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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Invite to 4/7 public workshop on Crystal Drive/Planation Road Roundabout Design




Roundabouts are one of the tools of complete streets, providing traffic calming and making it safer for all road users. It's exciting to see LeeDOT put forth this proposal. I hope you'll consider attending the workshop.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Watching closely--Naples considers re-routing US 41 to make it more pedestrian & business friendly

Over the past several months, the Naples community, led by the Naples Community Redevelopment Agency, with active involvement of the Naples Pathways Coalition, has been considering a proposal to re-route US 41 through Naples to make downtown more pedestrian- and business-friendly. On Monday, there was a public workshop to hear from Naples residents. Click here to read the News-Press article, and here to read the Naples Daily News article.

Why does this matter to Lee County?? First Sarasota, then Bradenton, and now Naples all see the benefits of making their downtown more pedestrian-friendly and are working to make changes on US 41 in their downtown areas. Who knows, maybe making changes on US 41 in downtown Fort Myers to make it more pedestrian-friendly is something in our future. Stay tuned.

Click here for the latest NDN article on 4/17/11.

Monday, March 28, 2011

LeeTran providing FREE TRANSIT DAY April 19th!



Join your colleagues, your neighbors, your fellow Lee County citizens in the Taking it to the Streets campaign April 13 through April 23. The goal is to have as many people as possible riding Lee Tran buses, coordinating carpools, biking or walking to their destinations. Lee County and Lee Tran are generously donating free bus rides on Free Transit day April 19th.

“The VMRs or Vehicle Miles Reduced to be recorded as a result of this campaign are one gauge of community demand for alternative transportation. A good showing will certainly send a stronger message that we are serious about wanting real changes here…accessible, safe alternatives to the current state of being forced to drive everywhere. To better the economic and physical health of this community and our individual citizens we seek the full range of options for functional transportation choices.” - Ann Pierce, BikeWalkLee

BikeWalkLee's Testimony on National Transportation Reauthorization

Background: The U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, chaired by Congressman John Mica from FL, recently held field hearings across the country in preparation for the writing of the transportation reauthorization bill. On March 14th, a hearing was held in Maitland, FL and invited witnesses made presentations to the Committee. However, no speakers were invited that represented the interests of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, senior citizens, environmentalists, etc. As a result, Chairman Mica heard primarily from the "road builders" and heard from the FDOT representative, Assistant Secretary Prasad, who questioned investing in sidewalks and bike infrastructure. BikeWalkLee and other statewide and local advocates throughout Florida decided to take the opportunity to submit testimony for the record to make the case for federal investments in biking, walking, and transit. The full testimony can be found on our website: Below are a few excerpts from the testimony:

Chairman Mica, Ranking Member Rahall, Rep. Brown and other members of the Committee.
Thank you for coming to Maitland on March 14th for your field hearing on the surface transportation reauthorization. Our organization -- a community coalition in Lee County, Florida, raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets and a more balanced transportation system – believes that the next federal surface transportation bill needs to reflect a vision of a balanced multi-modal transportation system. A balanced multi-modal system includes safe, well-maintained, and efficient highway, rail, public transportation, bicycling, and pedestrian systems. Over the past 20 years, federal transportation legislation has moved incrementally in the direction of a more balanced system. It is essential that this year’s reauthorization move boldly forward in the direction of transforming our national transportation system to meet the challenges of America in the 21st century. The nation is truly at a crossroads. We can either continue building a costly, outdated, and, oil-dependent transportation system, or we can move forward....

BikeWalkLee supports a bold vision for a 21st century transportation system at the national, state and local level—a balanced, multi-modal system that invests in public transportation, safe places to walk and bicycle, and land use policies that reduce travel demand by locating more affordable housing near jobs and services. Public transit, pedestrian, and bicycling facilities are at the core of providing transportation access and choice. These transportation modes are not “frills” or somehow not federal responsibilities. They are all part of one integrated national transportation system that provides safe mobility and connectivity to get people where they want to go. Bicycling and walking are transportation solutions and are directly linked to successful transit programs, since every transit trip begins on foot. Bicycling and walking are popular, practical, and money-saving ways for Americans to complete short trips.

The safety of all transportation users has been and should continue to be a major responsibility of the national transportation system. Nationally, 13% of all roadway fatalities are pedestrians and cyclists, while in FL, that percentage is 22%. Clearly, the national transportation system must establish programs to address these safety issues and should establish performance targets to hold state and local transportation agencies accountable for reducing these roadway fatalities. According to the 2009 national report, “Dangerous by Design,” (a joint effort of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America), there is an epidemic of preventable pedestrian deaths (76,000 Americans in 15 years). An overwhelming proportion have occurred along roadways that were dangerous by design—streets that were engineered for speeding cars and made little or no provision for people on foot, in wheelchairs or on a bicycle. Addressing these safety concerns must be a high priority of the next transportation bill. For much of a decade, Florida has been the most dangerous state in the country for both pedestrians and cyclists and it is critical that the next legislation provide the tools (and the accountability) to ensure that Florida and other states do something to eliminate these preventable deaths on our roads.

BikeWalkLee’s vision of a balanced multi-modal transportation system is not just an abstract wish; we have been busy working with our elected officials and other community partners to put our county on the path of realizing this vision. We are especially proud of our Lee County elected officials, both at the Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC). Both organizations have shown strong support for complete streets and a more balanced multi-modal transportation system by requiring bike/ped/transit accommodations in all road projects. County officials also have provided funding for stand-alone bike/ped projects as part of the ARRA funds and the annual FDOT work plan. As a result, our county has been recognized at the national and statewide level for its leadership and accomplishments in making Lee County a more bike/pedestrian/transit-friendly community. Just this week, Lee County commissioners were named the "Elected Officials of the Year" by the Florida Bicycle Association. Singled out in the FBA honor was the county’s recently adopted Evaluation and Appraisal Report, an exhaustive review of the county's land use policies. It is a visionary plan with a focus on sustainability and a blueprint for changes in land use that will promote walkable/bikeable and transit-accessible neighborhoods, with complete streets concepts integrated into every component of this plan.

It is important that the federal transportation legislation provide our local elected officials with the tools and support they need to continue on the path to a balanced multi-modal transportation system that is vital to the sustainability and economic viability of our community and this country. Lee County’s MPO recent long range transportation plan identified the need to establish a comprehensive transit system to meet the projected transportation needs in our community. Transit infrastructure is necessary not only to our county’s future, but to the economic vitality of Florida. Federal financial assistance will be essential to our ability to move in this direction. In addition, continued federal funding for bicycling and walking facilities can assist the county in offering cost-effective options to help mitigate national problems such as transportation dependence on oil, and help hard-pressed county families lower their transportation costs, stay healthy and active, and at the same time serve those that do not bike or walk by lowering congestion.

