to a viable agreement.

Mary L. Miller
President, Sanibel Bicycle Club


Click here to read last week's Island Reporter editorial arguing against the project.

Secretary LaHood's Blog: New data adds job creation to the many benefits of bicycle infrastructure



Fast Lane--Secretary US DOT Blog: January 13, 2011

This week, a coalition of bicycling advocates introduced me to a new report showing that in Baltimore, MD, pedestrian and bicycle projects created nearly twice as many jobs per dollar spent than traditional road projects.

In this case-study, "Estimating the Employment Impacts of Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Road Infrastructure," the Political Economy Research Institute compiled data provided by the city of Baltimore. They found that on-street bike lanes and pedestrian measures created more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing.

That report was followed last week by a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating widespread public support--67 percent--in America's cities for street design activities that increase physical activity.

Putting the two studies together creates a powerful argument for continuing the Department of Transportation's support for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. Even as these investments increase mobility, they also generate economic growth. And, people are demanding them for their communities.

I don't think anyone who reads this blog doubts my enthusiasm for increasing Americans' transportation options. In 2009, in one of my first blog entries, I wrote that "Cyclists are important users of our transportation systems." Since then I have demonstrated my commitment to programs that improve options for safe bicycling.

The reality is that not everyone wants or can afford to own a car. And--even among vehicle owners--some people prefer to get around by public transit. Others prefer to bike or walk. At DOT, we want them to get where they're going safely.

But, as Caron Whitaker of America Bikes said:

"Today, 12 percent of all trips are by bike or on foot, yet America spends only about one percent of its transportation budget on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. And nearly 14 percent of road fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians. So we're over-represented in road deaths but under-represented in road spending."

Because safety is this DOT's number one priority, that point hit home.

Where does that leave us? How did I respond to these folks?

Well, there's a budget process, and there's a surface transportation reauthorization process--and DOT does not control either. So my message to them was simple: participate in the process.

Bicycle and pedestrian activists have been very successful at achieving valuable safety gains for their stakeholders. Now is the time for advocates of cycling and walking to get into gear once again.

Armed with the powerful arguments of energy conservation, environmental and health benefits, public demand, and--now--job creation and economic development, I am confident they will succeed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sign up for Feb. 11th Symposium: Lee County in the Year 2035

Ciclovia: Bogota, Colombia



Many of you have heard about Ciclovia, that started in Bogota, Colombia. Watch this great video by Streetfilms to see the potential of this international phenomenon.

Nearly 1.8 million Colombians use the Ciclovia and Recreovia to de-stress, get healthy, and connect personally with their fellow citizens. Young or old, rich or poor, pedestrian or cyclist - in Bogotá everyone loves the Ciclovia. This video documents some of the amazing advances going on in the livable streets movement there. Every Sunday,over 70 miles of city streets are closed to traffic where residents come out to walk, bike, run, skate, recreate, picnic, and talk with family, neighbors & strangers. Be inspired!

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Speed Kills


January 12, 2011

On the road, speed kills. And by speed I don’t mean 100 mph. Consider this: a pedestrian hit by a car going 30 mph has an almost 50 percent chance of being killed. At 40 mph, that possibility goes up to an 85 percent chance of death. The short- and long-term pain and suffering of those who don’t die is another matter altogether. We all know that in our neighborhoods, commercial centers and other areas where there’s plenty of pedestrian traffic, vehicle speeds between 30 and 40 mph are common, if not higher. Tamiami Trail and Palm Beach Boulevard, both popular commercial corridors, are among our most dangerous roads for pedestrians and cyclists.

Readers of this column know that one of my frequent criticisms of the way our roadways have been developed over the past decades is that any that’s been “improved” has been transformed into a highway rather than roadway. The distinction, from my perspective as a driver, cyclist and pedestrian, is that highways are built to move motor vehicles as quickly as possible, akin to a sewer pipe. Thus, by design, anyone other than those inside cars and trucks is subjected to a high degree of risk.

That being said, if you’re concerned about speeding in your neighborhood or nearby roads, be aware that if enough drivers are indeed operating above the posted limit, the speed limit might just be raised. If a “speed study” is conducted on a specific roadway segment there’s a good chance that rather than addressing the cause of the problem the answer could be to raise the limit to the speed at which 85 percent of drivers are operating, based on the premise that this must be the safe speed since so many drive at that speed.

John LaPlante, a recent winner of a prestigious award presented by his peers at the Institute of Traffic Engineers, has seen the results of the “car sewer” model and thinks there’s a better way. Specific to speeds and the 85th percentile rule, Mr. LaPlante stated in his acceptance speech: “We need to remember that the 85th percentile speed is only the speed at which 85 percent of our motorists feel most comfortable driving. It has nothing to do with the comfort of pedestrians and bicyclists and very little to do with safety.”

