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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

News-Press features finalists for award, including BikeWalkLee


Meet The News-Press' 'Heroes 2011' finalists

December 27, 2011

The finalists for The News-Press’ “Heroes 2011” have a proven track record of service to the Southwest Florida community. Their works range from helping the poorest among us to seeking to make the area safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Their efforts have yielded results, praise and new followers who plan to continue moving their agendas forward.

BikeWalkLee

Florida is a dangerous place for pedestrians and cyclists — 5,163 pedestrians have been killed over the last decade at an estimated cost of $22.2 billion.

BikeWalkLee formed in 2009 precisely to work to make roads safer and more user friendly in this outdoor friendly community.

Their efforts have paid off and the group, made of cycling enthusiasts, retirees, professors and others, have wielded considerable influence in persuading Lee County and Fort Myers to adopt “Complete Streets” resolutions that ensure that road planning includes bicycle lanes, sidewalks and greater transit options. Results include work being done on the State Road 82 widening, from Ortiz Avenue to Colonial Boulevard, the Six Mile Cypress Parkway widening and the new Matlacha Bridge.

Due to its work, BikeWalkLee now counts on 38 supporter organizations ranging from cyclists clubs like the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club and Bonita Bay Bicycle Club to large organizations like Lee Memorial Health System, AARP of Florida, Audubon Society of Southwest Florida and FGCU.

Lee County administration plans to update county commissioners on Complete Streets implementation in early January.

“The policy achievements we’ve seen in the past three years are a result of a broad based public engagement and coalition-building effort,” said BikeWalkLee steering committee member Darla LeTourneau.

Visit the website bikewalklee.org or call for more information. Or contact Dan Moser at 334-6417 or dmoser@bikewalklee.org, or Darla Letourneau at 472-1179 or dletourneau@ bikewalklee.org

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Kids and adults could all stand to learn some traffic skills


This week's Moser column highlights that kids aren't getting the necessary sound traffic habits from schools or homes, and outlines local opportunities for such training.

Florida Weekly, December 21, 2011
by Dan Moser

Learning to ride a bike, for most people, is a rite of passage that usually happens early in life. Even sooner than climbing on a bicycle, one is a pedestrian who begins to interact in traffic, whether that traffic consists of other pedestrians, bicyclists, motor vehicles of all shapes and sizes, or, more likely, a combination of all of these. Considering the regularity of each and every person’s relationship with traffic throughout life, it’s obviously important that lessons to teach safe and cordial behavior be taught beginning at the earliest possible opportunity.

But contrary to expectations — and probably to no one’s surprise — most parents, caregivers and schools fail to do what’s necessary to help children build sound traffic habits that stick with them throughout their lives. For parents and other caregivers, this includes practicing safe, courteous behavior themselves when walking, cycling, and driving with their children. Schools, including pre-schools and after school programs, should make it a routine part of their curriculum's. And youth organizations could incorporate it into the activities they offer.

I’m writing this column a day after co instructing a pedestrian and bicycle training program for physical education teachers that gives them the tools needed to do just what is mentioned above: incorporate traffic safety into the curriculum on an ongoing basis. As a regional trainer for Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program (http://hhp.ufl.edu/safety), a resource for communities and schools that comes at no cost to them, I see real potential. But over the years — and after training many teachers and community educators, I’m disappointed that not nearly as many utilize the program as intended — as an ongoing part of physical education classes or youth programs. There are a number of reasons for this lack of focus, including so many competing interests vying for time, so it takes real commitment to make traffic safety education a priority focus area.

Beyond educational opportunities FTBSEP provides, there exist quite a few other options. Following is a rundown of what’s available locally — you may contact me for more information or with additional resources, questions and suggestions:

1. Lee County EMS has a trailer with 25-30 bikes and other equipment necessary to conduct hands-on bike skills training sessions that’s available to just about any organization, school, church or program in Lee County that gets its staff and volunteers trained. The training and trailer use (and transport) are free.

2, Also available through Lee County EMS is a variety of pedestrian and bicycle safety education choices, including presentations, trainings, exhibits, and other offerings, customized to the audience’s needs. These, too, are free within Lee County. Bike helmets for those who cannot afford to purchase them are sometimes available as well.

3. Florida Bicycle Association (www.floridabicycle.org) offers its adult-level CyclingSavvy program (www.cyclingsavvy. org) that charges a modest fee and is available whenever there’s enough demand.

4. League of American Bicyclists (www.bikeleague.org) has a similar fee-based program, Traffic Skills, that’s also offered locally when demand dictates.

5. School resource officers are often very helpful, as are fire departments and other public safety agencies. Check with your local provider to see what’s available in your neighborhood.

6. For safety materials in bulk, you can visit Florida’s Pedestrian and Bicycling Safety Resource Center (www.pedbikesrc.ce.ufl.edu). Florida Department of Transportation’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Office (www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/ped_bike/ped_bike.shtm) is your source for expert advice on technical matters related to Florida traffic law and facility design, among other things.

I’m sometimes accused of being a safety nerd, but I’m actually more concerned with people feeling good about using our public ways in whatever mode they choose, including those in their motor vehicles. For that to happen, we must first progress from considerate, safety-minded pedestrians, then move on to the same type of bicyclist, who will in turn, lead us to be better drivers who are concerned for not only our own well-being but also for all others with whom we share public space. Unfortunately, based on behavior witnessed each and every day — distracted, aggressive, inconsiderate, and sometimes even seemingly suicidal motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians — this progression just isn’t happening, at least not around here.

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.

in the know

Running/Walking:

>> River, Roots, & Ruts Half & 5K, Sunday,
Jan. 8, Caloosahatchee Regional Park,
Alva (www.rrrtrail.com)
>> Naples Daily News Half, Sunday, Jan. 15,
Downtown Naples (www.gcrunner.org)

For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing (www.3dracinginc.com). For Naples/Collier running info, it’s the Gulf Coast Runners (www.gcrunner.org). Charlotte County running information is at www.zoomersrun.com. Walkers can visit www.meetup.com/ Walking-SWFL.