Like Chairman Bruno, our elected officials understand the importance to the economic viability of our community of investing in pedestrian and bicycle facilities as part of a transportation system that provides people choices. Research shows that people want to live and work in walkable communities, where people of all ages, abilities or mode of transportation feel safe and welcome on the roadways. One study in Lake Worth, Florida, found that people were willing to pay $20,000 more for homes in pedestrian-friendly communities. As we try to attract businesses to our area or retain the ones we have, it is important to provide this quality of life feature....

We also urge Congress to incorporate the complete streets approach into the transportation bill. Complete streets policies simply require that the safety, interests, and convenience of all users be considered in the design and construction of transportation projects. Lee County’s complete streets efforts have convinced us of the value of this approach and a federal complete streets policy would result in better state and local projects, and better use of the billions of dollars invested every year in road infrastructure. Recent USDOT policies in support of complete streets have greatly assisted our local efforts and they should be incorporated into the underlying transportation statutes.

Finally, as Congress works to improve and reform our nation’s surface transportation programs, it is important that it find ways to improve the efficiency of implementation, push more decision-making down to the local level where the needs are best known, strip away the layers of bureaucratic red tape that have added unnecessary costs to transportation projects-- road projects and bike/ped facilities alike--and slowed the delivery of much-needed improvements....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

National Start! Walking Day: Take a Walk @ Lakes Park April 6th


Lee Memorial Health System & The American Heart Association
Invite you to ~

Take a Walk @ Lakes Park
(Located at 7330 Gladiolus Drive Ft. Myers 33908)
on National Start! Walking Day
Wednesday, April 6th
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. in Shelter C-1

There will be a short program featuring Cindy Brown, Vice President Patient Care Services, Lee Memorial Health System ~ then a walk on the Lakes Park Start! Walking Path ~ and afterwards ~ enjoy fresh sub sandwiches provided by the National AHA Sponsor, Subway Restaurants!

See you at the Park!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bicycling to Beach makes one a moving target for motorists


News-Press, Mar. 24, 2011
Stephanie Davis - Downtown Diva

The Downtown Diva is a Beach girl who never goes to the Beach. I've reiterated my loathing of traffic before, so I won't repeat the gory details of my clawed-up steering wheel or debilitating panic attacks when the driver in front of me refuses to utilize a turn signal.

Nevertheless, last weekend, I wanted to return to my hometown for an afternoon - I grew up on Fort Myers Beach and I haven't been there in TWO YEARS (see traffic rant above).

Feeling ambitious, I recruited two girlfriends to bike the 24-mile round trip with me - and here is what I learned - Southwest Florida drivers are either clinically BLIND to bicyclists OR there is a secret contest to see how many bicycles they can run over.

We were three girls merrily pedaling on sidewalks and bike paths on a sunny Sunday afternoon, while drivers surrounded by 4,000 pounds of steel and rubber seemed bound and determined to see who would win if we collided.

There are these things called "crosswalks" at intersections - and, sure, maybe drivers don't have time to come to a complete stop when they see people walking their bikes across them, but one would think they wouldn't actually SPEED UP when spotting pedestrians.

Even though we felt like hunted prey on the way there and back, I found that the Beach was still the Beach, only it was covered with a gazillion spring breakers, and lunch at The Cottage was dependably delicious.

Next time though, I'll be traveling there by auto and hoping against hope that I don't get rear-ended when I slow down for bicycles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shared path founders feted at Sanibel Bike Club event


Members of the Sanibel Bicycle Club got a real treat at the club's March potluck meeting, with a program featuring the women who founded the Sanibel shared use path. Thanks to Board member Patti Sousa for organizing the wonderful event!

Island Reporter
By JEFF LYSIAK, jlysiak@breezenewspapers.com

March 24, 2011

They stood up to Lee County, and they stood in the way of commercial trucks. But there was nothing that was going to get in the way of four island women who wanted the City of Sanibel to create a system of shared use paths.

Nearly four decades later, those pioneers were finally celebrated for their efforts that has resulted in more than 23 miles of pathways, connecting the islands' main thoroughfares with side streets and high-volume points of interest used by residents, seasonal visitors and day-trippers.

Back in the early 1970's, in the days prior to the incorporation of the city, these ladies — Grace Whitehead, Mariel Goss, Starr Thomas and Sharon Vartdal — began looking for a way to establish pathways which could be enjoyed by pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

"We used to go around and collect coins," recalled Starr Thomas. "We placed collection jars all over the island, in restaurants and clothing stores."

Not too long after a bank account was established to support the concept of creating a shared use path, Thomas, named the project's treasurer, helped establish the first Sanibel Captiva Directory. She remembers having to comb through the Fort Myers Area phone book, searching for the names and addresses of island residents to include in their publication.

"The Girl Scouts used to sell them as a fundraiser," Starr added. "And as the project grew year after year, we built up advertising in the directory. That kind of stepped things up. I'd say it was a very successful project."

Whitehead, who along with her husband, Don, helped establish the Island Reporter in late 1973, was responsible for much of the early progress in having the pathway project supported by islanders and approved by city leaders. She passed away on Jan. 11, 2011.

"We were four little housewives going up against the county," said Vartdal, who recalled Whitehead as the "leader" of their cause. "We tried to do things nicely at first, but they (county officials) just laughed at us."

Vartdal remembered one incident, after failing to have the speed limit on Periwinkle Way lowered, which resulted in the pathway promoters nearly being arrested.

"We decided to stage a protest to stop traffic," said Vartdal. "We did it on a Monday morning, because that's when most of the construction vehicles would be heading onto the island. Mariel (Goss) told us how to stop them... and we did! There were no vehicles on Periwinkle from the causeway all the way up to Bailey's."

"We were fighting the good fight," she added.

Once the group had collected more than $50,000 in donations, construction on the shared use paths began.

"What I remember most about the 'Bike Path Movement' was that it took an entire community effort to get it done — both the year-rounders and the snowbirds," said Goss. "We were a bunch of 30-something women going up against these good ol' boys. And the county thought Sanibel only had the elite out here, so why should they give us any money?"

To continue reading the article, click here.

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Why can’t we all just behave?


March 23, 2011

What would Dr. Larry do? That’s a question I all too often find myself wondering when I witness irresponsible driving, running, cycling, walking or skating. Should I simply dodge or ignore the oncoming (or sometimes stationary) menace or attempt to make things right? As we all can probably attest from experience, attempting to educate or correct in such situations, even by just making a simple comment, is often much more thorny then bargained for. So, how would Dr. Larry handle such interactions?

Never heard of Dr. Larry? It’s been well over a decade since he last wrote an advice column in a local running publication, so it’s no wonder (FMTC members might remember him). In his prime, Dr. Larry fielded many inquiries about running etiquette, from what to say and do when trying to pass someone who’s oblivious to their auditory surroundings because of their headphones, to dealing with a road/path-hogging pack of cyclists, runners or even walkers. Dr. Larry’s advice was always astute and spot-on, never tiptoeing around a subject.

