Sunday, May 31, 2015

June 1st: Upcoming running/walking/biking/tri events

 Join the family-friendly Critical Mass Ride in downtown Fort Myers on June 5th.  Last month there were 326 part of this month's "send in the clowns" celebration of Jamie Donaldson.  Then Saturday (June 6th) join the Fort Myers Track Club 5K Membership Run!

Upcoming events 

·         Saturday, June 6: Fort Myers Track Club 5K Membership Run, CenturyLink Sports Complex / Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers. By entering this race you will automatically become a Fort Myers Track Club member for the 2015-2016 year. This is a great way to start your racing season and be a part of the Fort Myers Track Club. This is also the annual general membership meeting, held immediately after the race. (

·         Thursday, June 11: Fort Myers Track Club 2015 Summer Fun Run Series kicks off with a 2+/- mile run at 7 p.m. starting at Fort Myers Brewing Co., 12811 Commerce Lakes Drive. $4 members, $5 nonmembers (or $20/$25 for the entire six-run series). (

·         Saturday, June 20: Sugden Stride 5K, the first event in the Elite Events Summer 5K Series. Sugden Regional Park, Naples. (

·         Tuesday, June 23: Fort Myers Track Club 2015 Summer Fun Run Series kicks off with a 2+/- mile run at 7 p.m. starting at Run Florida, 13101 McGregor Blvd. $4 members, $5 nonmembers (or $20/$25 for the entire six-run series). (

Cycling and other events:

· Friday, June 5: SWFL Critical Mass ride. Join a family fun slow ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (

· Sunday, July 12: Wheels and Wings VI, Beef O'Bradys, 1105 Taylor Road Punta Gorda. Five different rides: 15 mile (Mystery Ride) 32-/50-/62-miles and a 40-mile Gravel Grinder. Food, fun and more. (
·         Sunday, July 26: Join the Caloosa Riders to ride 100km as part of the Rapha Women’s 100, a global event getting thousands of women around the world to ride 100km. Meet at Daniels Crossing Plaza and ride from Fort Myers to Captiva Island, in a nonsupported, self-contained no-drop ride. Please be able to ride 18-20 mph, and helmets are required. (
·         Sunday, June 7: Naples Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. (
·         Sunday, July 12: American Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (
·         Saturday, July 18: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon 2015. Englewood Beach, Shelter 3, 2100 N. Beach Road., Englewood (

Saturday, May 30, 2015

BikeWalkLee comments to BoCC on its "growth increment funding" budget proposal

The FY 2015-16 budget process has begun in Lee County. At the Board of County Commissioners' meeting on June 2nd, they will consider a proposal to set aside some of next year's general fund budget for transportation. BikeWalkLee shared its views on this proposal in a May 29th letter (see below).
FY 2015-16 Budget Process
The next important date is June 16th, when the Board will hold a workshop (no public comment allowed) to discuss the draft FY 2015-16 budget.  This document should be made available to the public prior to the 6/16 workshop. The Board will set the millage rate on August 4th, and then hold a second budget workshop (again no public comment allowed) on the final draft budget on August 18th.  The two formal public hearings on the budget (required by state law) will be held on Sept. 9th and Sept. 23rd.  Prior to that, the only opportunity for public comment on the draft budget will be at the regular BoCC meetings on Aug. 4th and 18th (at the end of those meetings under either "Public Presentation of Matters by Citizens" or "Public Comment on Work Session" agenda items).  The public can always communicate its views to Board members in letters, phone calls, and meetings throughout the process.