Cycling & Other Events:

>> CyclingSavvy: Truth & Techniques classroom
session, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., Wednesday,
Jan 11, Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> CyclingSavvy: Train Your Bike parking lot
session, , 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Saturday,
Jan. 14, Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> CyclingSavvy: Urban Tour session,
12:30 - 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14,
Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> Tour de Cape: Sunday, Jan. 22, Cape
Harbour, Cape Coral (www.capeparks.com)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest opinion: Sens. Nelson, Rubio agree: All Floridians deserve safe roads


News-Press
December 21, 2011
by Darla Letourneau of BikeWalkLee

Amidst the partisan rancor in Washington, there was a ray of bipartisan hope that deserves to be highlighted. On Dec. 14, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed its section of the federal transportation bill and included a measure to make our streets safer for all users.

This provision was adopted unanimously with the support of Florida’s two senators — Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Mario Rubio — both of whom sit on this committee.

This action is especially important for Florida because our state is the most dangerous state in the nation when it comes to pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.

Over the last decade, 5,163 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed in Florida. According to the National Safety Council, each traffic death has a comprehensive cost of $4.3 million, which means these Florida fatalities have cost a total of $22.2 billion.

Two-thirds of these fatalities occurred on roads built or maintained with federal aid. This provision, if included in the final transportation bill, will ensure highways built with federal funds accommodate all users, by establishing a national policy to address safety for all users — a policy that will help save lives and money.

This federal safe streets policy will mean that federally funded road projects in Florida must meet federal standards to safely accommodate all road users.

A new Florida state policy implementing these standards would complement the efforts currently under way in 16 communities in Florida (including Lee County) to develop and implement complete streets policies.

These local policies ensure that agencies routinely design and operate our transportation system to enable safe access for drivers, transit users and vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as for older people, children and people with disabilities. We know that streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users are safer for everyone.

BikeWalkLee is proud of Lee County elected officials — acting through the Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Lee Board of County Commissioners and the Fort Myers City Council — for the strong support they have shown for complete streets and a more balanced multi-modal transportation system. Lee County’s efforts to make our roads safer for all users, using a complete streets approach, have underscored the value of this approach and the need for a federal policy. Our local governments are working to make our streets safer, but they only control the local roads, not the state roads. A federal policy that applies to federally-funded roads would help close the gap.

Having a federal policy that complements the local complete streets policies would further the ability of state and local governments to enact programs designed to spend transportation funds more wisely by increasing transportation choices for all of our citizens, improving public health, and developing new economic opportunities.

The congressional process of developing and enacting a new transportation bill is in the early stages, so there are many more steps to go before this provision becomes law. However, we are heartened by the Senate Commerce Committee’s bipartisan support for making our streets safer for all users.

We applaud Florida’s two U.S. senators for reaching across the aisle in support of a measure that will benefit all Floridians. Working in a bipartisan way to reverse Florida’s ranking as the most dangerous state in the country for both pedestrians and cyclists is a hopeful sign.

We encourage all Florida’s members of Congress to build on this initial and important success and come together to enact innovative and long overdue transportation legislation for the 21st century.

- Darla Letourneau serves on the steering committee for BikeWalkLee, a community coalition advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. See more online at BikeWalkLee.org.

Monday, December 19, 2011

In search of BikeWalkLee representative for Fort Myers Beach


Do you live in Fort Myers Beach,or know someone who does, who is passionate about biking and walking and wants to help make improvements in your community? Then maybe you would be interested in being BikeWalkLee's representative in Fort Myers Beach. Please contact Darla at dletourneau@bikewalklee.org if you might be interested.

BikeWalkLee has been involved in advocacy on a countywide basis, participating in all the Lee County MPO meetings and committees, and in the Board of County Commission committees and hearings. The MPO is a countywide transportation planning body and includes representatives from each of the local jurisdictions. The BoCC and county government covers the unincorporated portions of Lee County. While the majority of transportation decisions that affect bike/ped/transit facilities and complete streets policies are made in these two bodies, the local jurisdictions (Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel) also make bike/ped decisions on their local roads as well as influence decisions on county maintained roads.

In February 2011, BikeWalkLee announced its representatives/reporters in each of these jurisdictions. These individuals serve as our “point persons” who lead the local advocacy efforts and keep the BWL network informed about what’s happening in their jurisdiction. Great things are happening in the local jurisdictions and our local representatives are in the thick of things. Become part of a winning team!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

BikeWalkLee’s report from Lee County Planning Agency (LPA) meeting Dec. 16, 2011


Report by Ann Pierce, BWL

At the latest LPA meeting, four new position papers were discussed as part of the ongoing process to review and update the County's comprehensive plan - Horizon 2035 Lee Plan.
The first paper summarized an extensive,national market research report, based on characteristics of the five generational categories represented here in Lee County. This research gave emphasis to each of two other papers addressing I-75 Interchanged Developments and Mixed-Use Development.

Florida and its economy having depended upon a steady influx of newcomers, now finds itself at a point where well-researched, intelligent, critical decisions must be made for its future economic viability. Fully 88% of surveyed baby boomers say they do not plan to relocate, but will instead age in place. Further, for those who do relocate to warmer climes, Florida is no longer the first choice. It concludes that most of the retiring boomers who will be here in 2035 are already living here. Findings also indicate that generations X and Y are quite unlikely to move far from where they've grown up. County planning could best be focused on accommodating the large number of existing retirees, while seeking to retain younger generations, specifically the many thousands graduating from FGCU.

Both generations X and Y,expressing far less interest in automobile ownership or operation than previous generations, had a marked preferences for bicycling, walking, urban experiences and interface with the natural environment. Baby boomers, however, desiring to maintain functional mobility and independence,appear to fully intend to continue driving. But, Federal Highway safety data presents a chilling forecast with such a scenario. These drivers, as they age, are much more likely to be involved in multi-vehicle and fatal crashes, with predictions that 25% of fatal accidents will be caused by these older drivers.

What does this mean for Lee County? That creative visioning and a holistic coordination in land use and transportation planning will be required. A decreased interest in suburban style single-family homes and the accompanying auto dependency is evident. There is an expressed increase in higher density, mixed-use centers that provide access to living, work, health care, educational and shopping opportunities, accommodated by a variety safe transportation modes. Such developments would help to maintain the surrounding natural environments valued by the younger generations. For retirees, who may be forced, by regulation or insurance rates, to give up driving sooner than anticipated, denser mixed-use living can offer freedom of mobility without an automobile, while extensions of transit and bike/ped facilities will need to be made throughout existing areas of development.

Examining the nine current, grade-separated I-75 interchanges may offer locations for these future higher density, transit oriented development (TOD) centers to develop. With low density accommodations for the through-traveler closest to the interstate, and transit stations with bike/ped oriented, mixed-use, high-density development just beyond.
An assessment of future development in Lehigh Acres was the subject of the final paper. Here again, community representatives and planning staff are searching for ways to develop a few higher density commercial nodes within the area. Alternative forms of transportation in and around Lehigh and connecting it to the rest of the County will remain of paramount importance.

