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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ACTION ALERT: Call Rep. Mack & ask him to support bike/ped programs

All our national partners in Washington have issued red alerts today about the new House transportation bill.  On Thursday morning, the Committee will mark-up the bill and an amendment will be offered by Congressman Petri (R-WI) to restore bike/ped programs to the bill.  It's critical that advocates call Rep. Mack's office at 202-225-2536 on WEDNESDAY (2/1) to urge him to support the amendment. 
     

Below is the alert sent out by the League of American Bicyclists. 
Today, the House releases its transportation bill, the American Energy and Infrastructure Act. Please click here to contact your member of Congress.

Last week, we knew the bill would be bad news for biking and walking. But we didn’t think it would go so far as to completely cut every reference to bicycling and walking out of the federal transportation policy.
House leadership is pressing to eliminate bicycling and walking in the Transportation bill:
  • Destroys Transportation Enhancements by making the program optional
  • Repeals the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school
  • Allows states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles
  • Eliminates bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs
  • Eliminates language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled” 
But we can still save biking and walking in this bill. This week in the Transportation Committee, Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will stand up for bicycling and walking by offering an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School.  Mr. Petri and Mr. Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their Representative on the Transportation Committee again today to urge them to vote YES on the Petri /Johnson amendment! If your Representative is not on the committee, please ask them to urge their colleagues to vote for the amendment.

This is as urgent as it gets.  Even if we do win this amendment, there will be a long road ahead.  But if we lose here, we risk losing decades of progress.
We know we are asking a lot of you and we thank you for all you’re doing to preserve biking and walking.

Two Cape Coral bike lane requests move forward



On Monday January 30, the Cape Coral City Council Workshop officially considered the "Requests for Bike Lanes" for the 1.1 mile bike lane connectors on Beach and Agualinda Blvds.  Pat Young, representing the Southwest Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, gave a brief presentation, as did another Cape resident from southeast Cape. There were no speakers in opposition.  A council  vote was not taken at this meeting;  a vote and decision will be made at the regular City Council Meeting on February 6. 
Report by Pat Young, SWCCNA

News-Press:Fort Myers cyclist's parents losing patience with speed of crash investigation


News-Press reporter looks into why FHP hasn't completed its investigation or brought charges against the driver who killed Tracey Kleinpell while cycling on the Sanibel bridge 8 months ago.  BikeWalkLee representative is quoted in the story.

News-Press 2/1/12   Date:  1/31/12
Written by Dennis Culver

Tracey Kleinpell's father says the investigation of May crash is taking too long; her mother wants truck's driver jailed. Authorities say they're still working.

It’s been eight months since 46-year-old Tracey Kleinpell was killed after being struck by a truck while bicycling on the Sanibel Causeway, but her family is waiting on law enforcement to determine if charges will be filed in her death.
 “It’s just heartbreaking as hell,” said George Henault, Kleinpell’s father. “I haven’t heard a darn thing. I think it’s very strange it’s taking this long.”

Kleinpell, of Fort Myers, was riding on the shoulder of the causeway with her husband Gordon toward Sanibel Island when she was struck by a truck traveling in the opposite direction.The impact sent Kleinpell over the waist-high guardrail and into San Carlos Bay.

Passing boaters pulled her out of the water and brought her to shore, where she was pronounced dead after attempts to resuscitate her.

The driver of the truck, Theresa L. Shirley, 46, of Bokeelia, was traveling north when she veered across the road and struck Kleinpell, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report completed on May 7, the day of the crash. Shirley was not injured. She wasn’t cited at the time of the crash.
Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Gregory Bueno said there is an open homicide investigation into the crash, but he declined to provide information on a timetable as to when or if charges will be filed. He said an official crash report has not yet been released, because of the open investigation into the death.

When asked on Jan. 17 about the status of the investigation, Bueno said the FHP is waiting on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to return toxicology results from a report that was submitted to the agency after the crash. But FDLE spokeswoman Kristi Gordon said on Jan. 20 her agency received a toxicology report request from the FHP, and it was completed by FDLE and returned. On Jan. 23, Bueno said there was a second request sent to FDLE that has not yet been completed.

Last week, Gordon said a second request was submitted to FDLE in November, but the FHP was notified FDLE didn’t perform the type of test requested, and on Thursday, Bueno confirmed FHP has received information from FDLE and is continuing with the investigation.
  
Reviewing case
Investigators are reviewing the case along with the state attorney’s office, he said.
Bueno and Gordon declined to give details as to the results of the tests, what types of tests were requested and when the reports were requested and completed.

Darla Letourneau with BikeWalkLee, a community group geared toward raising public awareness about safe travel on streets in the county, said people want to make sure law enforcement is following through on the case.

“I want to know if they did their job,” she said, noting eight months seems sufficient time to conduct the investigation into Kleinpell’s death. “The law should be enforced, and there should be consequences just like if it was a person killed in a car crash.”

Henault said he doesn’t understand what could be taking the investigation so long, and said he hasn’t been able to get information on where the investigation is headed.
He doesn’t know what charges he wants Shirley to face once the investigation is complete, but he wants to know some action is being taken.

“I think she should be charged with something,” he said. “We need to find out what happened.”
He said he and his wife Donna struggle with their daughter’s death every day, and he’s not sure anything can lessen the pain of their loss.

“I don’t think we’ll ever have closure,” he said. “It’s hard, because there are just things that come up that remind us of Tracey. We just miss her so much.”

'She needs justice'

Donna Henault said the family has never had contact with Shirley.
“I’ve never seen her, and I pray to God I never meet her,” she said through tears. “It’s just unacceptable that woman is walking around, and our baby isn’t. She needs justice.”
She said the months of waiting for news on the investigation have had a toll on her and her husband physically and emotionally, and she’s beginning to lose faith law enforcement will file charges in the case.

“We are trying to heal, and we can’t with this hanging out there like this,” she said.
Shirley could not be reached for comment Friday.
Kleinpell was one of five bicyclists killed in Lee County in 2011, up from four in 2010. There were five deaths in 2009.

