Friday, February 20, 2015

Lee MPO sends letter to Lee Legislative Delegation in support of Rep. Passidomo's bike/ped safety bill (HB 231)

At today's Lee MPO Board meeting the members approved sending a letter in support of HB 231 to the Lee Legislative delegation, asking them to enact the bill this legislative session.  BikeWalkLee spoke in support of the proposal and applauds the Board for taking action.

P.O. Box 150045, Cape Coral, Florida 33915-0045 (239) 244-2220
February 20, 2015

RE: MPO Board letter to the Lee County Legislative Delegation

As the Florida Legislature begins this legislative session, the Lee County MPO Board is writing to urge your support of HB 231, a bill introduced by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo. The proposed legislation strengthens and clarifies current laws and toughens penalties, to make our roads safer for all road users, especially vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.  We are pleased that a member of the Lee delegation, Rep. Passidomo, is sponsoring this important bill.

For most of the past decade, Florida has consistently been the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians and cyclists. Lee County's pedestrian fatality rate is almost twice the national average, while the cyclist fatality rate is a startling four times higher than the national average. Due to these alarming statistics, Lee County has been one of the 10 communities included in FDOT's comprehensive bike/ped safety initiative launched in 2011.

The Lee MPO has placed a high priority on improving bicycle/pedestrian safety in Lee County.  In 2013, the MPO Board adopted a Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Action Plan which is aimed at greatly reducing bicycle/pedestrian injuries and fatalities through a wide range of recommended activities--from education, engineering to enforcement.  

As part of our commitment to improve bike/ped safety, we support the need for stronger laws and enforcement tools to make Florida roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists.  We believe HB 231 helps clarify rules and responsibilities for cyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and people in wheelchairs.  There are several conflicts in the current law that need to be cleared up so that the laws are more enforceable.  We believe that the increased penalties for violation of the laws that protect cyclists and pedestrians are also warranted.  The provisions in the bill focused on education, such as creating a requirement for the state to include safety information regarding cyclists in driving handbooks and on driver's exams, is also part of the comprehensive approach needed to make Florida a safer place for walking and biking.

We urge you to support HB 231 this session to help make Florida roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Councilman Tom Leonardo, Chairman
Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization

Members of the Lee County Delegation:
Rep. Ray Rodriguez
Rep. Dana Eagle
Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen
Rep. Matt Caldwell
Rep. Kathleen Passidomo
Senator Garrett Richter
Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto

cc:  Governor Rick Scott
      FDOT Secretary Jim Boxold
      FDOT District 1 Secretary, Billy Hattaway

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