Monday, June 15, 2015

News-Press cycling safer feature: Some solutions from SWFL Communities--Bonita Springs

  News-Press June 14, 2015 Political will is needed to make cycling safer  

SWFL communities taking different routes, at different speeds  

By Janine Zeitlin and Laura Ruane 

Chapter 3:  Bonita Springs

It’s not just about the cars

Bicyclist Milton Valey crosses Terry Street in the crosswalk at the intersection of Terry Street and Old U. S. 41 in Bonita Springs.(Photo: Sarah Coward/

There's something lovely about downtown Bonita Springs with its mature trees laced with Spanish moss, Riverside Park and the Imperial River. It's a great spot to grab ice cream or tacos. But does it feel safe to bike and walk? Cars zoom. And the sidewalks are so skinny that walkers and a bicyclist can't fit side-by-side.

Bonita seeks to change that.
Planned roundabout as part of Bonita's Old 41 redevelopment(Photo: City of Bonita Springs)
A plan for a $14 million to $16 million redevelopment along a nearly one-mile stretch of Old 41 Road will widen sidewalks and add sharrows, or street markings to remind cars to share the road with bicyclists, and roundabouts with the goal of promoting a bustling main street. Roundabouts, which were opposed by a councilman over concerns about blocking businesses, slow traffic and reduce the chances for conflict between vehicles and pedestrians.

"It's not just about the cars," said Councilwoman Janet Martin. "It's going to be a huge challenge for us to educate drivers that cars aren't the only ones who get to use the road ... It's creating a whole new culture."

Even a Bonita councilman was heckled while biking on a city road.

The project is expected to start construction in July.

Jenn Hagen, a Bonita planner, said the city's commitment extends beyond Old 41 redevelopment. Last year, the city adopted a planning policy to promote road access to all users. Staff members are looking for ways to connect the city for walkers, bicyclists and public transit riders.

"We're really trying to move away from just a single auto-centric lens."

Link to companion story 6/14/15 News-Press: "Bicycling--7 cities that will make Florida riders jealous"

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