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Thursday, June 30, 2011

BikeWalkLee statement in suppport of Distracted Driving Awareness Month



On June 21st, the Board of County Commissioners declared July Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and presented a resolution to the Stay Alive...Just Drive! coalition. BikeWalkLee's Ann Pierce spoke in support of the resolution. BikeWalkLee submitted the following letter to the commissioners:

Dear Commissioners:

BikeWalkLee is a community coalition working for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safety of all users. Bike Walk Lee expresses its support for the Stay Alive…Just Drive! Program and Lee County’s recognition of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. We applaud the collective effort bringing focused attention to the problem of distracted driving and advocate for educational and enforcement programs conveying the message, “One Road – Many Users”.

Nationally, such programs have successfully resulted in a consistent decrease in pedestrian deaths over the past decade, with 2009, the last full year of data, indicating a 7% decline. Still some 4,100 individuals were killed walking on our nations roadways and another 59,000 injured. Six hundred and thirty cyclists were killed and 51,000 injured.

We are all aware that Florida’s safety record for cyclists and pedestrians is again rated one of the worst in the nation, with 22% of all traffic deaths in Florida being pedestrians or cyclists (17% pedestrians and 5% bicyclists). This, while the national average for pedestrian and cyclist traffic deaths is 12%.

This record is a distinction that ill serves all Floridians and will require a significant change of attitude, awareness, and behavior to remedy. That change can begin here, with your leadership and aggressive response to an inimical cultural shift that puts automobile primacy above that of human well-being.

Click here to continue reading the letter.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Atlanta provides example of what not to do



On a recent visit to Atlanta, whose metro-area population now comes in at almost 6 million, I was impressed with the number of runners and cyclists who brave the roads and sidewalks in what is clearly a car-centric environment. The hilly terrain and very busy, winding, narrow-lane roads that make up the majority of the city’s streets are other factors that make getting around by human power challenging.

One indication of just how hostile Atlanta’s roads are for cyclists was the prevalence of sidewalk riding I witnessed, a behavior very common in our area but generally not the case in large cities. While Southwest Florida has its share of sidewalk gaps and plenty of whole areas totally lacking any pedestrian accommodation, what I found in the high-income Buckhead section of Atlanta where I stayed was an area riddled with crumbling infrastructure and plenty of other problems for pedestrians. Those who cycle on these sub-standard sidepaths must find it even more difficult and dangerous than is the case in many other communities. Because there are many locations with high concentrations of pedestrians, due primarily to a popular transit system, as well as a large number of restaurants, offices and stores immediately adjacent to the sidewalk, pedestrians are put at risk by fast-moving, often inconsiderate, cyclists.

One bright spot I happened upon on more than one occasion is the trend of mixed-use projects popping up as inner city infill development. In those places there usually exists a complete street infrastructure that makes both cycling and walking a safe and pleasant experience. If this is the wave of the future, it bodes well for everyone who would like equitable transportation options in their city.

Perhaps because many of Atlanta’s cyclists feel like they’re second-class citizens and so must fend for themselves, I witnessed only a single example of one bike driver actually stopping and waiting for a traffic signal to change from red to green. I happened to be right next to him on the sidewalk at the intersection and was so impressed with his seemingly rare adherence to traffic law (and common sense) that I offered him words of encouragement and appreciation for doing so.

Let’s hope Southwest Florida doesn’t mature in the manner Atlanta did. We have lots in common in terms of sprawling development patterns with bedroom communities abounding. Work and shopping are very often separated from where we live by significant distances, thus making our cars the only real option for getting around. But if we implement many of the forward-thinking policies and plans that recently have been put in place by a number of our local governments, we should fare much better than Atlanta, and many other communities that continue to pay the price of choices made over the decades insofar as forgetting about everyone other than those of us traveling in our motor vehicles.

Advocacy update


Congratulations are in order for locally based traffic safety organization Stay Alive…Just Drive! for being recognized by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners for the work its doing throughout the country to reduce distracted driving and other dangerous driving behaviors. Additionally, SAJD will be awarded the first “Friend of Emergency Medical Services” by the state bureau of EMS, the organization that oversees all of the local EMS agencies, at its annual conference in Orlando next month. Cyclists and pedestrians, being the most vulnerable road users, benefit most from the efforts of this organization.