BoCC members:
 John Manning:, 533-2224
Cecil Pendergrass:, 533-2227
Larry Kiker:, 533-2223
Brian Hamman:, 533-2226
Frank Mann:, 533-2225

May 29, 2015
Dear Commissioners:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County's streets, works for a balanced multi-modal transportation system that values transportation choice, connectivity, economic opportunity, livable communities, community character, safety, and quality growth.  
On June 2, you will be considering staff's "growth increment funding" proposal, and BikeWalkLee would like to communicate its views in advance of your deliberations.  Those views are:
  •  If the Board plans to use some of next year's general fund budget for transportation, a significant portion of these funds should be dedicated to bike/ped retrofit projects and transit funding. 
  • All road projects in the CIP should be designed with a complete streets approach in an effort to improve the safety for all road users. 
  • Finally, we recommend that you act now to restore impact fees to the 100% rate. 
The Board is being asked to provide policy direction for development of this year's draft continuation budget.  The staff's "growth increment funding" proposal is simply a methodology for arriving at a dollar amount to earmark in the budget process from general fund (which comes from property taxes) for infrastructure projects.  In reality, this proposal is simply filling the hole created by the loss of impact fee revenues.  The proposal shows $7.9 million being earmarked for that purpose next year--filling the estimated $7 million/year hole created by your 55% reduction in road and park impact fees collection rates.

As we stated throughout the impact fee debate, we supported the county's 25-year policy that growth should pay for growth and warned that if developers were not charged the full cost of the infrastructure necessitated by that development, the taxpayers would be picking up the tab.  Your proposal makes that scenario a reality-- the shortfall in impact fee revenues would now be paid for with property taxes.

BikeWalkLee agrees that additional funds are needed to implement multi-modal transportation projects and retrofit dangerous conditions for users. We also believe that, in some instances, the general fund is appropriate for these purposes.  For example, a $2 million/year allocation would allow the Board to fully fund the recent BPAC request for stand-alone bike/ped retrofit projects to attack the extensive backlog of 85 approved and prioritized projects (totaling $68 million).  Lee County ranks as one of the most dangerous areas in the country for pedestrians and cyclists and it's important that our elected officials take actions to make our roads safer. 

For the past four years, we have been highlighting the new fiscal realities in the transportation world--the transportation funding of the past has been reduced at all level of government and isn't coming back.  Given this new reality, local governments must figure out how to maximize their local revenues for transportation and best invest these dollars to maximize the benefits.

Unfortunately, during the impact fee debates over the past two years, the Board ignored this fiscal reality and drastically cut impact fees. Impact fees are one of the three main sources for transportation funding in Lee County--the other two (almost equal) sources are tolls and gas taxes.  When we pointed out that the out-year costs of the Board's approved 5-year transportation CIP was significantly underfunded, the response was that "the CIP is balanced" so these road impact fee dollars were not needed.  It's regrettable that the truth about the transportation funding needs was not part of the impact fee debate so that the consequences of forgoing these revenues could have been considered before the decision was made to continue a significant reduction in collection of the full costs of public infrastructure investments necessitated by new development.  For road impact fees alone, the 5-year loss due to the Board's policy decisions is an estimated $33 million.

The "growth increment funding" proposal does nothing to address the larger transportation funding deficit, which staff estimates to be $400 million.  The only reasonable next step to address this shortfall would be to restore the impact fees to the 100% collection rate.  While these two steps (the incremental growth proposal and restoring impact fees to 100%) will clearly not fully fund the transportation deficit, it would put the county on a path to a longer term solution. The reality is there are no additional federal or state funds that are going to come bail us out, as Commissioner Kiker suggested at the March 19th BoCC workshop.  The federal Highway Trust Fund is broken and Congress has clearly demonstrated it is not capable of addressing our nation's infrastructure funding crisis.  Likewise, Gov. Scott has made it clear that he's not planning to raise revenues to deal with the state's transportation funding needs, as some other states have done.  So, that leaves it up to each community to find ways to address this problem-- by astutely maintaining available local revenues and by spending those revenues as smartly and cost-effectively as possible.  The only fiscally responsible approach is to equitably maximize the revenue sources available to the county.