It was evident that adjusting our past course of transportation and land use planning and development will take active participation from all sectors of our community. There will be considerable inertia to overcome within a milieu of economic uncertainty. Yet, it is clear we can no longer afford to continue with more of the same. A few forward thinking communities around the country have already begun to establish comprehensive Aging in Place Action Plans, preparing themselves logistically, socially and economically for the wave of the aging baby boom generation.

BikeWalkLee finalist for News-Press "People of Year" Award


BikeWalkLee is proud to be one of the finalists for the News-Press "People of the Year" award! (one of three finalists in the "Heroes" category) Thanks to our team of tireless advocates, our 34 coalition partner organizations, the elected officials, staff, and various committees of Lee County governments that have helped make Lee County streets safer and more accessible for all users.

News-Press, December 18, 2011
Editorial: People of
the Year Finalists


Today The News-Press editorial board
presents finalists for its People of the
Year/People to Watch awards.

The editorial board received dozens of
nominations from the public and also made
recommendations for nominations.

On Nov. 20, we published a list of 60
nominees on these pages representing
community, government, business, the arts,
service, veterans and sports.

Each person or group is well deserving.
The finalists below were selected by the
editorial board leadership based upon
community impact, particularly in 2011,
and potential for success in 2012.

The five categories are People of the Year,
People to Watch, Heroes, Trailblazers and
Public Officials.

The News-Press will announce the award
winners at a reception Jan. 19 called
“People of the Year: Making a Difference”
at the Sidney and Berne Davis Arts Center
in Fort Myers.
.....
Now, here are the finalists and a little info
about why we selected them:

PEOPLE OF THE YEAR

BikeWalkLee

This organization has tirelessly advocated
for a safer community for pedestrians and
cyclists.

The 14-member steering committee was
successful in persuading the Lee County
Commission to adopt a “Complete Streets”
resolution in 2009 to include pedestrian
and bike paths in road planning. An
update on “Complete Streets”
implementation will be presented to
commissioners in January.

Cities and planning organizations have
endorsed new bike lanes.

The group’s goals include freedom of
choice in transportation, active recreation
and greater public dialogue.

Stories of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities
and injuries are constant in Southwest
Florida, and in May BikeWalkLee was
among the groups represented in the
annual Ride of Silence sponsored by
Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club of Southwest
Florida to honor victims.

Steering committee members include
Margaret Banyan, professor at Florida Gulf
Coast University.

Click here to read about the other finalists.

News-Press: Sidewalk studies go full steam ahead



Today's article focuses on studies underway in Collier County about walkability in various North Naples neighborhoods, and quotes the Naples Pathways Coalition's Michele Avola about the importance of walkability. The article also mentions Lee County conditions and quotes Dan Moser of BikeWalkLee.

News-Press, Dec. 18, 2011

A North Naples community that local
officials say is in need of mobility
improvements will be examined this spring
as Collier County reaches the halfway point
in a six-area walkable communities study.

A Metropolitan Planning Organization-
commissioned study of Naples Park will
look at elements such as lighting, benches
and routes to and from bus stops,
businesses and other key destinations,
principal planner Lorraine Lantz said.

The study follows an examination of Naples
Manor that was completed in 2010 as well
as an Immokalee report the MPO adopted
last week.

The studies, scheduled in order of need,
could bring more funding for street
improvements, Lantz said. Golden Gate
City, Naples and Marco Island will follow
Naples Park, with a goal of completing two
studies per year.

The Immokalee report found 63 percent of
the community’s 73 miles of public streets
have no sidewalks.

The area received an overall “C” grade for
categories that included continuity of bike
lanes and sidewalks to visual appeal and
crosswalks. Naples Manor earned a “D”
overall with only a portion of one of its 31
streets containing sidewalks on both sides.

The Naples Manor study was completed
in-house, while the county paid Naples-
based RWA Consulting almost $18,000 for
work on the Immokalee report, with some
data compiled in-house, county
spokeswoman Connie Deane said. The
remaining four studies will use consultants
and each should cost between $40,000
and $50,000.

The Naples Park study is scheduled nine
years after Coral Gables-based Dover,
Kohl & Partners presented a plan for
Naples Park — which was developed in the
1950s and lies west of U.S. 41 — that the
county did not adopt.

The plan suggested pedestrian and bicycle
connections, elements such as
roundabouts, connections to commercial
areas such as those on Vanderbilt Beach
Road and U.S. 41, and sidewalks on all
streets.

Sidewalks run along main thoroughfares in
the 3,000-home community, but not on the
majority of roads.

“There are a ton of kids there. So many of
them are walking in the street,” said
Michelle Avola, executive director for the
Naples Pathways Coalition.

Walkable communities, Avola said, can help
relieve traffic congestion as seniors age

and in a country where about 50 percent of
trips are three miles or less, according to a
2008 National Household Transportation
survey.

“The solution to our traffic nightmare is not
adding more lanes,” Avola said. “It’s
providing resources for pedestrians and
cyclists as well. Get some people out of
their cars safely.”


Cyclist Maria Hoyt bikes through Naples
Park along Vanderbilt Drive, south of B
luebill Avenue to Vanderbilt Beach Road.
Although Hoyt said vehicles travel fairly
slow, she tries to avoid the road when
possible.

“It is very dangerous,” she said of
Vanderbilt Drive, which the NPC included
on a list of priority improvements it has
submitted to the county. “There is no bike
lane and the roadway is very narrow.”

The nearby entrance area for Mercato also
lacks accessibility, said Avola and Stacy
Revay
, healthy communities coordinator for
the Collier County Health Department.

“Mercato has done a pretty good job, but
that’s just inside Mercato,” Revay said.
“There’s no sidewalk that extends into the
development.”

Naples earns an overall walkability score of
46 out of 100 from Walk Score, a national
website that promotes walkable cities. Fort
Myers’ score is 43. Scores under 50 are
considered car-dependent communities.

With a score of 11, Lehigh Acres ranks as
the third least walkable community in the
state, after The Acreage in Palm Beach
County and Poinciana, straddling Osceola
and Polk counties. Miami Beach ranks No.
1 with a score of 75.