Finally, a follow-up to my last column that detailed the “F” Florida received on the Bike Friendly State report card for our law enforcement element. A version of CyclingSavvy is being developed that will be offered to law enforcement professionals at no cost. It’s one way to help them understand the many things cyclists must deal with on a regular basis. The course will show how CyclingSavvy teaches us to “drive” our bikes and mix with traffic as the best way to stay safe and confident. I’m hoping there will be interest among the law enforcement community.

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

— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director 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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lee County Wants Your Input

Please take a few minutes to answer this survey from the Lee County Department of Sustainability. Your input is valuable and will help make our county a better place to live!

Lee County is becoming a healthier, more prosperous place to live by embarking on an effort to become a sustainable community — one that achieves a balance among economic, social and environmental resources. Please take a moment to complete this brief (5 questions) survey to help us to identify which of the eight sustainability goals listed below are most important. Surveys must be completed by July 31, 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Letter to editor: cycling benefits all

News-Press Letter to Editor
June 21, 2011


I am a commuter cyclist. I am not riding my
bicycle to get a cup of coffee, train for an
athletic event, or to see the world on two
wheels. I am going to work, to buy my
groceries, to visit my friends.

And, by doing this, everyone benefits.
There is one more parking space open at t
he shopping center when I shop by bike,
there is one less car trying to make it
through the maddening congestion of our
roadways.

If supply and demand and their relation to
price is really true, when I buy less gasoline
there is a minuscule bit more supply and
perhaps someday that could influence the
price you pay.

Yes, sometimes I ride in the traffic lane
and, yes, I actually avoid side paths when I
can in favor of the roadway. I do this
because I have learned that most motorists
really don’t want to hurt me and, in order
for motorists to best see me, I need to be
where the other vehicles are traveling.

Yes, I have been threatened, yelled at and
swerved at, and I still wonder why. Please
be kind. When I cycle we all benefit.

CINDY BEAR
Bokeelia

Friday, June 17, 2011

MPO Board OK's idea of potential bike/ped/complete streets application for TIGER III grant


Good news! At the 6/17/11 MPO meeting, the Board agreed to ask staff to scope out a bike/ped/complete streets project tied to the new countywide bike/ped master plan, as proposed by BikeWalkLee, for a potential application for a federal discretionary grant called TIGER III.

Background
:
Starting in 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation has run a competitive discretionary grant program to fund innovative multi-modal transportation infrastructure projects. To date, there have been two rounds (TIGER I ($1.5 billion) and TIGER II ($600 million), with a third round of $528 million to be awarded in the fall. The Lee MPO applied for a TIGER I grant (rail proposal) but was not successful.

Secretary LaHood has pitched TIGER III grants as an opportunity to create livable communities that treat cycling and walking as valued elements of the nation’s transportation system. In addition, TIGER is a key program in the Administration’s 3-Department Partnership for Sustainable Communities initiative.

Why a Bike/Ped Project:
BikeWalkLee developed the concept for a bike/ped/complete streets grant proposal and presented it to the MPO committees (BPCC, TAC, and CAC) earlier this month and again today at the MPO Board meeting and received support for the concept. The Board asked staff to scope out this proposal and bring it back to the Board in August.

Here’s the case we made for why a bike/ped/complete streets project application is a winning idea for the Lee MPO:
• BikeWalkLee analyzed the winning grants and found that approximately half of TIGER I and II grants had bike/ped/complete streets elements. In TIGER II, 17% of the projects were primarily bike/ped/complete streets.
• Lee County is perfectly positioned with all the pieces coming together at this moment—complete streets policies (with a new one moving through process in the City of Fort Myers), an EAR that incorporates complete streets into land use planning, a new countywide bike/ped master plan.
• Countywide bike/ped master plan has created a plan for a connected bike/ped network, filling the gaps, and addressing the safety concerns. Having local jurisdictions committed to funding some of these projects with their own funds can qualify as matching funds, a key requirement.

