Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Moser Column: Streets Alive! makes history in the River District

This week's Moser column lauds Streets Alive! and everyone who made it a success.  The advocacy corner focuses on the recent spike in pedestrian fatalities and importance of law enforcement assistance in implementing the community's bike/ped safety action plan.

Florida Weekly, Outdoors Section, Nov. 27, 2013
Dan Moser
After more than a year of planning and preparation, Lee County residents are now among the ranks of those in hundreds of communities around the country and throughout the world who have experienced a cyclovia or Open Street event. The River District of downtown Fort Myers was the venue for the first go-around of Streets Alive!, which came off with the usual number of hiccups for an inaugural and unique event, but overall was everything organizers had hoped for: active fun for everyone.

The many volunteers and government representatives who came through to help make it happen before, during, and afterward were instrumental in its success and their support is very much appreciated. Elected officials and staff from the city of Fort Myers and its Redevelopment Agency; Lee County administration and facilities staff; Fort Myers police and fire departments; and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office V.O.I.C.E. personnel were especially helpful, as were the many sponsors who took a chance on an unknown entity and product. Activity providers, exhibitors, and vendors offered so many choices that there was little excuse not to be moving or trying out healthy food options.

 BikeWalkLee and partner organizations garnished lots of public input on what kind of community design and attributes are preferred through an interactive “pop-up city hall” and other activities that turned out to be a big hit. (Be sure to visit the blog at for the results of this particular aspect of Streets Alive!) As for the future, if there’s adequate interest and commitment from the health community and others who want to see this happen on an ongoing basis, Streets Alive! may reoccur in the spring, tentatively on Sunday, April 6. I’ll keep you informed as decisions are made.

Fort Myers Track Club happenings
Fort Myers Track Club, our area’s experts on all things running, is once again offering its Youth Running Program starting Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Wa-ke Hatchee Community Park, 16760 Bass Road (just off Summerlin near HealthPark). Kids 18 and younger will meet weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Youth running coach Maria Andrews will lead this free program. And don’t forget to participate in the 35th annual City of Palms River Run 10K on Saturday, Dec. 7, which starts and finishes along at Centennial Park. For the less ambitious, there’s also a two-mile walk. Details of those and other FMTC happenings can be found at

Advocacy update
There’s been no respite from the carnage on our roads, whether it involves pedestrians, bicyclists or motorists. As of the writing of this column, Lee County has had 71 traffic fatalities, 19 of those being pedestrians. And those numbers don’t include serious injuries that are often life-changing for the victims and others.

Those of us in the business of working to help prevent such incidents are frustrated and perplexed. Neither our messages nor traditional enforcement activities seem to be reaching a certain segment of the population. Vulnerable road users continue to make poor decisions. Motor-vehicle operators fail to take their weapon-wielding responsibility seriously. And the general public doesn’t appear concerned enough to be outraged or demand changes in the status quo (unless, of course, it directly affects them).

It’s hard to say what more can be done to convince ourselves to pay attention and act responsibly, but we’ll keep at it by trying to change the perception among both the public and law enforcement that traffic-related deaths and injuries are tolerable.

I’ve written about this before, but one relatively new tool we have is our community’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. You can view the plan at Local law enforcement leaders are meeting in early December to kick-off the plan’s enforcement element implementation. Their commitment to bringing our fatality and injury numbers down is vital and appreciated. Many of us look forward to being part of the development of the enforcement community’s plan of action, something we believe will help change behavior for the better if it’s well crafted and implemented.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and program director for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He may be contacted at or 334- 6417.

Upcoming events
¦ River Run 10K & 2-Mile Walk, Saturday,
Dec. 7, downtown Fort Myers, (
¦ Everyone Runs Half-Marathon &
5K, Sunday, Dec. 8, JetBlue Park (
For more Lee County running events visit Fort
Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.
com), Endurance Sports Timing (, and 3-D Racing
( For Naples/Collier
running info it’s the Gulf Coast Runners (

Cycling & Other Events:
¦ Turkey Leg Century Ride*, Sunday,
Nov. 29, Publix, Six Mile @ Daniels ( (*A self-supported ride)
¦ Everyone Rides, Sunday, Dec. 8, JetBlue Park (
¦ Ride for Hope, Saturday, Feb. 14, Bonita Springs Hope Hospice House (

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

CompleteLEE Sustainability Plan presented to BoCC at Dec. 2nd M and P meeting

BikeWalkLee encourages organizations and citizens to come to the Dec. 2nd BoCC meeting to speak in support of the County's first Sustainability Plan.

