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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Report from JetBlue "Pedal to the Park" event: Better Understanding Lee's Bicyclists Evaluation




As part of our "pedal to the park" effort on Saturday,  one of our Steering Committee members, Dr. Cindy Banyai  with the Refocus Institute, put together a questionnaire that we used with many of the participants.  She aptly named the evaluation:  Better Understanding Lee’s Bicyclists or BULB.  We also wanted to know where the riders started from to get to jetBlue Park, so a large map was set up at the check-in tables for the riders to respond on.  Here is Dr. Banyai’s Executive Summary:

Better Understanding Lee's Bicyclists Evaluation (BULB):  Executive Summary
With traffic being consistently the number one complaint of tourists (DPA, 2012) and residents alike a change in course is necessary. There needs to be more emphasis on the bikeability and walkability of Lee County Tourist attractions.

Lyle Jamieson, seasonal resident from Canada, summed it up best “…as impressed as I was with the park it was out done by your bike service… [I] hate going to any event due to traffic. This (BikeWalkLee’s bike corral) solves all problems. I beg you to try and expand this service to all major events…Congratulations on your progressive thinking and good luck in the future.” With the opening of JetBlue Park Lee County and the Boston Red Sox organization have a unique opportunity to be thought leaders in terms of sustainability and ecotourism by accommodating the desire of fans to ride their bikes to the games. This can be accomplished by providing safe bicycle parking and routes to JetBlue Park.

The objective of Better Understanding Lee’s Bicyclists (BULB) evaluation is to learn who is biking to JetBlue Park and to gather feedback on Lee County’s biking infrastructure. The BULB evaluation demonstrates that Lee County tourists and residents are interested in biking to games, but have reservations about the safety and availability of bike paths, as well as the consistency of bicycle parking at JetBlue Park. It is also hoped that the information in this report will persuade those involved with JetBlue Park the necessity of providing adequate paths and parking for cyclists.

Numbers at a Glance
·         300 cyclists – 2% of event goers
·         76% of cyclists want to ride to future games
·         88% of cyclists specifically request biking options at JetBlue Park
·         32% of JetBlue Park cyclists are tourists
·         52% of cyclists came to JetBlue Park with their friends and families

Thanks, Cindy!

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Don’t let them turn bike paths into roads

Florida Weekly 2/29/12      
This week's column focuses on the need to enforce and retain laws prohibiting motorized vehicles on side paths and warns against the Pine Island community proposal to allow golf carts on the side path.
Low-powered vehicles, such as electric golf carts, are becoming ever more popular almost anywhere you go. Although I prefer human-powered travel, there’s something to be said about the calming effects these vehicles have on our road traffic. Like bicycles, they usually travel at speeds under 20 miles-per-hour, which is especially appropriate for neighborhood streets, where these vehicles are frequently found, usually operating illegally there.

But as much as I like the speed-lowering effects their presence has over other motor vehicle traffic, they have no place on our side paths, the preferred place for many low-powered vehicles because they generally aren’t street-legal (nor allowed on side paths, but that doesn’t seem to deter users). As if pedestrians don’t have enough problems from pathway users who don’t always understand or follow common share-the-path courtesy, now they’re facing the threat that these motorized vehicles could be allowed to dominate their already limited space. For the sake of safety and appropriateness, enforcing and retaining laws prohibiting motorized vehicles on side paths is vital, whether they are allowed on certain roads or not.
An example of an electric bike. Users don’t need a driver’s license to operate it on roads It can’t be used under electric power on side paths. An example of an electric bike. Users don’t need a driver’s license to operate it on roads It can’t be used under electric power on side paths. In the past few weeks, there’s been a move by Pine Islanders to convince Lee County commissioners to approve lowpowered vehicle use on island roads with speeds under 35 miles-per-hour. But for some Pine Islanders, that doesn’t go far enough — they want the commissioners to use newly enacted state legislation that gives local authorities the power to grant them access to the Stringfellow bike path, which runs the 13-mile length of the island from St James City to Bokeelia. What’s worse, because of the nature of this relatively large rural island, the types of low-powered vehicles preferred by many aren’t electric golf carts. Rather, they’re gas-powered ATV-type vehicles that will essentially be the SUVs of the bike path.

It’s bad enough that nonmotorist users of the path sometimes must contend with careless fellow users I described previously in this column and drivers who frequently fail to yield to us when crossing the path, but now there’s a possibility of turning our paths into roads.