We who are out there exposed and vulnerable have a good reason to be very critical of boneheaded driving since the one-ton plus machines most of us drive are truly killing devices. But what about the miscreants who are our fellow cyclists and pedestrians? Shouldn’t we demand that they, too, follow the rules of the road and pathway? While it’s true that cyclists and other pedestrians are unlikely to kill us, they can — and do — create very bad situations. Not to mention that those who ignore common courtesy and safe behavior reflect negatively on the rest of us.

Some recent examples: A large group on a training run who were using the roadway would not open a path for a cyclist to ride through, even though the cyclist was doing everything he could to avoid a conflict and the runners were illegally and inappropriately hogging the road. Or the recumbent cyclist who was flying down a narrow sidewalk in an area with heavy pedestrian activity and who almost took out a runner because he wasn’t willing to slow down and give a warning, both required by law and etiquette. And then there’s the group of weekend warrior cyclists who routinely blew red lights and stop signs all in the name of “training”, although they’re not really “training” for anything, thus giving motorists good reason to have a bad attitude about all cyclists.

If you recognize yourself as the bonehead in any of these situations, you need to change your behavior. No doubt that that’s what Dr. Larry would advise.

Hooters’ Half report

A record field of more than 1,000 registrants took part in this year’s Hooters-to- Hooters Half-Marathon. Unexpectedly, and to the delight of most runners, clouds and a light rain made for nice conditions. But by the time everyone was munching on chicken wings and sipping beer the weather had cleared and a fun time was had by all. The Fort Myers Track Club, with the assistance of many volunteers and FMPD, did an outstanding job of course management, although some participants who had a painfully slow pace did make things challenging in terms of traffic control. Next year there’ll likely be new guidelines for those who fit that category. Thanks to Hooters and all the other sponsors and volunteers for making this one of Southwest Florida’s best races.

Taking it to the Streets update

Earth Day is April 22. As part of the celebration, there’s a new local effort to encourage everyone to at least try one mode of transportation other than drive alone auto trips from April 13 through 23 and record the miles on “Trip Track.” Go to the website for complete information and links to the tracker.

Advocacy update

The National Bike Summit attracted almost 800 advocates to Washington, D.C. earlier this month, the most ever for this gathering. As this edition of my column is published I’ll be in Tallahassee for the Florida Bike Summit. Hopefully, I’ll be as optimistic coming away from ours as I was from the National Summit. All I can add is that anyone who cares about bike/ped, transit, complete streets and sustainable communities better be letting your elected officials know or much of the progress made will be stopped in its tracks.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

County Manager's Blog:Commissioners Honored for Complete Streets Efforts


Featured on the Lee County website:
Lee County Manager's Blog

Dear Citizens,

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has been selected as Elected Officials of the Year 2010-11 by the Florida Bicycle Association, which will present its annual awards at the 2011 Florida Bike Summit in Tallahassee on March 24. This honor reflects Lee County’s increased efforts to create “complete streets” that provide safe access for all users, including pedestrians and bicyclists.

“We normally go toward somebody on the state level with this award, but we don’t overlook local governments,” said Dan Moser, FBA programs director, who nominated the board for the award. He said Lee County’s efforts are evident in the recently adopted New Horizon 2035 Evaluation and Appraisal Report for changes to the Lee Plan. “The whole theme of complete streets and sustainable development is throughout the entire document,” Moser said.

The Lee County Commission’s March 15 approval of resurfacing and/or rebuilding of 61 streets in St. James City, North Fort Myers, south Fort Myers and San Carlos Park is an example of the process in action. The project was recommended in January by the Interdepartmental Performance Team on Complete Streets and in February by the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee.

Among the Performance Team’s recommendations:

• Evaluation of access to a blueway on Sanibel Boulevard.
• A trailhead facility within the right-of-way of Independence Boulevard.
• Signing and marking improvement evaluations for the McGregor Groves and Waterway Estates subdivisions.
• Sidewalks on Crest Lane and Gorham Avenue in the Villas.
• A pedestrian connection from the east end of North Brentwood Drive to the multi-use path on Summerlin Road.

Lee County used a similar review process when it recently analyzed a project to resurface 75 streets in Lehigh Acres. The Advisory Committee recommended that this process be used for review of resurfacing contracts for the next two years and for advance planning of resurfacing projects beyond 2013. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee will review identified improvement projects for prioritization as part of the upcoming Capital Improvements Project evaluation.

For more information on the FBA’s annual awards, which are presented to worthy recipients for their contributions to bicycling, visit FBA's website.

City's design, transit system can ease gas costs


March 22, 2011
By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

Some cities in the USA are better positioned
to deal with rising gas prices than others
because of their design and transit
systems, according to a national non-profit
group that works to build stronger cities.

The key factor: whether residents have to
drive everywhere, or have other options.

That's according to CEOs for Cities, a
Chicago-based network of civic, business,
academic and philanthropic leaders seeking
to build and sustain stronger cities for the
future. Researchers analyzed federal
government data on vehicle miles traveled in
51 metropolitan areas that have at least 1
million residents.

It's a timely analysis: Gas prices have eased a
bit in the past few days — to a national
average of $3.60 for a gallon of regular
unleaded Monday — but they are still 28%
higher than a year ago.

The average American driver logs 25 miles
per day. Motorists in compactly developed
cities that have extensive transit systems
can drive nearly 50% less.

The way to cut back on driving miles in a city
isn't by reducing commutes, says Carol
Coletta, president and CEO of the group.

"What adds up is all those small trips, which
are much shorter and not as necessary," she
says. "The question is, how do we make the
city a place where we don't have to drive as
much or as often?"

Edward McMahon, an expert on sustainable
development at the Urban Land Institute
(ULI) in Washington, D.C., says the analysis
confirms a study done in 2009 on the
relationship between urban design and
driving.

"Most trips in a car are not back and forth to
work," he says. "Most trips — 80% to 85% —
are lifestyle trips to the movies, the grocery
store, taking the kids to school, and so on.
What we found is if you live in a community
where you can walk, ride a bike, take a short
trip, those savings start to add up really
quickly."

McMahon says ULI examined automobile
usage trends in two Maryland cities:
Bethesda, a mixed-use community with
transit, and Germantown, a traditional car-
oriented suburb. "We found that in Bethesda,
about 75% of trips during the day were in
fact on city transit," he says. "In
Germantown, 90% of all trips were by car."

Cities where people drive less tend to do well
in three essential areas, Coletta says:

• Land use. People running errands, such as
to buy milk, can walk instead of getting in the
car and having to park, Coletta says.

• Urban design. Sidewalks or bike trails are
designed in such a way that people want to
walk.

• Transportation. The public transportation
network is extensive enough that residents
have choices.