Lehigh’s major roadways are not very
pedestrian or cyclist-friendly, said Dan
Moser, a founding member of BikeWalkLee.
College Parkway and Cypress Lake Drive in
south Fort Myers also are in need of
improvements.

Overall, Collier and Lee — which in 2009
adopted the National Complete Streets
Coalition’s roadway standards — are
similar in terms of accessibility, Moser said.

“Both places have pockets of pretty good
access,” he said. “Other parts of the
counties are lacking.”

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday ride: 20 needy Immokalee students receive bikes for Christmas



Kudos to two of BikeWalkLee's supporter organizations, the Sanibel Bicycle Club and Billy's Rentals, for bringing holiday cheer through bicycles to needy Immokalee students.

Naples Daily News
December 17, 2011
By TRACY X. MIGUEL

Mauro Miranda reached a hand across a flatbed deck full of bicycles on Friday morning.

The fourth grader claimed his bike the minute the 40 bicycles arrived by truck at Immokalee Community School, a Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA) charter school.

"I'm going to get a bike," the 9-year-old said, rubbing his hands together with glee.

Mauro was one of 20 Immokalee Community School students who received an early Christmas gift — spruced up bicycles from the Sanibel Bicycle Club. Mauro plans to use his green, Next Shocker 2G mountain bike to ride to the park and ride with his father to the store, he said.

This is the fifth year the Sanibel Bicycle Club teamed up with Billy's Rentals, a bicycle rental business on Sanibel, to organize a used and refurbished bicycle donation for Immokalee residents. And for the past three years the majority of the bicycles have been given to students of the charter school, 123 N. Fourth St., which serves children of migrant farmworkers and other low-income families.

"This is always exciting," said Gloria Padilla, a coordinator for RCMA's Naples, Immokalee and Bonita Springs area. "It means a lot to them."

She explained that many of the students have no idea their parents are struggling to make a living, especially with the sluggish economy. The school selected the neediest families to be recipients of the bicycles, Padilla said.

If it wasn't for Sanibel Bicycle Club, Billy's Rentals and RCMA, Alma Rivas' children wouldn't receive a Christmas present this year.

"It's sad," Rivas, a farmworker, said in Spanish. "I told my children that there was no money for Christmas presents."

Rivas is a mother of five young children: fifth grader Axel Rivas, 11; third grader Alex Gonzalez, 9; second grader Luis Gonzalez, 7; Samantha Gonzalez, 3; and Denise Gonzalez, 1.

"I'm happy, because my kids will be happy that they have a bike," said Rivas, who received two bicycles.

The group distributed 20 bikes at the school. The other 20 were evenly donated to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and the Immokalee community.

The bicycle giveaway is a nice way to give back to the community, said Billy's Rentals' owner Billy Kirkland. His business provides everything from inner tubes and tires to seats.

"When I was a young kid I was a recipient like these kids, and now with my business it allows me to give back," Kirkland said. "Let's face it, what are the holidays for? It's not for you and I. It's for the kids."

In Immokalee, many of the residents use bikes as their primary mode of transportation.

"I call that one," Sonia Domingo, 10, yelled while waiting for the bicycles to be unloaded from the truck.

The Immokalee Community School fourth grader selected bikes for her brother and father rather than for herself. She plans to give her father an orange, aluminum frame Caloi mountain bike for the holidays.

Carol Lugo carefully selected two bikes for her 10-year-old twin sons, Jimmy and Daniel. Now, Lugo's sons will be able to ride their bicycles to school rather than walk.

"It will help them a lot," she said.

Friday, December 16, 2011

BikeWalkLee’s report from MPO meeting Dec. 16, 2011


At the December 16th MPO meeting, several topics were discussed of interest to the BikeWalkLee network. BikeWalkLee’s representative, Darla Letourneau, spoke at the meeting in support of the MPO’s staff proposal to include in the planning work plan a task to run land use scenarios ahead of the next major update of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). BikeWalkLee is a strong supporter of scenario analysis of options to better inform decision-making on transportation planning. Letourneau suggested that part of this analysis incorporate changes to the current “level of service” methodologies so that the county begins to move from a congestion mitigation paradigm to looking at ways to build communities through transportation. Doing land use scenarios now, while Lee County and local jurisdictions are in various stages of considering land use changes, can assist all the players in finalizing their plans by showing how various land use options can affect transportation goals and plans.

During the MPO Board discussion of FDOT’s consultant’s presentation of its Advanced Traffic Management System, Councilman Flanders (City of Fort Myers) suggested that an alternative approach to dealing with intersection congestion was to use roundabouts. Flanders talked about the 76 roundabouts in Indianapolis, IN, that that saved $4 million in gas, reduced rive time by 25%, drastically reduced head-on collisions, and reduce intersection maintenance costs by 85%. There was support from other board members for using more roundabouts in Lee County. Commissioner Judah recommended that the MPO assess where roundabouts could be placed in the county. It was agreed that the first step would be to have the MPO committees consider the issue (starting with the Traffic Operations Management Committee) before bringing it back to the MPO Board.

The second major topic of discussion was the FDOT consultant’s Fort Myers Beach Trolley Lane Feasibility Analysis. The consultants developed five alternatives, most of which include bike lanes. The alternative that scores the best in terms of cost/benefit, is the alternative that incorporates a road diet concept, along with bike lanes. Board members had many questions and concerns about this analysis. The next step is for an Alternatives Analysis, that will include extensive public involvement. Stay tuned.

BikeWalkLee also reported to the Board on two developments coming out of Washington:
1. TIGER III grant awards. (See BikeWalkLee’s earlier blog posts for details). Letourneau requested that the staff ask USDOT for a de-brief so they we could learn the weaknesses of our application so we would be better positioned for the future.
2. Senate Commerce Committee bipartisan action on a safe streets policy(i.e. complete streets) provision. (See BikeWalkLee’s earlier blog posts for details.) Both FL Senators Nelson and Rubio are to be congratulated for their support.

Beginning in January, the MPO Board meetings will be held at the Cape Coral City Council Chambers and be carried on live TV. The next meeting is Friday, January 20th.

Report by Darla Letourneau

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lee County’s Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) makes recommendations to commissioners on sustainability and transportation projects


The purpose of the Lee County sustainability committee is to provide recommendation to the Lee County BoCC to achieve community sustainability, livability and smart growth. The County’s Complete Streets Resolution adopted by the Commission in 2009 was drafted by this committee and presented to the Board for action. Part of the committee’s mandate is to oversee the implementation of complete streets. To accomplish this, the CSAC set up a complete streets working group to collaborate with staff and bring recommendations to the Committee for their consideration.