Getting the Stringfellow path built was no easy task. Committed residents, interested non-island citizens and visitors, Lee County elected officials and county staff worked for more than a decade to see this important asset come to fruition. To have it now turned into something it was never intended to be would be setting a very dangerous precedent that will surely open the door to others like it becoming just another roadway, not to mention the impact it’ll have on Pine Island’s livability. Considering Lee County’s commitment to Complete Streets, I trust a decision to make such a negatively impactful change won’t even be considered by our commissioners.

Local events

Many long-distance runners have been training for Sunday, March 4: The Hooters to-Hooters Half Marathon. Just as each individual runner’s preparation is a major undertaking, so is organizing and conducting the event. It takes many volunteers, a long-term commitment from Hooters’ management and staff, plenty of sponsorship resources, and the assistance of Fort Myers Public Works and law enforcement. This team effort has paid off every year with an excellent event — including the post-race activities — and significant funds being raised this year for Barbara’s Friends / Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund and Moffitt Cancer Center. For those not participating in any way and who want to stay out of any traffic-related delays, the course includes Colonial and McGregor boulevards, parts of downtown, southbound Edison Bridge and Broadway Avenue.

Finally, training for Fight for Air Climb 2012 www.lung.org/pledge-events/fl/fortmyers climb-fy12/ has begun in the stairwells of High Point Place, the location of the event being held on Saturday, April 28. Those registered may train on Saturday mornings from 9-10 a.m. and Wednesdays from 5-7p.m.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling & 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.

Upcoming Events
Running/Walking: ¦ Hooters Half Marathon, Sunday, March 4, Fort Myers Hooters @ Edison Mall (www.hootershalfmarathon.com) ¦ Lehigh Spring Fest 4-Miler, Saturday, March 17, Lehigh Acres (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing (www.3dracinginc.com). Cycling & Other Events: ¦ Royal Palm Ride, Sunday, March 4, Buckingham Park (www.caloosariders.com) ¦ Fight for Air Climb, Saturday, April 28, High Point Place, downtown Fort Myers (www.lungusa.org/ pledge-events/fl/fort-myers-climb-fy12/). Visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club at www.caloosariders.com.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Invite to 3/20 Downtown Fort Myers Mobility Plan Public Workshop


You're invited to be part of the community conversation on Tuesday, March 20th  from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Harborside Event Center in downtown Fort Myers. 

What is the downtown mobility plan?
A multi-modal transportation plan that includes alternative modes of travel, such as
–Public transit
–Bicycle and pedestrian facilities
–Land use strategies
–Waterways
–Roads and intersections

Drop by and view options being considered and share your ideas.

Action Alert: Speak in support of Lee County's Sustainability Assessment at 3/6 BoCC meeting

The County's Sustainability Office, with input from the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee, has developed an excellent Sustainability Assessment that will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) at its Management & Planning meeting on March 5th (1:30 p.m.).  Then the next day, Tuesday March 6th at 9:30 a.m., it is on the agenda for the regular BoCC meeting for adoption.  At that meeting, public comment is allowed.  BikeWalkLee encourages you to come out and speak in support of this assessment.

The assessment provides an important roadmap for Lee County.  Its approach leverages the individual work of each department in pursuit of sustainability.  It will help to guide the many small and large policy decisions that have promise to create a more livable future.  In particular, BikeWalkLee anticipates that the assessment will help to bring a coordinated effort to transportation and land use planning in a way that saves money, enhances livability, and benefits all residents of Lee County.

The assessment defined sustainability very broadly and brought in areas that have an impact but often get excluded; such as cultural, educational, and health organizations.  This is truly the community’s sustainability assessment, not just Lee County’s – anyone can use it for guidance or to seek grants.

Kudos to the Sustainability Programs Manager Tessa LeSage and the Ensite, Inc. team that put this together. 