CEOs for Cities estimates that if every driver
in those 51 metro areas cut their driving by
just 1 mile a day, the savings on gas and
other costs would total $29 billion a year.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quick action by LeeDOT in responding to safety problem near Lexington School





Kudos to LeeDOT staff for responding so quickly and effectively to a problem brought to BikeWalkLee's attention by a member of the Lexington Bicycle Club. As you can see from the above photo, the new signs have already been installed!

Below are excerpts from the correspondence.

Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 9:09 PM
To: dletourneau@bikewalklee.org
Subject: from Tom Kelly

I live in Lexington, and cycle all over at least twice each week, usually once with the bike club and once or twice on my own. I and other members of the club have noticed a dangerous situation, something that happened to me again this morning. After leaving Lexington and turning left on Summerlin, within about a half a mile you must cross the entrance/exit for the Lexington middle school. around 8 a.m. parents are dropping off their children, and as they exit, 75% of them, as they approach Summerlin to make the right turn, are only looking to the left to check when there's an opening in the traffic so they can go. many of them, as they spot an opening, begin going while still looking to the left...who can i contact to have a sign placed by the exit that says, "look to your right for bicycles." we do, as you know, have the right of way. the bike path in that area is heavily used.

From: Wingard, Paul
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2011 10:59 AM

Darla,

Thanks for sending this on to us to investigate...We will proceed and get the signs put up this week. But two things I would like to point out in regards to this idea.

First, I think this is a great idea. This is the kind of ideas that we need to explore more. It is really a relatively small cost with a potential for a significant benefit. Not that we can implement every idea, but I appreciate you sending it on and would encourage everyone to keep looking for things like this. So a big thanks to Tom.

That is the upside, now a negative, the other side of coin. Once the signs are up, the cyclists and pedestrians have to realize that just because the sign is there does not mean every driver will obey and actually look. I worry that but doing something like this we give somebody a false sense of security and they walk or ride out in front of a vehicle and get hit. So we need to be sure that we educate the users of the path that they still must exercise extra caution. With all of these things, education and enforcement are the real foundation for making the needed improvements and see the true benefit.

Again, thanks for the suggestion.
Paul W. Wingard
Interim Director, DOT

If you see safety concerns for cyclists and pedestrians in Lee County, don't hesitate to contact us (dletourneau@bikewalklee.org) and we'll share your concerns with LeeDOT officials, who have been very responsive.

BikeWalkLee applauds statewide recognition of Lee County commissioners and the Sanibel Bicycle Club





BWL Press Release: March 22, 2011

FORT MYERS, FL – BikeWalkLee applauds today’s announcement by the Florida Bicycle Association (FBA) of its annual award winners for 2011, with three of the twelve awards going to groups and individuals in Lee County. The Lee County Board of County Commissioners was named the Elected Official(s) of the Year; the Sanibel Bicycle Club was named the Bicycle Club of the Year; and two members of the Sanibel Bicycle Club were named Volunteer(s) of the Year.

“We are especially gratified to see the Lee County commissioners recognized at the state level for their leadership and accomplishments in making Lee County a more bike/pedestrian/transit-friendly community,” said BikeWalkLee’s Darla Letourneau. As the FBA announcement says; “Less than two years after approving a resolution embracing the concept of “complete streets” for Lee County, the Board of County Commissioners have turned their philosophical commitment into formal policy.”

Singled out in the FBA announcement was the county’s recently adopted Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR), an exhaustive review of the county's land use policies undertaken every seven years; this EAR is being cited by many as the most significant overhaul of county land-use planning since the first Lee Plan was instituted in 1984. “It is a visionary, bold plan with a focus on sustainability and a blueprint for changes in land use that will promote walkable/bikeable and transit accessible neighborhoods, with complete streets concepts integrated into every component of this plan,” said Letourneau. "As the announcement states, 'This continued focus of changing the way this county government deals with transportation and community planning, even as budgets are stretched to their limits, is a shining example of the political will required to make our communities more walkable, bikeable, livable.’”

“We are proud to see one of our partner organizations, the Sanibel Bicycle Club (SBC), recognized for its long history of advocacy and community involvement supporting the improvement and expansion of Sanibel’s 23-mile shared use path system,” said Letourneau. The club was instrumental in the development of the city’s shared use path master plan, and is working in partnership with the city and other community groups on the plan's implementation. “It is exciting to see how a master plan, which entailed a great deal of public involvement, is being implemented by the city, with broad community support and continuing leadership from the club,” said Letourneau. "As the FBA said; ‘The Sanibel Bicycle Club is truly a role model of how to run a successful club.’”

SBC’s involvement in the community was also highlighted by FBA’s award to two of the club’s members, Norm and Helen Flemington, who were named Volunteer(s) of the Year for their work in managing Three separate club sponsored projects, including the club’s used bicycle collection drive for the farm-worker community in Immokalee.

"Recognition such as this -- for Lee County's efforts to embrace complete streets and the Sanibel Bicycle Club’s advocacy work-- is welcomed," said Letourneau. "We have much to be proud of here in Lee County and we hope it will inspire both the county and the city to affirm its commitments to sustainable transportation in these tight economic times, and attract more supporters willing to work for safer streets and more transportation choices throughout the county."

Older drivers overlook street-side pedestrians almost twice as often as younger drivers

Source: Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2011

A new study published by the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, found that drivers over 65 were half as likely to notice pedestrians near or moving toward the street as were experienced drivers between the ages of 28 and 45. Compared to younger drivers simulating a drive through a variety of streetscapes, those over 65 tapped on their brakes in response to a "roadside hazard" about half as often, suggesting either that they did not see it or that they did not consider it something they needed to attend to. Pedestrians who were not in an older driver's central field of vision often went unnoticed, the authors noted. The good news is that the older drivers drive about 20% more slowly -- perhaps to compensate for shortcomings in their peripheral vision and attention. Diminished notice of or attention to items in peripheral vision is a well-documented effect of aging. The Ben-Gurion researchers undertook the study because Israeli drivers over 65 have been involved in a steadily rising rate of accidents involving pedestrians since 1999. Click here for the full article.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fifth episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile: Congestion Pricing



MBA: Congestion Pricing
by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on March 15, 2011 from the series Moving Beyond the Automobile

In the fifth chapter of "Moving Beyond the Automobile," we demystify the concept of congestion pricing in just five short minutes. Here you'll learn why putting a price on scarce road space makes economic sense and how it benefits many different modes of surface transportation.

In London, which successfully implemented congestion pricing in 2003, drivers now get to their jobs faster, transit users have improved service, cyclists have better infrastructure, and pedestrians have more public space. More people have access to the central city, and when they get there, the streets are safer and more enjoyable. While the politics of implementing congestion pricing are difficult, cities looking to tame traffic and compete in the 21st century can't afford to ignore a transportation solution that addresses so many problems at once.

