Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Streets Alive set as signature Healthy Lee event

As reported in our July 16th blog post, BikeWalkLee is excited about the upcoming Streets Alive! event coming to downtown Fort Myers on November 10th.  Mark your calendars and plan to participate!  You'll be hearing more details in the next couple of months, including opportunities to volunteer.l

July 30, 2013
Contact: Kate Gooderham
                 (239) 489-2616

Streets Alive set as signature Healthy Lee event

Fort Myers, FL— The Healthy Lee movement is taking its message of healthier lifestyle choices to the streets this fall, thanks to the first-ever Streets Alive event.

Streets Alive will be the first signature event for Healthy Lee, the local wellness coalition created to empower and inspire the people of Lee County regarding healthy lifestyle choices through education and action. Streets Alive is focused on creating active fun for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities on streets, temporarily closed to motor vehicles, and highlighting healthier food and beverage offerings.

“Streets Alive was developed as our signature event because it shows attendees in a fun, family atmosphere the multitude of opportunities people in Lee County have to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” said Sally Jackson, co-chairwoman of the Healthy Lee Coalition.

“The event is slated as an opportunity to showcase our Healthy Lee tagline: ‘Choose. Commit. Change’ -- three simple, action-oriented steps that resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. If you choose to participate, commit to healthy lifestyle choices such as good nutrition and regular exercise, you can ultimately change the way you look, feel and live, for the better.”

Streets Alive temporarily closes downtown streets to traffic and opens them up for people to play, including free activities such as walking, biking, aerobics, kickball, yoga, dance and more. The first event is set for Sunday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the downtown Fort Myers River District.

Streets Alive features instructors offering a buffet of free and accessible games, sports, dance and other movement for attendees to try. There will be several Activity Villages where a variety of activities and instructions will be offered, along with a series of events taking advantage of the traffic-free downtown streets. Participants of all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate, with the focus particularly being on easy-to-learn activities to get people moving.

The family-friendly Streets Alive will have local restaurants and outlets along the route offering food and beverages, highlighting their most delicious and nutritious menu items. A range of other vendors will also be participating in the festivities.

For more event information or sponsorship options, go to

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Streets Alive of Lee County Inc. is designed to close the streets to traffic and open them up for people to play, move and combine fun with health. The first signature event of the Healthy Lee Coalition is set for Sunday, Nov. 10, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the downtown Fort Myers River District. Streets Alive of a tax-exempt 501c3 nonprofit based in Fort Myers, with long-term plans to schedule a series of fun and participatory events at sites throughout Lee County. Information is online at

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Next phase of Comp Plan (Horizon 2035) update process

The final phase of the Comp Plan (Horizon 2035) update process is underway...moving us forward towards the goal of revising Lee County's growth management plans to bring the vision of a Livable Lee to reality.

Over the past two years, the county staff and its committees have been working through the elements of the Comp Plan Horizon 2035 update, following the vision adopted in the County's 2011 Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR).  This new vision of Lee County in 2035 - an economically and environmentally desirable place to live, work and visit - was crafted through an extensive community planning effort that included over 40 public workshops. The Comp Plan update process is revising Lee County’s growth management plans to bring that vision of a Livable Lee to reality. 
In June, the Local Planning Agency (LPA) completed its first round review of all the Comp Plan elements, and the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) completed its review in May. The Horizon Council also reviewed the plan with staff over the past four months.  Over the past four months, county planning staff also conducted 43 public workshops to discuss the key changes in the Comp Plan that are being proposed.  Finally, the County's online Town Hall tool (New Horizon 2035) provided another opportunity for citizens to comment and provide their input.

Now that all this input has been received, staff is starting the process of revising the elements to address the comments.  Planning staff has now developed a schedule and process for the next and final phase.  The schedule is subject to change, but here's the current plan:  

Each month (see the sequence below), several revised elements will be presented to the LPA for final review.  The staff report prepared for the LPA on each element will show how the comments received have been addressed, with a comparison from the previous draft to this final draft. Prior to the review of those elements by the LPA, the CSAC's EAR working group will have a chance to review the documents, present their comments to the full CSAC, and then a representative from the CSAC will come to the LPA meeting each month and present the Committee's comments on the revised elements.  At each LPA meeting, the public has an opportunity to comment on the revised elements.