We will all benefit if his fellow engineers take heed to his insight, something the Bonita Springs City Council did when it decided to ignore its recommendation to raise the speed limit along a short stretch of Imperial Boulevard.

Upcoming events

This weekend, Jan. 15 and 16, the annual Tour de Cape (www.active.com/running/ cape-coral-fl/tour-de-cape-2011) takes place and includes a 5K road race on Saturday and bike rides from 15 miles to 100 miles on Sunday. The following Saturday, Jan. 22, the Calusa Nature Center hosts its Calusa Bug Chase 5K (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com), a run that uses the center’s trails and boardwalks. And get ready for the Edison Fest 5K on Feb. 19 and Hootersto Hooters Half-Marathon on March 6.

Advocacy update

Over the past year, BikeWalkLee has been part of a number of projects and policies to improve our community’s livability. Significant progress has been made toward the implementation of the county’s “complete streets” policy, a process that requires a lot of direct involvement and follow-up. With the future of programs and policies similar to our “complete streets” initiative at risk at the state and federal levels due to the incoming political power structure, both Lee County government and our Metropolitan Planning Organization are to be commended for their commitment to making it happen here. For more about BikeWalkLee’s 2010 achievements, click here.
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 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, January 11, 2011

Cycle Superhighways Success




Transport for London sees big increase in cycling with Cycle Superhighways.

By Richard Masoner ——

Transport for London (TfL) says studies show a big increase in bike use along two newly-painted Cycle Superhighways. They compared numbers in October 2010 versus the same month in 2009 and discovered an overall increase of 70% more cyclists for both routes.

TfL created the pilot Cycle Superhighways last summer, painting bright blue bicycle lanes to designate preferential bike routes into London. CS3 runs roughly along A13 from Barking, England west into London, terminating near the Tower of London. CS7 begins west of London in the Borough of Merton, following or paralleling A24 before ending at Upper Thames Street at Queen Street.

TfL plans to open two more London Super Cycleways — CS2 (Bow-Aldgate via A118-A11) and CS8 (Wandsworth-Westminster via A3205-A3212) — this summer.

According to Bike Hub, about 80 percent of the cyclists on the Cycle Superhighways are commuters.

Read Bike Hub for more.

News-Press: Lee seeks support for public transportation effort


Outreach necessary to expand system

By Brian Liberatore • bliberatore@news-press.
com• January 11, 2011

If Lee County wants viable public
transportation, it's going to need public support
and public dollars.

Commissioners are hoping the latest effort to secure
both will prove more productive than other attempts
during the last decade.

Commissioners during a workshop Monday agreed
to form a 15-member committee tasked with drafting
a plan to create and fund public transportation
people would want to use. A handful of similar
committees, plans and studies since 2000 have had
little impact.

"Unless we get the community to buy in, it's going to
fall on deaf ears," Commissioner Ray Judah said,
"This looks like a pretty good attempt, but there
needs to be even greater outreach."

Right now, the wait for LeeTran buses at some spots
can be 60 to 90 minutes. Only about 5 percent of
the population uses the bus system, most because
they have no other choice.

"It has to be convenient," Darla Letourneau said of
the transit system. She is a member of BikeWalkLee,
which promotes community planning that considers
more than automobile traffic. "People have to not
worry about the schedule of the buses to know it's
going to meet their needs."

To sell the concept, Letourneau added, the county
should consider a model route, possibly out to the
airport. The public would likely be more willing to
buy into something they could see.

Funding that system, however, has always been the
issue.

County property tax dollars pay for about half of the
system's $20 million budget. Cutting bus stop waits
to 15 minutes would cost roughly $30 million more
a year, MPO staff estimated. With the county already
struggling to fill a $50 million hole in its general
fund, which is funded through property tax dollars,

there is little room for spending increases.

Local leaders in 2003 talked about a special taxing
district, but the plan would have pushed the city of
Fort Myers past its state-mandated taxing limits A
different committee last year suggested a 1-cent
sales tax dedicated to expanding public
transportation. But county commissioners decided
against putting the measure on the ballot, saying it
was premature.

The latest committee will have a year to hammer out
a new approach.

Commissioner Tammy Hall said she is hoping
public advocacy - such as that of BikeWalkLee - will
make the difference.

"For the first time there seems to be an organization
of concerned citizens really talking about (this),"
Hall said.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

BikeWalkLee letter to commissioners on M & P agenda items: transit & EAR


January 9, 2011

Dear Commissioners:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition to complete the streets in Lee County, works for a more balanced transportation system. Consistent with these efforts, our coalition 1) supports the development of a public transit system that is more efficient and effective; and 2) considers the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) as an essential planning tool to facilitate the important land use and transportation changes that need to be made. We want to comment on these items as they relate to the conversation you will have at the Jan. 10 Management & Planning meeting.

