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Friday, July 29, 2011

Update on Federal transportation legislation & funding, by Darla Letourneau


BikeWalkLee is a member of the Alliance for Biking and Walking and Transportation 4 America, among other national groups. As part of those two organizations, I participate in frequent conference calls about what’s happening at the federal level and what actions we can take at the local level in support of bike/ped, complete streets, and transit.

National transportation policy and funding is derived from the transportation authorization bill which is revised every 5 years or so. The last authorization, called SAFETEA-LU, expired in 2009, and we’ve been living under short extensions since. One of the critical issues facing the transportation world is that the gas tax is bringing in less money, which means that the Highway Trust Fund, which funds transportation programs, is short of funds to maintain current funding levels. Either additional revenues will need to be found ($12 billion for 2 years) or program levels will have to be cut 35%!

This summer, both the House and Senate Transportation Committees have announced the outlines of their transportation reauthorization bills. The House proposal, announced by Chairman Mica, is a 6 year bill that would require living within the Trust Fund revenues, meaning a 35% cut in funding. In terms of bike/ped programs, they would all be eliminated (TE, SRTS, RTP), providing states with the flexibility to decide how to spend the greatly reduced funding levels. This bill is bad news for bike/ped advocates from every angle.

A bipartisan Senate proposal was announced by Chairman Boxer & Ranking Minority Inhofe. The Senate approach is a 2-year bill that is funded at current levels. It assumes that the Senate Finance Committee will come up with the additional $12 billion needed to fund the shortfall in the Highway Trust fund. Although the bill language isn’t available yet, Senator Boxer’s staff is telling bike/ped advocates that Safe Routes to School, Rails to Trails program, and “bike paths” will be funded in the bill. It’s likely that the Transportation Enhancement program will be replaced by another program that will provide funds for bike/ped facilities. The devil will be in the details. The position of the national advocates is that bike/ped funds be “dedicated funding” (not just “eligible activities”), meaning that bike/ped projects don’t have to compete with road projects. Clearly, the Senate bill is preferable to the House bill.

Given the debt limit debate, which is sucking up all the oxygen in DC, nothing more is likely to happen on transportation reauthorization until that is settled. The current SAFETEA-LU extension expires September 30th. In addition, appropriations for the transportation programs also expire on September 30th and to date, neither house has taken up the 2012 appropriations bill. So, if we’re lucky, we’ll have a couple of short term extensions/continuing resolutions around October 1st…otherwise, we’ll face another government shutdown and no funding authority for transportation projects.

What can we do about this mess? We need to continue to tell our elected officials that we want dedicated funding for bike/ped programs at the current funding levels. Tell Senators Nelson and Rubio and Representative Mack that you care about these programs and why they are a benefit to our communities. Even though we’re not likely to see any long term legislation this Fall, the debate on the reauthorization will shape the content of whatever short-term solutions are crafted, so our voices matter.

Our national partners, Alliance for Biking and Walking, America Bikes, League of American Bicyclists, National Complete Streets Coalition, and Transportation for America, are working together as a coalition and doing a great job of representing our interests in D.C. Stay tuned for further updates and action alerts!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Update on implementation of the MPO bike/ped master plan--Dan Moser


Dan Moser, member of BikeWalkLee's Steering Group, chairs the MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee (BPCC) and files this update:

It looks like the committee's by-laws will be amended to reflect the recommendations of our Bike/Ped Master Plan at the August MPO meeting, thus we'll be operating under new rules beginning in Sept. The significance of this, of course, is that BPCC will be able to take the lead in implementing the Master Plan. The changes also mean BPCC will no longer be a sub-committee of the Technical Advisory Committee and will instead make recommendations directly to MPO, including providing a report at each MPO meeting. The BPCC will also begin to meet monthly, in sync with the other two major advisory committees.

Along with the addition of representatives from health and tourism there are four new seats for citizens. Anyone interested can contact the staff of MPO to learn more about expectations and requirements and to ask to be appointed by an MPO member.

Members of the BPCC are also serving on the MPO task force set up by the staff director to develop an application for a TIGER III federal grant that would focus on bike/ped facilities and complete streets, providing an opportunity to make real progress in implementing the new Master Plan. In addition to participation by local jurisdictions, representatives from FGCU and BikeWalkLee are also on the team. The grant application is due in October. This is a very exciting opportunity and we'll keep you posted as the effort moves forward.