Forth episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile: Bus Rapid Transit



MBA: Bus Rapid Transit
by Elizabeth Press on March 8, 2011 from the series Moving Beyond the Automobile

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) provides faster and more efficient service than an ordinary bus. "These systems operate like a surface subway, say BRT advocates, but cost far less than building an actual metro." Watch this chapter of Moving Beyond the Automobile to learn about the key features of bus rapid transit systems around the world and how BRT helps shift people out of cars and taxis and into buses.

Third episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile: Car Sharing



MBA: Car Sharing
by Robin Urban Smith on March 1, 2011 from the series Moving Beyond the Automobile

In the third episode of Moving Beyond the Automobile, we take a look at a more efficient way to use a car. Car sharing allows users to evaluate the full cost of each car trip, which encourages them to decide what the most appropriate mode choice is for a specific trip.

Zipcar, a leading global car sharing organization, reports that members walk and bike 10-15% more than they did before joining Zipcar. They also report that members save $600 a month when they choose car sharing over owning a private automobile.

So while car sharing isn't exactly "Moving Beyond the Automobile," it is a great way for cities and individuals to help make the transportation network more efficient and become less dependent on owning a private cars.

Need for new urban design--neighborhood schools


This week, News-Press is hosting a community forum on school choice, transportation, and neighborhood schools and its Sunday Opinion page focused on the issue. Below is a letter to the editor that focuses on the real issue--the need for new urban design of our neighborhoods.

News-Press Letters to Editor, Sunday March 20, 2011
New urban design


A beautiful city is one consisting of neighborhoods where children can "safely" walk or bike to school. Think of the nearest school to your home, would you want your child to walk to it alone or with a group of friends?

Having grown up in Lee County, I can think of only a few schools where a safe walk is currently possible: Edison Park, Fort Myers High School, Allen Park or Villas Elementary. But what about those students of Pine Manor who must boldly cross U.S. 41 daily at dawn's hours?

If we want neighborhood schools, then we need more neighborhoods. We need streets that are smaller and easier to cross: fewer lanes, more streets. We need more connections, fewer cul-de-sacs, more transportation choice and less traffic.

Without well-designed neighborhoods, students will still require buses to arrive at even the closest of schools to their home. This issue is bigger than the Lee County School District. It requires a cohesive urban design effort across Lee County.

CHRISTOPHER SOWERS

Fort Myers

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sign up for April 4th Cycling Savvy course


On-line registration for our April 4th, 4-hr, classroom based Cycling Savvy course is finally available. Please click here to sign-up.


What: The truth and techniques of traffic cycling
Through guided discussion with video and animation, this classroom-based session familiarizes students with bicycle-specific laws, traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies. Students discover that bicycle drivers are equal road users, with the right and ability to control their space. An additional segment specific to group riding will be part of this class.

Discover that bicycling is very safe and that with a few simple techniques, you can make your own cycling virtually conflict-free.

When: Monday, April 4, 2011, 8am – 12pm

Where: Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council
1925 Victoria Ave, Fort Myers
(Just west of US-41 one block south of bridge & downtown)

Cost: $30 ($25 for Caloosa Rider Bike Club Members)
Space is Limited. For More Information, Contact:

Dan Moser, Cycling Savvy Certified Instructor
dan@floridabicycle.org or (239) 334-6417

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sign-up for April 1st Helath, Planning & Built Environment FGCU workshop


FDOT contender: Bike work should wait


Monday, March 14, 2011
From the Spokes 'n Folks blog by our fellow advocates in Miami, the Green Mobility Network:


One of three finalists to be Florida's next secretary of transportation testified today that in tough times no federal money should be spent on sidewalks or bicycle facilities. He was Anath Prasad, assistant secretary for engineering and operations in the Florida Department of Transportation, and the highest-ranking Florida witness at U.S. Rep. John Mica's Orlando-area hearing on reauthorization of the nation's highway and transit programs.

This is pretty depressing. It's not like the 1.5 percent of the transportation budget currently going to bike-pedestrian matters would build even one mile of interstate highway.

Nobody from the general public got to testify today. Besides Prasad, the invited witnesses included Frank Bruno, Volusia County Commission chairman; Bob Burleson, president of the Florida Transportation Builders Association; Randy Whitfield, staff director of the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization; Geoffrey Yarema, a partner in the law firm Nossaman Guthner Knox Elliot; and Richard P. Lawless, president of U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail.


Here's more about the hearing, from the Orlando Sentinel.


Spokes 'n' Folks
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Anti-bike testimony challenged

We've learned today that a state official's anti-bike testimony at a congressional hearing on Monday Frank Bruno did not go unchallenged. Frank Bruno, chairman of the Volusia County Commission, spoke up for bicycle projects during his testimony to Rep. John Mica's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Bruno said, in part:

Volusia County recognizes the importance of providing pedestrian and bicycle facilities as a means of expanding the transportation opportunities for residents who, either by choice or by circumstance, do not use an automobile. Volusia County supports the intent of Federal Transportation Authorization Legislation with respect to creating an integrated, intermodal transportation system which provides travelers with a choice of transportation modes while reducing the demand and maintenance of the highway and local road systems.

The Volusia ECHO program, a voter-approved tax designed to enhance environmental, cultural, historic and outdoor recreational activities has augmented the County’s trail program to the tune of $1 million annually. Construction has started on a 5.7 mile segment of the East Central Regional Rail Trail. This $1.8 million project uses ECHO funds paired with a federal grant, and will help our trail system grow to an expected 27 miles by the end of this year.

For Bruno's full written testimony, click here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

AARP and Livable Communities

Secretary LaHood's Blog, FastLane, on March 10th, focused on AARP (one of BikeWalkLee's supporter organizations) and their partnerships for safety and livability. Here's an excerpt: "In addition to safety, another focus that DOT and AARP share is a commitment to creating more livable communities in all parts of our country, including urban, suburban and rural neighborhoods. DOT is working to increase pedestrian and public transportation options. And this benefits everyone, from senior citizens using wheelchairs, to parents pushing strollers down the sidewalk, to kids riding their bikes. Livable communities are crucial to ensuring that folks can visit with friends or access social services and medical care. In short, they allow people to keep their independence and mobility as they get older."

Watch the excellent AARP video, "Inside E Street: Walk on the Safe Side":

SWFRPC 3/17 Presentation on “Health Planning, Land Use and the Fit-Friendly Southwest Florida Initiative”


At the March 17, 2011 meeting of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council (SWFRPC), Dr. Judith Hartner, Lee County Health Department Director, will make a presentation on "Health Planning, Land Use, and the Fit-Friendly Southwest Florida Initiative."