One of the main challenges with public transit is attracting a wide variety of riders to use the system. One of the most effective ways to enhance ridership is to fund and design a system that is convenient to use, which requires transit to have a stable source of funding and support throughout the community. BikeWalkLee fully supports the process as outlined in the LeeTran 2011 Work Plan for the Transit Special Advisory Group. This proposed group would develop a plan that will move public transit forward in the county. Other models of this kind throughout the country suggest that, if able to work collaboratively with county administration in a consensus-oriented approach, this process has a significant chance of success.

The Board’s decision on the EAR and subsequent amendments is perhaps the most important action you’ll take to determine the county's direction over the next decades. The current Lee Plan has encouraged unsustainable development and the resulting negative consequences for energy consumption, health, housing, and quality of life. As you have supported various resolutions and policy statements in the Board of County Commissioners and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), in order to have a more balanced transportation system, the Lee Plan must lead the way.

It is critical that this EAR be visionary and bold. It must provide the blueprint for changes in land use that promote transit-oriented development, transit, livable communities, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, and complete streets. The current economic recession provides us with a unique opportunity to move our county in a new direction—one that is sustainable, livable, and economically viable. The upcoming EAR will either point us in a new direction or continue business as usual.

We urge you to make it clear to staff on Monday that you understand and support an EAR that is consistent with what your citizens have asked for and is a bold step toward the future success of the county.

This letter is posted on our website.

Do Roads Pay for Themselves: Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding


This month the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG)debunks a significant transportation myth: “Highway advocates often claim that roads ‘pay for themselves,’ with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering – or nearly covering – the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.”

This study explains that “highways do not – and, except for brief periods in our nation’s history, never have – paid for themselves through the taxes that highway advocates label ‘user fees.’”

The report points out that the Great Myth carries with it a set of false presumptions and the misreadings can severely distort transportation decision-making.

"In a sensible world, America would invest in transportation projects that deliver the greatest benefits to the population, and pay for those investments in the ways that allocate the costs fairly across society--taking into account the many ways that transportation investments can benefit or harm individuals and businesses. In the world of the Great Myth, however, each transportation mode is presumed to survive only on the money its users can provide--and all the money its users provide should go to that transportation mode, regardless of where the greatest benefits can be achieved. In this paper, we aim to dismantle the Great Myth once and fol all...with the hope that by doing so, America can get on with the critical debate about what types of transportation infrastructure to build and how to pay for them, free from false assumptions and the tired slogans of the past." (Introduction, p. 5)

Click here to read the full report.

Update on 1/17/11:

On Jan. 17th, the Naples Daily News carried the following story about the report:
"Collier, Lee officials agree with report that gas taxes don’t fully pay for roads". Click here to read the story.

News-Press: Lee County traffic fatalities drop


Lee County traffic fatalities drop
Collier sees road deaths go up by one

by Gabriella Souza • gsouza@news-press.com • January 9, 2011

On March 9, 2010, Chelsey Murphy had just been handed the keys to her new apartment.

As she rushed across U.S. 41 in Naples, back to her mother’s home, the driver of a white Kia didn’t see the 19-year-old and her friend and struck them. Jacque Dampier, 18, was on his cell phone, and drove off, dragging Murphy’s body 105 feet.

After five days in a coma, Murphy died. She was four weeks pregnant.

Murphy’s death was the result of one of 104 fatal wrecks to occur in Lee and Collier counties in 2010.

Traffic deaths in Lee County tumbled 12 percent, continuing a five-year trend, falling to 64 from 73 the year before. They increased in Collier by one, up to 40 in 2010 from 39 the year before. [Note from Jay Anderson: "The story unfortunately is inaccurate. There were 80 fatalities in 2009 which equals a 20% reduction."]

Officials attribute the drop in Lee to a variety of factors — from ramped up awareness of distracted driving to a still-slow economy to enforcement of traffic laws.

But Jay Anderson, executive director of the traffic safety organization Stay Alive Just Drive, emphasizes every traffic death is life-changing, for the victims’ families and to the people involved in the crash.

“Sixty-four fatalities is good. But is it acceptable? No, no fatality is acceptable,” Anderson said.

As in previous years, officials say the number of people without jobs has meant a drop in traffic on roadways — less money for gas has meant less driving. Lee’s unemployment rate was 13.3 percent in November.

“I think we have a lot of people making economically smarter decisions” such as having drinks at home instead of going out, drinking, and driving, said Lt. Jim Drzymala head of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office traffic unit.

That, in turn, decreases the number of alcohol-related crashes, he said.

A dip in population also could be a factor — Lee lost 1,800 residents from July 2008 to July 2009, according to census data.

Distracted driving — driving while texting or talking on a cell phone — has garnered local activism this year. The Fort Myers Police Department is keeping its officers from texting in their patrol cars and most local governments have banned their employees from texting while driving as well.

Click here to continue reading the article.