BikeWalkLee's letter to Cape City Council in support of action to make Del Prado intersection safer for pedestrians


Over the past 2 years since 13-year old Ryan Santos' tragic death near Burton Park in Cape Coral, BikeWalkLee has advocated that the County take action to make this intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  On Monday, we sent a letter to the Cape Coral Council, that considered the matter last night.  The Council voted unanimously to petition the Lee County BoCC to install a signalized intersection at NE 3rd terrace and Del Prado N.  Click here for the News-Press story.  Below is BikeWalkLee's letter:

February 27, 2012
Dear Mayor Sullivan:
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition working for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. 
Improving safety for bicyclists and pedestrians is a key goal of BikeWalkLee’s efforts, and FHWA research shows that complete streets improve safety for all users. This is important because Florida has some of the highest bicycle and pedestrian fatality per capita rates in the country.   Over the past three years we have supported efforts by the Cape Coral City Council to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and laud your commitment to reducing speeds and calming traffic, especially near schools.
Since the tragic death of 13-year old Ryan Santos on April 27, 2010, BikeWalkLee has been urging LeeDOT and  the Board of County Commissioners to take action to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety at Del Prado Blvd. and NE 3rd Terrace.  We wrote a letter to the BoCCon May 24, 2010, urging the County Commissioners to direct LeeDOT to make safety improvements at this intersection and gave several possible solutions that have been used successfully in other communities.  We appeared before the Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) on January 19, 2011 and argued for specific additional improvements.
We support the City Council’s efforts to request the county to take further action to make this intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  While Del Prado is a major arterial road managed by LeeDOT, it is also a major corridor in Cape Coral through commercial and residential areas.  For the good of its citizens, it is important that both government entities work together to find solutions.  We believe that LeeDOT should take the Cape Coral City Council’s wishes into account in this matter, as LeeDOT did recently in its decision on the Veterans/Santa Barbara interchange options.
 As we said to the Cape TAC on Jan. 19, 2011, we agree with LeeDOT’s recommendation to modify the existing median openings at this intersection.  It will provide a refuge for crossing and limit the amount of conflicting movements. However, by itself it isn’t sufficient.  Research shows that the key to improving pedestrian safety is a combination of treatments. 
Though RaceTrack has generously offered to fund the installation of a traffic light at this intersection, LeeDOT determined that there was insufficient traffic to warrant a traffic light.  There is recent precedent for not making the judgment solely on the basis of traffic counts.  For example, a signal at the intersection of Veterans and Surfside was installed by LeeDOT even though the traffic counts did not pass the “warrant” test.  Just last week FDOT reversed its decision and has decided to install traffic lights at two busy intersections on US 41 in Collier County.  Although the traffic counts did not pass the “warrant” test, two recent pedestrian fatalities convinced them to reconsider their approach.
If LeeDOT continues to reject a traffic light, they should consider one of the following types of flasher devises:
  • The Enhancer is a rapid-flashing rectangular beacon devise that is being used successfully in St. Petersburg.  The Enhancer has already contributed to a 50% reduction in pedestrian crashes there.
  •  A lower-cost flasher, activated by the pedestrian, was installed by LeeDOT in 2010 at various mid-block pedestrian crossings along Gladiolus Road to make it safer for pedestrians in the Harlem Heights neighborhood. 
  • Bonita Springs recently installed another type of flasher at three downtown crosswalks.The success of those flashers was recently highlighted in an NBC-2 News story. The article stated, “Three solar powered crosswalks were installed in Bonita 7 months ago, complete with bells and LED flashing lights when walkers or bikers are present…. Before the new crosswalks, downtown off of Old 41 saw 10 pedestrians hit by cars in just 2 years.  Since their installation there haven't been any.”
It has been almost 2 years since Ryan Santos’ tragic death and no improvements have yet been made to this dangerous intersection.  It is past time for action.  We will continue to urge Lee County to make improvements to this intersection that take into account the needs of children trying to reach the park on the other side of the street.  Streets should be designed to accommodate the needs of people, rather than simply the needs of fast-moving automobile.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to improve the safety, mobility, and quality of life for residents of Cape Coral and all of Lee County. 
Darla Letourneau
Steve Chupack (BikeWalkLee's Cape Coral Representative)
on behalf of BikeWalkLee

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday's "Pedal to the Park" was a success!

Saturday's "Pedal to the Park" Grand Opening event at the new JetBlue Red Sox stadium was a big hit!  300 people biked to the park & left their bikes at the BikeWalkLee bike parking corral. With 15,000 people attending Saturday's event, this means that 2% of them traveled by bike. The people who rode to the park enjoyed the ride and loved missing the traffic congestion.  Most people wanted to know whether this bike corral would be available for the games...a message we'll communicate to the Red Sox management. Here's an interesting factoid...our bike corral saved up to 2-3 ACRES of car parking on Saturday...how about that??