The four other deaths were also investigated by the FHP, which indicated in news reports those four bicyclists were at fault in those crashes.
  
Other bicyclists killed in Lee County in 2011
• Janet Lofranco, 59, was killed Feb. 19 when she was struck by a vehicle while trying to cross the intersection of Estero Parkway and Three Oaks Parkway.
• Kenneth Grant MacDonald, 50, was killed on April 17 in Estero when he was struck by a vehicle while trying to cross U.S. 41.
• Kellie Geiger, 52, was killed on May 7 after being struck by a vehicle on U.S. 41 in Bonita Springs. Geiger traveled in the path of a vehicle heading south on U.S. 41. The driver in that crash, 22-year-old Rachel L. Ryan, was charged with driving while her license was suspended and possession of suspended license, according to the FHP.
• An unidentified man was killed on May 27 after crossing in front of a vehicle on Tice Street near Lexington Avenue in Fort Myers.
Related Links

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cape Council workshop on Jan. 30th--2 bike lanes on agenda



The SW Cape Coral Neighborhood Association's request for the Beach and Agualinda bike lanes (1.1 mile) will be reviewed at the Cape Coral City Council Workshop on Monday, January 30, 4:30, in City Council Chambers. Board member Patricia Young will give a very short presentation on why the Council should approve the lanes. Best case scenario at this meeting is that the Council will make it a Consent Item to be positively voted on at the regular Council meeting on February 6. Any supportive presence in the audience would be helpful and appreciated. We understand this item will be the first or among the first taken up at the Workshop.

Report by Steve Chupack, BikeWalkLee's Cape Coral representative

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Generational Dynamics and their Impact on Lee County



At the January 18th meeting of the County's Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC), Dan Rudge, LeeTran's planner, gave an excellent presentation on Generational Dynamics and their impact on Lee County. The presentation was prepared by Dan when he was working for Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR) and The Boomer Project. To see an abbreviated version of the presentation, click here. This is a must see presentation, so be sure to check it out!

As the county develops its Comp Plan amendments to reflect the EAR vision, and as local jurisdictions develop their EARs, it's critical that these generational dynamics are reflected in our plans for the future if we want to attract and retain Gen X and Y citizens and companies. Thank you, Dan!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Save the Date-- Feb. 25th: RIDE YOUR BICYCLE TO THE NEW JETBLUE PARK





JETBLUE Park, the new Spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, will be completed soon and BikeWalkLee is working with the Red Sox and Lee County Sports Authority on a Feb. 25th event (to be announced soon) at the new Park, so save the date and details will follow.

Bicycle riders of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to ride their bicycles to this soon be to announced event! Start planning now with your friends, family, co-workers, club, or neighbors to organize a ride to the ball park on Feb. 25th, and then consider pedaling to the park for spring training games and other events held there. Not only does it avoid traffic congestion, it is fun, good for your health, and contributes to the sustainability of Lee County.

BikeWalkLee will offer a bike parking corral – a designated area to safely park your bike— at the Feb. 25th event. BikeWalkLee is looking for volunteers to help staff the bike corral. If you can help out, please contact: Kelly Bishop at bkbishop58@msn.com. Volunteers will receive a free “3 feet please” t-shirt (pictured above), courtesy of Harvey Software, Inc. and Southwest Florida Bicycling's "3 feet please" campaign.

The JetBlue Park—Bicycle Access Map (see above) shows the various ways to access the park by bicycle, along with the types of bicycle facilities on each of these roads. (Also posted on BikeWalkLee's website.) As soon as the Red Sox management announces the event, we will provide you with more details. Between now and Feb. 25th, check BikeWalkLee’s blog and its Facebook page for frequent updates and new information. For more information or help in planning your ride, please contact: Steve Rodgers at Gatewaycyclist@yahoo.com.

So, save Feb. 25th on your calendar, get your bike in riding condition, and sign-up now to volunteer! It’s going to be a fun event. Stay tuned for more information!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Invite to ITE Jan. 27th Lunch & Road Diets Webinar



Here's an opportunity to learn about road diets.

EVENT: ITE Chapter Meeting / Webinar and Lunch (pizza and soda).
Event Date: Friday, January 27, 2012
Event Time: 11:30 am - 1:00 p.m. EDT (Please plan on arriving a little early at around 11:15 am for a few brief announcements and to get situated.)

WHERE: First Floor Conference Room
Lee County Administration Building
2115 Second Street
Fort Myers, Florida 33901

COST: $5.00 per person to ITE (members and non-members).

RSVP TO: Suresh Karre simply by accepting this appointment request or via e-mail: suresh.karre@dplummer.com.


DESCRIPTION/TOPIC: Road Diets (Webinar)
PRESENTED BY: Peter Lagerwey, Senior Planner, Toole Design Group
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) offered an eight-part Webinar series intended to help communities address pedestrian safety issues through design and engineering solutions. Modeled after the FHWA's/PBIC's in-person training course "Designing for Pedestrian Safety," the Webinars covered topics ranging from sidewalk design to road diets. Today's webinar was offered as Part 7 of that series. It is a recorded webinar.

Some of the learning objectives of webinar include:
- To be able to describe how speed and pedestrian crash risk reduces when the number of lanes are reduced.
- To explain why reducing the number of lanes, reduces risks making it is easier to cross roads.
- To discuss a lot of different ways to get to the decision to do a road diet.
- To demonstrate how reducing the lanes creates free space for higher and better use.

BikeWalkLee comments on Transportation “white paper” at Jan. 23rd LPA meeting



As explained in our Jan. 17th blog post, Bike WalkLee is participating in this year-long process to ensure that the complete streets/sustainability focus in the EAR is carried through in the actual Comp Plan amendments. This month’s Lee Plan policy papers included a paper on key transportation strategies, including level of service standards, transportation concurrency, and a potential mobility fee.