Integration of land use and transportation planning is key to complete streets and complete communities, so these two elements will continue to be a major focus of BikeWalkLee's attention. These revised elements are scheduled for review in November.

 For background on BikeWalkLee's views, click below:
·        BWL comments to county Local Planning Agency on land use elements (4/5/13)
·        BikeWalkLee overview comments on 10/26/12 Draft Transportation Element (11/25/12)
The following is the current schedule for review of the revised elements:

LPA Meeting: September 23
Staff report available: September 13
CSAC working group meeting: Sept. 16                 
CSAC full committee consideration: Sept. 18th

Elements to be reviewed:
Vision Statement  
Historic Preservation
Parks, Recreation, & Open Space
Economic Element

LPA Meeting: October 28
Staff report available: Oct. 18th
CSAC working group meeting: Oct. 21st               
CSAC full committee consideration: Oct. 23rd

Elements to be reviewed:
Community Facilities & Services
Community Safety & Wellbeing  
Intergovernmental Coordination 
Capital Improvements
Conservation & Coastal Management

Dates TBD due to Thanksgiving Holiday
LPA Meeting: TBD
Staff report available: TBD
CSAC working group meeting: TBD
CSAC full committee consideration: TBD

Elements to be reviewed:
Future Land Use


Plans for BoCC Action
While the schedule for this last step hasn't been finalized yet, after the LPA has made its final recommendations on all the elements (hopefully by December 2013), the plan is to have a multi-day workshop for the BoCC to review the entire revised package.  Subsequent to the workshop, the entire Comp Plan amendment package will come to the Board for consideration.  Once it's approved by the Board, it goes to the State for review and then back to the Board for final adoption.
Report by Darla Letourneau, with input from Kathy Ebaugh (Lee County Planning Staff)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

BWL Column: Five things about summer cycling and five summer safety tips

This week's BikeWalkLee column in News-Press is the feature story in today's "Go Coastal" section, about places to bike in Lee county this summer and safety tips for summer biking.
 BikeWalkLee's Column:  News-Press "Go Coastal" Section, July 25, 2013
Part I:  Five things about summer cycling 
 It’s hot out there, of course, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great bike ride, especially since the tourist crowds have thinned out. Here are five spots to enjoy a nice ride, get some great exercise and have lots of fun:
NP/Getty Images/Polka Dot RF
Lakes Park: A good place to start a longer ride or you can keep your ride inside its confines if you’re just getting used to riding ... and plenty of things for the nonriders to do as well. Bikes can be rented if you don’t have one, there’s plenty of shade and places for a drink, and the park connects to both the Summerlin and Six Mile Cypress/10 Mile Linear Park path systems. (click here for Map)

Sanibel: Lots of options for ride length and scenery (and even a choice of bike shops for rentals if necessary). Many paths have some shade or places to stop, and the more populated routes have lots of stores where you can grab a cool drink or get in from the heat (and do a little shopping). (Click here for Map.) 

Veterans Memorial Parkway: Not always great for shade, but a number of shopping centers where you can get a drink or get out of the heat for a little while. Mostly a protected ride and you can go as far as you like or throw in some explorations of adjacent Cape neighborhoods. (Click here for Map.) 

Beach biking: No, not on the beach (illegal and really bad for your gears and chain) ... but from one beach park to the next. (Think swim to cool off, ride to dry off, then repeat – perhaps with a cool beverage in between.) A couple of choices: Bowditch to Lyn Hall Park on Fort Myers Beach (the road improvements on North Estero have made this very bike-friendly), Turner Beach to Hagerup Park on Captiva (a wide shoulder, low speed limits and shade make this a good choice), or Lovers Key/Carl Johnson Park to Bonita Beach Park (with a bridge thrown in just for fun).

Around your neighborhood: Bike rides don’t have to be major productions; in fact, an impromptu ride can be the most fun of all. Ride down the streets you know and see them from a new perspective. Ride to a summertime event (weather permitting), and avoid the hassle of finding a parking place (but do bring a bike lock). Get out in the early morning or early evening (thanks to late sunsets), and say “hi” to neighbors you don’t often see (or haven’t had the chance to meet). Bicycling, at its heart, is a social activity, a chance to see the world at a slower pace so you can take more of it in. Take advantage of that.

