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Friday, July 27, 2012

FDOT to hold series of Bicycle and Pedestrian Roundtable Discussions


The FDOT Safety Office is holding a series of Bicycle and Pedestrian Roundtable discussions in August, with the one closest to Lee County being held in Bartow on Monday, August 6th from 1:30 - 5:30 p.m. in the Mike Rippe Auditorium (Rm. 159).  Lee County & MPO safety staff and committee members have been invited to attend and this is a public meeting so the public can also attend.  Dan Moser from BikeWalkLee will be one of the participants and we will report back to you after the meeting.

FDOT has outlined the purpose of these roundtables as follows:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted an assessment of Florida's Pedestrian Safety Program in January 2012.  In response to the recommendations from the assessment, the FDOT Safety Office will conduct a series of "roundtable discussions" that will include a variety of stakeholders with a vested interest in pedestrian and bicycle safety in an effort to develop Florida's Pedestrian Strategic Safety Plan.

The meetings will be utilized to identify existing, or develop new, countermeasures that can be used to reduce or eliminate crashes, fatalities, and injuries involving pedestrians and bicyclists in Florida.  This plan will support the Strategic Highway Safety Plan's Vulnerable Road Users Emphasis Area.

What's Next on Federal Transportation Bill--Focus on FDOT


 BikeWalkLee has been working with its national partners (Transportation for America, Alliance for Biking and Walking, League of American Bicyclists, America Bikes, National Complete Streets Coalition, Safe Routes to School Partnership, Rails to Trails, etc.) to understand the new transportation bill, MAP-21, and the way forward.  Click here for Transportation for America's "Ten key things to know about the new transportation law".


 
 While we and our partners are very disappointed in the final bill, we know that the bill would have been much worse without our collective advocacy efforts. Our work now shifts to the States, as well as to starting now to plan for the next transportation bill in two years.

 It’s true that the transportation bill, MAP-21, slashed guaranteed funding for biking and walking, but we are still very much in the game.  Our national partners are committed to ensuring that states and local governments use every opportunity in the new law to increase the safety and convenience of biking and walking.

Together, we can maximize biking and walking investments — both under MAP-21’s new Transportation Alternatives program and under the larger core transportation and safety funds.

BikeWalkLee and other state and local advocacy groups in Florida expect FDOT to:
  • Fully fund, staff, and implement the new Transportation Alternatives program. Specifically, FDOT should:
    • Fully fund: Do not transfer any funds away from Transportation Alternatives or opt-out of the Recreational Trails program
    • Fully staff: Preserve or increase staff support for Transportation Alternatives by maintaining state Safe Routes to School coordinators and bike/ped coordinators
    • Fully implement: Promptly award Transportation Alternatives grants with participation of relevant stakeholders
  • Fully maximize the FL’s investments in safe, accessible streets: utilize all MAP-21 funding programs — including HSIP, CMAQ, and STP — to include biking and walking in all transportation projects
  • Fully spend remaining funds from the Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, and Recreational Trails programs
Our national partners are working on a suite of tools and resources to help us ensure that states and communities take full advantage of MAP-21.  We will alert you as these resources become available.

Strong Towns' Chuck Marohn keynotes Sept. 14th FL APA conference in Naples



  This year's APA (American Planning Professionals) Florida conference is held in Naples, FL, Sept. 12-15th and its keynote speaker is Chuck Marohn, the Executive Director of Small Towns, a non-profit that focuses on connection between land use and finance.  He, along with Gary Toth, are key leaders in the new thinking about transportation that BikeWalkLee focuses on.  His most recent article, "The Projections Fallacy", is an example of his important work.  This is a great opportunity!

His keynote address is Friday September 14, 11:30am -1:00pm
CHARLES L. MAROHN, Jr., AICP, PE is the primary author of the Strong Towns Blog

and hosts the weekly Strong Towns Podcast. He also works at Community Growth Institute,
a Minnesota-based organization that does innovative planning for small towns and rural areas. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of
Technology and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. Mr. Marohn will provide Friday’s keynote address, speaking on the impact
land development practices have on local government budgets, fiscal resources, and policy decisions regarding transportation, infrastructure systems, and capital priorities.

In order to attend the keynote address, you have to sign up for a Friday event registration, which would allow you to attend all sessions and events held that day.  A one-day registration costs $185 (if you register by August. 3rd).  Below is information about the conference.


REGISTER NOW FOR THE 2012 APA FLORIDA CONFERENCE AND SAVE MONEY! September 12-15, 2012
Waldorf Astoria (formerly Naples Grande)
Naples, Florida
 

Don't wait - early registration ends on August 3rd! There are only 10 days left to save money by registering early! Go to www.floridaplanning.org/conference to view the conference brochure, read about the exciting speakers and mobile workshops available, and register.