Dr. Margaret Banyan and Darla Letourneau, both representing BikeWalkLee, spoke at the meeting to highlight some of the paper’s recommendations, put others in context, and to share our ideas about some of the transportation policy changes needed in the Comp Plan.

Below is a summary of our comments:
To achieve a balanced transportation system that increases walkability, multi-modal transportation choice, and compact mixed use communities, there are three issues that must be addressed.

1st Issue: Transportation LOS.

• Current LOS standards require that the county and MPO planning systems value moving cars as quickly as possible above any other goal, such as bicycle & pedestrian safety, viable public transit, and economic development.
• Using only the automobile LOS means that roads are overbuilt to accommodate traffic at peak hours /day/periods.

• This has a detrimental effect on a healthy multi-modal transportation system, livable communities, and economic development. If roads must move cars fast, then they have to be wider and raise speed limits – making them less safe for users, destroying opportunities for infill development, and raising construction and maintenance costs for the county.

• Gary Toth, with the Project for Public Spaces says, “Most [traffic models] ignore changing demographics such as the aging of our population, rising energy prices, ... and societal changes. Most assume that our economy will continue to grow at the same rate as it has over the last 30 years."

• We suggested that the County eliminate the use of an “A –F” grading system in any revised LOS approach. It is an overly simplistic tool that hides the full range of factors that should be taken into account in making transportation policy decisions.

• Not only does an LOS approach need to be multi-modal, it needs to have more dynamic operational measures. Now we just look at the volume of traffic during peak hours in peak season & only look at an estimate of the population growth 25 years out, not the change in demographics and their implications for planning differently. Dan Rudge’s “Generational Dynamics” presentation illustrated clearly that Gen X’s and Y’s want more urban living, walkable communities, and more choices in transportation. These dynamics need to be reflected in planning for the future. Using the current methodology which simply perpetuates the status quo will mean Lee County will not attract or retain Gen X and Y citizens or companies.

• If you do not deal with LOS issue, there is no point in considering any other ‘fix’ to the transportation system or the EAR, because the models will continue to spew out the ‘need’ for wider and faster roads.

2nd Issue: Sustainable Performance Criteria & Measures
• To facilitate the goals of a balanced transportation system -

• We would like to highlight the absolute critical tool that is mentioned at the bottom of page 4 of the transportation white paper – which is the use of Sustainable Performance Criteria & Measures as they are applied to transportation decisions.

• These tools, from respected sources, such as the Federal Highway Administration, provide an important framework for decision makers to understand the economic development, land use, transportation, and community livability tradeoffs in each transportation decisions.

• The use of these existing tools should be seriously considered & adopted by Lee County while implementing it transportation vision.

• The key is to marry the revamped LOS approach with sustainable transportation measures….no matter what improvements are made in LOS, they must be combined with performance measures to accomplish the EAR vision.

3rd Issue: Funding


• The white paper addresses certain funding options and concurrency requirements for transportation. There are 3 goals that should be considered:
1) ensure that infill and redevelopment opportunities are maximized and that robust incentives are provided for building compact and mixed use communities
2) ensure that fees are used as significant disincentives to continued sprawl & greenfield development
3) and perhaps most importantly-- provide for transportation funding options that fund both construction and operations– this is most crucial for growing a viable transit system

Now that the state has returned transportation control to local governments it’s important that Lee County use this opportunity to make it support our local vision and our community plans.

FDOT’s December report on “Proportionate Share” (mandated by the Florida Legislature after the state law change removing the mandate for transportation concurrency) illustrates that local governments throughout Florida will be moving in this direction. It’s important that the County coordinate with the MPO and other local jurisdictions so that we’re all moving in the same direction on these issues.

Other comments

• BikeWalkLee representatives pointed out that the FDOT Green Book (cited in the white paper as a barrier) is in fact guidance rather than a standard and the county needs to surmount this “barrier” rather than not fully implementing the vision in the EAR. Ultimately, Lee County can develop its own design standards that would supersede the Green Book guidelines.

• In response to comments from LPA members about funding constraints, BWL provided three recent examples to show the cost savings that can occur from changing the way we think about transportation…all of which were covered in our blog post from Friday’s MPO Board meeting. Click here.

• The next step in the process is for the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) to review and comment on these same issue papers at its Feb. 15th (6 p.m.) meeting.

Alliance for Biking and Walking: 2007 Benchmarking Report




On 1/23/12, one of BikeWalkLee's national partners, the Alliance for Biking & Walking, released a new report, Bicycling and walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report, which ranks all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities on bicycling and walking levels, safety, funding, and other factors. Below are excerpts from their press release.

Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2012 Benchmarking Report is an essential resource and tool for government officials, advocates, and those working to promote bicycling and walking. The Benchmarking Project is an on-going effort by the Alliance for Biking & Walking to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities.

This third biennial report reveals data including: bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian safety; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure; bike-transit integration; bicycling and walking education and encouragement activities; public health indicators; and the economic impact of bicycling and walking. The report is full of data tables and graphs that show how your state or city stacks up, and provides unprecedented statistics to help support your case for increasing safe bicycling and walking in your community. Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2012 Benchmarking Report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through the additional support of AARP and Planet Bike.

Main Conclusions:

This report shows that increasing bicycling and walking are goals that are clearly in the public interest.

Where bicycling and walking levels are higher, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes levels are lower. Higher levels of bicycling and walking also coincide with increased bicycle and pedestrian safety and higher levels of physical activity. Increasing bicycling and walking can help solve many serious problems facing our nation.

As this report indicates, many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done.

Making the Case for Increased Investment in Bicycling and Walking


As this report shows, the United States overall has great disparities between bicycling and walking mode share, safety, and funding. Twelve percent of trips are by bicycle or foot, yet bicyclists and pedestrians make up 14% of traffic fatalities and receive just 1.6% of federal transportation dollars.