As part of that process, over the past 18 months, the CSAC working group (Dr. Margaret Banyan, Chair of CSAC, Darla Letourneau & Dan Moser) has reviewed resurfacing contract projects for complete streets opportunities. As part of the revised transportation and planning process finalized this Fall, the complete streets review is now moving into road projects on the county’s Capital Infrastructure Program (CIP)—LeeDOT’s 5-year funding plan. Last month, the group reviewed two LeeDOT road projects-- the Alico Road Alignment Study, and the Veterans/Santa Barbara Blvd. interchange options--and reported to the committee at its December 14th meeting. Through this process, it became clear to us that implementing complete streets requires a variety of planning tools, including those that can assess projects for their sustainability. As a result of this discussion, the CSAC passed the following motion on December 14th:

Lee County should:
1. Develop and incorporate transportation sustainability criteria and measures to evaluate and guide the funding, planning, design, and implementation of each new and substantial/major widening projects through the Sustainability Assessment; and
2. Prioritize adoption of sustainable transportation criteria and measures in the sustainability planning process (Milestone 2 – Set Sustainability Goals); and
3. Specifically for those projects that must be planned in the interim
a) The Lee County BoCC fund a plan for the Research Diamond area that outlines a future vision for land use and transportation prior to selecting a design option and
b) Lee DOT study and present to the public at future meetings the ‘no build’ option for the Veterans/Santa Barbara interchange, including, i) what other changes could improve traffic flow; ii) a detailed analysis of traffic projections by peak/non-peak hours and days; and iii) present information in a way that clearly outlines the choices between congestion and livability. The Lee DOT study should also factor into each option the implications for pedestrian crossings.


We look forward to working with Lee County and appreciate the hard work of the Complete Streets Team and LDOT. This is a challenging, but exciting, learning process that promises innovative and beneficial outcomes.

The Case for Congestion


This recent article in The Atlantic Cities raises an important point that's relevant to Lee County: "This doesn't mean that cities should strive for congestion, but they should recognize that traffic is often a sign of dynamism."

Atlantic Cities, 12/15/11
By John Norquist

Yogi Berra once said, "nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded."

It’s certainly true that people complain about congestion. Yet it’s just as true that popular destinations tend to be crowded. Fifth Avenue in New York, Market Street in San Francisco, Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills are all congested, but people keep coming back to shop or hang out.

Congestion, in the urban context, is often a symptom of success.

If people enjoy crowded places, it seems a bit strange that federal and state governments continue to wage a war against traffic congestion. Despite many hundreds of billions dollars spent increasing road capacity, they've not yet won; thank God. After all, when the congestion warriors have won, the results aren’t often pretty. Detroit, for example, has lots of expressways and widened streets and suffers from very little congestion. Yet no one would hold up Detroit as a model.

Congestion is a bit like cholesterol - if you don’t have any, you die

After all, congestion is a bit like cholesterol - if you don’t have any, you die. And like cholesterol, there’s a good kind and a bad kind. Congestion measurements should be divided between through-traffic and traffic that includes local origins or destinations, the latter being the "good kind." Travelers who bring commerce to a city add more value than someone just driving through, and any thorough assessment of congestion needs to be balanced with other factors such as retail sales, real estate value and pedestrian volume.

Fighting traffic congestion by merely adding more road capacity is what Lewis Mumford called a "monochromatic" approach. In his critique of the Texas Transportation Institute’s "2010 Urban Mobility Report," University of Connecticut engineering professor Norman Garrick wrote that "TTI lost sight of the fact that a transportation system affects almost all aspects of daily life and that its value should not be judged purely on the basis of how well it affords the speedy movement of vehicles." In doing such, we fail to recognize the way traditional streets shape successful, self-reliant and stimulating places.

Garrick's research points out that just 21 percent of average household income is spent on transportation in the state of New York, while 41 percent of average household income goes towards transport costs, almost all related to driving motor vehicles, in Mississippi. And in a political paradox, knowing how each state tends to vote, Garrick notes that New York is far less dependent on the federal government for its transportation budget, with only 15 percent of its funds coming from Washington. In contrast, Mississippi relies on federal largesse for 41 percent of its total transportation budget.

Early in my time as mayor of Milwaukee, my Public Works director and his staff of traffic engineers came to me with a $58 million proposal for adding right turn lanes to "congested" intersections. The plan involved significant property demolition. I asked if they planned on drawing their pensions after retirement. They looked at me strangely, and then answered yes. I replied, "Then why do you want to destroy the tax base that supports your pension?"

From that day forward, they understood the necessity of balancing their need for faster speed with the fact that people need street corridors not only to travel, but also to shop and socialize. Attempts to accommodate through-traffic by widening streets can destroy the surrounding value of a neighborhood. When the amount of property value or retail sales is part of the cost benefit calculation, road-widening starts to look like a dubious investment.
......

This doesn’t mean that cities should strive for congestion, but they should recognize that traffic is often a sign of dynamism. Moving vehicular traffic is obviously a necessary function, but by making it the only goal, cities lose out on the economic potential created by the crowds of people that bring life to a city.

With governments at all levels short on cash, maybe its time to broaden the goals for streets, going beyond just moving vehicles. It’s time to retire the expressway in an urban context. It should be replaced with a system that examines the performance of street networks, including transit where relevant, and considers economic and social value along with vehicle distribution. It should be a system that measures the value and effectiveness of a city’s street network, a street vitality index. If Departments of Transportation and local governments take a closer look, they may find value in congestion. After all, real estate prices seem to confirm that preference. And shouldn’t our infrastructure reflect that and add value to the place where it is built?

To read the full article, click on the link in the title.
Image courtesy of Kenn Chaplin via Flickr

USDOT Announces TIGER III grant awards--Lee MPO's complete street initiative proposal not among winners


BikeWalkLee is disappointed that the Lee MPO's application for a $10 million grant for its complete streets initiative was not among the 46 winning projects out of the 848 applications. It is exciting to see that $64 million of complete streets projects were funded. Twenty of the 46 winning projects have bike/ped/complete streets components and/or benefits for pedestrians and cyclists.

We will continue to push for funding of the components of Lee County's complete streets initiative through other funding sources. We want to again thank the MPO Board, staff, local jurisdictions and the 47 organizations that wrote letters in support of this grant application. The broad community community for this initiative will help us move forward on implement ion of the county's bike/ped master plan and its broader complete streets vision.