Project idea:
o Take the MPO bike/ped master plan and link the three demonstration projects together, then build on that to connect to FGCU, to the destinations/jobs/housing in area, going through Bonita Springs on old 41 to new US 41 & connect to Collier & link with Lee/Collier transit link, which provides a transit as well as regional component. The focus will be on bringing FGCU students & staff to campus by transit/bike/walk.
o To the north, link the complete streets demo project to downtown Fort Myers and connect to the 10-Mile Linear Trail & to the Lee Tour de Parks Loop. The Parks loop would then link to the University Loop along Treeline Blvd.
o By linking the 3 demos together, there would be a connected corridor of biking & walking facilities from downtown Fort Myers down to FGCU and then linked to Collier County by transit.

Next Steps:

• MPO staff will pull together the appropriate agencies, organizations and individuals, with BPCC involvement, to scope out this proposal and bring it back to the Board for review in August.
• Grant applications to USDOT are likely to be due in late October.

Update on Cape Coral bike lanes request


Report by Steve Chupack, BikeWalkLee Representative for Cape Coral

June 17, 2011
The Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Commission (TAC) on June 15, approved two of the three bike lane requests submitted on behalf of the SW Cape Coral Neighborhood Association. The requests were presented by Board member Pat Young at the May 18, TAC meeting and supported by Joe Cervoni, President. The application was also endorsed by Caloosa Riders president Mike Swanson, BikeWalkLee and its Cape Coral representative Steve Chupack.

The TAC is chaired by Councilman Pete Brandt and includes Mayor Sullivan and Council members Chulakes-Leetz, Kuehn, and McGrail. The action followed discussion of the recommendations made by Traffic Engineer Rashad Hanbali.

The TAC approved creating bike lanes on: both sides of Agualinda Boulevard between Cape Coral Parkway and Beach Parkway (1.3 miles); both sides of Beach Parkway between Agualinda Boulevard and Oasis Boulevard (.4 miles). Presently, Agualinda Boulevard has bike lanes between Cape Coral Parkway and Eldorado Boulevard; Beach Parkway has bike lanes between Oasis Boulevard and Surfside Boulevard. Putting lanes on these sections adds greatly to achieving the goal of creating bike lanes that are connected. Young and Chupack thanked Council members and Dr. Hanbali in particular for finding a creative solution to an issue of concern at the May TAC meeting about the proposed bike lane at the Beach and Oasis intersection.

It is disappointing that the TAC did not approve the request for a bike lane on both sides of Cape Coral Parkway between Sands Boulevard and SW 17th Place (1.3 miles). SW 17th Place is the first street west of Chiquita Boulevard. Young emphasized a major benefit of this bike lane was that it would provide much needed access by bicycle riders to the many shopping and retail businesses in the area as well as to the nearby Lee Tran bus stop. The TAC agreed with Dr. Hanbali's objections to reducing this part of Cape Coral Parkway to one lane to accommodate the bike lane. He cited traffic volume, that the road was a major artery for vehicles, and a designated hurricane evacuation route. The failure to get approval for the bike lanes on Cape Coral Parkway means the request may need to be re-submitted in a way that better meets both the Cape Coral and MPO Bike/Ped Master Plan connectivity goals.

Two steps remain before the bike lane request can be submitted by the TAC to the full Council for its approval. A petition indicating support for the bike lane requests will be circulated among residents in the immediate area where the bike lanes are to be created, and an open house meeting will be held to invite comment by those living in the area.

This action by the TAC approving the Agualinda and Beach bike lanes fits very well with the MPO's unanimous adoption on May 20, of the Bike/Ped Master plan, particularly with regard to the recommendation calling for greater bike lane connectivity.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Don’t let summer torridity be an excuse for torpor


This week's column focuses on the League of American Bicyclists' Bike-Friendly States and Communities, highlighting the "F" for enforcement received in Lee County's application and the need for training of enforcement professionals.

Florida Weekly 6/15/11
Daylight comes early and wanes late so darkness isn’t an excuse to skip an outdoor workout this time of year. Afternoon showers may hinder such activities during that time of day but conditions often clear and even cool down significantly before the sun sets. Of course, if you want to be sure of getting an outdoor workout in, early mornings are usually ideal for beating the heat, traffic, thunderstorms and the dangerous lightning that accompanies them.