Update on Lee County Transit Task Force--by Dan Moser


Dan Moser, member of the BikeWalkLee Steering Group, is a member of the County's Transit Task Force and provides the following update for BWL readers:

After seven or eight meetings we're finally getting down to the meat of our task: making recommendation(s) for long-term funding that will allow LeeTran to play the role that's necessary for making our transportation system as efficient and accessible as the MPO has agreed it should be. There appears to be solid support for moving in that direction.

Considering how conservative many citizens are in our community are there may be an inclination for some to take the position that transit isn't something anyone other than users should be paying for, ignoring, of course, that fact that all transportation costs are borne by everyone in one way or another. Those of this mindset also seem to reject the facts related to other benefits, such as reduced pollution and less need to widen roads due to congestion. Ironically, the fiscal conservatives who are resistant to properly funding transit are actually going in the opposite direction of saving tax dollars since there are known and quantifiable savings related to transit. And over the many meetings we've had, the details of this fact has been noted more than a few times by our presenters. Because the Transit Task Force is trying to make its recommendation(s) as a result of full consensus, let's hope there are no spoilers lying in wait.

We'll keep you posted as the task force develops its recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Two more Florida communities join Lee County in adopting Complete Streets policies

It's exciting to see that two more Florida communities have adopted Complete Streets Resolutions. Below are the reports from this week's National Complete Streets Coalition newsletter:

Cocoa, FL
: Looking to provide residents with cleaner air, reduced congestion, and healthier lifestyle options, the City Council adopted a Complete Streets resolution on June 14. Cocoa is one of many jurisdictions in Brevard County to have stepped up in favor of Complete Streets in the past few months.

Orange City, FL: Having attracted its share of big retailers – and their big parking lots – Orange City's new Complete Streets resolution is part of the community's efforts to emphasize a sustainable downtown core that allows for multiple transportation options. Supported by Mayor Harley Strickland, the policy was adopted by City Council on June 14. (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

There are now ELEVEN communities in Florida with Complete Streets policies. How about doubling that number in the next couple of years?!

Get outside and get active Lee County lifts fees for Park and Recreation Month


Florida Weekly, 7/20/11

Parking and admission fees will be waved at Lee County parks, boat ramps and pools the last weekend of July in honor of National Park and Recreation month.

“Lee County is pleased to be a part of the nationwide celebration and help recognize the value and benefits of parks and recreation,” said Dave Harner, deputy director of Lee County Parks & Recreation.

Another way to celebrate is to enter the first-ever Lee County Parks & Recreation video contest for amateur videographers to showcase its parks, preserves and recreation centers on the department’s new YouTube channel. The contest can feature yourself, your family or your friends participating in an activity or just enjoying the facility. In the video, make sure to mention the name of the park and state what you love about Lee County Parks & Recreation.

Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park is one of the sites offering free parking during the last weekend of the month. Hickey’s Creek Mitigation Park is one of the sites offering free parking during the last weekend of the month. Finalists will have their videos featured on the Lee County Parks & Recreation website and YouTube channel and the winner will receive a free Lee County Parks & Recreation annual parking sticker. The deadline to enter is Aug. 1.

The National Recreation and Park Association is also gearing up for Park and Recreation Month with its own promotions and contests. Take the Five in July Park Pledge by making a personal commitment to get outdoors every weekend. Take the pledge for a chance to win an iPod Touch by visiting a park, trail, playground, swimming pool or natural area every weekend in July.

The National Recreation and Park Association is also holding the 2011 Rock Your Park Flash Mob Contest. The contest has two categories, one for Public Park and Recreation agencies and one for citizens and community groups. Gather a group together and visit any park or recreation facility and “show the power of parks” together in flash mob form.

Enter before Aug. 5 for a chance to be featured in the September digital and print editions of Parks & Recreation Magazine, featured on the NRPA website and YouTube page, and have a public showing of the video at the NRPA’s 2011 Congress & Exposition in Atlanta, Ga.