USDOT Press Release
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Secretary LaHood Announces Funding for 46 Innovative Transportation Projects Through Third Round of Popular TIGER Program
Job-Creating Grants Announced Months Ahead of Schedule as Part of the Obama Administration’s “We Can’t Wait” Initiative

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $511 million from the third round of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s popular TIGER program. The announcement comes months ahead of schedule, and will allow communities to move forward with critical, job-creating infrastructure projects including road and bridge improvements; transit upgrades; freight, port and rail expansions; and new options for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) received 848 project applications from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, requesting a total of $14.29 billion, far exceeding the $511 million made available for grants under the TIGER III program.

“The overwhelming demand for these grants clearly shows that communities across the country can’t afford to wait any longer for Congress to put Americans to work building the transportation projects that are critical to our economic future,” said Secretary LaHood. “That’s why we’ve taken action to get these grants out the door quickly, and that is why we will continue to ask Congress to make the targeted investments we need to create jobs, repair our nation’s transportation systems, better serve the traveling public and our nation’s businesses, factories and farms, and make sure our economy continues to grow."

In November, President Obama directed DOT to take common sense steps to expedite transportation projects by accelerating the process for review and approval and by leveraging private sector funding to promote growth and job creation. As part of that initiative, DOT accelerated the TIGER III application review process and has announced the awards before the end of 2011 – months ahead of the planned spring 2012 announcement.

The grants will fund a wide range of innovative transportation projects in urban and rural areas across the country:

Of the $511 million in TIGER III funds available for grants, more than $150 million will go to critical projects in rural areas.
Roughly 48% of the funding will go to road and bridge projects, including more than $64 million for Complete Streets projects that will spur small business growth and benefit motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
29% of the funding will support transit projects like the Westside Multimodal Transit Center in San Antonio.
12% will help build port projects like the Port of New Orleans Rail Yard Improvements.
10% will go to freight rail projects like the Muldraugh Bridge Replacement in Kentucky.
Three grants were also directed to tribal governments to create jobs and address critical transportation needs in Indian country.
Three grants will provide better multimodal access to airports, including DFW in Texas.

Work has already begun on 33 planning projects while 58 capital projects are under way across the country from the previous two rounds of TIGER, and an additional 13 projects are expected to break ground over the next six months.

In 2009 and 2010, the Department received a total of 2,400 applications requesting $76 billion, greatly exceeding the $2.1 billion available in the TIGER I and TIGER II grant programs. In the previous two rounds, the TIGER program awarded grants to 126 freight, highway, transit, port and bicycle/pedestrian projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

TIGER grants are awarded to transportation projects that have a significant national or regional impact. Projects are chosen for their ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve the safety of U.S. transportation facilities and enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections. The Department also gives priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate increases in economic activity.

The continuing demand for TIGER grants highlights the need for further investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure that could be provided by President Obama’s American Jobs Act. The American Jobs Act would provide $50 billion to improve 150,000 miles of road, replace 4,000 miles of track, and restore 150 miles of runways, creating jobs for American workers and building a safer, more efficient transportation network. It would also provide $10 billion for the creation of a bipartisan National Infrastructure bank.

A complete list of grant recipients can be viewed here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Safe Streets Amendment


Note that BikeWalkLee's efforts are mentioned in this national article!

National Complete Streets Coalition Article
By Stefanie Seskin, on December 14th, 2011

In a major step forward for Complete Streets, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed a federal transportation authorization bill that includes a measure for the safe accommodation of all users in federally-funded street projects.

Alaska Senator Mark Begich offered the amendment that established this measure and accepted an amendment from Senator John Thune of South Dakota. The Committee voted unanimously in favor of the measure.

The amendments modified S. 1950, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, which is one of the Commerce Committee’s contributions to the overall reauthorization package.

With this measure in place, the proposed bill now directs the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to create standards for the safe accommodation of all road users and allows the Secretary to waive the standards for states that have their own policies. The additional language offered by Senator Thune would allow states to determine what is safe and adequate accommodation for a specific street. For example, the state could determine the expected users of that street or decide on the type of crossing provided.

Appropriately, the Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction is safety – a core motivation for Complete Streets policies across the country and for the support a federal policy has received on Capitol Hill.

As we pointed out yesterday, thousands of Americans are killed or injured on our roadways. And while the overall numbers are declining, injuries and fatalities among those who are walking rose sharply (.pdf) in the last year: compared to 2009, 26,000 more pedestrians were injured and 419 more were killed. Many of them were children or older adults.

Fortunately, there are thousands upon thousands of people who are working toward safer, better streets for everyone. These people are members and supporters of the National Complete Streets Coalition and the Complete Streets movement. They came together yesterday to contact their Senators in support of the Begich amendment, and the entire staff of the Coalition want to take a moment to thank them for their efforts.

In the Senate, we applaud Senator Begich for introducing the amendment, Senator Thune for helping make it bi-partisan, and every Senator on the Committee for supporting it. The Coalition is sending them a formal thank you letter (.pdf). We’re also thankful for the support from Senator Harkin of Iowa, who introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act earlier this year, and the 16 additional Senators who have signed on as co-sponsors.

Of course, these Senators working in response to the incredible support for Complete Streets from their constituents. Advocates and organizations, members of the National Complete Streets Coalition across the country quickly stepped up to mobilize.

Our Steering Committee and Partner organizations spread the word and set up easy tools for action. We’d like to especially thank the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, whose online tool enabled 830 letters to be sent to the Commerce committee members; the League of American Bicyclists, through which 1,249 letters were sent to the Committee members; the American Society of Landscape Architects, for activating their networks of professionals; the Alliance for Biking and Walking, YMCA, and America Walks, who encouraged their members to speak up for safe streets; and America Bikes, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, and AARP, for their incredible work on the Hill over the past few days.

National groups weren’t the only ones who generated action. Dozens of local groups responded to the call by sending letters, making phone calls, and encouraging their members and friends to take action. To name just a few: Bike Walk Lee (Florida); the Minnesota Complete Streets Coalition; Trailnet (Missouri); the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia; Bike Texas; and Feet First (Washington).

Though yesterday’s vote was an important moment for the movement, there are still many opportunities to strengthen a Complete Streets policy in the bill as it moves ahead. Bills from several Senate committees will be combined, and the House will have its own versions making their way through the process.