What are the trends for bike/ped fatalities in Lee County over the same period? We'll ask LeeDOT and share the results with you. Stay tuned!

Friday, January 7, 2011

BikeWalkLee 2010 Accomplishments


As 2011 begins, BikeWalkLee reviewed 2010 and compiled our second annual BikeWalkLee Accomplishments.

BikeWalkLee was formed in 2009 and hit the ground running, with many successful efforts in its first two years. This document summarizes the highlights from 2010 on the following themes:
* Coalition building and consensus seeking
* Government policies and funding
* Analysis and actions

We hope you'll take the time to read this annual accomplishments report. Thanks to the BikeWalkLee steering group who led this effort and the hundreds of advocates, supporters, and government officials and staff that have made this happen. We are optimistic about further progress in 2011.

The BikeWalkLee steering committee will be having a strategic planning workshop on January 17th and welcomes your input and feedback on what what we've been doing and ideas for future directions. Please e-mail your suggestions to Darla Letourneau by January 16th at dletourneau@bikewalklee.org. Thanks!

Upcoming workshop for BikeWalkLee advocates to participate in Lee County's transit development plan


Lee County's LeeTran office has begun working on a major update to the County’s 10 Year Transit Development Plan (TDP) which is their strategic guide for public transportation in the community over the next decade, as well as creating a
vision for public transportation service in Lee County over a 25 year planning horizon.

As part of LeeTran's outreach efforts, they have asked BikeWalkLee to participate in a discussion group-style workshop. The workshop would enable them to engage members of BikeWalkLee, as well as get valuable input on what role transit should play in the community and how best to improve it so it can meet the needs of the community.

BikeWalkLee will sponsor an evening workshop, put on by LeeTran, to which we would invite our network of advocates. The target date for the workshop is between mid-February and mid-March. Stay tuned for further information. We look forward to being part of this community conversation about transit--a key component of complete streets and a balanced multi-modal transportation system.

Note: space will be limited at the workshop, so if you're interested in participating, please e-mail me now regarding your interest: dletourneau@bikewalklee.org.

LeeTran unveils new TripPlanner online



LeeTran now has on online TripPlanner that will give you exact instructions to reach your destination, along with a map. All you have to do is put in your starting and ending points and it will plan your transit trip. There's also a feature that will give you real-time arrival information for Fort Myers Beach trolleys, called "NEXTbus".

LeeTran is also working with Google Maps to provide the Lee County data so that their transit map planner is functional for Lee County. We'll keep you posted!


LeeTran is sponsoring Find Your Ride Day, which will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 19 at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The public is invited to learn more about public transit, see how buses are accessible to the disabled, and connect with community resources, such as vanpooling, carpooling and other transportation providers.

If you're interested in LeeTran with your bicycle, check out this link.

"LeeTran has bike racks mounted on the front of every bus and trolley. The racks are easy and safe to use, and there is no extra charge. Each rack holds two bikes. You must be able to load and unload your bike without assistance, because the driver is not able to leave the bus."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hickory Blvd. shoulders project brings out advocates to Bonita Springs City Council


Thanks to all the supporters of the Hickory Blvd. shoulders project who turned out for last night's Bonita Springs City Council meeting. There were supporters there from the Bonita Beach Improvements Associations, the Brooks Bicycle Club, the Caloosa Riders, and BikeWalkLee, many of whom spoke during the public comment period. There were also several residents on Hickory Blvd. who spoke in opposition to the project.

LeeDOT made an excellent presentation about the project. Click here for the link to the Power Point presentation. The following are some of the elements of interest:
* 4 foot shoulders will be put on both sides
* the current lanes will be restriped to a standard 11 ft. width (some are now 11 or 12 ft.)--this is traffic calming/safety improvement
* the existing sidewalk will be resurfaced
* the whole road will be resurfaced
* the project is planned to start after season (approx. April)
* once construction begins, the project should take 1 month.
* in response to questions, LeeDOT said that they will be looking at the issues of signing and marking bike lanes as well as providing sharing the road signage as part of the complete streets implementation plan.

Next steps: LeeDOT will present the contract for approval to the County Commissioners (BoCC) in the near future. Once they approve this contract, the project will move forward. Stay tuned for when this project will come up for a vote.

NBC-2 News covered the story on their 11 p.m. news, and showed a short clip of LeeDOT's presentation, Steve Rodgers (Caloosa Riders) at the podium, and their interview with me (used my comments about safety), and closed the story by saying that most people spoke in favor of the project. Unfortunately, the Naples Daily News story didn't capture what happened at the meeting and presented a one-sided story, only reported on statements by people in opposition.

Also at last night's City Council meeting, dozens of people spoke against the city staff proposal to raise the speed limit on Imperial Parkway from 35 to 45 mph, citing impact on neighborhoods, safety, and quality of life. In other words, we heard from citizens that they value the same things that complete streets is about! The Council voted unanimously to keep the speed limit at 35 mph.

