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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Biking as a favorite Southwest Florida tourist attraction


 News-Press 4/29/12

Sunday's letters to the editor: Favorite Southwest Florida tourist attractions

Ken Gooderham, Fort Myers:

Sunshine, fair winds and a plethora of paths give bicycling a strong tourist tie for Southwest Florida. It’s not the first reason people come here, but it’s a good reason to bring them back since they can more easily incorporate biking into their vacation living, they can add it to their list of activities on their leisure list (along with all the other participatory sports this area has to offer) that gives the whole family something funs to do – and, most of all, it gets them out of their cars and into the natural world that is ultimately Southwest Florida’s most seductive lure.

Our biking infrastructure is a vacation amenity that’s a draw to many visitors and an asset for all … even those of us who live here.

Read related editorial: Lee County officials plan tourism rally May 8 at JetBlue Park.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Transit Oriented Development 5/22 FDOT Workshop in Fort Myers




You are invited!!

What is Transit Oriented Development (TOD)?  How do we plan for it in the Florida context?  What are the key considerations at the system, corridor, station area and site scales?  Explore these questions and more at a day-long, interactive workshop focused on planning and implementation of TOD in Florida.  This workshop will pull from the “Framework for Transit Oriented Development” guidance document developed by the FDOT (www.fltod.com) in Spring 2011. 

Tallahassee – Friday, May 18, 2012
Fort Myers – Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Daytona – Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To register for one of these workshops, please click on the location and link below. 

For FDOT participants, please also register through TRESS (course #BT-10-0006).  Space is limited, so please register now!

For more information, please contact Jennifer Carver at jcarver@citiesthatwork.com or 850.270.1926 x402.



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:With tourists gone, it’s time to visit our trails

This week's Moser column focuses on great parks and preserves in Lee County for running and hiking, activities during the last week of the transportation exhibition, and an advocacy report on impact fees.
It had been a while since I did some real trail running. Other than getting off of the pavement for bits and pieces of my runs, I hadn’t visited any of our excellent parks or preserves for some time. So when a weekend morning unexpectedly became free, my wife Maria and I headed to Prairie Pines Preserve just off U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers.

The weather couldn’t have been better, nor could the well-groomed and managed trails. I’d been there when the park first opened and was impressed with the work Lee County has done to make this preserve accessible to the public and downright beautiful. At Prairie Pines, horseback riding is part of the activities allowed along with foot traffic, so dodging road apples is part of the challenge. Our five-mile run barely got us into the actual preserve since the access trail is two miles long. From that point, many more miles of trails exist that we’ll return to explore when we’re ready for some longer distance on terrain that we’re better prepared to handle (experienced runners know that too much too soon on tricky ground takes its toll).

Lovers Key State Park is another park with miles of trails that are excellent for both running and cycling. I mention that because on Saturday, May 12, its trails will be the location for the seventh annual Turtle Trot 5K (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com). Other great trail running opportunities with significant  mileage can be found at Caloosahatchee Regional Park and Hickey Creek Regional Park, both in Alva but on opposite sides of the river, and Calusa Nature Center (www.calusanature.com) at the corner of Colonial Boulevard and Ortiz Avenue in Fort Myers. For details of these and many more, visit the website, and the trail link.

Transportation exhibition
The last few days of a transportation exhibit at Northwest Cape Library concludes with a bike helmet giveaway from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 25. Recipients must be there in order to be fit with the helmet. Over the course of a month, various organizations involved with traffic safety, advocacy and automobile alternatives conducted activities and learning sessions almost daily. Some of the offerings included learning about and signing up for commuting options (www.commuterservicesfl.com; www.rideleetran.com); CarFit checkups (www.car-fit.org); traffic planning and management overviews (www.leempo.org); and traffic safety presentations, including Lee Memorial Trauma Service’s Young Driver Program (www.leecountyinjuryprevention.org). This was part of the Taking it to the Streets campaign to get folks out of their cars to try some other options while also logging their trips so they can see for themselves the financial savings and other benefits realized by doing so. The exhibit was a great success thanks to the many partners involved. The staff of Northwest Cape Regional Library deserves as much credit as anyone.