We will continue to need your support in coming months – but for now, pat yourselves on the back for a job well done and enjoy some cake or pie.

U.S. Senate Commerce Committee passed important T4-America policies in its portion of transportation reauthorization bill



BikeWalkLee is a Transportation 4 America partner and is pleased to see the Senate Committee support for T4-A-supported national goals and performance measure to promote a more accountable, cleaner, and multi-modal transportation system. In addition, an amendment to provide safer streets for all motorized and no-motorized users [complete streets by another name] was adopted with bipartisan support, including both Senators Nelson and Rubio of Florida. We were one of the Florida organizations that signed T4-A individual letters to our two FL Senators and contacted their staffs. Thanks to everyone who spoke out in support of these amendments.

Transportation for America responds to Senate Commerce Committee actions on transportation authorization
December 14, 2011 By Transportation for America

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate Commerce Committee today adopted two key policy measures for the upcoming authorization of the federal transportation program. The “Surface Transportation and Freight Policy Act of 2011” establishes policy goals for the federal surface transportation program, such as addressing congestion, improving access to multiple travel options, supporting domestic manufacturing and reducing impacts on the environment and public health. It also directs the U.S. Department of Transportation to create a national surface transportation and freight strategic plan and establishes a multi modal grant program for alleviating bottlenecks in the freight system. An amendment offered by Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska), and modified by Senator Thune (R-SD), directs the DOT Secretary to “establish standards to ensure that the design of Federal surface transportation projects provides for the safe and adequate accommodation … of all users of the transportation network, including motorized and non-motorized users.” Transportation for America’s director, James Corless, offered this statement in response:

“The Commerce Committee’s measures offer critical policy direction at a time when our key national infrastructure program is in urgent need of renewed focus and reinvigoration.
Establishing national goals and performance-based objectives for our investment in transportation would be a vast improvement over our current system, improving accountability and transparency of federal transportation spending. The Surface Transportation and Freight Policy Act would go a long way toward ensuring that we get the most bang for the buck from our increasingly constrained transportation dollars. At a time when pedestrian fatalities and injuries are rising as other traffic fatalities fall, the Begich amendment would help to improve safety for everyone on our roads and save money. With support from the full Senate and incorporation into the House’s companion bill, these measures would establish safety, fairness and efficiency as the hallmarks of the next authorization.”

Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Committee endorses 2 bike lane proposals


At the December 14th meeting of the Cape Coral Transportation Committee meeting,
The four Cape Coral City Council members that are members (Mayor Sullivan, John Carioscia, Chris Chulakes-Leetz and Kevin McGrail) voted to endorse and send the request for bike lanes on Agualinda and Beach to the full City Council for a vote. In addition to Pat Young and Carolyn Conant , Charles Berryhill who lives on Sands Blvd., and Peter Seiler from Germany spoke in favor. Other members of the audience in favor of these bike lanes included Larry Galanter, Mike Swanson and Steve Chupack. Only one gentleman spoke against. Mayor Sullivan became chair of the TAC.

A very special thank you from the Cape Coral team goes to all those affiliated with BWL, the Caloosa Riders, and all others who responded in mid-October to the call to support this SW Cape Coral Neighborhood Association bike lane request. "Yes" Survey Forms returned outnumbered "No" forms by more than 2-1.

Ban cellphone use by drivers, feds recommend


BikeWalkLee has long advocated against distracted driving (see our 2010 op ed). We are pleased to see the National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations to ban cellphone use by drivers. Maybe it will finally spur the Florida Legislature to begin to take the issue seriously.

News Press, December 14, 2011
[Also click here to read New York Times article.]
WASHINGTON — Federal safety
investigators have declared cellphone use
while driving too dangerous to be allowed,
which may give Florida anti-distracted-
driving bills a push as they work their way
through the Legislature.

The National Transportation Safety Board
voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend
all states ban cellphone use while driving,
except in emergencies. Inspired by recent
deadly crashes — including one last year
when a Missouri teenager sent or received
11 text messages in 11 minutes before an
accident — the recommendation would
apply even to hands-free devices, a much
stricter rule than any state law.

In Florida, two bills have been introduced
that would restrict cellphone use while
driving. One would prohibit minors from
talking and driving, and another would ban
texting and driving.

While the NTSB doesn’t have authority to
impose restrictions, its recommendations
carry weight with federal regulators, and
congressional and state lawmakers. Florida
is one of 15 states that does not ban
texting and driving.

Zak Kearns, 26, of Fort Myers, crashed his
car in August because he was distracted by
a text message. It was raining and Kearns
was looking at his phone instead of the
road, he said. He rear-ended the car in
front of him because he didn’t see it stop
short at a crosswalk.

A law banning texting and driving is a no-
brainier, Kearns said.

“I think everybody would hate it, but it only
helps people,” he said.

Keelie King, 30 of Fort Myers, swerved off
the road the other day while texting. She
hasn’t sent or received a text from the
road since, she said.

A law banning such a dangerous practice
seems like a good idea, but it comes with
problems as well, King said. “I’d like to
know how they’re going to enforce it.”

The sponsor of the bill banning talking
while driving, Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca
Raton, said he is not confident the federal
recommendation would go far to move
along his proposal.
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“Unfortunately for the state of Florida, all
these road safety bills are bottled up in a
drawer,” Slosberg said.

Slosberg is a co-sponsor of a bill (HB 299),
along with Republican Rep. Ray Pilon of
Sarasota, that would ban texting and
driving. The measure is assigned to the
House Transportation and Highway Safety
Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Brad
Drake, R-Eucheeanna, but a hearing has
not yet been scheduled.

During a committee meeting last month,
Drake said he would hear a texting-ban
bill if there was support from enough
members and if it was feasible and
realistic.

Slosberg also is the House sponsor of a bill
that would prohibit the use of handheld
cellphones and other electronic devices –
not just for texting, but any use – by
drivers under 18 and people driving school
buses. That bill (HB 187) also would have
to get through the Highway Safety
subcommittee. The measure would include
a limit on how many passengers young
drivers could have in their car.

The ban on cellphone use by minors is
sponsored in the Senate (SB 930) by Sen.
Thad Altman, R-Viera, while the ban on
texting (SB 416) is sponsored by another
Republican, Sen. Nancy Detert of Venice.

Local backing

Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has
pledged his support for the texting bill and
announced the start of a campaign to
educate drivers of the dangers posed by
texting and driving.

Lee County law enforcement officers, health
care providers and local organizations also
have launched a monthlong awareness
campaign to wipe out distracted driving
this December.