Thank you to everyone who came out on Saturday, and a special thanks to all the volunteers that made this happen. Steve Rodgers was BikeWalkLee's lead on putting this event together and did a great job!  Thanks to Kelly Bishop, the Volunteer Coordinator and to her dozen "cowgirls" & "cowboys" who managed the bike corral.  Thanks to Cindy Banyai for conducting the survey at the event (we'll share results in future blog post), to Brian Raimondo at the MPO who produced the route maps, to Gateway Services District who let us use their parking lot & staffed the park & ride spot, to Paradise Bikes who organized a ride from their shop, to the Caloosa Riders who led a couple of the rides, to Billy's Bike Shop of Sanibel who donated the bike parking tags, to the Parks & Rec staff who put up the corral fencing, to Dan Moser who was the jack of all trades, and to Bert Hamilton of Harvey Software who donated the 3 feet please t-shirts for the volunteers.  Thanks to LeeDOT for finishing the construction and clean-up on pathways leading up to the Park.  Finally, thanks to the Lee County Sports Authority and the Red Sox management for arranging the space and letting us put on the bike corral.




BikeWalkLee's comments on Lehigh resurfacing contract


At Tuesday's BoCC meeting, the Board will approve one of the three annual resurfacing contracts and BikeWalkLee submitted the following comments for the record about the complete streets evaluation process of all resurfacing contracts.

Although it wasn’t mentioned in the blue sheet for this item, it is worth noting that this Lehigh resurfacing contract list was reviewed as part of the complete streets process.

The county’s complete streets policy requires that accommodations for bike/ped/transit be made at all phases of road projects, including resurfacing/improvements.  As part of the complete streets action plan the County Commissioners approved in November 2010, the County’s complete streets team has been evaluating the roads on the 3 annual resurfacing contracts (arterials/collectors; Lehigh local roads; and other county local roads) to see what opportunities exist to address the needs of all users when the roads are resurfaced. In November 2011, both the CSAC and the BPAC reviewed and recommended support of the internal complete streets team’s recommendations on three segments in Lehigh:
  • 40th St. W from Hanna Avenue South to east EOP—install shared road signage east of Sunshine Blvd
  •   Woodard Ct.—add CIP project for sidewalk along north side of road connecting to Beth Stacey   Blvd. sidewalk and add bus pads to existing bus stops
  •  Thomas Sherwin Ave. S from Milwaukee Blvd to Theodore Vail St—evaluate crosswalks, add corner sidewalk pads and connect to existing sidewalk on the SE corner at high school
In addition, the CSAC encouraged the Lehigh community (as well as other community plan communities) to develop an internal bikeways plan that designates certain streets as preferred routes to circulate around the neighborhood.

We look forward to the implementation of these complete streets recommendations, along with the dozens of other recommendations that have been compiled as part of this resurfacing contract evaluation process.   

Below is the link to the matrix of all recommendations to date. http://www.bikewalklee.org/BWL_PDFs/BoCC/BWLresurfMatrix1120109.pdf


Friday, February 24, 2012

LeeTran ridership is up substantially

At last Friday's MPO meeting, the LeeTran Director, Steve Myers, reported that ridership on LeeTran is up substantially.  The first quarter of this year, compared to the same month last year, shows the following increase in ridership:
October--up 11%
November--up 20%
December--up 25%

The new LINC line, which connects Lee and Collier counties and opened in October 2011, has reached a ridership of 21,770 in the first quarter...compared to the estimated ANNUAL ridership of 24,500!  Clearly, the demand for transit services is increasing...and these numbers were before the price of gas escalated to almost $4/gallon!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

LeeDOT wants your feedback on new bicycle symbol pavement markings




LeeDOT is looking for feedback on the above picture of a bicycle symbol pavement marking compared to paint for rideability, slickness, etc. The pictured marking application is on McGregor Boulevard heading west to Sanibel just east of the toll plaza. The marking will last approximately 5 years or more and the application is flush with the pavement.  If you're out riding in the area, check it out and provide your comments on how you like this marking as compared to the painted & raised symbols.  Send your feedback to
Andy Getch. Thanks to LeeDOT for soliciting the input of users & thanks to you, the users for providing feedback!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't forget! Ride your Bike to JetBlue Park's Feb. 25th Grand Opening Event



Pedal to the Park!
For more information about the Grand Opening Event, click here.
See News-Press feature story on 2/21/12.