A missing piece in this discussion is the other important part of the transportation system--transit. To increase the economic competitiveness of Lee County, reduce overall transportation costs, and increase our quality of life, we need a healthy transit system.  Research shows that you can't build your way out of congestion, i.e. more road lanes brings induced demand, putting more cars on the road.  A multi-modal system is the only viable option to save money in infrastructure costs and manage congestion in a crowded future. 

As the Board considers spending some general funds for infrastructure needs, it should also be increasing general fund expenditures for LeeTran operations.  The county should be proactively preparing to meet the future demand of a population projected to grow to over 1 million by 2040. LeeTran services were cut back in 2013-14 and, while funds were restored in last year's budget, damage was done to the system's viability. As a result of these cutbacks, transit became a less reliable means of travel to work or other essential destinations.  Investments in public transportation are the fiscally responsible way to meet the transportation needs of a growing area such as Lee County.

In summary, if the Board plans to use some of next year's general fund budget for transportation, a significant portion of these funds should be dedicated to bike/ped retrofit projects and transit funding.  Further, all road projects in the CIP should be designed with a complete streets approach in an effort to improve the safety for all road users.  Finally, we recommend that you act now to restore impact fees to the 100% rate. 

Thank you for considering our views.

Darla Letourneau
on behalf of BikeWalkLee
 Recent Letters to BoCC on topic:

Jan. 29, 2015: BikeWalkLee letter to BoCC opposing extension of impact fee reductions

Friday, May 29, 2015

Important FDOT Transportation Plan Regional Workshop in Fort Myers June 23rd

Every 5 years FDOT holds regional forums around the state to hear from local citizens, staff, and officials about long-term transportation needs in Florida. In the past, SWFL has been overlooked when these regional workshops have been planned. No more! FDOT heard the request from local officials that they wanted for one of the workshops to be held in SWFL. So here's your chance to be heard: Tuesday, June 23rd at the new LeeTran office, 3401 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers. The visioning workshop will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Location of new LeeTran office
Here's your chance to share your vision for better biking and walking facilities, a statewide network of trails, the need to make the roads safer for all users, the need for a robust transit system, for rail to come to SWFL, the need for interchange improvements on the interstate, such as I-75...and the list of possibilities goes on and on. Please take advantage of this opportunity to share your thoughts about Florida's transportation system.

Additional information about the upcoming visioning workshop in Ft. Myers on June 23, 2015.

The Florida Transportation Plan (FTP) is the state’s long range transportation plan for all of Florida and establishes the policy framework for allocating the state and federal transportation funds which flow through FDOT’s 5-year Work Program. The FTP also identifies the roles and responsibilities of all partners for implementing this plan. The SIS comprises the state’s largest and most strategic transportation facilities, including major air, space, water, rail and highway system. SIS facilities are the primary means for moving people and freight between Florida’s diverse regions as well as between Florida and other states and nations. The SIS Plan sets policies to guide decisions about which facilities are designated, where future SIS investments should occur, and how to set priorities among these investments.

A steering committee comprised of representatives from FDOT, state agencies, Federal partners, regional and local governments, modal partners, transportation industry, military and defense partners, citizen groups, community and environmental partners, and business and economic development groups has been meeting since January 2015. Four advisory groups have been established and are currently meeting: Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, Innovation and Economic Development, Quality of Life and Quality Places, and Strategic Intermodal System.

Participants at the regional workshop on June 23rd may be asked to comment on the results of advisory groups, potential goal areas, or any array of transportation planning topics. The upcoming workshop will consist of a half hour of welcome and presentations, followed by three interactive breakout sessions and then adjournment. For the break outs, participants will rotate between three topic areas and be able to comment all issues.

You may also visit the Florida Transportation Website at for more information.

If you have any questions feel free to contact D'Juan Harris at 239-225-1976 or; 239-225-1981.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

BWL Column: Rise in fatalities concern for all Lee County road users

Today's BWL column looks at the spike in traffic fatalities on Lee County roads this year and the implications for people walking and biking.