    All the mobile workshops have been approved for AICP CM credits.(Please note that the kayak tour is full).  Conference sessions are being submitted for AICP CM credit.  Florida Bar credit is also being sought.

Regular registration ends on August 27th.
 

Hotel Reservations

Reservations at the Waldorf Astoria must be made by August 19th - but don't wait, the block is filling up.  The room rate in the block is $129/night.  Details can be found at www.floridaplanning.org/conference.
Reservations can be made online here.
(The Waldorf Astoria was formerly known as the Naples Grande - same great hotel, just a new name!)





Monday, July 23, 2012

Review of New Horizon 2035 Lee Plan elements continues

 
BikeWalkLee 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:  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 year, the staff has been presenting draft Comp Plan language for each of the elements in the Plan.

The next two elements were presented to the LPA on Monday, July 30th at 8:30 a.m. in the Board Chambers in downtown Fort Myers:
1.  Community Facilities--This section is an update of the existing element that addresses the need to provide public services and infrastructure systems--sewers, solid waste, drainage, portable water, and groundwater.
2.  Communities--This element is new, based on the recommendations of the EAR.  The new element better defines community planning, formalizes the community planning development and amendment process, and encourages a more robust and useful public participation process.

The agenda also includes a general overview discussion (no briefing materials) on the important topic of Land Use and Transportation.

At the June LPA meeting, staff announced that there will be workshops as well as an online participation opportunity using a new program called "Mind Mixer".  In addition, staff announced that the LPA will hold two all-day workshops for their July and August meetings.

The public is encouraged to attend the LPA meetings and there is an opportunity for public comment at the meetings.


 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where Floirda Transportation Money Goes


 A recent report by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign looked at how all 50 states used their state transportation improvement programs (STIP).  Here's what they reported on Florida.

The Atlantic Cities blog had the following highlights about the new report:

Transportation funding is complex. Literally trillions of dollars are constantly at work or on the boards for one thing or another. The type of spending ranges from building overpasses to laying light rail tracks to painting those white-line bicycle riders on the asphalt in bike lanes. And so much more.

Trying to define exactly where every transportation dollar in the U.S. goes is probably more effort than it's worth. Understanding generally where that money goes, however, is both doable and informative. A new report has tracked the spending priorities of each state, as laid out in their state transportation improvement programs (STIP).

"Tracking State Transportation Dollars" was produced by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, building off its annual analysis of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This comprehensive look at the STIPs of all 50 states gives a nice overview of the nation's transportation priorities. Each state is federally mandated to produce a STIP, which identifies how each state is planning to use its federal transportation funding. The STIP generally covers about four years of transportation investment priorities, though some states plan out a bit more.

In general, roads and bridges make up the bulk of all transportation spending. As this pie graph shows, 39 percent of funding is spent on projects that maintain roads and bridges, 23 percent on projects that add new capacity to roads and bridges, 20 percent on transit and 2 percent on bicycle/pedestrian projects.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Join SWFL Biking MeetUp Group



Hello Everyone,

I've recently taken the reins of the Southwest Florida Biking MeetUp Group (http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/) from the founder who needed a break from managing it after many years of doing so.  So that this community asset wouldn't become history I thought I'd try to keep it alive and use it as an opportunity to offer cycling education in the form of "rules of the road and pathway" and even some skills training for those interested.  I'm also hoping it'll lead to some folks to taking one or more CyclingSavvy sessions (http://cyclingsavvy.org/), thus becoming the confident cyclist they'd like to be.

I've already had a few takers with a program offered at Lakes Park a few weeks ago so I thought I'd see if there are others interested but who didn't make it by scheduling another outing that combines recreational cycling with educational opportunities.  Like last time at Lakes Park, we'll be in an excellent outdoor setting. 

Anyone who's interested can meet at Calusa Nature Center (http://www.calusanature.org/) to visit their aviaries, trails, and education center. While there you can take part in short programs covering the rules of the roads and trails for cyclists that I'll be offering in the parking lot of CNC beginning at 10am and going until noon on SATURDAY, JULY 21ST.  I'll be there by 9am.
You may either come by bike or ride yours from there. As many know, CNC is ideally located for access by bike on the northwest corner of Colonial Blvd and Ortiz Ave, just west of I-75. It's the eastern trail head for the North Colonial Canal Linear Park and connects to Six Mile Cypress and Ortiz pathways as well as the Colonial Blvd pathway and Winkler Ave bike lanes.
You need not join the MeetUp group to attend this outing but are welcome to.  Whether you do you not, please let me know if you plan to come - you may reply directly to this Email or do so through MeetUp if you join (no charge to join or participate).  I have a limited number of day passes to the Calusa Nature Center that will get you in at no charge so the sooner you RSVP the more likely you'll receive a free pass.
The weather's been hot and wet but this weekend is forecast to be drier than earlier this week so I hope you'll consider spending the morning biking, hiking, and learning....Dan