For those who can’t get in a morning workout, it can be difficult to convince ourselves to get out there when the thermometer is routinely in the mid- to high- 90s. That may mean heading instead to the air-conditioned gym or even a trip to the couch. Having a goal, such as running a local race or organized bike ride, can provide some motivation to hit the road. And it just so happens that three upcoming running events fit that bill:
This Saturday, June 18, the Fort Myers Track Club is conducting its annual Membership Run 5K. It’s being staged at McGregor Baptist Church on Colonial Boulevard and starts at 7:30 a.m. This race is unique in that there aren’t traditional awards. Rather, by entering you’ll automatically become a member of FMTC for the year.

A new event, the 4-Miler on the 2nd of July, will be happening at Shell Point Village near Sanibel Island. Again, due to the heat and early daylight, the race begins at 7:30 a.m.

Finally, in conjunction with Cape Coral’s Fourth of July celebration, the Freedom 5K takes off at 6:30 p.m. from the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge (on the Cape side, of course).

Advocacy update
How interesting it is that Florida continues to move up on the League of American Bicyclists’ Bike-Friendly State list even as our crash/injury/fatality statistics remain the worst in the country. It’s definitely a mixed message that has both good and bad implications. On the one hand, those who work so hard to make improvements to our undesirable reputation as well as the reality cyclists face in Florida might actually be seeing some progress. On the other hand, being ranked as America’s seventh most “bike-friendly” state could lull our transportation policy makers and money managers into a sense of having done enough and believing we should now go back to a more traditional road building mentality.

Although Florida does have a few LAB-designated Bike-Friendly Communities peppered throughout — including our own bronze-level Sanibel Island — these places make up but a tiny portion of the state and are the exception rather than the rule. As an example, Lee County made application to LAB a few years ago and didn’t even make “honorable mention” status, an outcome that would probably be the case for most counties, were they to make application. (A side note: If Lee County was to resubmit an application I believe it would fare much better now. The county’s policy and planning having improved so much in the years since our original submission.)

According to LAB, Florida received a “C” overall, with five of six sub-categories being either a “B” or “C.” Not surprisingly, we got an “F” for enforcement, something that should seriously concern law enforcement agencies from Florida Highway Patrol all the way to county sheriffs’ offices, municipal police departments and university and other special jurisdiction traffic enforcement entities. The reason for our failing grade, according to LAB, is the lack of training for not only enforcement professionals but for those involved at the judicial end of the system as well. The good news is that this problem has a solution that’s relatively easily implemented. The only question remaining is: What more than consistently having the worst record in the nation in terms of injuries and fatalities will it take to provide the necessary training?

You can read more about LAB’s ranking and other matters related to our bike and pedestrian environment and efforts taking place at BikeWalkLee’s blog site

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

— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director 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.

Florida Weekly feature--cycling to work



Florida Weekly 6/15/11
This week's edition features an article about cycling to work in Southwest Florida--the joys, benefits, and difficulties. It interviews Dan Moser (FBA & BWL), Eric Stockley from Charlotte County Health Department, Mike Holms from Schwinn Bicycles in Fort Myers, and Michelle Avola, Naples Pathways Coalition. Do you bike to work? Be inspired & give it a try!


Uphill battle
Cycling to work can be a hassle, but more are enjoying the benefits

BY EVAN WILLIAMS
ewilliams@floridaweekly.com

Riding a bicycle to work could eventually reduce the cost of employee health care plans, make the environment cleaner, and control road congestion, advocates say. But cars are still king of the road, and most people aren’t used to making a bicycle commute or being on the road with those who do.

Cyclists who choose to ride for business purposes must adapt to a variety of practical issues, such as prickly motorists, how to pick up the kids from school later on, locking up an expensive ride, getting pant legs caught in the chain, helmet hair and rush-hour traffic.Whatever the inconveniences, those who make the trek expound on the benefits and don’t plan to give it up anytime soon.

“I get wet — I don’t care,” said Greg Holmes, who rides his bicycle more than seven miles to and from work at Fort Myers Schwinn Cyclery, and doesn’t mind getting caught in the rain. He brings a change of clothes in a waterproof backpack.
And sweating on the ride in — that can be the worst. A thorough shower before you set out means wiping off only a single layer of sweat will still leave you reasonably fresh, some attest.