For more information on National Park and Recreation Month, contest entry forms and locations of Lee County-managed parks, boat ramps and pools, visit www.LeeParks.org.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: A summer ritual, Tour de France captivates cycling community


Florida Weekly, July 13, 2011

After two solid weeks of a daily dose of the Tour de France — offered live on TV each morning and repeated numerous times during the day — many cycling enthusiasts are, by now, very familiar with the riders, teams and France’s geography. Sympathies go out to family and friends who have had to listen to our all-too frequent banter about the race and are no doubt just as over-saturated, as are we.

Our overindulgence acknowledged, I, like many others who appreciate this unbelievably challenging physical and mental feat, always look forward to July and the raised awareness it brings to cycling throughout our community, as it does elsewhere around the country and world. But one drawback the Tour de France creates in terms of promoting the sport among both cyclists and the general public is that far too many bike riders — avid and otherwise — are enticed to practice some of the risky behaviors of the pros.

By that I mean the roads become race courses where riders forget they are vehicle operators (i.e. bike drivers) who must follow traffic laws and exercise common sense at all times. Granted, some have legitimate reasons for training hard (see the following section) but no one should blatantly disregard the law and put themselves or others at risk for the sake of a workout. Besides obvious problems created by a “hammer-head” mentality, the bad impression scofflaws leave upon all cyclists is very real and long lasting among the general public. So I hope the temptation to blow traffic signals, unnecessarily hog the road when in a group, and flip-off those who don’t play along with bad bike driving behavior won’t be employed in the name of the sport of cycling.

Upcoming events

Two new events coming up later this summer are sure to be of interest to many who read this column. First up is the Naples Festival of Miles, being conducted by Gulf Coast Runners (www.gcrunners.org) on Sunday, Aug. 28. The uniqueness of the event is that it’s all about running your fastest mile and includes prize money for age groups in both elite and open categories. Because the distance is short — a plus this time of year — this one should prove to be very popular in its inaugural year.

The second event, also in its first year, is more ambitious and will require a diverse set of skills. Galloway Captiva Tri (www.gearedup.biz), a sprint distance triathlon, will take place on Captiva’s South Seas Island Resort on Sunday, Sept. 18. The bike ride segment of the event will use all of Captiva Drive as well as the resort’s main road, the swim takes place in the Gulf of Mexico near the island’s northern tip and the run is within South Seas on a variety of surfaces (but not on the beach itself). Besides many other difficult logistical aspects of putting on this kind of event on such a small island, getting approval to close Captiva Drive is a major accomplishment. Organizers, public safety officials, business owners and residents of Captiva are to be commended. Let’s hope Mother Nature cooperates as well as everyone else has so far.

Advocacy update

So much is happening that affects the pedestrian and bicycle world on the national, state and local level that I don’t even know where to begin. The best suggestion I have is to visit BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee.blogspot.com), Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/pages/Bike- WalkLee/116076351805158) or website (www.bikewalklee.org) to get up to speed on everything from Florida returning significant funds (i.e. our local tax dollars) to the feds that were meant for bike/ped infrastructure to an update on the city of Fort Myers’ move toward a complete streets policy.

Education and awareness efforts continue via a variety of approaches, including bringing bike clinics to summer camps, offering CyclingSavvy sessions to adults (cyclingsavvy.org) and campaigns to remind ourselves that we must pay attention to the road when driving and not be distracted or irresponsible (www.sajd.org). The Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition (www.safeleenews.org) is the place to go for more about these and other similar efforts.

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.

NEW URBANISM THE ANTI-SPRAWL MOVEMENT — WHERE SWFL IS HEADED

Florida Weekly, July 13, 2011
BY EVAN WILLIAMS
ewilliams@floridaweekly.com

THIRTY YEARS AGO, A MAN FROM FLORIDA and his west coast colleague came to the realization they had a common enemy, explained urban design professor Ellen Dunham-Jones on a scratchy cell phone, while driving through Georgia last week.

The nemesis: Suburbia. Cue the creepy soundtrack. Images of residential sprawl and congested highways fill a movie screen. Fade to close-ups of early 1980s teenagers parked next to each other at a drive-thru diner. A girl rolls down her window and asks flirtatiously, “What exit are you from?”

The now gray superheroes in this version of the story are Miami architect and planner Andres Duany and his Berkley, Calif., counterpart, Peter Calthorpe. They and like-minded town planners, architects and industry professionals began a charge to rein in suburbia by encouraging a combination of mixeduse, downtown-like developments that mirror the principles of pre-World War II city planning, and a coherent public transportation system that lessens the need for cars.