Friday, July 6, 2012

Candidates for Lee Board of County Commissioners respond to BikeWalkLee Questionnaire


 Candidates for BoCC have responded to BikeWalkLee's questionnaire.  Click here to read what the candidates are saying about issues we care about, and don't forget to vote in the August 14th primary! 
The local 2012 election for county commissioners (BoCC) is important for the future direction of Lee County and its commitment to complete streets and a balanced multi-modal transportation system.  This year, four of the five county commissioner seats are up for election, with three of the four seats having multiple candidates in the August 14th primary election.

In order to vote in this important primary election all Florida residents must be registered no later than July 16th.  (click here for instructions.)   If you're already registered to vote, you can call now for an absentee ballot--239-533-6919.

On June 18th, BikeWalkLee sent a questionnaire to all 12 candidates, and, to date, we've received responses from 8 candidates.  It is important to BikeWalkLee to elect county commissioners who support our values and vision.  This election will determine whether the policy framework put in place over the past three years to make our streets safer and more accessible to all users will continue and result in changes on the ground for Lee County residents.

What did we hear from the candidates?  First, we'd like to thank the candidates who responded to our questionnaire with thorough and thoughtful responses.  We have compiled all the responses into one master document, organized by the five districts.  Note: We have not received any responses from candidates in District 5.  Be sure to click here to read the full responses.

We asked five questions:-- implementation of complete streets, the Comprehensive Plan amendments and integration of land use and transportation, cost-saving changes to road projects, transit, and support for replacing road impact fees with a mobility fee plan.

On the first three questions, there was more commonality of response, while the last two--transit and mobility fees--there was a wider range of responses.  Throughout the various answers, there were comments about the importance of BoCC setting policy and giving direction to staff; the importance of safety for all road users; and the need for more citizen involvement in the planning process.

Complete Streets:  All candidates supported implementation of the county's complete streets policies and programs, which is very encouraging.  

Comprehensive Plan:  Candidates supported the integration of land use and transportation planning, and were committed to ensuring that the vision of the EAR is incorporated into the Plan amendments.  Some candidates mentioned their support for a shift from sprawl to mixed use, infill, and the importance of sustainability to our economic future.  There was support for eliminating transportation concurrency and changing the Level of Service (LOS) transportation planning tool.

Cost-saving approach to road projects:  Saving taxpayer money and doing business in the most cost-effective way was supported by all candidates.  The point was also made that the  road project prioritization and funding process needed to be de-mystified. 

Transit:  There was support for the current LeeTran system but less consensus on expanding the system.  The range of responses went from maintaining current system to supporting a major shift in investments to transit and even in high speed and/or light rail, with others in the middle wanting to move cautiously in terms of revenue sources, regional transit authority, etc.

Mobility Fee:  BikeWalkLee supports replacing the existing funding structure with mobility fees.  For some candidates there was some hesitancy to support a new 'fee'.    However,  the majority indicated that they would support replacing the road impact fees with a mobility fee so that the revenues could fund the whole transportation system, not just the roads.  Some didn't  want any increase in fees that developers would have to pay while others wanted to make sure that developers paid their fair share.  Others thought the mobility fee concept didn't go far enough and wanted an even more comprehensive funding source for transportation investments.  The importance of involving the citizens in the dialogue (both on this and transit) so that there was public support for moving in this new direction was noted. 

Click here to read the responses from individual candidates.  Remember, the primary is the key election in several of these races.  For District 1, there is no primary election but two candidates for the general election.  In District 2 (seat being vacated by Brian Bigalow), there is no general election opponent so whoever wins the primary will be the commissioner from District 2.  Don't forget to register to vote, request your absentee ballot, and PLEASE VOTE!!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Observe etiquette and share the pathway

7/4/12
 Dan's column this week focuses on the need for sharing the pathways among all the users--cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, runners, etc.  Be considerate and safe!
As a walker, runner and cyclist who engages in using sidewalks, multi-use paths and linear park trails almost every day, my professional experience allows me to really see what’s going on out there. In most cases, it’s pretty good in terms of behavior and etiquette, but there are quite a few unsafe and inconsiderate walking, running, skating and cycling examples I’d like to touch upon.

One thing to keep in mind in almost all cases on a pathway — regardless of width, surface type or predominate user — is that pedestrians have first priority. This is especially true of disabled users (those in wheelchairs and even motorized assistive devices are, by law, pedestrians), who have the highest priority. One exception: on trails, usually unpaved, where horseback riding is allowed, the horse and rider have the right-of-way over all other users. The reason for this is a horse’s unpredictable nature. So, except on equestrian trails, cyclists and pedestrians on wheels (skaters, skateboarders, etc.) must yield to true pedestrians, warn when passing and exercise caution around them.