An international comparison of bicycle funding and mode share by Gotschi and Mills and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (see Chapter 4, page 96) demonstrates that international cities that invest greater amounts per capita in bicycling have greater levels of bicycling. These cities provide strong evidence that in order to increase bicycling and walking, the United States must invest significantly more in these modes.

Looking Outside Our Borders


It is also crucial that the United States look to other countries to see what mode share levels are possible, and how they have increased bicycling, walking, and safety. The United States lags far behind other countries and international cities in regard to walk and bike share of trips, safety, and public health.

As this report shows, the countries and cities with the greatest levels of bicycling and walking are also the safest places to bicycle and walk. These countries also have the lowest levels of obesity and report that prioritizing bicycling and walking is good for their economies.

The Economic Impact of Bicycling and Walking

As economic recession has impacted communities across the nation, active transportation has emerged as a promising sector for growth and revitalization. Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per $1 million spent on highway projects. A series of case studies in 2010, examining the construction of U.S. bicycle and pedestrian facilities, found that such projects created between 218 and 1,050 new construction jobs.

After an initial economic boost from construction, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure has a lasting impact on local economies. A 2009 study in Minnesota found that bicyclists on state trails spend $2.4 billion annually, supporting nearly 31,000 full- and part-time jobs. A survey of San Francisco business owners on Valencia Street found that two-thirds of merchants thought the street's bike lanes had an overall positive impact on their business or sales.

Bicycling and walking also results in significant cost savings on health care spending. If just one out of every 10 adults started a regular walking program, the U.S. could save $5.6 billion in health care costs — enough to pay the college tuition of more than 1 million students. Thanks to bicycle infrastructure and programming, the City of Portland expects to see between $388 and $594 million in health savings by 2040. Cost benefit analysis show that as much as $11.80 in benefits can be gained from every $1 invested in bicycling and walking.

Promoting Active Transportation and Safety

This report highlights numerous measures to promote bicycling and walking. As Chapter 7 discusses, a variety of policy measures and provisions are likely needed to make communities more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly.

Just as it took a large investment of public money in roads, signals, signs, and education for motorists, so too will it take an ongoing commitment of public investment in bicycling and walking to see major shifts toward these modes. Although greater investment in bicycling and walking is the primary recommendation of this report, there are many other measures that must be taken to simultaneously strengthen public policy, infrastructure, and behavior toward bicycling and walking.

More than one-third of the U.S. population is under age 16 (typically cannot legally drive) or over age 65. Streets that do not adequately accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians create barriers for people who do not drive. This limits their ability to fully participate in American society, or else makes them reliant on others to drive them around. Less than half of states and major U.S. cities have adopted complete streets policies, which require that roadways be designed and built with all users in mind. In the absence of a national complete streets policy, the Alliance encourages states and jurisdictions to pursue local policies to begin to transform their local transportation culture and guarantee access for all road users.

Other policies featured in this report, such as education for police officers and the inclusion of bicycling and walking safety in driver education, are also key to the shift toward a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly culture. Adult and youth education programs, public awareness campaigns such as "Share the Road," and other promotional efforts, can also help raise awareness and change attitudes around bicycling and walking. Many of the benchmarks featured in this report contribute to making communities more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly by changing the built environment, culture, attitudes, and behaviors.

Click here for the full report.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

BWL Commentary: Florida should ban distractions while driving



BWL steering group member, Ken Gooderham's commentary in Sunday's News-Press urges the Florida Legislature to ban texting while driving. BikeWalkLee sent the commentary to the Lee Legislative Delegation and asked them to take action in this session of the Florida Legislature.


News-Press, 1/22/12


Written by
Ken Gooderham
Special to news-press.com


Common sense should dictate you don’t do something that’s proven to be unsafe, increasing the risk of injury to you and others. However, when common sense isn’t so common, the law may have to step in to protect public safety.
That’s the situation facing Florida legislators over a hot issue — use of cell phones while driving.

Studies show phone use while driving is a distraction, increasing the risk to drivers and bystanders alike. A recent report from the federal National Transportation Safety Board called for an outright ban on cell phone use while driving, the most far-reaching recommendation by an agency yet.

No state currently enacts a complete ban, but many do have some restrictions about driving and dialing on the books — including texting behind the wheel, which is banned in all but 15 states.

Florida is one state that still allows texting while driving, something a bipartisan group of lawmakers hopes to change. They have introduced bills (HB 299 and SB 416) to ban texting while driving.

Another pair of bills — HB 187 and SB 930 — goes in another direction, to prohibit any cell phone use by drivers under age 18 and those operating a school bus.
These common-sense laws are facing opposition from those who view any restriction of driving activities as an infringement of their rights, as well as those who worry about abusive enforcement of such bans.

To the latter: Any new law has the potential to invite abuse. If that was the criteria for legislative passage, nothing would ever be enacted. However, these bills specify any ban will be enforced as a secondary action — meaning you can’t be pulled over for texting, but you could be charged in conjunction with, say, an accident.

To the former: When do your rights to act dangerously stop and the rights of others to be safe begin? When someone who’s typing on their cell phone while driving is shown to be as dangerous as someone who’s had a few drinks before getting behind the wheel, how can the first action be legal and the second not?
Why would anyone endorse a behavior that distracts a driver from paying attention to the road — endangering not only themselves but other drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists?

One can hope drivers would realize texting and driving is a bad mix. In a perfect world, it wouldn’t take a law to make people do the smart thing. But this world isn’t perfect, and when one person’s actions endanger others, lawmakers must support public safety and give law enforcement personnel the tools they need to keep roads safe and keep distracted drivers from putting themselves and others at risk.
Even mobile phone companies have come around on the idea that texting and driving don’t mix. Florida should join them, and the majority of states who already ban such distractions.

Ken Gooderham serves on the steering committee of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Complete Streets approach resulting in rethinking of roadway designs: Pending amendments to MPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)



At the January 20th MPO Board meeting, BikeWalkLee’s representative, Darla Letourneau spoke in support of proposed amendments to five roadway projects in the LRTP that were the result of the county’s implementation of complete streets.