South Florida spawned the first fullscale city of the movement in Seaside, and has remained filled with its supporters, from anti-sprawl politicians to city planners, developers and Realtors. Mr. Duany helped create a thriving nonprofit advocacy group, Congress for The New Urbanism.

Yet more than three decades after it began, evidence of the movement is lacking where it’s needed most, said Bill Spikowski, a town planner based in Lee County. Most South Florida cities and coastlines remain defined by sprawl: strip malls and mega stores, perfect for a quick stop on your daily commute.

“We’re in the odd situation where New Urbanism has become the accepted philosophy, but when you look on the ground, there’s very little of it in Southwest Florida today, which is very peculiar,” Mr. Spikowski said. “Southwest Florida is the worst — we’re further behind every other area of Florida. Every other area has more New Urbanist developments than we do.”

Tradition and nostalgia

There is still plenty of spotty evidence of the movement here: a half block of row home-like townhomes on West First Street near downtown Fort Myers; colorful mixed-use buildings along San Carlos Boulevard on Fort Myers Beach; the village of Ave Maria in Collier County; downtown Punta Gorda’s Sunloft Center. Original downtowns are natural New Urbanist examples because they were built before the rise of cars after World War II, and officials have poured millions into updating them. A bittersweet pang for buildings of yesteryear helps drive the movement.

That sometimes creates odd juxtapositions, such as Weston Town Center, a development in Brandon, Fla. It looks like an old downtown, yet is spanking new, and windows overlook a sprawling single-use residential subdivision.

“I really think why there’s so much nostalgia associated with it is we have to look back 100 years to see how folks were doing things,” said Joseph Kohl, a partner in Dover, Kohl & Partners, one of the nations pre-eminent New Urbanist design firms, based in Coral Gables. “I also think there’s a comfort level with things that are more traditional.”

Too, there are modern New Urbanist buildings.

“We do see modern projects getting built under the same principles,” Mr. Kohl said. “A lot of buildings in cities like New York and Chicago and Miami are very modern buildings if you classify it as a style — yet it’s still meeting the street at the sidewalk, it still has storefront windows and people living above them.”

One of Mr. Kohl’s subcontractors, Mr. Spikowski of Lee County, agreed.

“The truth is they come in every style — all the way from hamlets in the middle of an urban area to dense downtown,” he said. “There’s not really one classic type of New Urbanist development.”

Coconut Point mall in Estero and the Mercato in Naples are mixed use, with some second-story condominiums, but they’re also surrounded by giant parking lots, which planners such as Mr. Spikowski and Mr. Kohl advocate against.

Disney’s city, Celebration, is one of the best-known New Urbanist developments. But it’s expensive and the movement’s ultimate aim is to provide housing for all. To that end, Bradenton Village is a low-income federal housing project, which was guided by New Urbanist code, with two and threestory townhomes.

“It’s really nice,” Mr. Spikowski said. “You go in there and say ‘I want to live here’ and then realize — ‘I probably make too much money to live here.’”

Other mixed-use developments, because they’re relatively new, are often too expensive for most young professionals, Mr. Spikowski said. So who is attracted to the urban life?

“It tends to be the fairly young and the older: people who are retiring and they’ve raised their family and they no longer need the big home, and they’d like to see a movie and see other people and go to a coffee shop, and especially as they get older and start worrying about losing the ability to drive,” Mr. Spikowski said.

He doesn’t see a problem with those two age groups co-existing, but concedes that it’s “a legitimate issue.” He also pointed out that’s the way multifamily living has gone on in urbanist paradises like Manhattan for years.

Sprawl still rules

The ultimate goal, to end sprawl, faces serious headwinds. Those include the need for expensive, new transportation systems and the real estate market, where consumers in Southwest Florida still favor traditional post-war developments.

“I think (new urbanism) is going to have some acceptance here, but not to the point where it will be all over the place in 20 years,” said Phil Wood, president of John R. Wood Realtors in Naples. “A lot of people come down here but like the single-family home, the yard with the place where the kids can play. They gravitate to condos on the beach, bay, or on the golf course — those are the three most popular selling condominiums. So I think those will always have an advantage in some people’s minds than those located in a more commercial-type setting.”

