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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Safety Guide and Map for Sanibel's Shared Use Paths



The Sanibel Bicycle Club has issued an updated map and safety guide for users of the Sanibel shared use paths.  Enjoy cycling on the island...and follow the safety tips.  Nice job, SBC!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lee County State Legislative Delegation urged to enact legislation to ban texting while driving



BikeWalkLee and Stay Alive...Just Drive! teamed up on 1/29 to urge Lee's state elected officials to enact legislation to ban texting while driving. Follow-up articles also posted.

At the Jan. 29th Lee County Legislative Delegation, BikeWalkLee teamed up with another of its coalition partners, Stay Alive...Just Drive! to urge  Lee County's state legislative delegation (2 state senators and 5 state representatives) to enact legislation this session to ban texting while driving.

The Jan. 30th News-Press article about the hearing with 42 speakers led with the distracted driving issue and BikeWalkLee's testimony:

A ban on distracted driving, or at least texting while driving, is what safety advocates requested at Tuesday’s Lee County Legislative Delegation meeting at Edison State College.

“Cracking down on texting while driving is a good place to start,” said Darla Letourneau of the BikeWalkLee coalition. “We’re hopeful this year, more than previous years, this Legislature will finally act on this important issue.”

Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, chairman of the Lee delegation, said he’s asked the bill sponsor to expand it to regulate distracted driving such as checking a navigational system.

Florida is the most dangerous place in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians, and Lee County is one of the 10 worst in the state, Letourneau said.

Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, said he is undecided because he’s hesitant to regulate personal responsibility. But he realizes there are safety issues.

Jay Anderson, Executive Director of SAJD, asked the members to adopt distracted driving legislation or revisions to current laws and to increase Graduated Drivers License (GDL) requirements for novice teen drivers.  Jay provided recent statistics about the increasing number of drivers engaged in risky behaviors while driving and using their cell phones...for example, drivers who regularly use their cell phones while driving were twice as likely to also be speeding while driving!  Jay's passion for this mission is based on his personal experience as a victim and relative of other victims, but it's Hannah Grant who is the driving force.  This young girl and her family's lives were forever changed by a distracted driver.
Hannah Grant

Darla's BWL testimony urged the members to enact legislation this session to address the growing problem of distracted driving, esp. texting while driving, and focused on vulnerable road users--pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists--who are most at risk from distracted drivers.  Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists and Lee County is one of the 10 worst areas in the state, and cracking down on texting while driving is a good place to start to begin to make our streets safer.  She urged the Legislature to join the other 39 states that have passed legislation to ban texting while driving.  Letourneau also highlighted FDOT's statewide initiative to reduce bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities and the Lee MPO efforts underway to develop a comprehensive bike/ped safety action plan to make Lee County safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Below are the previous statements by BikeWalkLee on distracted driving:

Dec. 10, 2012 Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation:

Jan. 21, 2012, "Florida should ban distractions while driving," by Ken Gooderham (BWL) op ed in News-Press:

Feb. 26, 2011, Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation:

June 20, 2011, Letter to County Commissioners in support of Distracted Driving Awareness Month:

March 9, 2010, Letter to Lee County Legislative Delegation:

Sep. 26, 2010, "Pedestrians, cyclists are vulnerable on the road," by Darla Letourneau and Dan Moser (BWL), guest opinion in News-Press:



On Feb. 1st, Florida Senator Sachs announced bill to ban texting while driving, with support of Florida's Sheriff's Association:  Senator seeks to ban texting while driving www.sun-sentinel.com


Below is AAA study just released this week with lots of facts and stats:

New Research Study, Jan. 2013 from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, "Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers:  Select Findings from the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index.


News-Press 1/31/13 disappointing editorial: "Be careful with new legislation"

Dan Moser Column: Wear your bike helmet — it works

Florida Weekly, Jan. 30, 2013   
Dan's column this week focuses on the importance of wearing a helmet while biking, following the tragic death of a cyclist in this year's Tour de Cape; along with upcoming biking and running events and an advocacy update.
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CapeCoral.com also ran an excellent feature story on Jan. 29th about bike helmets:  "Recent tragedy puts spotlight on use of bicycle helmets," and quotes BikeWalkLee representatives. Hope you'll read that as well.

It pains me to write about this in my column, but a recent tragedy will hopefully serve as an all-too-real reminder for anyone who rides a bike that using a helmet is as vital as buckling up while driving. James Heneghan of Cape Coral died during this year’s Tour de Cape after his head crashed into the pavement.

According to reports, he had removed his helmet just minutes before the accident. The crash, which involved two bicycles would likely have caused injuries — perhaps even serious ones — but probably not have resulted in a fatality, had a helmet been worn.

Experienced cyclists understand the value of this basic safety device and most wear them, especially when riding in a group situation. Of course, participation in Tour de Cape requires their use, as do less formal organized rides that are coordinated by bike clubs and others. And although Florida law doesn’t mandate adults wear them, for-fee event and club ride organizers do require them to protect participants and their own interests.