A bicyclist using cell phone moments before nearly colliding with a car that didn’t stop where required. A bicyclist using cell phone moments before nearly colliding with a car that didn’t stop where required. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Yet, I witness and hear of too many examples of cyclists terrorizing walkers and runners by zipping by unannounced, usually on a narrow sidewalk such as McGregor Boulevard. Sometimes walkers and runners bring the behavior on themselves by wearing headphones or being oblivious to their surrounding because they are engulfed in text messaging or phone conversation. While that may be bad etiquette, there’s no law against pedestrians using headphones, so cyclists (who are required by law to give an audible warning when passing anyone on a pathway) must take that into account and pass safely, always assuming a pedestrian may not be aware of the action about to occur. Cyclists on pathways should ride at speeds appropriate for the kind of traffic encountered. In many cases, that means very slow. So for those who want to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time, or just ride hard, the road is the place to be.

As stated, it’s not illegal for those on foot to become oblivious to their surroundings, or at least to the sounds and cues around them, but allowing others to pass safely is required. In other words, if walking or running two or three abreast, thus taking up the entire path’s width, be prepared to share the space when necessary. And if there are dogs involved, keep them on short leashes that won’t trip a runner or take down a cyclist. Runners can be just as menacing as cyclists if they zip by from behind unannounced. Be courteous and give warning, slowing or stopping if necessary, especially if dealing with elderly folks or those with mobility limitations. In any case, be nice to those with whom you’re sharing the pathway.

Another issue I’ve covered before is the move underway to allow motorized vehicles such as electric golf carts on certain pathways. We all know there are already many out there using the sidewalks and paths illegally, but once it becomes legal, I predict the numbers will swell and create even more conflicts on facilities that are meant for non-motorized use. Lee County is holding a public workshop in September to take input — keep an eye on BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee. blogspot.com) for details.

Finally, an excellent source of information and answers to questions related to bike/ped law can be found at the Florida Bicycle Association’s Florida Bike Law website (flbikelaw.org). George Martin, FBA’s law enforcement expert, answers questions that usually result in a dialogue that includes others involved in law enforcement throughout the state and country.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦

— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instruct or/ 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.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BikeWalkLee's statement on federal transportation bill--a step backward

On June 29th, Congress passed a new two-year transportation bill that is essentially a stopgap measure that is a step backward from current transportation policy and does nothing to address the needs of a changing America in the 21st century.  It reverses years of progress on biking and walking policy and cuts by 60 to 70 percent funding for local safety projects such as sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes.
For the past 20 years, a modest portion of federal transportation investments--less than 2 percent of all transportation funding--has been dedicated to biking and walking projects that makes streets more accessible for everybody, reduce preventable traffic fatalities, help boost local economic development and create construction jobs.  But, despite an outpouring of support from mayors, county commissions and MPO boards, including Lee County's, and bicycle and pedestrian advocates, a deal was negotiated by a small number of Congress members behind closed doors that eliminates a substantial amount of this popular funding. The total funding authorized for the program went from $1.2 billion to $702 million a year.
Much of the hard work that the Senate had done to craft a forward-looking, bipartisan bill was eliminated in the final "compromise".  The resulting transportation bill takes a major step backwards on accountability in how transportation funding is spent, essentially handing states a blank check without proper assurances that roads will get safer, traffic congestion will improve, people can get to work or bridges will get fixed.
 BikeWalkLee wants to thank the local officials  and advocates who weighed in repeatedly for provisions to improve programs for biking, walking, and transit and building a 21st century transportation system.  We would also like to thank our national partners who fought valiantly for these programs.  As bad as this bill is, it would have been worse without these efforts at both the national and local levels. 
Complete streets and a balanced multi-modal transportation system is the goal of BikeWalkLee and we will continue to fight for integrating biking, walking, and transit into the way we design, construct, and operate our transportation system.  With a complete streets approach, all the transportation funding resources are our focus, not just the small programs that have been dedicated to funding bicycle and pedestrian programs.  We are confident that the Lee MPO will continue to give priority to the needs of all users as they make transportation funding decisions. 
This new legislation does retain the Cardin-Cochran amendment provision that provides 50% of the Transportation Alternative Program funds to MPOs; however, on the remaining 50%  states have almost total discretion in determining whether they use these funds for this program. BikeWalkLee will work with other advocates throughout Florida to press Governor Scott and the Florida DOT to ensure that these funds remain available for these bike/ped projects. Given that Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians and bicyclists, it is critical that these funds be used to make our state safer for all users.
By Darla Letourneau