Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BikeWalkLee urges Lee Legislative Delegation to oppose amendments to change Share the Road specialty license plate program

As a follow-up to today's News-Press headline story, "Nonprofits may lose license plate money to private company." BikeWalkLee sent a letter to House Chairman Grant and to the Lee Legislative Delegation urging them to oppose any amendment to change the Share the Road license plate program.


April 25, 2017
Members of the Lee Legislative Delegation:
Below is the letter BikeWalkLee sent today to Chairman Grant re: HB 1375 and our opposition to the attack on the Share the Road specialty license plate.  This amendment was today's headline story in News-Press. 
 As stated below, we strongly oppose the Beshears amendment to HB 1375, and urge you to press for deletion of this provision in the House bill.  We also urge you to oppose any amendment to any other bill (including SB 784 and HB 545) that would attack the Share the Road specialty license plate program.
Thank you for your support.
Darla
On behalf of BikeWalkLee

April 25, 2017​                                                                                                         
Representative Grant:

BikeWalkLee, a broad-based community coalition with 70 supporter organizations, advocates for complete streets in Lee County and promotes policies that enhance the safety and usability of our roadways, and actively participate through our Lee County Legislative Delegation in the annual Florida legislative process.  From our founding in 2009, we have partnered with the Florida Bicycle Association to focus on making Florida a safer place to bike and their safety education outreach supports our local efforts.
We understand that the House will be considering HB 1375 shortly.  We strongly oppose with the amendment adopted last week offered by Rep. Beshears ( lines 171 - 201 of Committee Substitution 3 of HB 1375), which is an assault on the Share the Road specialty license plate.  The Beshears amendment not only removes both the Florida Bicycle Association and Bike Florida from any proceeds generated by the Share the Road license plate, it instead gives the proceeds to a newly formed for- profit company, Cycling Association of Florida.

Florida Bicycle Association and Bike Florida have each existed for 20 years or more and have met all the requirements of the current statute pertaining to the Share the Road plate since signed into law in the year 2000 (Statute 320.08058).  This plate came about as a result of the hard work of countless volunteers who made the Share the Road specialty license plate a reality nearly 17 years ago.  It is unfair and unethical to hijack this program for the benefit of another group.  In addition, we believe the amendment violates Florida Statute 320.08056 (10)(a), which prohibits the monies from being used for for-profit activities. 
This amendment was of such significance to our community that it was today's headline story in the Fort Myers News-Press newspaper: "Nonprofits may lose license plate money to private company."

We urge you to remove this amendment from HB 1375 when the House moves to 2nd reading of the bill.  As the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists, the last thing Florida should be doing is eliminating the valuable statewide bicycle safety outreach program run by FBA.  Much is at stake for Florida's future in making our roadways and streets safer.

Sincerely,

Darla Letourneau
On behalf of BikeWalkLee

Nonprofits may lose license plate money to private company


The News-Press, April 24, 2017
Melanie Payne 

(Photo: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles)
Nonprofit cycling groups will lose tens of thousands of dollars from the sale of specialty "Share the Road" license plates, if a Florida representative’s amendment is approved.

Changes to the Florida Statute on specialty license plates would cut Bike Florida Inc. and the Florida Bicycle Association Inc.’s share of the extra fees for the license plate and give up to half of the money to a privately held company, The Cycling Association of Florida.

"Share the Road" is one of 123 Florida specialty license plates covering a variety of interests, causes, colleges and universities. The $15 that the 10,000 or so Share the Road license plate holders pay in addition to registration fees contributed about $65,000 to Bike Florida’s annual budget, executive director Becky Afonso said. The money is used for marketing the plate, education and programming she said. But under the amendment filed by Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello,the nonprofit Florida Sports Association would receive and distribute the money and could use up to 25 percent for administration costs, and The Cycling Association could get up to 50 percent of extra fee revenue.

In addition, the amendment calls for raising the fee from $15 to $25 for a "Share the Road" plate. "I have no idea how this has come to pass this way. It's mind-blowing that its happening," said bicycle consulting business owner and former Florida Bicycle Association board member Dan Moser. "And they're moving the price point up to $25? That's a great way to make sure you don't make your goal," the Fort Myers man said, referring to minimum sales annual sales requirement specialty plates. That too is being considered raising the number from 1,000 to 4,000, but for all plates not just Share the Road.


Nearly one in 10 vehicles in Southwest Florida features a specialty license plate. See which options are the most popular in the five-county region. Video by Dave Breitenstein/news-press.com Dave Breitenstein/news-press.com

The “Share the Road” license plate was signed into law in 1999 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and sales began in 2000. The legislation called for the fee purchases paid to be distributed to Bike Florida, which could use up to 25 percent for marketing and promotion of the license plate. The remaining funds were to be divided equally between Bike Florida, based in Alachua County, and the Oldsmar-based Florida Bicycle Association, and used for bicycle and motorist safety programs and to promote safe bicycling.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 6,663 bicycle crashes in Florida in 2016 and 137 fatalities. As of April 23, there have been 29 bicycle deaths in Florida this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that Florida had the highest rate of bicyclist deaths of any U.S. state with 0.57 deaths per 100,000 people, double the national average.

Formed to make Florida a “state where bicycling is safe, respected and encouraged as a means of transportation and recreation,” the Florida Bicycle Association was incorporated in 1997 as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. By contrast, Tallahassee-based Cycling Association, state records show, filed as a corporation on April 17. The only officer listed is Kenneth W. Foster, a former employee of Bike Florida Inc. and an officer in a cellphone repair business.

Foster’s LinkedIn profile lists several cycling organization affiliations, including a two-year stint as the executive director of Bicycle Tallahassee and the owner of a bicycle retail store from 1992-2001.