Advocacy update
A few weeks ago, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners wisely and courageously decided to resist pressure from builders who wanted impact fees completely eliminated but instead adjusted them downward as their staff and consultant suggested was the prudent thing to do. Many from the construction and development industry lobbied for a complete elimination (technically, they were asking for a two-year moratorium, but we all know they would probably never be reinstated lest the elected official who dares try be considered a “tax raiser!”). Fortunately, just as many speakers from other walks of life made the case to keep this important revenue source or we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot.

After the meeting, one county official astutely commented that the bulk of the funds raised from impact fees goes right back to the construction industry to build new libraries, schools, fire stations, parks, roads and other capital projects, so it’s hard to understand why those same folks are always seeking to eliminate the fees, especially since they often argue that it’s not them but their buyers who pay these fees. To learn more, go to BikeWalkLee's blog.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334- 6417.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mark your Calendar: Rides of Silence May 16th

What began nine years ago in Dallas as a spontaneous outpouring of grief for a friend and fellow rider, struck and killed by the mirror of a passing vehicle, has rolled across the globe to become an international annual event memorializing and honoring cyclists who have been injured and killed while riding.

The many hundreds of events share the same goals: “To honor fallen cyclists, to promote road safety, and to make a difference.”

Bike safety is not a fleeting issue, especially here in Florida which ranks the very worst in the nation for cyclist safety with the highest fatality rate six years in a row.

The Ride of Silence, in memorializing riders injured and killed, seeks to draw motorist’s attention to cyclist’s legal rights to full use of the roadways, to inform motorists that we are here, to watch for us – as if our lives depended on it. Locally there will be three Rides of Silence all departing at 7:00 p.m. Please come out to show your support and send the message that we deserve our right to operate on our own roads. We are not just bike riders but friends and neighbors and we must all Share the Road.

Fort Myers: Caloosa Riders is organizing a ride in downtown Fort Myers . It starts at Centennial Park , 2000 W. First St. , Fort Myers (under the bridge at Heitman and Bay Streets). The ride will be 8 miles at 10-12 mph. For information, contact riderinfo@caloosariders.org, or www.caloosariders.org.

Bonita Springs : The Bonita Bay Bicycle Club's ride starts from " Riverwalk Park " within Bonita Bay . It will be a 10 mph ride, about one hour long, within Bonita Bay , escorted by BB security vehicles. Non-residents of Bonita Bay are welcome, and must contact Claude Weir, BBBC President, at least a day in advance to be cleared at the gate: cvwesq@earthlink.net.


Sanibel:  Sanibel Bicycle Club is organizing a ride across two Sanibel Causeway bridges and back on island.  It starts at the Community Park (next to the Sanibel Community Association) on Periwinkle Way.  For more information, contact Patti Sousa: psjurney@comcast.net.

Note: that all riders must wear a helmet.

Sanibel's Path Welcome Center Grand Opening Ceremony

Saturday, April 21st was a special day on Sanibel--the grand opening of the long-awaited Shared Use Path Welcome Center.  The Sanibel Bicycle Club (SBC) played a lead role in this project, but the facility was planned, funded and implemented by a partnership of community organizations and private individuals.

The SBC hosted a ribbon-cutting and thank-you ceremony this morning, which was attended by many bike club members, representatives from the many organizations in project partnership, along with all the members of the Sanibel City Council and the City Manager.  Kudos to Tom Sharbaugh of the Sanibel Bicycle Club (and BikeWalkLee's Sanibel representative) for spearheading this wonderful project, and to the Club members who worked so hard to make this a reality.

 We even had entertainment!
 SBC Board Member, Bill Sartoris, with Mayor Kevin Ruane, Dick Mensch (who donated the land), and Councilman Marty Harty.

Tom Sharbaugh, Darla Letourneau, & Dan Moser.

Come to Sanibel to bike the shared use path and stop by this nice new addition to the pathway system.  The Welcome Center is located on the left side of Periwinkle Way after She Sells Sea Shells and before Huxter's.






Click here for a wonderful piece by Sanibel Pastor, John Danner, "Pastoral Ponderings on Periwinkle Way", about the Welcome Center as a powerful symbol of what can be accomplished by participating in community.

Invite to 4/30 Regional Economic Strategy Public Meeting




More Information:
Margaret Wuerstle
mwuerstle@swfrpc.org
(239) 338-2550 x222


Friday, April 20, 2012

Transportation Planning & the New Generation--BWL comments at MPO Board Meeting




At the April 20th Joint Lee & Charlotte MPO Board meeting, BikeWalkLee's representative, Darla Letourneau, brought to the Board's attention another national report, consistent with Dan Rudge's Generational Dynamics presentation, about the need to adapt transportation planning to facts about the new generation.   

