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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Moser Column:Lee County’s on a roll — Let’s keep moving

The December 5th Moser column focuses on the update of the Lee Plan, the community's key planning document, now underway and what's at stake for complete streets.  It also introduces the Streets Alive!, first ever ciclovia/open streets event that is coming to Lee County in the spring of 2013.  Stay tuned!
With the elections came some significant changes locally, especially within Lee County government. Chief among the new reality is the loss of two main driving forces behind our community being recognized nationally as a Complete Streets movement leader. Commissioner Ray Judah and County Manager Karen Hawes will be missed, but their leadership and dedication has resulted in buy-in from county management and staff that will allow this effort to continue, assuming those who have taken the helm are also committed. Lee County is at a critical point in terms of staying the course or reverting to the track of unsustainable sprawl.

The Lee Plan, our community’s key planning document, is in the process of being revised. The effort is close to completion. As the various elements of the new plan go through the county’s departments for crafting and advisory committees for input before being presented to the board of county commissioners for final approval there appears to be adequate support for not just a Complete Streets future but other major changes to the way we plan and create our communities as well. But, as I noted earlier, it’s really up to our elected leaders to ensure the document is something other than more of the same, which has been acknowledged as perpetuating unsustainable growth. Suffice it to say, there or are those who would like our development and transportation patterns to remain as they are, not because they abhor change and progress, but because they are personally benefiting at the expense of others. To them, the many benefits these changes bring to our community as a whole are moot.

Advocates, including BikeWalkLee, that have been working to help bring about these changes are hopeful that both our new and veteran elected officials will make the right decisions to see the hard work of their management, staff and volunteer advisory committee members come to fruition. To keep informed on this important matter, be sure to visit BikeWalkLee's blog.

Streets Alive! Is coming
Lee County’s first ever ciclovia, an “open streets” event, will be held in the spring of 2013. Public streets will be temporarily closed to motor vehicle traffic in order to allow people to engage in just about any physical activity other than driving. As one would expect, running, walking and cycling are popular activities, but less common hula hooping, dancing and jump-roping, are a few examples of others. Healthy food and social activities, whether from businesses along the route or choice vendors, will also be part of the offerings.

The HealthyLee Coalition describes itself as “a movement created to empower and inspire the people of Lee County regarding healthy lifestyle choices through education and action.” The group wants Streets Alive! to become its signature event, one that will take place in different parts of Lee County on a regular basis. Among others, HealthyLee partners include many employers who understand the importance and real benefits of providing such opportunities for their employees. In fact, members of the Horizon Council, a public-private economic development advisory board, has partnered with Lee Memorial Health System in an Executive Wellness Challenge. The aim of the challenge is to “increase awareness among the business community to create a healthier and happier workforce, ultimately resulting in cost saving and productivity gains for our business community.”

Obviously, pulling off Streets Alive! will take significant financial and human resources. It’s hoped that the business community will seize upon the opportunity to be part of this unique event and offer the necessary support. Organizers, of whom I am one, are already seeking sponsors, activity providers and volunteers. Contact me if you want to know more about how you can be involved.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦

— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer 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.

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