At the Board's Management and Planning meeting on December 2nd (1:30-4:00 p.m. in County Commission Chambers), Tessa LeSage, the Sustainability Director, will be presenting an overview of the Sustainability Plan in advance of a request for the Board to adopt the Plan.  Click here for the agenda package and link to the Plan.

Background: (taken from the County's blue sheet)
In March 2012, the BoCC adopted completeLEE: A Sustainability Assessment, directing staff to utilize the information gathered in the assessment process to develop Lee County's first comprehensive Sustainability Plan.  With a three-year planning horizon, the Sustainability Plan builds upon policies, programs, and initiatives already taking place in Lee County.  Applying performance measures and best practice actions improve the county's ability to understand the impacts, successes and shortcomings of community efforts.  Having such a plan is an expression of a community's quality of life.  It helps the county align and organize its future goals and positions Lee County to adapt quickly to changing community conditions.  This makes Lee County more competitive in efforts to secure grant funding and attract visitors, residents, students, and businesses and the workforce on which they depend.  For example, local efforts to promote community sustainability were applied in the MPO's recent success securing $10.5 million in TIGER V funds.

Click here to read the full agenda package. 

Click here to review the Sustainability Plan

Monday, November 25, 2013

Citizen Input Invited for Fort Myers’ Complete Streets Manual

Here's your chance to participate in reviewing the City of Fort Myers' draft Complete Streets Manual, which has been posted on their website for public comment.

The Fort Myers City Council voted to formalize the process of adapting the nationally known “Living Streets” manual as the City’s Complete Streets Manual, by sending it to their Bike Pedestrian Advisory Board (BPAB) for review and comment and simultaneously posting it to the city's website -  - for public feedback.
The fourteen chapter “Living Streets” manual was first published in 2011 and authored by a team of national experts including our own FDOT Division I Secretary, Billy Hattaway. This manual, specifically designed to be used as a model design prototype, links the principles of complete streets with public health and environmental concerns.  It focuses on all users and all modes seeking to achieve a balanced street design. 

City staff in both Community Development and Public Works departments has been working to customize the model manual, fitting it to the needs of Fort Myers. Beginning with their next meeting on Dec 19th the seven members of BPAB will review several chapters each month, analyzing and suggesting additions and deletions as they proceed.

Citizens are encouraged to actively participate. All who traverse and use the roadways or sidewalks in Fort Myers are invited to submit their opinions and comments regarding this manual. Public input will be assessed and incorporated as it is received. 

After analysis and review by the BPAB, the manual will go to the City’s Local Planning Board for similar review, with a target completion date of July 2014. 

Report by Ann Pierce

New Horizon 2035 Lee Plan revised elements review continues

As reported in our  October blog post, 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.  Revisions to the first three elements, based on comments from county committees and the public, were reviewed by the LPA and CSAC at their September/October meetings, and the next two elements--Capital Improvement and Conservation and Coastal Management-- are being considered at November/December committee meeting. 

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.

Over the summer, the staff started the process of revising the elements to address these comments.  In July we shared with you the schedule and process for the next and final phase.  
Final committee review of elements
 At the September 23rd LPA meeting, and the Oct. 16th CSAC meeting the first three revised Comp Plan amendment elements were reviewed:

The next three elements were reviewed at the Oct. 28th LPA meeting and the Nov. 20th CSAC meeting:
1.  Intergovernmental Coordination
2.  Economic
3.  Housing

The next two elements are to be reviewed at the November 20th CSAC meeting and the Dec. 4th LPA meeting:
1.  Capital Improvement Element
2.  Conservation and Coastal Management Element

The LPA has scheduled a second meeting in December for Dec. 11th, which will include several community plan Local Development Code amendments but no Comp Plan amendments.