The study is called "Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young Peopleare driving less and what it means for transportation policy", prepared by the U.S. PRIG Education Fund and the Frontier Group.  This report's findings were covered by the national media but didn't make it in local press.

Here are the vital facts:
·         From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of VMT for young people (16 to 34 yrs.) decreased by 23 percent!
·         the share of this age group without a driver's license increased by 5 percentage points.
·         they walked to their designations 6% more often
·         their transit miles jumped by 40%
·         they took 24% more bike trips during this period
·         Why?  As we know from generational research, young people's transportation priorities & preferences differ from those of older generations.
o                   they would prefer to replace driving w/alternative transportation
o                   they prefer to live in areas that are walkable vs. sprawl
o                   they would prefer to text & use social media than to meet friends via car.

As the study points out, this data has major implications for transportation planning for the future. Federal and local governments have historically made massive investments in new highway capacity on the assumption that driving will continue to increase at a rapid and steady pace.  Letourneau stated that these are the assumptions in the "black box models" used in the Lee MPO LRTP planning.  These assumptions are no longer valid and must be updated for the new reality.  Letourneau urged FDOT  to revise the transportation models to reflect the new generational trends data, so that MPOs throughout the state have accurate models for developing their LRTPs.

Letourneau again suggested that the MPO staff arrange for Dan Rudge to make his eye-opening Generational Dynamics presentation to the Board and its committees.

               

Lee County's Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) makes recommendations on Transportation Capital Improvement Projects (CIP)



One of the key actions in Lee County's implementation of its 2009 Complete Streets Resolution was to develop a revised transportation planning and budgeting process in 2011.  This year is the first time that the new approach has been used to develop the 5-year transportation funding plan, called the CIP.  The revised process is intended to support sustainable multi-modal transportation, using a collaborative approach internally and involving public input in the early stages.  As part of this new process, the CSAC reviewed the draft transportation CIP prior to its presentation to the Board of County Commissioners.

At the April 18th CSAC meeting, the committee made numerous recommendations, based on analysis and suggestions by the committee's complete streets working group, which will be communicated to the Board.  These recommendations reflect some fundamental changes in the core assumptions about transportation and land use planning.  Click here to review the committee's recommendations.


The BoCC will review the draft CIP in the next few months and then take final action in September, prior to the beginning of the new program year, starting October 1st.

Kudos to the Complete Streets Internal Performance Team for their hard work on this collaborative effort and the progress being made in implementing complete streets through the revised transportation planning and budget process.

Report by Darla Letourneau

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review of New Horizon 2035 Lee Plan elements continues


Bike WalkLee has been participating in this year-long process of updating the Lee Plan to ensure that the complete streets/sustainability focus in the EAR is carried through in the actual Comp Plan amendments.
 
Background:  As reported in our March blog post,  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. Over the past 8 months, the staff developed and committees reviewed a series of issue papers.  Starting in March, the staff began presenting draft Comp Plan language for each of the elements in the Plan. 

The next two elements were presented to the LPA on April 23rd (8:30 a.m. in BoCC Chambers).  The two elements are:
1.  Intergovernmental Coordination Element
2.  Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Element

Click here to read the documents.

The two elements will also be discussed at the May 16th CSAC meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the County Administration conference room.  At the beginning of both committee meetings, the agendas include an opportunity for public comment. We encourage you to participate in this process.

BikeWalkLee's position on motorized vehicles on bike/ped pathway



 BikeWalkLee is opposed to the use of motorized vehicles on multi-use paths or sidewalks.  Below is the letter, along with our position paper, we sent to the BoCC and MPO Board today.  Also see the earlier Injury Prevention Coalition letter.

To Lee County Board of County Commissioners & Lee MPO Board:

BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness for the need to make the streets of Lee County safe and accessible for all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders, is very concerned with requests that will be forthcoming that will threaten the safety and interests of pathway users.  Because of these concerns we are providing you with our formal position on the negative impacts that may occur by allowing motorized vehicles onto paths that are intended for non-motorized uses.

We ask that you seriously consider all of the potential consequences of changing the nature and safety of any of the facilities that may be included in requests to add this category of user type. 
 