After the LRTP plan was adopted last December, LeeDOT re-examined the county’s list of road projects approved in the MPO’s 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan in terms of complete streets principles and a further review of the traffic model analysis. As a result of this analysis, the staff determined that five road projects (2 in Cost Feasible Plan-- Buckingham Rd from Orange River Blvd to SR 80 & Sandy Lane from Strike Lane to Pelican Colony Blvd.; and 3 in Needs Plan— Crystal Drive from US 41 to Plantation Rd., Plantation Rd. from Six Mile Cypress to Idlewild St., & Alabama Rd. from 40th St. to Sunrise Blvd.) slated for widening from two to four lanes should be reduced to a two lane divided roadway with median and turn lanes.

Letourneau stated that this proposed change in plans will result in roadways that take into account the needs of all users, improve safety, enhance the livability of the surrounding communities, and at the same time save the county and its taxpayer’s money. According to a preliminary estimate by MPO staff, this change in these five road projects will reduce the cost of these projects by $58.5 million.

BikeWalkLee is excited to see the complete streets principles applied to how road projects are planned and designed…it’s not just about adding bike and pedestrian facilities to road projects…it’s also about taking a holistic approach to transportation & land use planning for long term economic development, livability, and sustainability. It’s also about improving our existing roadways before expanding capacity.
We are realizing that there are many other ways to address “congestion” than to add new lanes.

For those that might think that “complete streets is too expensive”…this is an excellent example of how this new way of thinking can not only improve the quality of life in our communities but also save taxpayers money. BikeWalkLee looks forward to the opportunity to apply this approach to other roads in the cost-feasible and needs plan, such as Ortiz Avenue.

Letourneau thanked David Loveland, LeeDOT Director, for initiating these proposed changes and urged the Board to approve the amendments when they come for a vote at the February 17th meeting.

In response to a question from Fort Myers City Councilman Tom Leonardo about whether he thought the Buckingham Rd. change would work, Commissioner Frank Mann responded that he was fully in support and that the road would be safer and better for the community with this approach.

In a related matter, Councilman Leonardo commented that the Colonial Blvd. expansion of lanes from 2 to 3 lanes to SR 82 was nearing completion and that the additional lane had totally alleviated the congestion problem. He pointed out that this $30 million fix was all that was needed—not a $928 million Colonial Blvd. expressway that had been proposed. He said we should continue to revisit road plans—nothing should be chiseled in stone.

Cape Coral Councilman Kevin McGrail commented that a similar revisiting of a road plan was needed on the Veterans/Santa Barbara intersection proposals. He suggested to LeeDOT that instead of spending $15 million to fix one intersection that will only move traffic to the next intersection and solve nothing, that they take a holistic & corridor approach and instead put in Michigan left turns at all of the intersections on Veterans Parkway. He argued that this was the most cost effective answer and would give us a decade or more of a traffic solution.

Report from Complete Streets Lessons Learned Presentations




On Thursday, Fit Friendly of Southwest Florida hosted an excellent 2 hour workshop for county and city officials and staff to hear about Lee County’s complete streets implementation and to discuss lessons learned that could be useful to the local jurisdictions as they move forward on complete streets. Attending were the County Manager, the LeeDOT Director and the county's complete streets team, the City Manager of Fort Myers, and staff from Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Fort Myers Beach, LMHS, BikeWalkLee, Naples Pathways Coalition,and the Department of Health & its Director who hosted the event.

Andy Getch, LeeDOT, made the presentation and led an excellent discussion.

Some of the key lessons learned that were discussed:
• Need to change the public participation process and reach people in new ways;
• Need for prototypes on the ground so citizens can see what complete street improvement would look like
• Need for local jurisdictions to take a holistic perspective and include a complete streets approach in their EARs
• The importance of organizational change and the value of interdepartmental team as way of breaking down silos and taking holistic approach
• Importance of champions, both internal and external
• Importance of health aspect of complete streets

On Friday, Andy made a similar (but shorter) presentation to the APA Florida lunch series, with 28 attendees, primarily planners in both Lee and Collier Counties. The planners’ discussion focused on how engineers and planners could get developers to build interconnected roads, sidewalks, and bicycling facilities. There was discussion about the need to change transportation concurrency so that it included bike/ped/transit connectivity, not just moving cars, and the need to change the incentives and disincentives in the codes and through performance measures or walkability scores to move in the direction of complete streets and sustainable communities.

Thanks to Andy Getch and the Lee County Complete Streets team for taking the time to share their experiences with complete streets implementation and engaging the larger community in the discussions about how to work together across all the county jurisdictions, agencies, professional and community organizations to move forward.
By Darla Letourneau

Congratulations to Jim Nathan, named Person of Distinction




Congratulations to Jim Nathan, president and CEO of Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS), who was named Person of Distinction for the Past 25 Years at Thursday's News-Press awards event. For the past 25 years, Jim Nathan a leader and role model on living a healthy and active lifestyle and the need for a safe and accessible built environment that encouraged people to exercise. He was a champion for complete streets before the term was coined! He and his organization, LMHS, were a founding supporter organization of the BikeWalkLee coalition and at every step of the way, Jim has shown his support through commentaries, testimony, letters of support, and action. Thank you, Jim, for all you've done for the community and your contributions to the complete streets movement in Lee County.

BikeWalkLee was honored to be a finalist for the Hero of the Year award and BWL representatives Darla Letourneau, Dan Moser, Ann Pierce, and Cindy Banyai, participated in the awards event. Congratulations to Meg Geltner of the Salvation Army, who was named Hero of the Year. It was truly an inspiring event and being with all the award winners from the past 25 years was a reminder of how many residents and groups in our community have contributed their time, talent and experience to moving Lee County toward a more productive future. Thanks to News-Press for hosting this event and for honoring our community leaders.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Opportunity to nominate outstanding business for new Chrysalis Sustainability Award



Do you know an outstanding Lee County business that is practicing sustainability? Take a moment to nominate them for Lee County's new Chrysalis Sustainability Award!