The RPC meeting begins at 9 am at 1926 Victoria Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33901, and Dr. Hartner's presentation is scheduled during the "regional issues" section, from 10:00-11:15 a.m. We're encouraged to see this regional council focus on the important connection between land use and healthy communities, and role of complete streets in this equation. Please consider attending this presentation and discussion.

The RPC is made up of local elected officials from the 6-county region: Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Collier, Hendry, and Sarasota. The Lee County members include 2 county commissioners and a representative from each of the 5 cities.

To see the agenda and background materials, click here.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Hitting the tracks around Southwest Florida


March 9, 2011
The air may have stunk at the finish line, but there was nothing else about the 2011 Edison 5K that did. Thanks to a bad batch of mulch spread throughout downtown that smelled more like compost, the odor around the epicenter of this year’s race and other key Edison Pageant festivities was tough to take for some runners and onlookers alike. But that aside, Fort Myers Track Club organizers and volunteers did a great job of making the 33rd running of this highly popular race a success, from preevent registration and packet pick-up to the post-race activities in Centennial Park.

Two more upcoming FMTC events that you’ll want to be part of include one of our area’s longest running races, the 35th Lehigh Acres Spring Fest 4-Miler on March 19. A newcomer, Get Your Rear in Gear 5K , is a fundraiser for the Colon Cancer Coalition held on March 26. For more info on both, you may go to the website.

On April 16, another first-time event, this one with a twist, takes place at FGCU: Skirts On the Run 5K will benefit FGCU’s Tri-Eagles Triathlon Club. Organizers decided to give women participants a three-minute head start — thus the race’s name. Back in the day there was Leggs Mini-Marathon, a run that was initially exclusively for women and held throughout America, including in Fort Myers. Over the years it became co-ed, but like Skirts On the Run, women started a few minutes early. With so much youth involved, this updated version of an old idea should be interesting.

I’ve mentioned the American Lung Association’s annual Fight for Air Stair Climb before but want to remind readers again of one of our area’s most unique fit-friendly fundraising events. The event takes place on Saturday, April 30, in downtown Fort Myers at one of our city’s most beautiful towers, High Point Place. Residents have welcomed the public again and are inviting registered participants to train in the stairwells on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings. As of early March there are 25 teams (including nine fire departments) and about 100 climbers. The goal is 45 teams and 300 climbers. Like last year, Fort Myers Fire Department is competing to honor fellow firefighter Anthony LaBruzzo who passed away as a result of lung cancer (most likely a result of his 17 years in the profession; he never smoked). If you’d like to take the 30-story, 541-step challenge, or make a pledge for a team or individual who will be climbing, go to the event website.

Advocacy update

By the time this column is published I’ll be in Washington D.C. attending the National Bike Summit as part of an annual advocacy effort. This year the primary goal is to keep in place federal funding programs that improve bike/ped conditions throughout the country. A major undertaking for host League of American Bicyclists, it will attract more than 750 advocates from across the nation. Two weeks later I’ll be doing the same thing in Tallahassee at Florida Bicycle Association’s Florida Bike Summit, an event that that is just as important to our state. As I’ve written in prior columns, if there was ever a year that bike, pedestrian, trails, and transit were under threat, it’s now. We’ve already witnessed the gutting of key staff and leadership in departments that are critical to community development, trails and others that deal with bike/ped matters and the budget proposed by the governor makes clear that we are facing major setbacks if we don’t make our case to the other elected officials who can help keep us moving forward rather than in the direction our new governor apparently wants the state to retreat toward.

Finally, a half-day, classroom based Cycling Savvy course is being offered on Monday morning, April 3. If you’re interested you can contact me for more details.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sanibel City Council approves several shared use path improvements



Special from Tom Sharbaugh,BikeWalkLee's Sanibel rep/reporter

The Sanibel Bicycle Club worked closely with the city for 3 years on the development its Shared Use Master Plan, culminating in its adoption by City Council in 2009. This past week saw real progress in implementing several components of the Master Plan.
1. Dunlop Path: One of the path extensions proposed in the Master Plan was along Dunlop Road through the town's civic and cultural center. The Sanibel Bicycle Club (SBC) worked in partnership with the City and other community organizations to support this extension. When the project got derailed in January by conflicting interests, SBC led the effort to work out a community consensus and get the project back on track. As a result, a compromise was crafted that could be embraced by all parties, and the City Council voted unanimously on March 1st to approve the project. At the same time, the club pushed forward plans to implement a system of shared use path way-finding signage and improved crosswalks, which were also approved by City Council.

In addition to this work, SBC initiated a major project to build a shared use path information center/rest stop that will serve as a “welcome center” for cyclists and pedestrians. They enlisted a consortium of community groups, representing a range of community interests (e.g. conservation, historic preservation, local businesses, roadside beautification groups and private citizens) to support the project and help with fundraising. As a result, the facility will be built at no cost to the City. Sanibel City Council unanimously endorsed the project on March 1st, asked the City staff to facilitate grant requests, and lauded it as a good model of public/private partnership and community collaboration.

Click here to read the Island Reporter article about these initiatives.

Kudos to the City of Sanibel, the Sanibel Bicycle Club, and the Sanibel community for working together to bring these improvements to the island's shared use path system!

Commissioners back Downtown Estero--mixed use project

News-Press 3/8/11
by Christina Cepero


Lee County commissioners on Monday
embraced a project that sprinkles
apartments with shops, offices and a hotel
in the heart of Estero.

Brian Bigelow, Ray Judah and John Manning
voted 3-0 to rezone 34 agricultural acres
on Broadway Avenue east of U.S. 41 for
Downtown Estero, a mixed-use project that
will feature up to 310 homes, 200,000
square feet of stores and offices, and a
four-story hotel with a maximum of 125
rooms.

"This is really a quality project," Judah said.

The developer has the option to build an
assisted living or continuing care facility
with up to 200 beds.

Owner Paul Roberts transferred
development rights on another property to
be able to build 104 more homes than the
206 that would normally be allowed.

Estero resident Dan DeLisi, representing
the volunteer Estero Community Planning
Panel, wants the project.

"They moved from that initial vision of that
strip mall type development on 41,
something we didn't want to see ... to
something where they truly bought into the
Estero vision," DeLisi said.

"We need these
downtown spots to build as a community. I can ride my bike here, shop
there with my son."
Click here to continue reading the article.

Uphill battle in Tallahassee


News-Press Letters to Editor 3/8/11
Uphill battle

Re: "Scott, Legislature providing poor leadership on key state issues," Ray Judah, March 1. Commissioner Ray Judah relates very clearly the kind of leadership (or lack thereof) that we have to look forward to over the next four years in Tallahassee. What's even more disturbing is that the issues and missteps the commissioner alludes to are perhaps only the tip of the iceberg.

Those of us who have been working so hard for so many years to reverse the bad decisions of prior thinking in terms of land use and transportation know that we'll be facing an uphill battle at the state level. Even with the strong commitment by local governments, making things happen requires the state to be on board.