  The big day is only FIVE days away, so if you haven't planned your route to ride to the event, now is the time!  Hope to see you on Saturday.
The JetBlue Park—Bicycle Access Map (http://www.bikewalklee.org/RedSoxArt/JetBluePark.pdf) shows the various ways to access the park by bicycle, along with the types of bicycle facilities on each of these roads.   The preferred entrance to JetBlue Park for bicyclists will be the East Gate on Daniels Parkway, which is noted on the map of the stadium facility, indicating the entrances for cyclists and the bike parking corral.  (Click here:  http://bikewalklee.com/corral.html.)
Maps of eight suggested routes are available at www.BikeWalkLee.org.   On the website you’ll find ride maps from the following starting points: 
7. FGCU, and
 Feel free to plan your own unique route to the event. 
Planned rides:    Paradise Bicycles is inviting cyclists to start their ride from their store in Colonial Square Town Center ((9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway).  You can park for free in the large lot north of the store.  You can either ride on your own from there, or join in an informal unsupported ride from there, starting at 12:30 p.m. There will also organized unsupported rides from Gateway Community Pool starting at 1 p.m., and at Daniels/Apalossa at 12:30 p.m.  Click on the listed bike route map above for details.
Park & Bike Option:  There are several options for biking to JetBlue Park if you live too far away or want just a short ride. For example, you can drive to Paradise Bicycles (9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway and park by the store and bike from there.  
Bike Parking Corral
BikeWalkLee will offer a bike parking corral – a designated area to safely park your bike for the duration of your visit to the park.  BikeWalkLee volunteers will check your bike in and out and staff the corral from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at no cost.  So, leave your car behind and park your bike in our secure corral while you enjoy the park’s opening day!

V

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lee MPO takes action on Friday on path to improve transportation & land use planning




The MPO Board took action on several items at Friday's meeting that lay the groundwork for improving the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) next year.  First, as discussed in the January 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.  These five roadways were slated for widening from two to four lanes but will now be reduced to a two lane divided roadway with median and turn lanes.

Letourneau stated that this proposed change in plans (approved by the Board on Friday) 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.

This new way of thinking has the potential for saving taxpayers even more funds.  Letourneau cited the recent Nashville, TN MPO's long range plan that combined major land use and transportation changes to stop the sprawl in that area.  As a result, their plan reduced the requirement for road construction from $7 billion to $3.4 billion--a 50% reduction!  Click here to read more about the Nashville Plan.

Taking a holistic approach to transportation & land use planning is key to 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.

At Friday's meeting the Board also approved the staff's plan to run land use scenarios ahead of the next major update of the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). (Also discussed at December meeting.) BikeWalkLee is a strong supporter of scenario analysis of options to better inform decision-making on transportation planning.  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.

Letourneau pointed out there's another reason why the county needs to do transportation and land use planning differently--the implications of generational dynamics for local planning.  She recommended that they ask Dan Rudge, LeeTran's planner, to present his excellent "Generational Dynamics" presentation to  both the Board and the MPO committees at an upcoming meeting.

A third topic was discussed--a state level proposal to study the feasibility of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) revenue-generation program.  Ann Pierce made comments on behalf of BikeWalkLee, pointing out that the real issue is the need to find a way to fund transportation, in light of declining gas tax revenues that are depleting the Highway Trust Fund.  We are concerned that our elected members of Congress seem unable or willing to do the difficult work of developing a viable and funded transportation bill.  Pierce suggested that there were effective uses for VMT without privacy intrusions, and cited the Alachua County approach of using a Mobility Plan and mobility fee that uses VMT data to effectively integrate land use with transportation in a holistic manner, generating revenue and directing future patterns of growth.

The Board voted against the draft resolution that would have opposed including any VMT option in the state study.  Rather, MPO staff was asked to communicate the Board's concerns about making sure that privacy issues were taken into account in designing any potential use of VMT.





Lee MPO will resubmit its Complete Streets Initiative for TIGER IV grant


 In October, the Lee MPO submitted a $10 million TIGER III grant application for a complete streets initiative, as proposed by BikeWalkLee, based on the MPO's recently adopted countywide bike/ped master plan. (See June blog story.) Forty-five letters of support were submitted by a broad group of community organizations and agencies.  The grant awards were announced in December, but we were not among the 5% of winning applications. 