Hand holding water bottle /
So you’ve decided to take a bicycle ride this summer? Here are five safety tips you need to remember:

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! (And, did we mention, drink more water?) Drink early, drink often, drink plenty (8-10 ounces per 15 minutes of exercise is one common rule of thumb, and that’s assuming you start out well hydrated).

Dress cool: Cotton is not your warm-weather friend on a bike. Look for moisture-wicking materials (which draw sweat away from your skin) and things that will dry quickly. Light colors reflect more heat and help you stay visible to traffic – and wear a helmet (better vented and safer than just a hat) and good sunglasses.

Ride early: Get your ride in before the heat of the day hits … meaning get back before 11 a.m. unless there’s some cloud cover. You can also ride late when the worst heat is over, but you run a better chance of rain and should really have a light in case it gets too dark for safety. Plus whenever you ride, don’t forget sunscreen!

Get acclimated: Don’t jump on your bike for the first time this summer and expect to ride two hours during the hottest part of the day. Building up your mileage and your tolerance to heat takes weeks (not days), and always watch for any sign of heat-related illness as a sign to stop, cool down and seek assistance if necessary.

Be ready for rain: Since you never know when the skies could open up in Southwest Florida, it’s just smart to throw in a jacket or poncho to keep you dry in a passing shower. But if you get caught when it pours, seek shelter if there’s lightning and ride with even more caution if roads get wet.

 BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating 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. Information, statistics and background online at

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dan Moser Column: Lee’s pedestrians and cyclists deserve better

Florida Weekly, July 24, 2013      This week's Dan Moser column focuses on the need for more than "bare bones" bike/ped facilities and amenities in Lee County and highlights the "Fix-it Buddy" in Punta Gorda.  Dan also comments on the great work of the Injury Prevention Coalition's David Kainrad, who is retiring this month. 
Dan Moser
What do you do when your bike has mechanical problems while out on a ride? Maybe a fellow cyclist with the right tools and skills will stop and assist. If you have a phone, you might call someone to pick you up. Or a friendly motorist might happen upon you and take you and your bike where you need to go. But if you break down in Punta Gorda, you could find everything you need right on the city’s network of trails, pathways, connectors and linear parks. The Fix-It Buddy is a user-friendly device that includes a bike stand, air pump and all the tools you’ll need, free of charge and accessible any time of the day or night. I mention this excellent feature for a reason: It’s one example of something Punta Gorda’s bicycle and pedestrian network has that Lee County doesn’t — something more than a hard surface.

Regular readers of this column know I frequently talk about the good, bad and ugly of our area in terms of how we treat and accommodate non-motorists. One of the many issues I have with the way much of our system in Lee County has been developed is the very spartan nature of almost each and every one. Regardless of whether it’s a municipality, a county or state that built it, it’s generally  bare-bones, without even basic upgrades like shade trees or enhanced intersection crossings. More attention is spent on roadway median landscaping than amenities that benefit those operating a along its edges and who don’t have their motorized living rooms to keep them safe and comfortable.

Punta Gorda’s Fix-It Buddy along Linear Park.
Punta Gorda’s Fix-It Buddy along Linear Park
Exceptions to that rule include the Town of Fort Myers Beach’s North Estero Boulevard and Old Downtown; some parts of downtown Fort Myers (at least for pedestrians); and the John Yarbrough Linear Park Trail.

But when compared to other places throughout Florida and the U.S., we seem to believe that by simply plunking down concrete or asphalt dedicated to non-motorists’ use we’ve done what’s needed.

If you think it’s being greedy to expect more, visit Punta Gorda and see what it’s done in the past few years. But even its progress pales in comparison to communities that truly embrace the concept of Complete Streets and placemaking for people, not just for moving motor vehicles — something too many of our transportation officials apparently still believe is the job they’re paid to do. And although the general public and even the majority of our elected officials agree that Complete Streets are the way to go, we mostly continue to design and build in ways that leave a lot to be desired. Go to Lee County Town Hall  and BikeWalkLee’s blog to help change things.