BikeWalkLee Column in "Go Coastal" section of News-Press--May 28, 2015

Should bikers and walkers who use Lee County roads care about a sudden spike in traffic crashes and resulting deaths?

Absolutely, because anything that impacts any road user ultimately affects every road user.
Let’s say the reason for the rise in crashes and deaths is poor road conditions — roads that are overused, under-maintained or poorly designed. Cyclists and pedestrians will also suffer from deteriorating conditions, from rundown roads and from a higher risk for those conditions to spawn crashes that could include people walking or cycling on or alongside the road.

The same logic applies if the reason for the spike in fatalities is due to a failure of equipment — vehicles malfunctioning in ways that result in collisions and possible injuries. People walking or cycling nearby could be collateral damage just the same.

If the real reason for the risk rise is driver error — say, inattention, impairment or imprudent speed — cyclists and pedestrians sharing those roadways are even more at risk. If bad drivers are causing more accidents that result in more traffic deaths, bikers and walkers surely stand no chance if they become part of such a pile-up.

This year-to-date spike in traffic fatalities may just be an anomaly, the result of more traffic bringing more problems. (The fact that the highest fatality year on record — 2007 — was also the last economic boom year before the recession reined in traffic, offers an interesting correlation.) Nonetheless, those who worry about the safety of our roadways would be wise to watch this trend closely, particularly to ascertain what’s really causing the calamities.

If it’s bad roads, an infrastructure investment may be in order — particularly in complete street designs, which make roads safer for all users by building in enough space for every user to move safely, whatever the method.

If it’s bad drivers, then more enforcement and education may be necessary — to catch bad drivers before they cause harm and to remind good drivers to pay better attention to the task at hand (which is to drive safely, and nothing else).

BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at

Ready to ride or run?
Run: Become part of the oldest running group around, by taking part in the Fort Myers Track Club Membership 5K on Saturday, June 6. Participation makes you a member for the next year, and the camaraderie will keep you coming back — for example, to their Summer Fun Runs which kick off June 11 and alternate between Thursday and Tuesdays every other week throughout the summer. Check out for details.

Ride: Support women and bikes at Women’s Ride Day on Sunday with 15-, 30- and 45-mile rides beginning at 8 a.m. Starts from Go Girl Cycling, 9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.

Both: Summer tris are getting under way… so grab your gear for the Naples Fitness Challenge on June 7, or time your training to get ready for upcoming events in Englewood (July 18), Captiva (Sept. 13) or Marco Island (Oct. 5).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lee MPO new website for 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan

The Lee MPO recently launched its new website for the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to provide the public with an opportunity to keep informed and to participate in the process. Check out the "Frequently asked questions" page for background information.  There's also a form online that allows you to share a project idea or suggestion for a transportation.  Bookmark this page to keep up to date on opportunities to attend public meetings and workshops, and participate in surveys to share your thoughts and add your voice to the discussion.

Introduction on website:
The Lee County 2040 Transportation Plan is the 25-year vision of how to meet our community’s transportation needs and expectations through 2040. The plan will incorporate all types of travel including driving, biking, walking, public transportation, and freight movement. To identify the projects that will best serve Lee County, the MPO needs a clear understanding of how people and goods move around the county now and how they expect to move in the future. Your ideas and opinions are critical to create a successful plan. Public meetings, workshops, and surveys will give you an opportunity to share your thoughts and add your voice to the discussion of transportation needs in the community.
Please stay in touch with us throughout the LRTP’s development and make your voice heard.

 Website link
FAQ link 

For more background on what's at stake in the 2040 Transportation Plan:

BikeWalkLee Blog May 4, 2015:Time to participate in development of Lee County's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)

The Lee MPO's 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) process is underway and it's time for citizens to participate.  Below is an overview of the process, along with a resource document prepared by BikeWalkLee.