Improvements at Six Mile Cypress & Daniels crosswalk


Walkers and cyclists in Lee County know that one of the most dangerous intersections in South Lee is the crosswalk at Six Mile Cypress & Daniels, esp. the southeast corner for those users traveling north on the path along the east side of Six Mile Cypress. Although LeeDOT has tried many different solutions over the past 10 years, motorists traveling north on Six Mile Cypress turning right onto Daniels were still not stopping for the sign "No Turn on Red for Bike/Ped users. Bert Hamilton and others have been working with LeeDOT on improvements. This past week, LeeDOT made some improvements. The lights at Six Mile & Daniels were re-timed for the no turn on red sign, which is resulting in motorists actually stopping at the crosswalk. There are still some issues that need to be tweaked, e.g. when there is no traffic staged to trigger a green arrow, we're back to the same problem.

Let us know your experiences at this intersection with the new change. Thanks to LeeDOT for addressing this issue.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

U.S. 41 widening project in Estero includes sidewalks & bike lanes


Note: Thursday’s meeting is set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Estero Community Park, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Boulevard, Estero.

Naples Daily News
U.S. 41 widening in Estero to start in mid-January
By TRACY X. MIGUEL

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The long-awaited widening of U.S. 41 to six lanes is slated to start in Estero mid-January.

The $14.2 million project is expected to be completed in 2 1/2 years in the summer of 2013, according to Florida Department of Transportation spokeswoman Debbie Tower.

The four-lane 2.2-mile stretch of highway from Corkscrew Road to San Carlos Park Boulevard is the final four lane improvements to U.S. 41 from the Caloosacatchee River Bridge in Lee County to Collier Boulevard in Collier County.

Once the highway is completed, it will alleviate some of the traffic jam. In the meantime, the speed limit will be reduced to 40 mph for construction, which has several local businesses concerned.

“It’s long overdue,” Don Eslick, chairman of the Estero Council of Community Leaders, said.

Eslick said it’s a great project that will eliminate the traffic bottleneck.

FDOT is hosting a public information meeting to discuss the project Thursday afternoon.

The contract for the project has been awarded to Fort Lauderdale-based Russell Engineering.

Construction crews plan to build three 11- to 12-foot lanes in each direction, designated bicycle lanes, and 5- to 6-foot sidewalks on both sides of the roadway, according to a DOT prepared statement.

Construction in a traffic congested area will occur during both day and night hours, where several small businesses and mobile home parks are located. Lane closures in travel lanes will not occur during peak travel times.

All traffic will shift to the west while crews build three new northbound lanes. When these lanes are built, crews will move all traffic to the east to use them.

Crews will start construction on the west side of the roadway and build three new southbound lanes.

In the next phase, southbound drivers will move to the west side and use the new outside southbound lanes. Northbound drivers will use the two outside northbound lanes. This traffic shift will allow crews to install irrigation lines and landscaping in the median.

“This job will be challenging,” Tower said in an e-mail.

“Crews are completely reconstructing the road – relocating utilities and placing new drainage systems – and doing bridge work, which is complex construction.”

Some local businesses are concerned.

“I’m scared,” said Teri Ann Butzin, owner of We’re Hair For You on U.S. 41. “I haven’t seen any road projects that haven’t put a business in jeopardy.”

Butzin opened less than two years ago at the Broadway Shoppes at the 20400 block of U.S. 41 South.

“If someone’s destination is within the work zone, he or she, of course, will be able to get there,” Tower said.

“We’ll be working with business owners to place blue and white signs to help people get to business locations.”

If destinations aren’t within the construction zone, there are alternate routes drivers may choose, Tower added.

As of Tuesday, DOT officials said the hadn’t received any calls from concerned businesses.

But not all merchants are worried about losing business.

Tom Stawicki, co-owner of Ro-Lin, car, truck and motorhome rentals, on the east side of U.S. 41, is staying positive.

Although his business will be affected by construction, Stawicki said customers could use a rear entrance through Broadway Avenue. He plans to attend Thursday’s meeting to discover how his customers will find and enter his business. Nearby at Memett’s fresh fruit and vegetable market, owner Mehmet Cingoz is confident that his customers will continue to buy their fresh produce from his market.

“I’m not really concerned too much about it.” Cingoz said.

“That’s something that needs to be done.”

Cingoz echoed Stawicki about patrons using a back road entrance.

It was a similar sentiment at the Broadway Shoppes off of U.S. 41 South in an area where traffic normally backs up around peak times.

Rick Johnson manager Brad Lawson said he hopes the only entrance to the plaza isn’t closed for construction, and that his customers continue to visit regardless of the work.

The project includes, replacing signals at Corkscrew Road, Broadway Avenue and San Carlos Park Boulevard and a new emergency signal at the George Horne Fire Station at the U.S. 41 and County Road,

As part of project improvements, underground work such as relocation of electric and telephone cables and drainage, water and sewer pipes will also be done.