I can only hope that enough of our elected officials realize that the economic, environmental and health benefits that come with improving transportation and land use policies are worth supporting, both financially and philosophically.

DAN MOSER
Fort Myers

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lee County Launches a Transit Task Force


The Board of County Commissioners directed county administration in September 2010 to create a work plan that provides funding options for LeeTran. A Transit Task Force has been formed to serve for one year and advise the Commission on funding options and transit issues. The task force will assist in developing a transit system vision and development plan through 2035.

The task force is composed of 18 members of the community representing large employers, health care, social services, higher education, and transportation and planning professionals. Dan Moser is BikeWalkLee's representative on the task force.

Meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 11 at 8 a.m. at the offices of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization, 1926 Victoria Ave., Fort Myers. Background documents, minutes and other related materials can be found on the website.

President signs 7 month extension of surface transportation law

On Friday, President Obama signed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011 to keep federal transportation dollars flowing to the states for the next seven months. The House voted 421 – 4 for the extension on Wednesday and the Senate passed it by voice vote without debate Thursday afternoon. The quick pace was brought about because the previous extension was set to expire at midnight on Friday, which would have halted transportation construction projects across the country.

The extension gives states added security and the confidence to continue their current projects knowing that funding will continue. ”For bicycling advocates, the extension means we are one step closer to having certainty about future of programs that fund bicycle and pedestrian projects,” said League President Andy Clarke.

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Transit-Oriented Development



by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on February 15, 2011
Watch the third in the Streetfilms series, "Moving Beyond the Automobile." This one focuses on Transit-Oriented Development, more commonly known by its "TOD" acronym in transportation industry circles. TOD is a high-density, mixed-use residential area with access to ample amounts of transportation. There are usually many transportation nodes within its core and contains a walkable and bike-able environment.

We decided to take a look across the Hudson River at New Jersey's east coast where over the last two decades the amount of development has been booming. Transportation options are as diverse as you can get: the Hudson-Bergen light-rail, multiple ferry lines, PATH station, NJ Transit commuter trains, and buses are all plentiful, while in some areas car ownership is as low as 40% to 45%.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

“Transportation 101″ provides a primer on the federal transportation program


This is a terrific primer on federal transportation programs, prepared by the Transportation for America. Below is their 2/23/11 press release and link to the full report.

One of the primary motivations of the Transportation for America campaign is our belief in building a transportation system that meets 21st century challenges.

But understanding how current federal transportation policy works — much less how to go about changing the current system — requires a sometimes painful amount of context. We know it’s not always the easiest issue to follow and a lot of people tend to use complicated jargon and acronyms that confuse even the veterans sometimes. Advocates and legislative staffers who are new to transportation policy often have a lot of catching up to do, and it’s difficult even for folks who have been around awhile to know all the details.

So we put together “Transportation 101: An Introduction to Federal Transportation Policy” to provide some clarity and help document where we’ve been, where the money comes from, how the program works (or doesn’t work) the process of reauthorization and the new (and old) challenges facing us as Congress debates a new transportation bill....

So if you want to learn more about things like the history of the federal transportation program, how the Interstate System was started, how earmarks came to be so prevalent or how the federal role in funding transportation has changed throughout the years, we hope you find Transportation 101 useful.

Click here to access the full report as well as the executive summary.

Pedestrians first

News-Press Letter to Editor 3/5/11

Kudos to Lee County Department of Transportation. I want to give a huge "thank you" to the folks who made the pedestrian crossing of Gladiolus Drive and Old Gladiolus (the entrance to Lakes Park) pedestrian friendly. For years, folks crossing Gladiolus and vehicles were mixing in the crosswalk. There were several near misses, heated exchanges and one-finger salutes. Now thanks to the new design (pedestrian can walk before vehicles get the green) that is a thing of the past. Thank you Lee County DOT.
KIM SUTTON
Fort Myers

Friday, March 4, 2011

A sidewalk 'surprise' for McGregor residents


News-Press 3/4/11
Written by Evangelia Ganosellis


Dan and Betsy Allen enjoy their morning
runs several times a week along the Royal
palm-lined McGregor Boulevard.

But they say their runs aren’t always
smooth or safe. The Allens have to cross
McGregor, traffic-packed in the morning,
twice to access a sidewalk, then to go back
home.

The Florida Department of Transportation
has a plan to improve sidewalks along both
sides of the road and create new ones to
make walking, running and bicycling safer
on McGregor between College Parkway and
Colonial Boulevard.

“It’s a really pleasant surprise,” said Dan
Allen, 67. “We’re impressed that someone’
s paying attention.”

FDOT officials have two alternative plans
for the four sections of McGregor,
beginning at College Parkway and ending
at Davis Drive.

One is to relocate 66 palm trees to place
sidewalks by the road. That plan would
cost about $458,000 in federal funds.

The other plan is to place sidewalks
alongside access roads that line McGregor,
which would make those roads one way
instead of two. That option would cost
about $428,000.

A fifth project, which will be completed
separately from the other four, will
resurface the west side of McGregor from
College Parkway to Keenan Avenue and
add a four-foot paved shoulder and
sidewalk.

That project will cost about $550,000 in
state funds.

FDOT held a public information meeting
Thursday to show their design plans and
take feedback from residents. Officials are
encouraging residents to share thoughts on
the project and what approach they prefer.

“If people have a preference, that’s exactly
what we want to know,” said Debbie
Tower, FDOT spokeswoman.

The purpose of the projects, Tower said, is
to ensure pedestrians are safe.

Not everyone is pleased with the proposed
construction, which is set to begin early
next year.

Missy Ready, 60, lives off McGregor just
north of Davis.

She said access roads provide the same
safety sidewalks would.

“You’re stirring a pot that doesn’t need a
ladle,” she said.

But Matt Horton, 38, said he’s been waiting
for sidewalks since he moved off Keenan
12 years ago.

Horton said his wife hasn’t been able to
safely walk or bike to her job nearby since
they moved there.

“I’m glad to see that we’re here finally,” he
said.

Secretary LaHood's Blog:For bicycle enthusiasts, next week's National Bike Summit looms large


FastLane: March 04, 2011
Here's the word from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:
Today is Friday, March 4, and for the nation's bicycling enthusiasts that means only one thing: 4 days until the 2011 National Bike Summit. And to get the bike folks geared up for this year's gathering, on Tuesday I went on BicycleRadio.com's "Escape The Peloton" show.

As you can imagine, host Sean Mellor and I talked about a range of bicycling-related topics. From the thrill of watching my grandkids get their first bikes to the way distracted driving affects the bicycling community, we covered a lot of ground.

Click here to listen to my Bicycle Radio interview!

But I think what listeners really wanted to hear us talk about is President Obama's budget request for 2012.

