At the Oct. 16th Lee MPO Board meeting, the Board approved sending a letter to the Lee Legislative Delegation in support of HB 253, this year's refiled bike safety bill sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Passidomo. Last year the MPO Board sent a similar letter to the delegation in support of last year's version of the bill. See BikeWalkLee's 10/1/15 statement to Lee Legislative delegation on bill,and our Oct. 9th blog about the MPO meeting. During the Board's discussion of the issue, Fort Myers Beach Council member Roxanne Hosafros expressed her concern that the penalties in the bill for injuring or killing a cyclist needed to be much stronger. BWL appreciates the MPO Board's continued strong support for this bike safety bill.
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 253, this year's refiled bike safety bill sponsored 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 again sponsoring this important bill. We urged your support of this bill last year (HB 231), and were encouraged to see that this bill was supported by the full delegation. The bill passed the House and Senate with almost unanimous support, but became a casualty of the abrupt ending of the 2015 Legislative Session.
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. Three of our communities--Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers--are also participating in the USDOT Secretary's year-long "Mayors' Challenge" initiative to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians in their communities.
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 253 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.
We urge you to support HB 253 this session to help make Florida roadways safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
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