To protect the Koreshan State Historic Site buildings, contractors will use an underground buffer to protect the historic buildings on the west side of U.S. 41.

Tower urged drivers to be part of the “safety team.”

“Throughout construction, drivers must pay attention, watch their speed, and not tailgate,” she said.

Thursday’s meeting is set for 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Estero Community Park, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Boulevard, Estero.

The open-format meeting will give attendees an opportunity to review the project-design plans and mingle with DOT officials. There will be no formal presentations, Tower said.

BikeWalkLee Report from Forum:

Bert Hamilton attended the public workshop and filed the following report:
The US 41 project north of Corkscrew looks great at tonight’s FDOT open house. Sidewalks and signed bike lanes throughout on both sides. The only question I have is if they plan to connect US41 from south of Alico to San Carlos with bike lanes. There is a big gap here... the widening project looks top notch.

Thanks for covering, Bert, and thanks to FDOT for accommodating all users in the design of this road widening project.

News Press: Bonita Beach bicycle lane battle to heat up--foes set to present case


News-Press January 5, 2011
By Christina Cepero • ccepero@news-press.com•

Bonita Beach homeowners are expected
to be out in force at today's City Council meeting for
a presentation on planned bike lanes on Hickory
Boulevard.

Lee County Department of Transportation staff will
present the plans to add 4-foot, paved shoulders to
the two-lane road. About 50 property owners would
have to pay to have their brick driveways rebuilt and
move their mailboxes.

Winston Church of the Bonita Beach Improvement
Association, who asked the county for the project,
said the lanes would provide a place for residents to
walk to neighbors' homes, particularly on the west
side where there's no sidewalk, and would allow
mail carriers and service vehicles a place to pull
over.

"I think appearance of the road would be
substantially improved with the shoulders," Church
said.

The bike lanes would link to the ones that are on the
north end of Hickory and Estero Boulevard in Fort
Myers Beach.

The City Council cannot take any action because it is
a county road. The public will have the opportunity
to submit written questions and comments to county
staff.

The Transportation Department will take the low
bidder to the county commission for approval, likely
in the spring. Construction should take about two
months. Lee's 2010-11 budget set aside $500,000
in gas taxes designated for the bike-pedestrian
project.

The improvement association mailed a survey to
1,800 property owners. The results showed 129, or
56 percent of the 232 respondents, said adding
bike lanes was important, 42 said it was not
important and 61 opposed them.

Opponent Martin Roach said many of his neighbors
who are against the project did not receive the
survey.

"It's going to be a much, much more unsafe
situation if we widen the road," Roach said. He'd
rather see the speed limit reduced from 35 mph to
25 and more law enforcement patrols.

Church said the association sent the survey to all
beach property owners' 2009 addresses provided
by the Lee County Tax Collector's Office. He said
some people may have had the surveys sent to their
addresses up north and should have eventually
received them.

Also at Wednesday's meeting:

- The City Council will discuss criteria, such as
public sector experience and residency, for the new
city manager, who will be hired to replace Gary
Price, who retires June 3.

- The City Council will consider an offer by 10
Pelican Landing homeowners to drop a lawsuit
against the city. Last spring, five couples concerned
about noise and their home values sued the city
over three RV storage buildings and an office that
Bar N Ranch LLC is constructing at 24300 S.
Tamiami Trail.

The homeowners will drop the suit if the city agrees
to give them written notice within 10 days of any
changes the property owner requests about the
buildings.

if you go
• What: Bonita Springs City Council meeting
• When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday
• Where: City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Palomino Road has new share the road signs!




As part of LeeDOT's November 9th report to the County Commissioners on the resurfacing contract, they recommended putting share-the-road signs on Orange River Road, Palomino Road, and Island Park Road. The Palomino Road resurfacing project was completed by the beginning of December and within the past few weeks share-the-road signs were posted. We love the symbols on the signs. Although the road was too narrow to create bike lanes without expanding the road surface, LeeDOT restriped the road to narrow the lanes, which could help slow down the traffic (see photo above). In addition, they also reduced the speed limit to 35 mph. The combination of these improvements should make Palomino Road safer for all road users.

Kudos to LeeDOT for quickly taking these actions to improve this road. We're looking forward to having these safety signs and other improvements on the other two roads being resurfaced, as well as on Fiddlesticks Road (the road opposite Palomino on the other side of Daniels).

I rode Palomino today & not only were the signs up, the Sheriff's office was out in force clocking everyone speeding on the road and pulling them off to give them tickets. Riding the road today felt safer than when I rode it in early December. Thanks to everyone involved!

What's your feedback on this project? If you use Palomino Road (as motorist, cyclists or walker), share your experiences with us. Thanks!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where are the walkable neighborhoods in Florida?