It also depends on where the buyers are from, Mr. Wood added. “If they’re moving from downtown Chicago or New York or Boston, it’s like, ‘Wow, this is great’ — to those people (new urbanism) is not a surprise at all. To those who view Florida as a waterview condominium, it’s a little bit different. People from the rural Midwest might look at that and think it’s a bit of a different concept.”

Former Lee County Commissioner Charlie Bigelow, who held office in the 1980s when New Urbanism was beginning (he first remembers hearing the term in the ’90s), said he’s discouraged by the county’s efforts to contain sprawl. “We failed miserably at it, but it’s been the policy,” he said.

While he held office, one plan aimed to draw a boundary between urban and rural areas, so that developers couldn’t reach the rural lands. But it wasn’t adhered to, Mr. Bigelow said.

Local governments in states such as Colorado and Oregon “have established such urban boundaries and stick rigidly too them,” he said. “Here we just drew the hell out of the boundaries. We amended it routinely based on who was asking for what where. So it served hardly any purpose whatsoever in terms of containing sprawl. I don’t think we anticipated the lack of political commitment that might exist to contain growth.”

City planners have experienced similar frustration with political leadership as well as developers. For instance, Mr. Kohl said his firm designed a development in an Orlando suburb in the 1990s for mixed use — but was later disappointed when builders made the second floor of buildings artificial instead of real living spaces.

“Unfortunately, it seems to be the nature of our work sometimes,” he said. “We work on big scale plans, and then government changes. Depending on how imbedded the plan is in the community, it may or may not survive a change in administration.”

Mr. Duany has been famously tight-lipped about how officials have implanted his plans, including in downtown Fort Myers, where condo heights reached far above his original specifications. Mr. Duany seems to prefer instead to leave his work as a blueprint, not a set of inflexible rules. He didn’t respond to a request for comments for this story.

Whatever the movement’s shortcomings, it is the only lasting, integrated effort to combat sprawl. In a fortuitous twist, its goals have aligned with the times in ways sometimes trendy, others pragmatic. The Complete Streets movement, The Green Movement, the Local Foods movement and Smart Growth all dovetail with New Urbanism. Too, it is advocated as a political salve for backlash from the economic crisis (many foreclosed homes dot suburbia) and as a solution to pain at the gas pump.

What about transportation?

A lack of public transportation might be the greatest failing of New Urbanist developments in Florida, and one of the most difficult and expensive problems to fix.

The upscale CityPlace in West Palm Beach is considered one of the most successful examples, a bright retail-based city with its own Publix supermarket, an office building — and perhaps just as importantly, a trolley for its residents to get around.

Private developers funded streetcars in the early 20th century, said Professor Dunham-Jones. But private or public investment in infrastructure of the kind found in the boom following the second world war may be hard to come by, as it was in the wake of the Great Depression.

“The whole financial system, the whole lending system, is designed to build a residential, or a commercial, or a retail development,” Mr. Spikowski said, “and New Urbanists always mix those. So it’s harder. On the other hand, the value that’s created is much higher.”

Ultimately, building mixed developments connected by public transportation may become a matter of survival if the cost of oil and commutes keeps rising. “We learn very slowly,” Mr. Bigelow said. “This devastating recession we had, we like to think it was because they gave mortgages to people who couldn’t pay for them. But really what happened was the price of going to your job became as expensive as paying for the house you were living in.”

Mr. Spikowski is trying to solve that problem with Transportation Oriented Design, which is aligned with New Urbanism. Its ambitions include a combination freight and passenger rail line connecting Southwest Florida.

“Not everybody in the group, but a lot of us, are convinced that the existing rail line that runs from Bonita Springs to downtown Fort Myers would be a great rail system that would connect the most important areas,” he said. “At each stop along that rail line, there’s an opportunity for transit oriented development to build within a half mile of those stops.”

Next year, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization plans to undertake a $265,000 feasibility study for rail plans that would integrate freight and passenger rail with compact building codes associated with New Urbanism, said MPO director Don Scott. It will look at where such a rail line might go, either along the Seminole Gulf Railway line, or by Interstate 75.

“The buildout the of the master plan for Intestate 75 identifies six multi-use and four express or other lanes, and in the center, enough room for either a train or busway,” Mr. Scott said.