A group representing state highway safety
offices said many states are not ready to
carry out such cellphone regulations.

“States aren’t ready to support a total ban
yet, but this may start the discussion,”
Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the
Governors Highway Safety Association,
said.

About two out of 10 American drivers
overall – and half of drivers between 21
and 24 – say they’ve thumbed messages
or emailed from the driver’s seat,
according to a survey of more than 6,000
drivers by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration.

At any given moment last year on America’
s streets and highways, nearly one in every
100 car drivers was texting, emailing,
surfing the Web or otherwise using a
handheld electronic device, the safety
administration said. Those activities were
up 50 percent over the previous year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Urgent - Call your senator today to save transportation funding!

If you care about pedestrian and bike safety, cleaner air, or making sure transportation decisions are accountable and transparent, be sure to make your call today.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson sit on a committee that will likely vote on a new multi-billion dollar transportation policy TOMORROW.

You have a chance to help decide – and all you have to do is place a simple phone call.
It couldn’t be easier – making your call will take less than 5 minutes!
  1. Call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to Marco Rubio or Bill Nelson.
  2. When a staffer at your senator’s office answers leave the following message: 

Hi, my name is ____ and I live in ____. I’m calling to ask the Senator to support two amendments to the transportation bill being taken up Wednesday by the Commerce Committee:

• Senator Begich’s amendment to ensure that federally funded projects are designed for the safety of all users of the transportation network, and

• Senator Lautenberg’s amendment setting national transportation goals and objectives for the transportation bill as well as updating our federal multimodal freight transportation policy. 
This is our chance to create a clear national transportation policy – one that prioritizes innovative, cost-effective and safer solutions to our transportation challenges. 

And please forward this to everyone you know that feels the same.

Re-purposed from Transportation for America's email action alert on December 13, 2011.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dave Loveland appointed LeeDOT Director


Dec. 5th Announcement from Lee County Public Works Director, Doug Meurer, to Lee County Staff

I am pleased to announce that Dave Loveland is now the permanent Director of Lee County Department of Transportation.

Dave has been the Interim Director of DOT for almost 6 months and has provided excellent leadership. He has shown great initiative by spending time becoming fully informed about all aspects of DOT operations. Dave has been active in creating organizational changes that have enhanced operations and facilitate better staff communications.

DOT has a history of professional and skilled development and daily maintenance of a safe and reliable transportation network. However, economic conditions, energy costs and social expectations are creating challenges to the use of traditional capacity based transportation planning. Implementation of sustainable practices in planning for the future of our transportation needs is necessary. Dave's background as a planner, coupled with his understanding of the Lee County system, uniquely position him to lead DOT into this transportation future.

I am grateful for Dave's leadership the last 6 months and excited about his future contributions as we continue to meet the challenges ahead of us.

Please congratulate Dave on this newest achievement and provide him your support to assure a successful future.

Lee County's Complete Streets Implementation 2011 Report to be presented at Jan. 9th BoCC workshop


The Complete Streets Resolution (09-11-13) adopted by the Lee Board of County Commissioners on November 10, 2009, included a requirement for an annual report on the implementation status. The 2011 report, the second annual report, is now available (click here), and will be presented to the Commissioners at their January 9th, 2012 Management and Planning workshop, starting at 1:30 p.m. in the Commission Chambers. It can also be viewed live on Channel 97 or on the County's website.

The report outlines the current progress and future action items recommended to proceed towards full implementation of complete streets. The report includes a modified transportation planning and budgeting process, which is the key building block for successful complete streets implementation. This new, sustainable approach to planning requires interdepartmental collaboration, transparency, policy revisions, and prioritization of projects. The report also includes a summary of items to be addressed in the upcoming Lee Plan, Land Development Code, and Administrative Code changes, which are part of the 2035 New Horizons/Comp Plan amendments process currently underway.

As BikeWalkLee stated in announcing Lee County's Complete Streets Team as its "Complete Streets Champion of the Year for 2011", the county is at the beginning of the change process, not the end, so much work lies ahead, but real progress is being made. Kudos to the Complete Streets Interdepartmental Performance Team!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fort Myers drivers will have to slow down


Kudos to the Fort Myers City Council for voting to lower the speed limit to 25 mph on Fort Myers City streets! Lower speeds save lives and make our streets safer for all road users.

News-Press
, Dec. 2, 2011
by Marisa Kendall

Drivers will have to slow down Monday
when Fort Myers lowers the speed limit on
city streets from 30 to 25 mph.

The new policy will mostly affect streets
downtown and in residential
neighborhoods. Speed limits on state and
county-owned roads such as U.S. 41,
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Palm
Beach Boulevard and Colonial Boulevard
will remain unchanged.

People are going too fast, Mayor Randy
Henderson said. The issue was first
brought to the city council’s attention
during a public hearing six months ago.
Several residents complained of drivers
speeding through their neighborhoods and
putting children and adult pedestrians in
danger.

“No one wants to have to live with the
nightmare of having struck a pedestrian,”
Henderson said.

The Fort Myers Police Department’s only
role in the policy change will be its
enforcement, Police Chief Doug Baker said.
Revenue generated from traffic tickets is
divided up among various city funds, such
as local schools. The small fraction that
goes back to the police department can
only be used to fund training programs, he
said.

For a month after the speed limit is
changed, police will issue warnings instead
of speeding tickets.

“We’ll make every effort to institute a
campaign educating drivers that the speed
limit has changed,” Baker said.

After the grace period ends, drivers caught
going 6 to 9 mph over the limit will be
charged $124 if they pay the ticket within
30 days. Fines increase incrementally,
ending with a $274 fine for drivers caught
going 20-29 mph over. A court
appearance is required of anyone caught
going 30 or more mph over the limit.

So far this year, the police department has
issued more than 1,900 speeding tickets,
spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said. That
number doesn’t include specially
designated tickets such as those incurred
in a school zone.

In October the Bonita Springs City Council
requested city staff research speeding and
decide whether to recommend lowering
speed limits from 30 to 25 mph. No
further action has been taken.

Lynn Anderson, 71, said she often see
drivers speeding through her neighborhood
near the intersection of Six Mile
Cypress/Ben C. Pratt and Daniels
parkways. The neighborhood is full of
children, and pedestrians walk in the street
because there are no sidewalks — but
drivers will still go 50 mph in a 30 mph
zone.

“It’s dangerous,” she said.