There is an opportunity for public comment on these elements at every CSAC and LPA meeting, and the public is encouraged to participate.

BikeWalkLee focus:
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 January/February.

 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)

Pedal to the Park!

BikeWalkLee is collaborating with the Lee County Visitors and Convention Bureau (VCB) on an initiative to promote biking to the upcoming Spring Training games.  Kudos to VCB and BWL's Mike Bacigalupo for stepping up to the plate to work on this.  Stay tuned for more details in early 2014.

Riding a bike to the Ball Park for a Spring Training Game is a viable option for the 2014 Spring Training Season with improved bike friendly lanes and paths navigating to the parks.  

Located in Ft. Myers are Hammond Stadium the home for the Minnesota Twins and Jet Blue Park the home to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.  Once at the park, bike parking is free and much less of a hassle.  

So are you ready to leave the car behind..?

The 2014 Spring Training Season officially starts the end of February and runs through March; perfect weather to get outside.  Riders of all ages and all abilities can safely and easily navigate to the parks.  Distances can vary from a few miles to larger loops around the City.  

Spring Training brings with it a following of fans from all over the nation, many looking for places to eat, sleep, and be merry.  Fort Myers Visitor and Convention Bureau is coordinating with popular hotels/motels and bike shops in providing special lodging packages that come with the use of the bikes.  Local residents don’t despair - your Family can take advantage of a “stay-cation” and experience firsthand why our city is a tourist hotspot.  

This initiative is part of Lee County's complete streets program that promotes alternative modes of transportation, and encourages residents and visitors to use the county's  expanded biking and walking facilities.  Pedal the unique South Florida landscape on a series of interconnecting bike routes that highlight some of what the County has to offer.  Both of these ball parks are stops on the Tour de Parks Route.  The 36-mile Tour de Parks route, complete with way finding signs and a map, is almost entirely on shared use paths, linking eight parks and recreation facilities, including both ballparks.

Bike Routes & Maps:

Park & Bike Option:  
There are options for biking to Ball Parks if you live too far away or want just a short ride. Good starting points are other Parks included on the Tour de Parks Bike Route.  These Parks often offer parking and bathroom facilities.  Another good starting point are one of the Bike Shops highlighted on the Tour de Parks map.  In the event a bike needs air in the tires or a minor adjustment the local Bike Shop would be more than willing to help.  In addition there are numerous retailers located along the routes.  

Check for Updates:  
Visit the links below to learn more as the Spring Training Season gets closer.  

So get off your behind and leave the behind.  Not only will you avoid traffic congestion, it is fun, good for your health, and contributes to the sustainability of Lee County.  Once the Spring Training Season is complete Hammond Stadium is home to the Ft. Myers Miracle Regular Season.  
Mike Bacigalupo 

Volunteer Opportunities:  
BikeWalkLee is looking for volunteers to participate in upcoming events.  If you can help out, please contact: Mike Bacigalupo at  

Report by Mike Bacigalupo

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Action Alert: Ask Congress to support the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act

A bill has been introduced in Congress to improve bike/ped safety.  Please ask our congressional delegation to support the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act!

This year has been a particularly deadly one for pedestrians and cyclists in Lee County, with pedestrian deaths increasing daily at an alarming rate.  So far in 2013, there have been 20 men and women killed while walking on our streets, along with 3 cyclists killed--the deadliest year since 2007.  (See BWL's recent blog story on rising pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.)

Clearly, more needs to be done at all levels of government to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Last week, a coalition of bi­partisan House lawmakers introduced the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act, which will require the U.S. Department of Transportation to set specific safety targets for all
roadway users ­­ not just motorists, but pedestrians and bicyclists, too.

The legislation gives US DOT the flexibility to determine the best method to meet these safety
measures, and calls on our leaders to reduce the number of people biking and walking who are killed
or injured on our streets every year.

A simple safety measure, this bill says clearly that the lives of all roadway users are important and creates accountability toward ending needless deaths.

