The advocate in me always comes through in one way or another in these columns. Sometimes, I can’t help focusing on the negatives — there’s still a lot of work to be done to make Southwest Florida’s roads and pathways accessible for everyone. However, in the spirit of the recent holidays, I’d like to shed light on a few significant good things that impacted people on foot, bike or otherwise move around outside the protective cocoon of a motor vehicle.
• I’d have to give the biggest kudos from this past year to the city of Cape Coral and Cape Coral Bike-Ped for achieving Bronze-level status as a Bike Friendly Community. Cape Coral Bike- Ped’s leader, Carolyn Conant, has used her proven business savvy to successfully make the case for the city to commit to changing its focus from a typical — albeit mega-sized — bedroom community model into one that, while still acknowledging its suburban nature, will make sure vulnerable roads users will be adequately accommodated. The city is also working on formalizing its own Complete Streets policy, thanks in large part to the work of Cape Coral Bike-Ped as well as city staff and elected officials who appear to have the necessary political will. Obviously there are many folks who made this comprehensive policy approach and the BFC achievement possible but Ms. Conant can be credited with ensuring the momentum continues.
• Lee County’s two newest municipalities are also to be commended for embracing Complete Streets and to becoming more bike/ped-friendly. The city of Bonita Springs formally approved its Complete Streets policy in 2014 and promptly put its money where its mouth is with its Old 41 redevelopment plan. And the fledgling village of Estero appears to be taking the same tact, at least from what can be anticipated from its early decision making. Both communities are taking part in the Blue Zone project, a healthy community initiative that provides even more evidence of their priorities.
• The $10 million* TIGER grant that Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization won a couple of years ago began showing up as facilities and improvements on the ground in 2015. Lee MPO deserves a lot of credit for shepherding this complicated and dynamic project along with the many other transportation matters for which it’s responsible. And while $10 million* is indeed a lot of money, it pales in comparison to the taxpayer funds allocated for motor vehicle and air transportation the agency must help prioritize and allocate on a regular basis. The MPO’s small staff is to be commended.
• All but one of the winners who won Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition’s annual awards were recognized all or in part for their work to make it better and safer for vulnerable road users in 2015. To recap, Steve Chupack is the Citizen Volunteer of the Year; Cape Coral Bike-Ped, the Organization of the Year; The News- Press’ “Share the Road” campaign (reporters Janine Zeitlan, Laura Ruane and Melanie Payne) is the Media Partner of the Year; Lee County Emergency Medical Service, the Partner of the Year; and PACE EH, a program of the Florida Department of Health in Lee County, the Program/Outreach Effort of the Year. Congratulations as well to the other award winner, orthopedic physician Dr. Bo Kagan, for his involvement and support of getting athletic trainers back on the fields of high school sporting events.
These are merely a sampling of the many positive achievements from this past year and the people who made them happen. To those elected officials, staff, advocates and citizens concerned and motivated enough to become involved in one way or another but whom were not included here, know that you are appreciated by the whole community. The writing is on the wall (and money on the table) that the old way of thinking about how to best use our public rights of way is outdated and unsustainable so it’s in everyone’s best interest to continue and even accelerate our move away from the “more motor vehicle lanes are better” way. Of course, there’s much more on this subject and many other matters at BikeWalkLee’s blog, bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
*Note: Error in amount corrected from printed article.
>>Facial Hair for Cancer Causes 5K, Saturday, Jan. 9, Tara Woods, N. Fort Myers (4wordsfoundation.org)
— 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 334- 6417.