TIGER Grant project scheduled for July 5

News-Press reporter Craig Handel attended last night's TIGER pre-construction open house and wrote this report.

News-Press, May 27, 2015


Work is scheduled to begin July 5 on the first stage of the Complete Streets Initiative.
The first areas worked on will be U.S. 41 and Constitution Boulevard, as well as Lee Road. Sidewalks along the south side will be installed. That area was chosen first so it can be completed before San Carlos Elementary students return to school, Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization staff director Don Scott said.

The MPO played host to a pre-construction open house for the initiative at the Estero Community Park Recreation Center on Tuesday night. Project representatives were available to answer questions and review the display boards exhibited.

In the next 18 months, Scott said the project will connect three major areas: the Tour de Parks Loop, which includes areas around Daniels Parkway and Colonial Boulevard; the University Loop around FGCU; and the Bi-County Connector, which will link Lee and Collier counties. Together, the three segments form a system for walking, bicycling and transit use. A total of 11 new LeeTran bus shelters will be built.

5/26 Open House (photo by DLetourneau)
These pathways, paved shoulders and sidewalks will connect commercial, residential, education and recreation facilities that will provide commuters, tourists and others the freedom to move safer.
This project is funded by a $10.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant awarded to Lee County by the United States Department of Transportation in 2013.

With the project projected at $9.8 million, there may be $600,000 available to work on an additional element.

“We’re filling in gaps,” Scott said. “Most people will notice there’s major streets on Daniels and Colonial not having facilities for stretches.”
MPO's Don Scott explains a segment to Deborah Chesna. (Photo by DLetourneau)

While he has no data, Scott said more people are riding bicycles. After the project is completed, he said there will be four years of studies to get counts on bicycle-pedestrian use.

Bonita Springs resident Fred Forbes said he’s for bike paths and separating bicyclists from motorists. “It appears they’ve achieved that,” he said.

Naples’ Deborah Chesna said she’s for infrastructure that gets people moving.
“There’s a lot of pathways that continue to go on,” Chesna said. “I’m for anything that gets us off roads and for families to ride so we can give them options.”

Darla Letourneau, a member of BikeWalkLee, said this project should make it somewhat safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians. However, she said the areas that will be worked on still need improvements at intersections and in areas to help get neighborhoods connected. She said she has received an email from a citizen who doesn’t feel this is a complete street because of issues like these.

“This isn’t the end of it,” Letourneau said. “We now need to come back into the local jurisdictions and maximize use of the facilities.

“This is one piece of the puzzle. Nothing by itself reduces safety. There also has to be enforcement, education, other connections. Frankly, I’m concerned about the intersections because that’s where most of the crashes are.”
Staff and Contractor TIGER Team

Projected timeline for start of Complete Streets Initiative

July: Constitution Boulevard (U.S. 41 to Constitution Circle): Sidewalk along south side; Lee Road (Sanibel Boulevard to Alico Road): Sidewalk along south side
October: Corkscrew Road (Woodlands to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway): Paved shoulders, both sides
November: Daniels Parkway (Six Mile Cypress to I-75): Pathway along south side; Colonial Boulevard (East of Winkler Street to Veronica Shoemaker Road): Pathway along north side
December: Sanibel Boulevard (Iris Road to Lee Road): Sidewalk along south side
January: FGCU (South entrance road): Pathway along south side
February: Daniels Parkway (Treeline Avenue to Red Sox Stadium): Pathway along south side.

What is a Tiger Grant?
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, provides a unique opportunity for the Department of Transportation to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion for six rounds to fund projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or a metropolitan area.