​Without a specific performance measure to focus on nonmotorized safety, bicyclists and pedestrians will remain firmly in the blindspot of traffic safety.

The United States should have a national goal to reduce the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed on our roadways.

Please ask Senators Nelson and Rubio and Representative Radel to co-sponsor HR 3494/S 1708 to institute a nonmotorized safety performance measure.

The League of American Bicyclists (one of BikeWalkLee's national partners), has made it easy to take action. Click here to take action today--it only takes 30 seconds. Thanks! 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lee MPO Board approves rail study recommendations and goals on land use scenario project

The Nov. 22nd Lee MPO Board meeting covered many topics of interest to BikeWalkLee, including the rail feasibility study, the land use scenario project, TIGER, the bike/ped safety action plan, and transit.  Below are highlights from those discussions and actions.

At Friday's Lee MPO Board meeting, the new members from Cape Coral City Council were welcomed--Mayor Sawicki, Councilman Burch, and Councilman Williams.  Councilman Burch was elected as the Lee MPO's representative to the statewide MPO Advisory Council Governing Board, with Councilman Leonardo as the alternate.  Chairman Ruane asked Mayor Sawicki to put someone from the Cape on the MPO's Executive Committee.

Rail Feasibility Study
Following through on the Board's 2010 direction as part of the 2035 LRTP, a consulting team has been working for the past year on the MPO Rail Feasibility Study of the CSX/Seminole Gulf Corridor.( Click here to review the report.) The study assessed the long term feasibility of implementing public multi-modal transportation options (including passenger rail, bus rapid transit, and/or a multi-use path) within the corridor through Lee and northern Collier County.  The report recommendations, endorsed by the TAC and CAC, direct staff to move forward with the preservation of the corridor in the comprehensive and MPO plans and to further pursue with FDOT the options for purchasing the corridor.

The consulting team made a presentation about the study and the Board had an extensive discussion of the report and its recommendations. Bonita Springs Mayor Nelson argued that it was a smart business move to preserve the corridor, that it was a critical part of the county's long term multi-modal vision, and that the public needs to invest in its own future.  Others, including Fort Myers Councilman Flanders, spoke in support of this visionary step, and Commissioner Manning encouraged all jurisdictions to amend their Comp Plans to reflect preservation of the rail corridor. Some members, including Cape Coral councilman Carioscia, spoke against the proposal, arguing that the public shouldn't subsidize railroads, or that it was yesterday's technology (Councilman Leonardo).  A representative from Seminole Gulf railroad also spoke against the proposal.

BikeWalkLee's Ann Pierce spoke in support of the report recommendations.  The rail study offers opportunities for excellence in good fiscal management, integrating land use and transportation planning, and stable, diverse economic development.  The most important recommendation to draw from this study is that "The intact rail corridor is very important to the future of Lee Co and should be preserved as a singularly unique asset.” 

Pierce suggested that the Board not get bogged down in details now about the types of transportation that may ultimately traverse this corridor.  We know it can serve multiple purposes not only within Lee Co, but as a part of an extended link in SWFL.  There is sufficient ROW to serve all, with the exception of a short portion in Fort Myers that should also be acquired. Pierce emphasized that the maximum potential of this asset may not be realized for decades, but support of FDOT’s purchase of this ROW is one important step in changing direction from always looking beyond and outside of ourselves in expensive attempts to lure the bonanza job creators, to focusing on our own “Economic Gardening” -  developing and growing our own businesses. 

The Board adopted Mayor Nelson's motion to approve the report recommendations, with four members voting against the motion.

Land Use Scenario Project

Also following through on the Board's 2010 direction as part of the 2035 LRTP, over the past year a consultant team, along with MPO staff, has undertaken an intensive effort to explore alternative ways the county could grow that would reduce or shorten vehicle trips and increase other travel options.  Identifying future land use patterns as alternative scenarios will allow the MPO and citizens of Lee County to evaluate the costs and benefits of different patterns.  At the end of this process, the MPO will select a preferred land use scenario, which will become the basis of the future transportation vision in the MPO's forthcoming 2040 LRTP.  BikeWalkLee has been a strong supporter of this effort since 2010.