The website Walk Score, a website that calculates how walkable a home, neighborhood or city is on a scale of zero to 100, has just expanded its coverage from the 40 largest US cities to 2,500 US cities. So, for the first time we have insights into how walkable 149 of the largest cities in Florida are.
Included in this list are Cape Coral, Fort Myers, and Bonita Springs. Fort Myers' score is about the Florida average (47 vs. 45 for FL), while both Cape Coral and Bonita Springs are at the low end (31 and 30 respectively).

The most walkable cities in Florida were in South Florida, and were featured in the below article in the January 2nd South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Walkable neighborhoods can be found in Palm and Broward counties
Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale and Clematis in West Palm Beach are walker's paradise

By Angel Streeter, Sun Sentinel
4:13 PM EST, January 2, 2011
South Florida is suburban sprawl and jam-packed, eight-lane roads and highways.

If you need to go somewhere — the grocery store, dry cleaners, post office, drug store — you're more than likely getting there by automobile.

Except for those living in a few South Florida communities that buck the trend, where getting around by foot is easily done. They may not be as plentiful as gated communities, but there are some walkable neighborhoods in South Florida.

Wilton Manors is one of the most walkable cities in South Florida. But neighborhoods in the heart of Fort Lauderdale would be a joy to any walker.

And downtown West Palm Beach and Mizner Park in downtown Boca Raton are a walker's paradise.

That's according to Walk Score, a website that calculates how walkable a home, neighborhood or city is on a scale of zero to 100. The site calculates whether you are within walking distance — about a quarter of a mile to a mile — to daily necessities, if you can accomplish many daily errands by walking.

Until recently, the company provided walk scores for only neighborhoods in the 40 largest U.S. cities. Last month, the site began offering neighborhood rankings in 2,500 U.S. cities, now providing insight on just how walkable South Florida is.

" Florida does have a reputation for not being particularly walkable," said Matt Lerner, Walk Score's chief technology officer. "But every city has walkable areas. In South Florida, we found some really walkable areas… The older parts (of a city) tend to be nice and walkable."

In Broward County, Flagler Village, Victoria Park and downtown Fort Lauderdale get high marks.

In Palm Beach County, those inclined to grab a pair of comfortable shoes instead of car keys have a few options. Standout neighborhoods include El Cid, Grandview Heights and Flamingo Park in West Palm Beach along with downtown Delray Beach.

The counties' western cities scored poorly on the walkability scale. About 80 percent of Wellington residents and 71 percent of Miramar residents live in car-dependent neighborhoods, according to Walk Score.

"It's great to have everything within walking distance," said Rick Rose who lives in Grandview Heights and owns a bed and breakfast there.

From the historic neighborhood, he regularly walks to City Place, the movie theater, restaurants and the waterfront.

It's a lifestyle choice, he said. When he moved back to Florida after living in Europe for years, he eschewed the suburban life. He sold his mother's Wellington home and set up shop in Grandview Heights as downtown West Palm Beach was experiencing a revival with City Place on the horizon.

The neighborhood is a mix of bungalows, renovated older homes and townhouses along shady, narrow streets.

It was a prime location for Rose's bed and breakfast. Having a place that was within walking distance to shopping, the arts and entertainment was necessary to appeal to tourists, he said.

He sees more people embracing walkable communities.

"The population in downtown has grown so much in the last few years," he said. "People are rediscovering the community and being able to walk to get a gallon of milk."

A revived Flagler Village in Fort Lauderdale also has introduced new people to walking as a viable option.

Twin sisters Jenna and Janna Stimson recently moved into new apartment buildings in the neighborhood just north of downtown. The main reason was to be close to where they spend a lot of their time.

"The cab rides got too expensive," said Jenna Stimson.

The city's night life was a big draw for the sisters who recently graduated from Nova Southeastern University.

But with their proximity to so many things, they often find themselves leaving their car behind and walking to the beach, restaurants and the grocery store.

Still, there are some issues with these communities identified by Walk Score. Some lack the infrastructure that would make them pedestrian friendly.

Critics of Walk Score point out that the site doesn't consider things like sidewalks, crosswalks and busy streets in its calculations.

All of those can influence whether people will walk to a destination.

Robert McMillan, a retiree, lives in the same neighborhood as the Stimson sisters, but he won't walk to a Winn-Dixie that's about a block away. That would require crossing busy Federal Highway.

That's why Michael Ferber, a longtime Flagler Village resident, says the neighborhood is only "starting to be" one of the most walkable in the city. That's because nice sidewalks and shade trees are only serving new developments. Walk a block away from them and there are no sidewalks.

Jim Smith, chairman of Safety as Floridians Expect that advocates for pedestrians and bicyclists, lives near a neighborhood in Delray Beach off Linton Boulevard that Walk Score gives a high score for being walkable.

But Smith gives his community a middling grade because of the lack of sidewalks.