Most companies don’t provide showers, although a few, such as Chico’s FAS and the Charlotte County Health Department, have installed them. Disposable wipes or the office lavatory are sometimes the next best way to stay clean.“You put a wedge against the door and stand there in your underwear and hope nobody walks in,” said Eric Stockley, who works at the CCHD’s older location, which doesn’t have showers.
“The shower issue is huge. I understand the expense though,” said Dan Moser, director for the Florida Bicycle Association, who also writes a column for this newspaper.

Mr. Stockley usually bikes to work nine miles, two mornings per week, leaving his car at the employee lot the night before so he doesn’t have to worry about afternoon heat waves, rain and lightning. He said the challenges for him are worth it. “It’s a great way to save money. It’s a great way to start your day.” His co-worker Scott Hoverman, who considers himself lucky to work at the CCHD’s new building with showers and a locker room, agrees.

“I think my blood pressure has been trending lower over the last six months or so; the weight has been pretty stable,” said Mr. Hoverman, considering the health benefits of his 5½ mile ride to and from work, which he undertakes three days per week. “Certainly when I get to work I’m awake, I’m energetic, I’m ready to go.”
The transition from driving to bicycling to work was a “pretty small adjustment,” Mr. Hoverman said. “I need to leave about 45 minutes earlier than I would if I were driving a vehicle, but included in that is I get here and take a shower. I really only have to get up about 15 minutes earlier.” He keeps changes of clothes at work, learned a route that included backroads, and packs his lunches rather than driving somewhere for lunch.

Changing attitudes
Most streets built in Florida were engineered for cars, and in some places, planning organizations are retrofitting them with signage, side lanes or other features that make them more bicycle-friendly. But sometimes those can seem like half measures. For instance, signs on the Midpoint Memorial Bridge, a commuter route connecting Cape Coral and Fort Myers, make it clear that cyclists are allowed.

But last Thursday morning at about 8 a.m. when Ori Schwend bicycled over the Midpoint Bridge (for fun), she said there was garbage off to the side of the road. And when you reach the Fort Myers side, there’s no bike lane, and you must merge into a center lane with rush-hour traffic on both sides. “It was scary. I don’t think I’d do it again,” admitted Ms. Schwend, an experienced cyclists who used to commute on her bike to school in downtown Miami. She stopped in a parking lot to wait for a ride because a nail had threaded her back tire coming across the bridge.

Engineers who build future roadways should consider all the details of what a cyclist needs, lest they miss the forest for the trees, suggested Mr. Moser. “You’ve got to get out of your car every now and then, or your truck, and go bike or walk the roads you’re building.”

Aside from sweat or debris, the greatest practical challenge to business cyclists may be that people don’t often enough take bicycles seriously as vehicles.
“A lot of people will equate a bicycle to a pedestrian rather than (equate a bicycle to) a motor vehicle,” said Lt. John Buckley, public information officer for the Naples Police Department. “I would say off the top of my head that would be a very rare occasion that we’d give a bicyclist a moving violation.”

Conversely, Mr. Stockley at CCHD said he thinks law enforcement should issue citations or warnings to cyclists — say, for riding the wrong way in traffic or ignoring red lights — just as they do cars.

Michelle Avola, director of Naples Pathways Coalition, said there should be stiffer penalties for drivers who hit cyclists, and more education for cyclists.
“One goal would be really stiff penalties if you cause an accident, and for there to be just a really big push for education, so the people on bikes are more informed about what they’re supposed to be doing: what direction to ride in traffic, that they need to ride signal at stop signs, for turning, making eye contact with drivers. And for drivers to step up and realize, OK, we’re not the only ones on the road here, and for that to be consistently communicated in every possible way — through the media, through drivers license places, through everywhere — to get that message across,” she said.

Where bicycles belong

Advocacy groups such as the Florida Bicycle Association and Naples Pathways Coalition, not to mention the law, say bicyclists should be treated like any other vehicle operator when they are on the road.

Florida law says cyclists must ride “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.” But exceptions to that rule include when a lane is too narrow to share safely with another vehicle or preparing for a left turn, and avoiding hazards often found on the side like nails or potholes.