The Board unanimously approved the goals and objectives of the project.  (Click here for goals and objectives of project.)  The next step of the project is an interactive "planners workshop" on December 6th, to identify potential future concentrations of housing and jobs and help create the alternative scenarios. Public engagement on the scenarios is planned to begin in early 2014.  Scenario selection by the Committee's and MPO Board is anticipated for late spring or summer 2014.  The selected scenario will be used as the 2040 socioeconomic data for the development of the 2040 LRTP, which must be adopted by December 2015.

TIGER and Bike/Ped Safety Action Plan Implementation

MPO staff is busy on multiple tasks related to initiating the TIGER project, and the Board approved the grant agreement and other FHWA required documents.  Don Scott, MPO executive director, outlined the extensive reporting requirements of the grant, including tracking performance measures developed to measure the impact of the complete streets grant project five years out.

BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau thanked Don Scott for all his work on preparing for TIGER implementation and all the advance federal requirements work involved, and then focused her remarks on implementation of the bike/ped safety action plan (BPSAP), which is an integral part of accomplishing the safety goals of our TIGER grant.   Letourneau thanked the Board for making TIGER/BPSAP implementation a standard agenda item for all board meetings, since sustained leadership and attention will be required to implement both components. We know that you can't reduce bike/ped fatality and injury numbers simply by constructing new facilities--it must be combined with education, enforcement, and culture change. 

Letourneau stated that November has been a particularly deadly month on Lee County roads.  To date, there have been nine traffic deaths in November, with four of them being pedestrians, or 44% of all roadway fatalities.  And this doesn't count the pedestrians and bicyclists that were seriously injured in crashes this month.  In 2013 to date, there have been a record 19 pedestrian fatalities (and 3 bicyclist fatalities)--a level not seen since 2007.  (The below graph is already out of date.)  The targets established in the BPSAP are for a 5% reduction a year...and we're moving in the wrong direction!
Pedestrian fatalities are now at 19 (vs. 18) as of 11/22/13

Letourneau reported that Lee County is not the only place that's experiencing increased bike/ped deaths.  This week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued its 2012 report showing an overall increase of 3.3% in traffic fatalities, with pedestrian and cyclist deaths rising at almost double that rate--6.4 and 6.5 percent respectively.

Letourneau thanked Commissioner Pendergrass for convening the upcoming (Dec. 10th) BPSAP implementation kick-off meeting with all local law enforcement leaders.  FDOT District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway, as well as a law enforcement official from Hillsborough County, will also be part of this important meeting.  Letourneau urged all the local jurisdictions to make sure their law enforcement officials as well as their staff make implementation of the BPSAP a high priority, and work in concert with the MPO and other partners.

As part of the Board discussion on this issue, Cape Councilman Burch thanked BikeWalkLee for its efforts on TIGER and bike/ped safety, noting that it was impressive to see the accomplishments since he was last on the MPO Board four years ago.

Councilman Flanders spoke about the bike/ped fatality data and asked that staff include in its presentation to the Board information about the cases of each crash and fatality.

LeeTran's Director, Steve Myers, provided an update on the County's Transit Task Force.  He also reported on the November 14th service changes, stating they were watching it closely to make sure the impacts weren't too adverse and had made some corrections based on problems identified.

Mayor Ben Nelson asked what was being done to ensure continued funding of the highly successful Lee-Collier link bus, called LinC.  He said that this was the most successful joint venture before the counties and an excellent example of regionalism and we need to find ways to keep it going.  He offered to assist in any way he could to make sure this route continues.

December MPO Board Meeting
The next meeting of the MPO Board will be a joint meeting between the Lee and Charlotte County MPO Boards on December 13th at 1:30 p.m. (location to be determined).  There will be an important presentation of the FDOT commissioned report by the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), which is a review of MPO 2035 LRTP's done by MPOs throughout Florida in 2010.  It also addresses the funding shortfall facing Florida and provides informative and timely information as the Lee MPO embarks on its 2040 process. Click here for a copy of the CUTR report

Report by Darla Letourneau