Applications are due Feb. 17th.



Click here for more information, including the nomination form.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lee MPO Applies for federal grant for Colonial Alternative Transportation Mode Network



On January 4th, the MPO submitted an application for a federal grant under the Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program (TCSP) for the Colonial Alternative Transportation Mode Network. This project is one component of the Complete Streets Initiative TIGER grant application (submitted by the MPO in October) and part of the Lee Tour de Parks Route demonstration project in the MPO’s countywide bike/ped master plan. The grant application requests $1. 6 million in federal funds, matched by $2.2 million in local funds, for a total project cost of $3.8 million.

The proposed project would address 5 miles of the Colonial Bvd. from Fowler Street to Six Mile Cypress Parkway where a pathway and six bus landing pads and shelters would be added on the north side of the roadway. The project also proposes to replace existing pedestrian signal heads with countdown signal heads at 6 major intersections on Colonial Blvd, and at 4 signalized intersections around the corridor. The proposed project also includes the expansion of a bus transfer facility at Edison Mall to provide a bicycle parking facility. BikeWalkLee is included in the application as a nontraditional project partner and would be part of project team in implementing the grant.

The total nationwide amount available is $29 million. Eligible entities for this FHWA grant include States, MPOs, and local governments and were submitted through State DOTs and prioritized by the State DOT. (Note: ours was the only application from District 1 FDOT.) Notification of grant awards will be made in April/May 2012. FHWA will evaluate the projects based on statutorily required priority consideration as well as additional project selection criteria – livability, state of good repair, safety etc.

Thanks to Andy Getch of LeeDOT, who learned about this grant opportunity while participating in a national webinar in December, and passed it along to the BPCC at its December meeting. At the December BPCC meeting, the committee supported pursuing the grant and the MPO staff volunteered to prepare the application submission over the holidays. Kudos to Ron Gogoi, the MPO Deputy Director, for preparing an excellent grant application on such short notice. All the work that went into preparing the TIGER grant application in October came in handy in preparing this application.

Now, once again, we wait to hear if our grant application is selected!

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Sidepath etiquette: Do unto others…

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This week's column focuses on sidepath etiquette, following the Golden Rule--"do unto others as you'd have them do unto you." The advocacy section talks about playing "defense" in this year's Florida Legislative session.

Florida Weekly, Jan. 18, 2012

“Road riding is the last place I want to be — the sidewalk is where I ride.” No matter what the facts are in terms of safety, efficiency and availability of sidepaths (sidewalks or multi-use paths meant for bikes), many cyclists shun the road whenever possible. That being the case, there are rules of behavior there just like there are for anyone operating in the street. Based on what many of us experience each and every day, the majority of users apparently don’t know the rules or choose to ignore them. This is particularly problematic for vulnerable pedestrians who are sometimes terrorized by inconsiderate cyclists or even runners, especially those in groups. Of course, pedestrians can be hazardous to cyclists as well.

Even in a place like Sanibel, where there’s actually a good chance of getting to a destination exclusively on multi-use sidepaths, there are numerous problems encountered and that are caused by the users themselves. This is particularly true when the paths are congested with residents, tourists and day-trippers of all ages and abilities. The mix of modes is a challenge in itself: Bicycles of all shapes and sizes (including surreys that can carry as many as nine riders) and operators of varying skill and experience levels; fitness walkers and runners making their way with purpose; sight-seers on foot and wheels, oblivious to happenings around them; in-line and roller skaters who may or may not have themselves under control; unpredictable children; dogs darting back and forth across the pathway, their leashes a potential hazard; and folks using motorized wheelchairs and other assistive devices are some examples. And let’s not forget about vehicles frequently crossing the path to access driveways, as well as sidepath users needing to traverse the streets that are sometimes very congested and filled with impatient distracted drivers.

Not just on Sanibel’s paths, but anywhere people share limited space where many hazards exist, having rules of etiquette is a must. Some, in fact, are law as well as common sense: for example, warning others when about to pass from behind. Cycling at a much slower speed than when on the road, especially when others are present or expected. Paying attention to the surroundings, which means foregoing the iPod, texting and yapping on the phone while in motion. And simply being courteous and cutting others some slack, even toward those who are being boneheads themselves. On the sidepath and life in general, the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” goes a long way.

Advocacy update


Well, the 2012 Florida legislative session has begun earlier than ever this year and those of us working toward complete streets and other measures to improve cycling, pedestrian and transit conditions aren’t quite sure what to expect. The one issue that’s dominating the early weeks — and perhaps buying some time to better prepare for the unknown — is redistricting, a task that must be completed in a timely manner so those seeking election in the fall and prior primaries will have time to take the steps necessary to qualify and run a campaign. As I’ve mentioned in prior columns, we’ll likely be playing defense in an attempt to minimize potential setbacks. It’s too early to report on anything specific, but rest assured that Florida Bicycle Association, Rails to Trails Conservancy and BikeWalkLee are working with our partners toward the overall goal of bettering our bike/ ped/transit environment. To that end, FBA has engaged a Tallahassee-based lobbying firm; RTC has a full-time staff person in Tallahassee; and members of BWL’s steering committee sit on FBA’s legislative committee so it has direct input into the process.

In another statewide matter, I was recently interviewed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which came to Florida to conduct a pedestrian safety assessment. Along with a number of others throughout the state who regularly work to improve conditions for non-motorists, small groups were asked about obvious problems (e.g. highest fatality rate in the country), lesser-known issues (e.g. misguided safety awareness campaigns instituted by FDOT), and possible solutions (e.g. instituting complete streets). Based on the background of many of the folks interviewed and the apparent interest and urgency NHTSA has expressed in helping us reverse the trend of being number-one in both bike and pedestrian fatalities each year, I’m optimistic that some good will come of this assessment.