In his CyclingSavvy classes, Mr. Moser teaches a program geared toward cyclists who want to ride on the roads, whether for business or pleasure, in a car-centric society. It’s one of the best ways to learn to ride safer and be more confident on the road, said Mike Holm, owner of Fort Myers Schwinn. One of the things it teaches is how cyclists can and sometimes should go ahead and command the entire right-hand lane.

“Being a shop owner for 30 years, probably my biggest fear is to hit someone on a bicycle,” Mr. Holm said. “Even with someone doing everything right, it’s still fearsome to try to pass them. Hugging the centerline and worrying about oncoming traffic, it’s unnerving. For a cyclist to actually take control of the lane and be passed like a slow moving vehicle should be passed, it seems to be more comfortable all the way around.”

The scariest part of bicycling to work may be the threat of getting sideswiped by a car. Mr. Holmes at Schwinn, for instance, changed his route to work after being hit on McGregor Boulevard in 2005. He was riding legally in the right lane when a driver’s sideview mirror struck him in the back of the head. A helmet saved his life, although he suffered other injuries, such as a broken collarbone.
“He was probably doing 30 miles per hour when he hit me,” Mr. Holmes said. “My helmet was cracked all the way through.” That hasn’t kept him from riding. “I enjoy riding my bicycle so I’m not going to let something like that push me away.”

Ms. Avola of Naples Pathway Coalition points out than any mode of transportation has its dangers and setbacks. “If people are alert when they’re on their bike, if they wear a helmet, if they scope out the road they think would be safe to go on errands, to work, wherever, if you are a confident rider of your bike and know where you’re supposed to be and you’re very alert, you can do it.”

Tips on bicycling to work

Do some serious route consideration. Keep the sun in mind. If you’re riding east at sunrise, that’s an issue; same thing going home. ¦ Make sure you’re wearing clothing that’s appropriate for the weather and for handling your sweat. Bring a change of clothes. ¦ Give yourself plenty of time, including time to cool down once you get to your workplace. ¦ Sneaking through parking lots is usually more dangerous and less efficient. Using the roads is usually the safest and most efficient way. ¦ A cyclist is safer riding with traffic than facing it. ¦ Lamps must be used on a bicycle after sunset to alert other drivers. ¦ A cyclist traveling more slowly than other traffic should ride to the right, except to pass, to make a left turn, when necessary to avoid hazards, or when a lane is too narrow to share. — Source: Dan Moser and The Florida Bicycle Association.

Friday, June 10, 2011

BikeWalkLee letter to commissioners opposing further reductions in impact fees


Background: On Tuesday (June 14th) the County Commission will consider reductions in impact fees. While the County staff is recommending that the Commission approve an ordinance that would reduce the impact fees by 27% to reflect updated cost and other information, the Horizon Council and others are calling for "suspension" of all impact fees. BikeWalkLee supports the County staff recommendation and opposes any further reduction. Below is the letter we sent to BoCC re: impact fees.

Make your voices heard. Come to the public hearing on Tuesday, June 14th at 5:00 p.m. in the County Commission chambers in the old County Courthouse (2120 SW Main Street, Fort Myers). This is the first item up. If you’re interested in speaking, you fill out a card (on table by the door) and give it to Chairman Mann before the meeting starts at 5:00 p.m.

Click here to read BikeWalkLee's Letter.

Here's an excerpt from our letter:
" Road impact fees are a major source of funds for bike-ped improvements, and any reduction will have an adverse impact on the county’s ability to implement its complete streets initiative and the recently adopted countywide bicycle pedestrian master plan. Road impact fees require new developments to pay a proportionate share of the infrastructure costs they will impose on the community. If developers don’t pay these fair and equitable costs, it means that the infrastructure costs of that development are borne by the all property owners in Lee County. Given the county’s serious budget crisis and the commissioners’ desire not to raise property taxes, it makes no sense to eliminate a revenue source that is helping cover the real costs of development which create demand for transportation infrastructure."

Click here to read the full letter.

Click here to see the BoCC agenda.

To read the County's "blue sheet" background memo, click here.

Post-script 6/15/11:
At the public hearing on 6/14, the Board voted 4-0 to adopt the staff recommendation, as supported by BikeWalkLee. It resisted the calls for further reduction or suspension of the impact fees. Thanks to the BWL'ers who came & spoke at the hearing. We are making a difference.