But a region so routed in sprawl may take awhile to change.

“How far how fast?” Mr. Scott asked. “It would be easier to say years ago that it would have been faster than it is now. I think we’ll have incremental changes in transportation that responds to that.”

Zoning for friends and gardens

Professor Dunham-Jones was still talking on the cell phone, which was as scratchy and spotty as her theories were clearly defined.. The resort community of Seaside, Fla., she explained, was designed by Elizabeth Plater- Zyberk and her husband, Mr. Duany, in the early ’80s and is New Urbanism’s “poster child — the oldest, the original, and still a very good example.”

One of Seaside’s original zoning requirements was to build front porches not more than 8 feet from the sidewalk — judged the ideal distance from which neighbors could offer a friendly wave.

“They were deliberately encouraging people to be sociable,” she said.

It’s not unlike new zoning codes adopted in a short list of South Florida locales. That includes the one Lee County commissioners approved in June, an all-purpose kit for streets, small apartments over retail shops to larger townhomes with yards, wider sidewalks and bicycle paths, even urban gardens.

“You take an area and cut it up into plats and let the city growers farm on them,” explained Paul O’ Connor, Lee’s director of planning.

That type of gardening was a hot issue at the annual meeting of Congress for The New Urbanism, said Professor Dunham-Jones, vice chair of the organization’s board and author of “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs.”

“One of the big ones is urban agriculture and the integration of literally growing local food in developments of all kinds,” she said.

Mr. Spikowski was the chief writer of Lee’s Compact Code. The hope is that builders will use it to transform sprawl-tainted areas such as Lehigh Acres, by adding downtown-like nodes. Dover, Kohl & Partners contracted with Mr. Spikowski also used it to create designs for parts of the Density sit Reduction/Groundwater Resource area,ar more than 80,000 acres in southeastern ea Lee County.

“What we ended up proposing was a a series of mixed-use communities, now five of them, compact walkable communities, that would be on the outer edge of the DR/GR,” Mr. Spikowski said. “The rights to build a house on 10 acres would be moved to the edges, out near Lehigh Acres and Estero. That’s the county’s official adopted plan in the DR/GR. Of course, with this economy no one’s holding their breath for anything to happen.”

An incentive for builders to use the code, said Mr. O’Connor, is a streamlined process; they undergo no public hearing if they build within these guidelines in pre-approved areas of the county. “It would hopefully stop some of the sprawling development pattern overthe last 20 years and start making more compact urban areas where (there is not) total dependancy on the automobile.”

Such new zoning rules counter 50 years of car-centric buildout, said Professor Dunham-Jones. “It’s really trying to recover some of those older development patters which are more urban, and more sustainable, economically, environmentally and socially.”

Mr. Kohl, also a CNU member, clarified the movement is not “anti car.”

“Often people involved in the CNU get accused of saying we’re trying to get rid of their cars and I think that’s kind of misunderstood,” he said. “It’s not that we’re trying to get ride of cars — we’re trying to reduce the usage. In some communities, you’re stuck. The only way you can get a quart of milk is to get in your car and drive to the store.”

New Urbanism wants to be viewed, maybe, as more of a friendly goodbye wave to the past and a firm embrace of the future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Public meeting on Bonita Beach Rd. widening project



Construction begins this summer to widen Bonita Beach Road to six lanes from Old 41 to Lime Street. This project, jointly funded by LeeDOT and the City of Bonita Springs, completes the six-laning of Bonita Beach Road from Old 41 to I-75.

This project includes adding a four-foot bike lane and six foot sidewalk in each direction.

You are invited to attend a public pre-construction meeting on Tuesday, July 19th from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Living Waters Community Church (located on the corner of Bonita Beach Rd. and Vermont Street) to view project plans and talk with the Lee County project team about the project.

Monday, July 11, 2011

LEETRAN SCHEDULES PUBLIC WORKSHOPS FOR SERVICE CHANGES


LeeTran will conduct five public workshops to introduce proposed changes to routes and schedules throughout the Lee County bus system.

Changes are planned for every route in the system except Routes 70 and 100. They include new service linking Lee and Collier counties; realigning Route 150 in Bonita Springs; splitting Route 90 in North Fort Myers into two routes; splitting Route 110 to Lehigh Acres into two routes; and many other realignments and schedule adjustments.