Dan Moser Column: Pain before gain on Fort Myers Beach

Dan's column this week  reviews the history of the Estero Blvd. Improvement project on Fort Myers Beach, which is set to begin construction later this year.  His advocacy corner criticizes FGCU for its lack of bike/ped-friendliness, as the TIGER project gets underway.
It’s going to get much worse before it gets a whole lot better. That may not seem like a good thing but it’s actually great news for residents and visitors of Fort Myers Beach now that work has begun to make the long-awaited improvements to Estero Boulevard. According to project managers, it may take up to 10 years to complete this massive undertaking, which includes utility work, stormwater management, and sorely needed bicycle, pedestrian and transit upgrades — all on the one and only through road on the island.
Even before the community became a municipality in 1995 it was obvious that Estero Boulevard needed to be fixed, especially for the many people walking and riding bikes. To that end, one of the first orders of business the newly formed Town of Fort Myers Beach undertook was to formally lay out its wishes for this county road that serves as the main arterial. Experts were brought in, including renowned planner Dan Burden, to help craft the plan for a walkable community, and the resulting product was formally adopted into the town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a guiding document required by the state of Florida. Seeing it finally begin to come to fruition — even knowing all the pain the work will bring — is something I and others were starting to think would never happen.

A good part of Estero Boulevard will include all these features.
A good part of Estero Boulevard will include all these features.
Of course there are those who think that because more motor vehicle lanes aren’t being added that this is not really a fix. But there’s no practical or affordable way additional right-of-way could be purchased, so there’s always going to be bottlenecks at either end of Estero Island at the bridges, even if more cars could be accommodated on the roads. So the design that will become reality is the best option for residents, visitors and businesses. I hope those who continue to believe more motor vehicle travel lanes is the answer will eventually accept this Complete Streets project as the real solution.
Advocacy update
Work on projects funded by the TIGER grant — the $10 million award to improve our bike/ped environment — has begun on roads and sidepaths from Colonial Boulevard south to the Collier County line. One notable change that strays from the formally agreed upon project list comes from FGCU. The university’s unexpected backtrack comes with an even bigger surprise. It is nixing the main entrance bike access improvements that would finally bring it closer to the standard of the roads it connects to by claiming “environmental concerns” and “future plans for the entrance.” The bigger surprise is that the “future plans” are already happening: it is somehow creating an elaborate entrance instead, something the university never mentioned as the TIGER plan moved forward, all the way to final design and as recently as a TIGER stakeholder meeting just a few weeks ago.

Since the inception of FGCU, it has resisted making access to the campus bike/ped-friendly, even though both the university and Lee County included bike lanes and sidepaths on the campus’s internal road and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, respectively. When it first opened, the campus’s main entrance initially lacked even one non-motorized access feature. No bike lanes, bike path or even a sidewalk. After a lot of pressure was put on, FGCU added a pedestrian-scaled sidepath (i.e., sidewalk) on one side of the four-lane entrance road that it considered adequate to accommodate all non-motorized traffic. The north entrance, created a few years after the other, is no better, having only a sidepath on one side.

The TIGER grant project was supposed to add a multi-use path on the south side of the main entrance. Early in the TIGER process it balked at the bikes lanes, so the south side path was reluctantly approved as the only feature to be added. But much to the dismay of many who worked so hard on this project, and even though it would cost nothing, FGCU later decided that allowing even that was going to be difficult, supposedly because they would have trouble obtaining necessary environmental permits. That reason apparently was its own $1.5 million plan, which creates an entrance that completely ignores those on foot or bike. Oh, did I mention the university announced this grand entrance plan just days before a public meeting is scheduled to take input on its master plan update and never told the folks on the TIGER grant stakeholder committee about it at the earlier mentioned meeting? So much for transparency and serving as a model of sustainability. For more about this and many other important community matters, visit

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.

Upcoming Events 
 FMTC Membership 5K, Saturday, June 6, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (
 Various summertime dates, FMTC Summer Fun Runs, (
 Various summertime dates, 3D Racing Summer Series, (
 Cycling and other events:
 SWFL Critical Mass, Friday, June 5, downtown Fort Myers (
 Wheels & Wings, Sunday, July 12, Punta Gorda (
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 or 334- 6417.