Lee MPO sends letters to Congress with resolution in support of bike/ped programs in transportation reauthoriziation bill


This week, the Lee MPO Board sent letters to the Chairmen and Ranking Minority of both the House and Senate Transportation Committees as well as to our congressional delegation, transmitting Resolution 11-08, unanimously approved on May 20th. This resolution supports the current Federal Transportation Enhancement, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails Programs and opposes the elimination of these programs in the upcoming Federal Transportation Reauhorization Bill.

As the letter states, "These funding sources continue to help provide funding to the MPO and its local jurisdictions to work towards the goal of building a safe interconnected bicycle and pedestrian network."

Click here to read the letters and resolution.

Thanks to the MPO Board for their support!

Monday, June 6, 2011

News-Press: 'Ghost bikes' mark fatalities


June 6, 2011
Written by MARK S. KRZOS

A group of Lee County mavericks is using
the cover of night to deliver a potent
reminder: Lee County's roads can be
dangerous places for bicyclists.

Over the past two weeks, bicycles painted
white and stripped of their gears and
chains began appearing at three locations
where bicyclists were killed earlier this
year.

Each of the memorials has a red sign with
white stenciled lettering that reads:
"BICYCLIST KILLED" and the date on which
that particular person died.

The bicycles can be found near the Sanibel
Causeway where Fort Myers resident
Tracey Kleinpell died May 7; near "The S
hip" on U.S. 41 where Bonita Springs
resident Kenneth MacDonald died April 17;
and at the intersection of Three Oaks and
Estero parkways where Fort Myers resident
Janet LoFranco died Feb. 20.

Only a handful of people know who is
behind the appearances of the bikes - and
they are keeping quiet.

"They're called 'ghost bikes,'" said Dan
Moser, director of the Florida Bicycle
Association. "They've been around for
about 10 years, but the one near the
causeway was the first one in Lee County."

Click here to continue reading the article.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Upcoming government meetings--June 2011

In the remainder of June, there are several meetings that you might be interested in attending. Note: these meetings and details are included on the BikeWalkLee Calendar on the blog.

1. Lee County Government
:
• The County’s Transit Task Force holds its 6th meeting on Thursday, June 9th at 1 p.m. at the Lee County Annex Building, 1825 Hendry St., Fort Myers. Check the website for materials:

* The Board of County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, June 14th at 5:00 p.m. to consider reducing or eliminating impact fees. Such a move would reduce funds available for bike/ped and other road improvement projects. See the County website for information.

• The Lee County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) will hold its next monthly meeting at 3 p.m. on June 15th. Click here for the link to the BPAC website and meeting agenda.
• On June 15th at 6 p.m., the Lee Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) will hold its monthly meeting. Check the Sustainability website for the agenda package:
2. MPO Meetings:

• The MPO Board meeting is scheduled for Friday, June 17th at 9:00 a.m.
NOTE: with the exception of the BPCC (which will meet on July 19th), all the other MPO committees and board meetings in July are cancelled.
• All MPO meetings are held at the MPO’s office on 1926 Victoria Avenue, Fort Myers. Click here for a link to the MPO website where you'll find agendas and briefing packets for each meeting.
3. Local Jurisdiction Meetings:
• • City of Cape Coral: On June 15th, the Council’s Transportation Advisory Committee meets at 9 a.m. to follow-up on the bike lanes discussion at their May 18th meeting.

Sunday's News-Press focuses on pedestrian & bike safety--problems & solutions



June 5, 2011

Today's lengthy editorial, "Non-motorists face grave risk"
focuses on the Dangerous by Design report--the problems and solutions.

May 7 proved to be a tragic day for two women who rode their bicycles in different parts of Lee County.

Tracy A. Kleinpell, 46, was riding with her husband on Sanibel Island. Kelly Geiger, 52, was riding in Bonita Springs. Both were hit by drivers and died as a result.
Neither motorist, Rachel Ryan, 22, nor Theresa Shirley, 46, has been charged in the deaths.

Our community grieves for the victims' families, and the other cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured or killed on Southwest Florida roads.
What we know is that our roads are dangerous - in fact a national report recently released found that Florida's roads are the most dangerous in the country for non-motorists.
The safety advocacy coalition Transportation for America released its "Dangerous by Design 2011" report late last month. Click here to continue reading.