“These proposed changes result from an in-depth study of our system by a team of transit experts,” explained Transit Director Steve Myers. “We’re simplifying some routes, improving frequencies, and adding service to Collier County, which has been one of the most requested improvements for a number of years.”

The public workshops will start at 5:30 p.m. at the following locations and dates:

Tuesday, July 26: Bonita Springs Public Library, 26876 Pine Avenue
Wednesday, July 27: East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Road, Lehigh Acres
Monday, Aug. 1: Cape Coral-Lee County Library, 921 SW 39th Terrace
Wednesday, Aug. 3: Lee County Administration Building, 2115 Second St., Fort Myers
Tuesday, Aug. 9: North Fort Myers Public Library, 2001 N. Tamiami Trail NE.

Participants will be able to view maps and schedules of the redesigned routes and provide feedback to LeeTran staff.

Interested parties who cannot come to a workshop can obtain the information at www.rideleetran.com, and submit their comments via e-mail to rideleetran@leegov.com, or by mail to LeeTran, 6035 Landing View Road, Fort Myers, FL 33907.

To request special accommodations to participate in and of these public workshops, call 239-533-0323.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Letter to editor: Hickory Blvd. shoulders


News-Press 7/8/11
Kudos for workers


My family and I would like to thank the DOT
crew for the good work they did putting in
the bike path and resurfacing the road
along Hickory Boulevard in Bonita Springs.

We, who live along here, were expecting a
lot of delays, but the workers were very
efficient in getting the job done.

Everything went so smoothly they kept
things moving right along, painting the lines
and putting in the cat's eyes as they went.
Good job. Thanks and good luck to all of
you.

BETTY SPRIGG

Bonita Springs

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Action Alert: Write Congress in support of funding for bicycling and walking


BikeWalkLee is working with its' national partner organizations, Transportation for America,Alliance for Biking and Walking, the League of American Bicyclists, and America Bikes, on the federal transportation legislation. Today, the House Transportation Committee announced its reauthorization bill, and this is what it means for us (according to an Alliance release):

DEDICATED FUNDING FOR BICYCLING AND WALKING HAS BEEN CUT in the House's Transportation proposal. Chairman Mica would eliminate critical Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails Programs, programs that he referred to as “not in the national interest”. Chairman Mica’s statement that these uses remain “eligible” for funding is worthless; without dedicated funding for these three programs they are effectively eliminated.

Things on the Senate side are not much better. Senator James Inhofe, a lead negotiator in the Senate debate, declared that one of his TOP THREE priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous spending for bike trails.’ This is in direct conflict with Senator Barbara Boxer’s commitment to maintain dedicated funding for biking and walking. However, the Senate is working towards a bi-partisan solution – and Senator Inhofe’s comments mean funding for bicycling and pedestrian programs is at risk of total elimination.

HERE ARE A FEW FACTS:

Not in the National Interest?

Biking and walking make up 12 percent of all trips in the US – even as funding for biking and walking projects only account for 1.5% of the federal transportation budget. – that’s more than 4 billion bicycle trips and 40 billion walking trips a year- including trips to work, school, shopping and for recreation and tourism.

Frivolous?


Bicyclists and pedestrians are the victims of reckless highway design, accounting for 14% of all traffic related deaths. Two-thirds of all pedestrian deaths are on federally funded highways. Bicycling and walking programs build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways, improving accessibility and saving lives.

The Facts

Biking and walking are important forms of transportation, and dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements is a very efficient use of federal transportation dollars. Portland, Oregon built a 300-mile network of bike lanes, multi-use trails, and bike boulevards for the cost of one mile of highway.

These projects also create jobs, and build local economies. Building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure creates 46% more jobs than building road-only projects per million dollars spent. Cities that invest in bicycle and pedestrian projects turn downtowns into destinations, and capitalize on increased business activity.

Finally, shifting 1.5% of transportation spending has no impact on the federal budget, but instead, decreases transportation options for American families in a time of rising gas prices and an uncertain economy.

ACTION ALERT:

Help Protect Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails. Contact your Representative and Senators, and tell them to reach out to Senators Inhofe, Boxer, and Congressman Mica to urge them to continue dedicated funding for these important biking and walking programs. Click here to send a letter.