Upcoming events

Running/Walking: Calusa Bug Case 5K, Saturday, Jan. 21, Calusa Nature Center (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) Tour de Cape 5K, Saturday, Jan. 21, Cape Harbour (www.capeparks.com) Prostate Cancer Awareness 5K, Saturday, Jan. 28, Lakes Park (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) Edison Fest 5K, Saturday, Feb. 18,downtown Fort Myers (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) Hooters Half Marathon, Sunday, March 4, Fort Myers Hooters @ Edison Mall (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
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: Tour de Cape: Sunday, Jan. 22, Cape Harbour, Cape Coral (www.capeparks.com) Royal Palm Ride, Sunday, March 4, Buckingham Park (www.caloosariders.com) Visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club, www.caloosariders.com; Florida Mudcutters www.mudcutters.org; Naples Pathways Coalition www.naplespathways.org; Naples Velo, www.naplesvelo.com; Peace River Riders, www.peaceriverriders.com; and Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club, www.coastalcruisers.net for more information on local bicycling activities, including weekly rides. The Florida Bicycle Association www.floridabicycle.org is your source for statewide happenings.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More position papers for review in New Horizon 2035 Lee Plan update process , including transportation concurrency paper




This month’s Lee Plan policy papers address how to recognize and reinforce the distinctions between urban, suburban, and rural areas; and focus on key transportation strategies, including level of service standards, transportation concurrency, and a potential mobility fee. Bike WalkLee is participating in this year-long process to ensure that the complete streets/sustainability focus in the EAR is carried through in the actual Comp Plan amendments. We encourage you to participate in this process.

Background: As reported in earlier blog posts, Horizon 2035 is a comprehensive review and update of the Lee Plan through the year 2035. The Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) adopted by the Commissioners in early 2011 resulted in a sustainable vision for growth and development. The County is now using this vision as the basis to update the Lee Plan’s goals, objectives and policies.

Before drafting goals and policies, the County is presenting a series of issue papers to the Local Planning Agency (LPA) and the Sustainability Committee (CSAC) for input. There are now 4 more issue papers out for review, which will be discussed at the Monday, January 23rd LPA meeting, held at 8:30 a.m. in the Board Chambers in downtown Fort Myers. The papers will also be discussed at the February 15th CSAC meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the County Administration conference room. At the beginning of both meetings, the agendas include an opportunity for public comment.

The four new papers are:
A. Rural Framework

B. Suburban Framework


C. Urban Framework


D. Transportation Strategies






Monday, January 16, 2012

Sanibel's upcoming Bicycle Visitors Welcome Center

Kudos to the Sanibel Bicycle Club and its many Sanibel partners for initiating and managing this important new welcome and information center on Periwinkle Way. A special thanks to Tom Sharbaugh (BikeWalkLee's Sanibel representative), who is the project manager. Below is the article that appeared in this week's Island Reporter. WINK News also covered the story on Jan. 16th. Click here for the WINK video.

Built for BicyclersJanuary 12, 2012BILL SCHILLER (bschiller@breezenewspapers.com) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva IslanderWith its balmy breezes and graces of green spaces, Sanibel Island holds special allure for those who admire the outdoors. Beyond the beach goers and the crowd at Island Cow Restaurant that typically mooooves outside for lunch, on most days of the week, the climate is appealing enough to observe a variety of people pedaling on bicycles along the sidewalks of Periwinkle Way as well as other popular shared-use paths that snake throughout the City. The Sanibel Island Bike Club is in the process of creating something that will further cater to the biking community.

In the coming weeks, a pavilion that serves as something of a Bicycle Visitors Welcoming and Information Center will be erected at a site situated on Periwinkle between Huxter's Market and the She Sells Sea Shells store.At present, the site only has some wooden posts marking off the space, but as Bike Club Member and Project Coordinator Tom Sharbaugh explains, with the anticipated arrival of the necessary building materials, ground could potentially be broken on the site as early as next week.When complete, the 15ft x 12ft pavilion will be complemented with items that include: a comprehensive map depicting the entirety of bike paths throughout Sanibel; information on nature areas worthy of tour (courtesy of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation); details pertinent to the history of the site as well as other significant locations on the Island (courtesy of the Sanibel Museum & Historic Village); a bike rack for parking (donated by Billy's Bike Rentals); white benches (donated by the Lion's Club); and a water fountain, which is always refreshing to bicyclers.

Support for the project has been so great that Sharbaugh calls it "a great example of community participation."The project isn't costing the City anything as Sharbaugh says the initiative has garnered widespread approval from many who have donated materials to support the project.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

BikeWalkLee Releases 2011 Accomplishments Report




On January 14th, BikeWalkLee released its third annual accomplishments report and shared it with our supporter organizations, government officials, agencies, staff, and committees, the news media, and others in our network as our way of saying "thanks" to everyone for their support, leadership, commitment, and involvement. Through the support of our supporter organizations,in conjunction with committed public officials, local agencies, a variety of government advisory committees, and dedicated individuals, BikeWalkLee has been able to achieve a lot in very little time ― remember, the BikeWalkLee coalition only sprang to life in spring 2009.In 2012 and beyond, BikeWalkLee will continue to work with local officials, dedicated advocates and like-minded organizations to advance the cause of complete streets and transportation alternatives for Lee County. We hope we will be able to count on your support of these efforts.

Click here to read BikeWalkLee’s 2011 Accomplishments Report



Photo Caption (photo by James Hamilton):
Members of the BikeWalkLee steering group at our 1/9/12 meeting. From left to right: Shannon Maitland (and son Luke), Ken Gooderham, Dan Moser, Margaret Banyan, Darla Letourneau, Ann Pierce, Steve Rodgers, Steve Chupack, and Bert Hamilton. Other steering group members not in photo: Kate Gooderham, Tom Sharbaugh, Joe Beck, Cindy Banyai, Sarah Baker, and Toni Ferrell. Thanks to the whole team for a successful 2011.