BikeWalkLee's Guest Opinion: Formula helps make pedestrian-and-bicycle-friendly communities

The commentary focuses on three questions: Why is Florida is much deadlier? Why is the bike/ped master plan important for Lee County? and What does Lee County need from its leaders?
Click here to read the commentary.

Letters to the Editor focus on bike safety

Today's edition contains two letters, with more to be published tomorrow.
On Monday, five more letters were published. Click here to read.
On Tuesday, there were four more letters. Click here to read.

There was also a related letter to editor in Island Reporter about biking the Sanibel Causeway.

Finally, Doug MacGregor's political cartoon focuses on the need to share the road.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Make way for bikes: no excuses, no arguments


Florida Weekly
June 1, 2011

Soon after the news broke that cyclist Tracey Kleinpell had been killed by a motorist, the bikes-don’t-belong-on-the-road crowd began voicing its opinion in the paper and on the Internet. To question whether or not Ms. Kleinpell belonged on the road is so absurd and borderline insensitive that it barely merits repeating. However, this latest eruption of ill-will toward bikers is a good opportunity to once again explain some basic legal and civic principals for the benefit of the uninformed.

Over the years, I’ve found that some who are of the opinion that anyone who’s not driving a motor vehicle should simply stay on side paths believe they are actually providing solid advice. I can’t count the number of times motorists have pulled up next to me with such a recommendation, qualified by “do you want to get killed?” Others clearly are perturbed by anything that might slow them down, even if, in reality, they only had to change lanes to pass and be on their way. And then there are the sociopaths among us who are just plain dangerous, especially when behind the wheel of their killing machines. Believe me, as someone who teaches a class for court-ordered high-risk drivers, there are plenty of folks out there who fit the latter category.

Well, if you’re among the above described motorists you’re just going to have to get used to sharing the road with a variety of nontraditional vehicles and even non-vehicles, from golf carts to skateboards. The number of bikes and alternative transportation vehicles is only going to grow. Ever-rising fuel prices are part of the reason, as are the health and environmental benefits we realize when using human-power to move about. And so is the fun that comes with a bike ride or rollerblading.

What’s so disturbing about this persistent call for staying off the road is that it’s not even possible, a fact that appears to be lost on those spewing it out. For one, at every single intersection — including driveways — side path users and road users must interact with each other. Unfortunately for those using the side path, too many motorists think they own the extension of side path (i.e. the crosswalk, marked or unmarked) as well, thus they are no better off then when in the road. Second, there will never, ever, be sidewalks and bike paths along each and every road, period. Think Lehigh Acres or Cape Coral. So what are those who aren’t in a car to do in cases where a side path doesn’t exist? Finally, by statute, bikes are vehicles having the same rights to the road as all others. What more do we need than the law on our side, not to mention the well-documented fact that it’s significantly safer to cycle on the road as a vehicular operator than as a quasi-pedestrian on the side path? The bottom line is bikes belong.

Advocacy update


Here’s an update on Lee County’s Bike/Ped Master Plan. At its May meeting, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization officially and unanimously approved the plan after a number of community leaders from various professions and representing multiple interests gave it ringing endorsements. Implementation of the plan’s recommendations will begin immediately with the MPO’s Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee being the first stop.

Also, another local government is moving toward putting a “complete streets” policy in place. The city of Fort Myers began that process with its planning board taking the lead.

The city already does a decent job of accommodating pedestrians and cyclists, although there are many gaps and shortcomings, so this is a welcome first step. Along with making better use of the existing Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan (and perhaps an update that can easily and inexpensively be done now that the MPO’s plan is in place), a complete streets policy should make a big difference and help further the efforts being put forth by Lee County and others.

Finally, Transportation for America just released its latest edition of Dangerous by Design, a report on pedestrian conditions in each of our country’s metro areas. Once again, the top four most dangerous communities with populations over one million are in Florida. Our efforts in Lee County were noted as a positive example, but our pedestrian safety record remains dismal, as the report confirms.

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

Dan Moser is a league cycling and- Cycling Savvy instructor and programs director 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.