In January, the USDOT announced another round of TIGER grant applications.  Lee MPO staff, accompanied by Darla Letourneau of BWL, had a de-brief with USDOT officials about the strengths and weaknesses of our TIGER III application to determine whether to resubmit our application.  We were told that the MPO's application scored high on all the criteria and was actually recommended for funding by the staff panels.  However, we lost out in the last step of the process where geographic balance and other factors were taken into account.  We were encouraged to resubmit our application for TIGER IV.  At Friday's MPO meeting, the Board was informed of this plan.  The pre-application is due Feb. 20th and the full application is due March 19th.

MPO staff is working to update the application and further enhance a couple of sections.  Note that the 45 letters of support that were submitted with the TIGER III application will be part of the resubmittal, so new letters are not needed.  Grant awards are likely to be made before the summer.  We know its a competitive process but given the very positive feedback we heard from USDOT staff, we are hopeful that we'll be successful this time!









Friday, February 17, 2012

LeeDOT agrees to study bike/ped-friendly signalized intersections and senor loops for cyclists


 Over the past several months, both the MPO's Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee (BPCC) and the County's Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) have asked the county to address the problem of inconsistency in pedestrian signals through the county, and the problem of detecting cyclists trying to turn at various intersections.

At the 2/15/12 BPAC meeting, Awaldo Gonzalez from the Traffic Section of Lee County DOT made a presentation in response to the various requests.  He indicated that they want to focus on signalized intersections and make them better and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians by making changes to the Advanced Traffic Management System that is being installed and targeted for completion by January 2013.  In particular, his team wants to find ways to make the detection by loops in the road or by the cameras that are at some intersections to be more responsive and able to detect the presence of a bicycle.  

He explained that the loops that are buried under the roadway surface operate on an induction basis – they detect the magnetic field that is generated from the steel components on vehicles and bicycles.  Sometimes that is a “hit or miss” situation for many bikes, especially the ones made of titanium or carbon fiber.  Some areas and communities have tried to overcome this by marking on the road the optimum place to position your bike so that it is detected.  He believes that the equipment that is in place now can be reset or fine-tuned to accomplish this much better than it is today.

He requested 2 things of the BPAC:
     1.  A volunteer to ride their bike through various intersections working hand-in-hand with the Traffic Management team, with the goal being to understand how they have to make changes to the present technology and system in place to make it better for bicycles.  Steve Rodgers has volunteered to work with the Team on this.
     2.  A list of what intersections need to be looked at from the cyclists’ point of view.  Where do they ride the most and which intersections are “problematic” for them to get through?  Almost everyone on the BPAC committee rides a bicycle frequently and will provide this information to Awaldo.  If you have input, contact a BPAC member.

Report by Steve Rodgers

Thanks to LeeDOT and Awaldo for working on this longstanding issue for many cyclists and pedestrians.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lee County Commission & Lee MPO send letters to Congress on federal transportation bills


At Tuesday's County Commission meeting, the Board approved Chairman Manning's motion to send a letter to Congressman Connie Mack in opposition to HR 7, the House transportation bill, specifically objecting to the transit provisions.  Click here to read the letter

They also sent letters to both Senators Nelson and Rubio urging them to support the Cardin-Cochran amendment to the Senate transportation bill.  This amendment would give local governments an opportunity to make our streets safer in Florida and Lee County.  Click here to read the letter.

At Friday's MPO meeting, the MPO Board also approved sending the same letters to the Congressional delegation.

Thank you, BoCC and MPO for making your voices heard on this important legislation!

 

NBC-2 News: Deputies enforce Bonita Springs crosswalks

Kudos to the Lee County Sheriff officers in Bonita Springs--they're cracking down on drivers who don't stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.

Click here to watch the video.
NBC-2 News, 2/16/12

Lee County deputies cracked down on drivers who don't stop for pedestrians. Nine people have been hit and killed by cars in Southwest Florida this year.

Thursday, 40 people were given warnings and two were ticketed in Bonita Springs.
It's wasn't what Kristi and Randy Sipe were expecting when traveling down Old 41 in downtown Bonita Springs.

"He just turned it on as we got into the intersection so it came on right away and we didn't have time to stop," says Randy.