Action Alert: Jan. 18th Cape Coral Council Committee: Veterans/Santa Barbara intersection options

On Wednesday, Jan. 18th there is a second opportunity for public input on LeeDOT's Veterans/Santa Barbara intersection improvements options.(see BikeWalkLee's Jan. 4th blog for background information.)The Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Commission, made up of a subset of the Council members, will discuss this issue at their monthly meeting, scheduled for Wed., January 18th at 9:00 a.m. in the main conference room (220A) at City Hall (1015 Cultural Park Blvd). There is an opportunity for public input at the beginning of the meeting.The first substantive discussion item is a presentation by LeeDOT of the Veterans/SB options. Click here for the meeting agenda.

UPDATE:

Read the News-Press story after the meeting: Council asks county to revisit road project.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

APA FL event: Complete Streets: Lessons Learned 1/20 Luncheon Presentation

You're invited to attend a presentation by Andy Getch, LeeDOT, entited "Complete Streets: Lessons Learned", at this month's APA FL Promised Lands Seciton Luncheon Series. The event will be held on Friday, Jan. 20th from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. in the SWFRPC building on 1926 Victoria Ave., Fort Myers. Please RSVP by Jan. 18th to Alexisc@waldropengineering.com. The event costs $5 (including pizza lunch) and 1 CM credit is pending approval.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Six Lee County Commuter Services Employer Partners Receive Regional and National Awards for Offering Commuter Benefits


Submitted by Lauren Lane of Commuter Services Program

During the January 10, 2012 Lee County Board of County Commission ceremonial presentation to the Board recognizing “Commuter Services 2011 Awards,” six exemplary organizations were awarded for their efforts in shifting commuters drive-alone habits by offering a variety of commuter benefits.

The first award, the National Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC), was presented by Phil Winters Director, TDM Program at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). Best Workplaces for Commuters provides national recognition and elite designation to employers offering outstanding commuter benefits, as set by the National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Commuter Services Gold and Platinum Level Partner Awards are determined by a set of regional criteria. These awards were presented by Commissioner and Commuter Services Ambassador Ray Judah, and the Florida Department of Transportation Program Manager Jan Parham and Commuter Services Program Director Christine Diaz. Commuter Services partners reaching Gold Level status have demonstrated a commitment to marketing, outreach and program development efforts. This includes participating in more than four outreach or transportation events and campaigns per year, offering incentives like preferred parking, transit subsidies, bike racks/showers, and alterative work schedules like compressed work weeks and teleworking programs, along with a high percentage of employee participation.

Commuter Services partners reaching Platinum Level status have provided exemplary commuter benefits beyond the Gold Level status. This includes programs that match the Best Workplaces for Commuters criteria, offer innovative commuter benefits, incorporate alternative transportation modes into Green Team/Sustainability efforts, and significantly reduce the number of drive-alone commuters. This award was presented to Kim Wheeler, Housing and Transportation Manager at South Seas Island Resort. Nearly 90% ofSouth Seas Island Resort employees use an alternative to drive alone commuting, whether participating in the company-sponsored vanpool program, choosing to live in onsite housing or taking advantage of carpooling.

Congratulations to the following Commuter Services partners and award recipients:


South Seas Island Resort
Commuter Services Platinum Level Partner
2011/2012 Best Workplace for Commuters
Accepted by: Kim Wheeler

Lee County Board of County Commissioners
Commuter Services Gold Level Partner
2011/2012 Best Workplace for Commuters
Accepted by: Commissioner and Commuter Services Ambassador Ray Judah and Tessa LeSage
Acknowledgements: Jan Cook, Rich Beck, Karen Hawes and Holly Schwartz

Lee County Clerk of Courts
Commuter Services Gold Level Partner
2011/2012 Best Workplace for Commuters
Accepted by: Karen Jaye and Linda Doggett
Acknowledgements: Judy Marcucci


Lee County DOT Operations
Commuter Services Gold Level Partner
2011/2012 Best Workplace for Commuters
Accepted by: Kathy Awiszus and staff
Acknowledgements: Jerry Cline, Doraine Wetzel and Clay Simmons

Florida Gulf Coast University
Commuter Services Gold Level Partner
Accepted by: Kathleen Crawford

Comcast Corporation
Commuter Services Gold Level Partner
Accepted by: Barbara Johnston
Acknowledgements: Angel Morrow, Kristi Flint and Hector Gonzalez

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

LeeTran opens long-awaited bus station at Edison Mall



Kudos to LeeTran, the County Commissioners, FDOT, City of Fort Myers, and the Edison Mall management for working together over the past several years to finally bring this much needed and long-awaited new transit facility at Edison Mall.

News-Press, January 11, 2013
Written by
Dennis Culver

After years of planning and months of construction, the Lee County Transit Edison Mall station is open for business.

The new facility, which serves as a major transfer point for the bus system, has an eight-bay station with covered seating, a passenger restroom and is WiFi-enabled.

LeeTran held a ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the opening of the station, which has been in service since Jan. 3.

“It’s better than standing out here with not enough seats, and now everyone has a place to sit,” said Raymond Ramos, who goes through the Edison stop every day to get to school. “Not as many people will be out in the open and exposed to the weather.”

The project cost $1.25 million, and construction lasted about seven months. Fifty percent of the funding for the project came from a state grant, the other half from the county.

Joann Haley, marketing manager for LeeTran, said the new facility will better serve the patrons who travel through the stop on a daily basis. The Edison station is the busiest in the county; it services eight routes and sees more than 100 bus trips per day. About 250,000 of the estimated 3.2 million riders who use LeeTran every year travel through the facility.

The old bus stop only had three shelters that could accommodate fewer than a dozen people, exposing others to the elements while http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifthey waited for buses. There also were no bathroom facilities. The new facility has 64 seats and can accommodate about 130.

Mall manager Robert Edelen said he expects the new facility to benefit Edison and give customers using the bus system a better experience.

Click here to continue reading the article.