We are very fortunate that, in these hard economic times, the President knows the economic importance of investing in transportation. He has proposed a 127 percent increase to fix our roads and bridges, and to build big projects that will yield economic development and jobs, like high speed rail. And don’t forget our emphasis on livable communities, so that people will have more options for getting around.

I've been to more than 100 cities in more than 40 states across this great country, and everywhere I've gone, people have said they want more ways of getting around. Often, they want to be able to leave their cars behind. This means improved transit like streetcars and buses. But it also means more opportunities--whether as a form of recreation or as a way of commuting--to walk or ride a bicycle safely. We can achieve that through off-street trails, as in the Philadelphia Area Pedestrian and Bicycle Network, or through on-street bike lanes, as along DC's own Pennsylvania Avenue.

One of the most important things to remember is this: the Department of Transportation can help set standards and support programs, but many of the best ideas have come from the grassroots. And that's where next week's summit-goers come in.

Thanks to programs like Bicycle Radio and the Outspoken Cyclist and magazines like Spokes; thanks to the President's willingness to promote bicycling; and thanks to the cycling enthusiasts who have come together in organizations like Transportation For America, America Bikes, the League of American Bicyclists, Complete Streets, and Safe Routes to School, the stars have aligned over the last two years for greater awareness of the valuable role bicycling plays in American transportation. But, as I said in January, if you want that momentum to continue, you'll have to continue that terrific grassroots work.

Finally, as to the burning question of how I will top my famous "tabletop speech" at the 2010 Summit, you'll just have to stay tuned.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Beach bikes get new life in farm country




Kudos to the Sanibel Bicycle Club for implementing, for the second year in a row, a community-wide bicycle collection drive for families and children in the Immokalee community. Below is the March 2nd press release from the recipient organization, Redlands Christian Migrant Association. The story was also broadcast on NBC-2 News.


IMMOKALEE – Guadalupe Gonzalez, 4, steered her bicycle in circle after circle on the driveway of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association complex. And why not?

The pint-sized red and black Trek wasn’t new, but it was Guadalupe’s first bicycle. It even sported training wheels. Her mother smiled. “She’s happy,” she said in Spanish.

Guadalupe was among 130 people who benefited Wednesday from a unique community-to-community act of charity. Bicyclists from the affluent beach town of Sanibel Island brought a two-month collection of restored bicycles to the low-income farming hub of Immokalee. There, all bikes quickly dispersed.

RCMA, which operates childcare centers and a charter school in Immokalee, distributed many bicycles to families of the children it serves, and the rest to other local charities.

“This was really neat,” said Leslie Moguil, RCMA’s Associate Executive Director. “In Sanibel, people ride bikes for pleasure and fitness. But here, they’re an important tool of life. For people who can’t afford any form of transportation, a bicycle can be their car.”

The bicycle drive has become an annual event for the Sanibel Bicycle Club. This year, the club upgraded its preparations to include a temporary bicycle repair shop at Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ. Billy Kirkland of Billy’s Bike Shop loaned one of his professional repair techs to the effort. Consequently, all bicycles arrived ready to ride.

Bicycle club members, most sporting yellow T-shirts, came to Immokalee with their truckloads of bicycles.

“We were just thrilled to see the faces,” said club member Patti Sousa, who coordinated the effort. “It’s just a warm feeling. We felt all our efforts were worth it.”

NBC-2 News: Tracking Tax Dollars: Making roads safe for bikes



While this story was posted on NBC-2 News on Jan 31, 2011, we just now discovered it.

LEE COUNTY: Florida ranks number one in the country for fatal bicycle crashes. The problem is so bad, communities are spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on plans to make the roads safe, but the NBC2 Investigators found little to nothing has been done. NBC2 Investigator Andy Pierrotti literally hit the road to get answers.

We share the same road, but when you're a cyclist pounding the pavement in Southwest Florida, don't expect to be respected by all drivers.

"I don't remember the actual impact itself," says Craig Hersch, who knows the risk first hand.

The Ft. Myers attorney and triathlon competitor nearly died after a driver hit him on Summerlin Road a few years ago.

"The problem is, is that a lot of our motorists unfortunately don't consider bicyclists to able to share the road, and some of them are outright hostile," Hersch said.

Florida has consistently ranked one of the top three deadliest states to ride a bicycle.

Southwest Florida saw 644 accidents from 2008 to June 2010. That's one accident every 34 hours. Seventeen bicyclists died.

To make it safer, the city of ft Myers purchased a design plan in 2006 to restructure the city's roads by adding more bike lanes and sidewalks. That plan cost taxpayers $278,742.

NBC2 discovered that as of 2011, only 13-percent of the plan has been implemented.

So, what's taking so long?

"It's funding. Funding is the issue," says Saaed Kazemi, the city's chief engineer.

He says the city planned to immediately start construction, but the recession hit, and it lost money.

Florida Bike Association's Dan Moser says the city's isn't the only one dragging its feet. He blames local counties and the state too.

"We have to get the Florida Department of Transportation to acknowledge that there's a problem, and they don't just dismiss it [by saying] oh, there's more people biking because the weather is nice," Moser said.

According to a January report by The News Service of Florida, Lauren Hallam, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, told a state senate transportation committee it should take a serious look at penalties for drivers who strike bicycle riders.

"Usually you like to be number one, but Florida unfortunately generally is number one in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities," she said. "When people get killed, we get very, very angry and we want to do something about it."

Hallam seemed to draw some sympathy from the committee chairman, Senator. Jack Latvala, though he later did not include any of her proposals in the list of bills likely to be taken up by his committee.

Last year, Lee County's Metropolitan Planning Organization spent $188,000 on a design plan to make streets safer for bikers. They hope to get grants to fund the projects.

Is your bike route safe? We've put together interactive maps of nearly all bicycle accidents in Southwest Florida over the past three years, broken down by county.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

HOW BICYCLING WILL SAVE THE ECONOMY (IF WE LET IT)



Grist — A Beacon in the Smog
by Elly Blue
28 Feb 2011


"Imagine getting a $3,000 to $12,000 tax rebate this year. Now imagine it coming again and again. Every year it grows by around a thousand dollars. Imagine how this would change your daily life. Sounds like a teabagger's wet dream, but it's actually a conservative estimate of how much you'd save by ditching your car, or even just one of your cars -- and getting on a bicycle instead. Car-centric conditions don't always make it easy to choose the bicycle. Communities designed exclusively for motor vehicles impose a major financial penalty on those who are compelled to take on the expense of driving."

"But if you're one of those who lives in a bike-friendlier place, you'll be doing your local business community a good turn and padding Uncle Sam's pockets as well as your own if you trade four wheels for two. In the many North American cities where two-wheeled transportation is taking off, a new bicycle economy is emerging. It's amazing how much money can stay in your community when it isn't being pumped into the gas tank, big insurance, and the auto market. What will this new bicycle economy look like?..." To continue reading the article, click here.



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