Randy is just one of 40 drivers given warnings Thursday for failing to yield to pedestrians when an undercover deputy goes undercover as a pedestrian.

"We're basically out here trying to educate the public about the crosswalks that are being utilized, and the new crosswalks with the lights on them," says Lee County Sheriff's Sergeant Brian Przespolewski.

Three solar powered crosswalks were installed in Bonita 7 months ago, complete with bells and led flashing lights when walkers or bikers are present.

And drivers are taking notice.

"I think that it makes the community safer," says Randy.

Before the new crosswalks, downtown off of Old 41 saw 10 pedestrians hit by cars in just 2 years. 
Since their installation there haven't been any.

"We've done a couple of operations here since, which is good, and were getting less and less violations due to the led lights here," says Przespolewski.

Outside of Downtown there are still warnings to look out for pedestrians from the Florida Department of Transportation, but they're not as bright and they're not on the crosswalks themselves, making it difficult to get across the road safely.

"A vehicle verses a person, there's not a lot of chance there," says Przespolewski.

A chance that's put to the test at Bonita Beach Road and Hickory. This part of the sting seeing as many as 5 vehicles pulled over at a time.  But the drivers aren't always at fault.

"Obviously the pedestrian can't jump out at the last second where it's not feasible to actually stop in time," says Przespolewski.

Crosswalk safety is prevention that deputies hope will stop tickets and deaths in the future.

NBC-2 News: STEM students contribute to street safety

Kudos to leaders of the County's Complete Streets team, Tessa LeSage & Andy Getch, for taking complete streets to the Estero High School students.  The next generation of community leaders is learning first hand how to assess street safety in their own neighborhood.  Be sure to watch the video.



NBC-2 News, 2/16/12

LEE COUNTY, FL - People in the thick of a problem make the best problem solvers, that's the idea the Lee Schools Foundation and Lee County planners took to Estero High School. The teens got real-work experience and completed the same audits as county workers to assess street safety.

Estero High School students were the first to get outdoors and work on the county's Complete Streets project. The project began three years ago to improve safety. The students got a chance to spot trouble and come up with their own solutions.

"We live in a beautiful environment where people should be able to walk and ride their bikes if they want, but unfortunately we focus a lot on vehicles and moving vehicles and not moving people," said Tessa LeSage, Sustainability Projects Manager.

To change that, they're turning to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) students like Taylor Hancock, who hopes to become an engineer.

"With the STEM program we've mainly just went out to businesses and seen what they've done, but now they're coming to us and they're kind of asking our advice for what to do," said student Taylor Hancock.
Advice like more signs, reminding drivers to slow down, adding benches, and bus stops.

Efrain Lopez didn't realize the danger until he walked in a pedestrian's shoes.
"I learned that just being a pedestrian walking the side of the road you get a safer feeling knowing that cars are doing their job, going slow, the speed limit, there's a side walk for you to walk on instead of having to walk in the grass," said Lopez.

County leaders heard the students' ideas and could make them reality.
"They're actually going through the same exercises that we do and their suggestions are great, I mean you don't have to already be an engineer," said LeSage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Want to get involved? Openings on two MPO committees

 

 There are openings on two MPO committees for citizens interested in getting involved in transportation issues.  First, the Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) has openings for their Cape Coral and Sanibel seats.  If you're interested, contact the City Manager's office in the respective city. These seats are recommended by the City Council of the respective jurisdiction and then approved by the MPO Board.  Below is a description of the CAC:

Citizen's Advisory Committee


Consists of 23 appointed citizens who make recommendations to the MPO from the public's perspective on proposed long-range transportation plans, project plans, priorities for state and federal funding and other transportation issues.

Second, there is one open seat for a citizen member of the newly expanded Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee (BPCC).  Click here for our September post about this position.  Interested individuals should apply directly to the MPO staff and the BPCC was make the recommendations to the MPO Board for approval.  Below is a description of the BPCC:

 Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee


Consists of the local and state agency personnel and citizens who are responsible for bicycle and pedestrian planning for their agencies. It coordinates these agencies' bicycle/pedestrian planning activities, reviews provisions for pedestrians and cyclists in state and federal-aid surface transportation projects, and advises the MPO on the development of the bicycle and pedestrian element of its transportation plan and the programming of bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

If you have questions about either of these committees, contact Meghan Marion at mmarion@leempo.com.