It may indeed be wishful thinking on my part but the list below is what I feel needs to be done to make our roads safer and communities more livable. By calling out the various entities I’m taking a risk since all are partners in working toward achieving transportation-related goals. Unfortunately, there’s sometimes a disconnect between advocates and staff on the front lines pushing for changes and the leadership of government agencies. Alternately, the situation is different when it comes to the general public where efforts to reach motorists, pedestrians and cyclists in ways that change the behaviors that are making life miserable for other road users is a never-ending battle.
The Florida Legislature will enact tougher distracted driving laws to help move our state from having the most dangerous roads for cyclists and pedestrians as well as among the worse for drivers. The laughable anti-texting law put into place last year has had, as expected, no effect on driver behavior or crash rates. As well, the penalties for killing or maiming other road users is as weak as they get anywhere in the country. Public safety officials and injury prevention professionals all agree that much more needs to be done in Tallahassee for there to be any chance of improvement, something only our elected representatives can — and must — do.
Lee County’s elected officials and senior staff will get back on track with their previous efforts toward sustainability,
CP (Complete Streets, and a Comprehensive Plan that reflects the wishes of its residents (and not just the development community). And now that it’s clear that expenditures on bike/ped projects have been only a fraction of what was approved to address a $58 million backlog of need, my wish is that LeeDOT will actually spend allocated funds on vital bike/ped improvements.
The city of Sanibel will replace the many inappropriate, confusing, unenforceable, and dangerous “Stop Bike” pavement markings they’ve placed on their pathway system and instead use “Caution” markings. Because this is such a serious gaffe, leaving them in place taints the city’s status as a Bike Friendly Community as designated by League of American Bicyclists. And should a crash occur at any of these locations, the city and its taxpayers face potential liability.
The city of Fort Myers will do what’s necessary to reach its potential of becoming a truly walkable, bikable multi-modal city rather than just continue to brag about the modest pedestrian improvements it has made over the years, with downtown being the only real pedestrian-friendly area (and it’s certainly not bike-friendly).
The entire length of Lee County’s signature roadway, McGregor Boulevard, will become bike-friendly through design improvements, beginning with the city of Fort Myers’ segment (see above).
Police, deputies, troopers, community service aides and code enforcement officials will routinely enforce illegal sidewalk parking laws, something that doesn’t get much easier to do, considering all it takes is a drive-by to determine a violation. Illegally parked vehicles and other large items left in the roadway isn’t tolerated so why isn’t that the case on our sidepaths? Folks with disabilities or mobility limitations, parents pushing strollers, and anyone who must step into traffic or risk a fall to get around such obstacles would appreciate the fulfillment of this wish. Plus, overlooking it is an indication that government is doing a poor job of managing its streets, something that has other societal implications, including a relationship to crime.
Drivers will operate their vehicles in the way any machine capable of killing whenever it’s being operated should be. That means making driving the one and only activity being undertaken when behind the wheel. “Stay Alive.....Just Drive!”
Cyclists will operate in a predictable, legal and safe manner, understanding their status as vehicle operators when on-road and second-class, quasi-pedestrians on sidepaths.
Pedestrians will exercise their rights to the public space while adhering to safe practices. That includes losing the headphones and refraining from Smartphone use.
Our two public institutions of higher education, FGCU and FSW, will finally provide safe access to their respective campuses for their non-motoring customers and visitors. Since its inception FGCU has failed to add bike lanes to either of its entrances/exits, even though Ben Hill Griffin Parkway and the internal campus road has them. And FSW has a sidewalk on only one side of one of three access roads into its Fort Myers campus. Considering both are well established schools with on-campus housing, adequate accommodation is long overdue.
River, Roots, & Ruts Half-Marathon & 5K, Sunday, Jan. 11 Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva (rrrtrail.com).
Tour de Cape 5K, Saturday, Jan. 17, Cape Harbor, Cape Coral (tourdecape.net)
Run to the Arts 5K, Sunday, Feb. 8, Fort Myers River District (runtothearts.com).
Tour de Cape, Sunday, Jan. 18, Cape Harbor, Cape Coral (tourdecape.net)
Visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club caloosariders.org, Florida Mudcutters mudcutters.org. The Florida Bicycle Association floridabicycle.org is your source for statewide happenings.
—Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334- 6417.