Just as seatbelts are proven to work in auto crashes, properly fitted and secured helmets protect users from serious head injury and death 85 percent of the time a cyclist is involved in a crash. Considering that even the lowest cost helmet has the same rate of success as pricey ones, that’s one effective device, to say the least. Those of us who are involved in safety and injury prevention don’t look forward to exploiting such “teachable moments” but would like to think a fatality of this nature will serve the purpose of getting an important message across when nothing else does. My sympathy and that of the whole bicycling and injury prevention community goes out to the victim’s family and friends for their loss.

Upcoming events
 
We’re in the thick of organized run, walk and bicycling season, and the weather’s been very cooperative so far. As noted in my last column, trail running events abound, with the Groundhog Day 7-Mile Trail Run coming up first at CREW on Saturday, Feb 2 (www.facebook.com/CaloosaTrailheads).

On the roads, it’s Edison festival time, so that means the Edison Festival of Lights 5K on Saturday, Feb. 16 (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com), the Saturday after the Junior Fun Runs prior to the Children’s Parade (www.edisonfestival.org/events.html) on Sunday, Feb. 10.

Head out to LaBelle for the Swamp Stomp 5K on Saturday, Feb. 23. And be sure to get your training in for the always top-notch Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon on Sunday, March 3.

As for cycling events, the second annual Cycling for Fallen Heroes Rides (www.brotherhoodride.com) takes place on Saturday, Feb. 9, from Estero Trek, Coconut Point. This is a fundraiser and warm-up for this year’s Fallen Heroes Ride to honor law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who died in the line of duty in 2012.

 Not exactly tied into St. Patty’s Day but still an excuse to celebrate after completing your distance, Caloosa Riders’ Royal Palm Ride (www.caloosariders.org) happens on Sunday, March 17, from Buckingham Park (maybe there’ll be green beer after the ride).

 If you’re interested in less formal events, consider joining the Southwest Florida Biking MeetUp Group and suggest your own (www.meetup.com/ Biking-SWFL).

For anyone wishing to become a more confident cyclist (not an arrogant one with an attitude), CyclingSavvy sessions are being offered locally over the next two months (http://cyclingsavvy.org/category/ southeast-region/southwest-florida/). Truth and Techniques of Traffic Cycling, the classroom session, will take place twice, both Thursday evenings: Feb. 21 and March 7. On-bike sessions will happen on Saturday, March 2. Even if you’re an experienced cyclist, consider at least the classroom session. You might be surprised what you’ll learn (and have to offer others).

Advocacy update
 
Those interested in how our area will look in the future have lots to watch. From the possible suspension of fees that partially fund our transportation infrastructure, next steps for significantly improving our transit system, and revamping of our primary planning documents, lots is happening, some very quickly. As always, details can be found on 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.
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CapeCoral.com also ran a feature story on Jan. 29th about bike helmets:  "Recent tragedy puts spotlight on use of bicycle helmets," and quotes BikeWalkLee representatives.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Join the online conversation about Estero Blvd. Improvement Project!


Since posting the Jan. 16th blog post inviting you to participate in this Town Hall discussion, NBC-2 News did a story on Jan. 20th about the project and opportunity to participate, which has generated a great dialogue about ideas for this area.  Read what others have suggested and join the online conversation! (Below are reminder instructions re: how to sign-up.)

Participate in Estero Blvd. Improvement Project online Town Hall discussion

 BikeWalkLee is excited to see the Estero Blvd. Improvement Project (a collaborative effort between LeeDOT and the Town of Fort Myers Beach) getting off the ground.  They've just posted two parts of this project on the County's online "Town Hall" inviting public input.  Take the time to study these proposals and share your comments and ideas online.
Check out BikeWalkLee's June 2012 suggestions for improvements, as part of review of N. Estero Blvd. requested of Mayor Kiker:
2.  BWL supports roundabout as part of Estero Blvd. Improvement project  

On Jan. 20th, NBC-2 had a story about this project and opportunity for public comment.  Watch the video!
 Estero Boulevard Improvements Project
Preliminary plans for improving Estero Boulevard from Crescent Street to Big Carlos Pass are being developed by The Lee County Department of Transportation and the Town of Fort Myers Beach from public input on the Estero Boulevard Master Plan and Analysis and Design Report. Now, key issues are being identified for design plans to help prioritize segments for reconstruction. Check out “Overview of Six Segments” to learn more about each segment. We’ll soon be asking for your input on them all.

How to Take Part in the Forum

What: www.leecountytownhall.com invites residents to share opinions and ideas on proposed projects. Participate in the New Horizon 2035 campaign, which is currently inviting comments on transportation policies.
How: look on the left hand column where it says “Sign up Now!” and click to sign-up. It's free.
Once you've signed up, you can click on  which conversation you want to participate in--the Estero Blvd. project; the New Horizon 2035 campaign & transportation element, “Walking, Riding & Rolling: Transportation Element,” etc.  Then click on the box that says “vote on this topic.” Review the information. Click the box at the bottom that says “What would you add to the conversation” and insert your comments. The click “submit your comments".

Note:  comments are limited to a short paragraph, so you can really only make a few key points.