"When I come out of my condo, I have to cross the street," he said. "And when the sidewalk ends, I have to cross again."

For a community to be walkable, it needs wide sidewalks, plenty of shade and safe crossings for pedestrians, Smith said.

"If there is no sidewalk in front of your house, people won't walk at all," he said.

Lerner of Walk Score concedes that the company could do better by including the walking environment in its calculations. The site hopes to launch another service soon called Street Smart Walk Score that considers those elements.

That's because more people are embracing the walkable lifestyle and want more information on where they can find a walkable community.

"Right now a lot of people are looking for houses that are walkable," he said. "A lot of young people today want something different from the suburbs. Empty nesters are looking for more walkable neighborhoods."

Angel Streeter can be reached at astreeter@SunSentinel.com or 561-243-6537.
Copyright © 2010, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Sunday, January 2, 2011

National Complete Streets Coalition Progress Report 2010 includes Lee County


NCSC's Progress Report 2010 featured three state and local complete street policies, including Lee County's. Click here to read the full report. Below is the write-up on Lee County:

Lee County Takes Action
Lee County, Florida had a complete streets resolution on the table for a few months, but release of the 2009 Dangerous
by Design report helped push them into action. Lee
County commissioners unanimously approved a
complete streets resolution citing not only the safety
imperative, but also the need for active living and
reduced emissions. Commissioner Brian Bigelow was
moved by testimony from community members,
including health professionals and a woman who was
hit by a car while bicycling. “She is a victim of what’s
really wrong with the way we’ve been kind of singularly
focused on accommodating automobiles in our county.
It’s been quite literally to the exclusion of other
alternative modes of transportation.” The Fort Myers
News-Press ran an editorial and op-ed in favor of the
policy decision.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Runs, walks and rides abound in our backyard


There’s no doubt we’re in the high-season locally for those who run, walk and cycle. Here’s a quick review of what you missed if you didn’t make one or another of these popular events:

We can finally say we have a marathon in Southwest Florida. Almost 100 runners completed the Mangrove Marathon in Cape Coral on Dec. 18, with a more than 100 more taking part in the coinciding half marathon. Although there were many event management hiccups and shortcomings, it nonetheless came off successfully. And for some, the fact that it is a certified course that serves as a Boston Marathon qualifier means a lot less travel and expense in a quest to run the grand-daddy of all marathons.

Throughout December, Lee County hosted the Florida Senior Games state championships for the final year of a multi-year agreement. The 31st annual City of Palms River Run 10K on Dec. 4 was also the qualifier for FSG nationals in Houston next year. Local running legend Perry Small not only won his age group but beat his own recordsetting time from last year by finishing 6.2-miles in 35:03, a blistering pace for any age. Another seven FSG age group records were set that morning.

Back to Perry: He finished in third place overall among more thanth o 300 runners, just over one minute behind local “non-senior” speedster John Biffar, who won the race in 33:53. Among women, a number of locals qualified for the nationals, including local legend Astrid Soll and Cindy Matthews-Low, both age group record-setters.

Cycling events were also part of FSG earlier this month. In the 5K and 10K time trials, Caloosa Rider Mike Swanson was among the Lee County residents who won their age group, and a few other locals qualified for nationals as well. A couple of days later, and with weather that can only be called miserable, an astounding number of athletes who refused to let conditions deter them competed in the 20K and 40K road races, with a small number of locals qualifying for nationals.

The annual Heart Walk attracted more than 4,000 people of all ages, shapes and sizes to Centennial Park on a course that took them over and back the Edison Bridge. A very foggy morning did little to dissuade anyone, including Lee Memorial Health System leader and budding stand-up comedian Jim Nathan as well as event sponsor Subway spokesperson Jared Fogle.

Finally, more than 300 runners of all ages and abilities came out to support Fort Myers High School boys cross country team Coach Yancey Palmer and his family, whose home burned down in November. The 5K race was run on and around campus and was more like a real cross country race rather than a regular road race. The support displayed by the running community and others was outstanding.

Upcoming in the new year are two half marathons that are radically different but both excellent events due to stellar race management and sponsorship. First up is the very challenging River Roots & Ruts Half-Marathon, taking runners through much of Caloosahatchee Regional Park — including its single-track mountain bike trails — on Sunday, Jan. 9. Sign up now as the race has a cap on the number of participants. Then, on March 6, it’s time for the annual Hooters-to-Hooters Half-Marathon. I’ll have more on that event in future columns.

Lee County Department of Transportation will be making a presentation to the
Bonita City Council about proposed improvements on Hickory Boulevard at the city’s Jan. 5 meeting at 5 p.m. If you’d like to see paved shoulders and bike lanes added to that popular cycling road, attend the meeting or at least contact the city beforehand and express your support. Go to BikeWalkLee's Blog for details.

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 reached at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417.