 
BikeWalkLee Position Paper
Opening Pandora’s Box: Use of Motorized Vehicles on Bike/Ped Pathway
April 18, 2012
BikeWalkLee believes side paths are first and foremost intended for use by pedestrians and other non-motorists, with the exception of motorized devices specifically intended to assist those with disabilities and those operated by governmental entities for maintenance purposes.  As such, sidewalks, multi-use paths, and similar facilities should not be approved for use by operators of electric golf carts, ATVs, gas-powered carts, gas- or electric-powered bikes and scooters, or any other motorized vehicles.

However, BikeWalkLee endorses approval of the use of electric golf carts and other low-speed, electric vehicles on roadways where state statutes allow for a variety of reasons, including their traffic calming effect, removing them from illegally operating on side paths where their use puts non-motorists at-risk, and because they are a more energy efficient mode of travel.

In 2010 the Florida Legislature gave local jurisdictions authority to grant access to some forms of motorized devices when certain conditions exist.  Florida statutes 316.008 and 316.212(8) are among those that provide details.  However, BikeWalkLee urges local governments to refrain from exercising this option so as not to create potential hazards to vulnerable users of those facilities.   Factors such as pathway funding sources, facility width, and current and potential use patterns must all be considered and, in some cases, would prohibit motorized vehicle use on these facilities.  

Regarding funding source restrictions, the Federal Transportation Enhancement Program, a common source of funds used for pathway construction here in Lee County, has very specific guidelines for allowing uses other than non-motorized.  These guidelines and the procedure required to seek exceptions can be found in Framework for Considering Motorized Use on Nonmotorized Trails and Pedestrian Walkways under 23 U.S.C. § 217.

Additionally, BikeWalkLee supports allowing disability-related motorized devices on side paths, but use of vehicles that are not considered “assistive devices” per the legal definition of the term should not be included as such.  For example, the fact that someone has a disabled parking tag should not allow that person to use an electric golf cart or motorized vehicle that’s not legally considered an assistive device on a side path.  Florida Statute 320.0848 includes the legal definition that relates to parking permits (Note: Florida Statute 316.003, which refers to “personal assistive mobility devices,” actually applies to Segways and specialty devices specifically intended for persons with disabilities).

Finally, once any motorized vehicle (other than by governmental maintenance users and those specifically designed and intended for use by those with mobility limitations, per legal definition) are allowed on pathways intended for non-motorized uses, it will be very difficult to enforce laws prohibiting more powerful and potentially dangerous vehicles such as those noted above, thus making matters even worse for more vulnerable path users.
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness for the need to make the streets of Lee County safe and accessible for all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. More information is available online at www.bikewalkee.org.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Helmets Given to Kids at Cape Coral Austen Youth Center Fair



It was a Very Successful Health, Fun, and Fitness Fair held at the Wm. "Bill" Austen Youth Center in Cape Coral on Saturday, April 14th. Many kids of all ages were invited to attend from neighboring schools in Cape Coral to have fun & learn about fitness, health and safety.
Mary Orselli Ossichak, co-owner of Hollywood Bike Shop, located at 2728 Santa Barbara Blvd in Cape Coral, generously donated her time to help fit about 60 bicycle helmets on kids ages 1-16. Mary has over 23 of experience and is active in helping out with community events such as the Bike Rodeo that was held at Oasis Elementary School earlier in Feb.

This was the first time Holly Ford initiated a helmet distribution, and she hopes to have similar events in the future. Holly lost her son when he was riding a bike and was hit by a car. She says, "a helmet could save your child's life." She is donating her time and effort to helping the area kids. She doesn't want any parent to suffer what she has gone through and hopes to continue the program with the youth center. She says any child or teen needing a bicycle helmet should have one. Florida law requires that a child up to age 16 wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Many parents and kids are unaware of the law.

Contact her if your child needs a bicycle helmet: SideWalks4Kids@mail.com
Website: www.SideWalks4Kids.com

Report submitted by Steve Chupack, BWL's Cape Coral Representative

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ride Free on Try Transit Day, April 19th


Ride Free on Try Transit Day
Try Transit Day 
LeeTran celebrates Earth Week on Thursday, April 19 with "Try Transit Day," when everyone rides free!

Riding the bus is a great way to save money on gas and reduce air pollution and congestion.
If you need help planning your trip, call LeeTran Customer Service at 533-8726 (LEE-TRAN), option 1.
Tell your friends to give transit a try this Thursday!