Sincere thanks to a Lee County champion
One of Lee County’s most effective injury prevention professionals, who most people don’t know of because he operated out of the public spotlight, has retired. David Kainrad, who worked for Lee County EMS for more than three decades, brought significant skills and resources to our area, including the bicycle and pedestrian safety education and outreach efforts that would have otherwise disappeared when the health department shuttered its Injury Prevention Program as a result of the economic meltdown of 2008. Even before that program’s demise, Dave was working to ensure the important work of the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, a multi-organizational partnership, was effective in any and all preventable injury efforts needing to be taken on.

Keeping folks out of ambulances, hospitals and morgues is the goal of IPC. Its mantra is “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” Anything from drownings, motor vehicle crashes, disaster preparedness, firearms, suicide, and, of course, pedestrian and bicycle incidents, are included. We’ll continue to work toward reducing and even eliminating all of those, and hope Dave will remain an integral part of what’s become a model of prevention that’s recognized nationally.

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 Bicy cle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lessons from Orlando Sentinel pedestrian safety special report

 Orlando area has long been ranked the most dangerous area in America for pedestrians.  Over the past three weeks the Orlando Sentinel has reported in a 3-part series on their investigation into the problem and solutions, concluding with the below editorial in Sunday's paper.  While Lee County isn't as dangerous as Orlando, it is in the top 10 most dangerous areas in Florida for pedestrians and cyclists and has been targeted for attention by FDOT.  It's worth watching the Sentinel's intro video, and reading the below editorial...there are many lessons for Lee County. 

July 21, 2013

The nation was transfixed after an Asiana jetliner crash-landed in San Francisco recently. Two people were killed, the first commercial air fatalities in the U.S. in four years.

If only Central Florida's streets were so safe.

An Orlando Sentinel special report has found that in the past six years, 333 pedestrians have been killed by vehicles.

Instead of transfixed, the region seems resigned, as if we are powerless to do anything about the carnage.

And where has that resignation gotten us? Well, in addition to being the nation's No. 1 tourist destination, we also claim the title as the nation's deadliest city for pedestrians.

You won't see that on any chamber brochures or theme-park marketing campaigns.

Instead, Central Florida's shameful distinction remains mostly in the shadows, unless you're a family member confronted with the grief of losing a loved one. Or if you're among the scores of people who survive but suffer horrible, lifelong injuries.

Or even if you're one of the many blameless motorists who every day bear the burden of having injured, even killed, someone who blundered into the path of your car.

And make no mistake, the majority of pedestrian deaths and injuries are due to the misjudgment or carelessness of pedestrians, not motorists.

There's a reason for that. In the headlong rush to build, build, build, this region has created the kind of sprawl that necessitates bigger, high-speed roads.

The needs of pedestrians have been an afterthought. Engineers design crosswalks, but covering eight lanes of fast-moving traffic can be terrifying for a hapless pedestrian with kids in tow.

The Sentinel's series highlighting this near-daily tragedy should be a clarion call, not just for the usual suspects in elected office, but for the region's businesses, institutions and community groups that can take up the cause of making Central Florida's streets safer for pedestrians.

Common decency should be enough reason to make pedestrian safety a priority, but there are pragmatic reasons, too. What region — especially a family-friendly destination — wants to be tagged as the deadliest anything?

If Central Florida's reputation for pedestrian danger grows, will tourists start to think twice about visiting? Will businesses looking to relocate mark the region down on quality of life? Orlando can hardly afford such a black mark in the hyper-competitive market for new business.

The region's leaders need to start making some tough decisions, like lowering speed limits, spending more money to retrofit existing roads and demanding that new roads be designed with pedestrians in mind.

But as today's installment of "Blood in the Streets" makes clear, this region must undergo an attitude change. A cultural change among motorists acknowledging that pedestrians have the right to be safe, and that pedestrians have the responsibility to act safely.

That'll take leadership. Who's up for it?

 [Note: The entire series is worth reading, but is not available online unless you a subscriber to the Orlando Sentinel.]