Several attempts to reach Foster by phone were unsuccessful. The legislative assistant for Beshears said the legislator was in meetings all of Monday morning. She said he would try to call in the afternoon but if he couldn't she would try to get a statement to The News-Press by email. No call or statement was received prior to publication.

“Florida statutes outline which organization(s) receive the funds and the amount distributed. The organization(s) or amount can change pursuant to a change in statute,” Alexis Bakofsky, press secretary for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles wrote in response to an inquiry from The News-Press. “The monies can be distributed to a for-profit organization, but the monies cannot be used for for-profit activities, per F.S. 320.08056(10)(a).”

But Afonso questions if switching the beneficiary of the money is fair to the organizations that gained approval of the plate nearly 20 years ago, or fair to the 10,000-plus taxpayers who pay extra every year for a “Share the Road” license plate.

“People put their money into that plate,” Afonso said. “And it’s going to go to a company with no track record and no history.”


Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, April 29: Head/Neck Cancer 5K. 100% of the funds will remain in Southwest Florida and will be used for Head & Neck cancer screening, treatment and follow-up care, financial assistance for Head & neck cancer patients in need, and for educational programs related to Head & Neck cancer. Registration opens 7:00 a.m., 5K Run/2 Mile walk starts at 8:00 a.m. Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (3dracinginc.com)
  • Sunday, May 7: Tropicool 5K. Enjoy a wonderful 5K race that showcases the beautiful streets of Olde Naples. This course is two loops starting on Broad Street. Starts 7:30 a.m., Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 13: Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday May 20: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Monday, May 29: SNIP Collier Memorial Day 5K (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, June 17: Sugden Stride 5K, Sugden Regional Park, Naples (eliteevents.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.

Cycling:
  • Friday, April 28: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m. at 4706 SE 11th Place for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, April 29: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, May 5: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at 7:15 p.m. 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. (twitter.com/swflcm or meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, May 12: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride. Gathers at 7:30 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, May 13: Sanibel Critical Mass ride. Gathers at 7:15 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Wednesday, May 17: Ride of Silence, Centennial Park, downtown Fort Myers (caloosariders.org
  • Friday, May 19: Roll Estero. 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Light Catholic Church at 19680 Cypress View Drive, Estero. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). 
  •  
Triathlons:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Save the date: April 26 project advisory meeting and public workshop, Fort Myers Beach Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

Fort Myers Beach bike-ped master plan reaching final stages


The News-Press, 4/18/2017
Craig Handel

Fort Myers Beach is two months away from having
a master plan completed for cyclists and pedestrians.

(Photo: Kevin Derrick, Getty Images/iStockphoto)
For decades, Fort Myers Beach officials have wanted to improve their roads and crosswalks for cyclists and walkers.

Some quality work has been done on the beach but it hasn’t been extensive.

In about two months, Fort Myers Beach will have a master plan for bike-ped use. In June, an eight-month analysis of the area will be completed.

In addition, Estero Boulevard is undergoing a county-funded bike, pedestrian and transit enhancement. At a cost of more than $50 million, this project could run from 3-5 years.

In the past three years (2014-16) on Fort Myers Beach there have been 67 bike/ped related crashes, but no fatalities, according to Brian Raimondo, Lee MPO using Signal Four Analytics.

Construction employees work along Estero Boulevard in Fort Myers Beach near School Street.
(Photo: The News-Press file photo)
 On April 26, residents and Fort Myers beach goers have another chance to speak about what kind of improvements they’d like to see.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach, in partnership with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization will hold an interactive, community workshop from 5:30-7 p.m.at Town Hall in the Council Chambers. There also is aproject advisory meeting from 10-11:30 a.m. that the public is invited to that day.

The workshop will include a presentation, interactive exercises to collect ideas for plan recommendations and time to talk with town staff and project team members about ideas to improve walking and biking on Fort Myers Beach.

The master plan is being done by Jacobs, which specializes in architecture, engineering and construction operations and maintenance, as well as specialty consulting. Ron Gogoi, a transportation planning administer with MPO, said the focus is on the East-West roadways and the location of the crosswalks.

Town officials will be asking attendees such questions as:

What does it mean to you to walk and bike in Fort Myers Beach?

How can we improve bicycling and walking in Fort Myers Beach?

What would encourage you to walk and bike more?

How can we better connect you to your destinations?

Past meetings have had little attendance. Bruce Butcher, a former BikeWalkLee steering committee member now on the town council, hopes that changes now that there’s less traffic.

“It’s a quality life issue, the way I look at it,” he said. “The master plan is a supplement to Estero Boulevard to make the experience better for bikers.”

Better means safer and better means a potential boost in tourism. Studies have shown families take trips to areas based on which are considered the most bike and pedestrian friendly.

In addition, there are plans to include a 300-mile bike path from Clearwater to Naples, which Fort Myers Beach would be part of.

“From a master plan side, the impetus is on safety but there also have been some requests about infrastructure improvement, like sidewalks and roadways” said Don Scott, executive director of the MPO. “It’s a prioritization process and there are different funding sources. Safety funds can be obtained quicker.”

Rendering of changes to be made on Estero Boulevard. (Photo: ReFreshFMBeach.com)


The Estero Boulevard improvement is being done in five different segments, Scott said. One segment already underway will be from 8-9 1/2 feet wide in those sections of the boulevard where constrained rights-of-way won't allow bike lanes or would permit only sharrows. The latter are those shared road markings, often with a picture of a bike, reminding motorists that cyclists have a right to use regular road lanes.

The Lee County five-year Capital Improvement Program in the fiscal year ending in 2015 allocated $50 million to DOT for Estero Boulevard improvements. The plan was to do the project in phases with a segment done every other year in order to make the funding work based on  projected revenues.

In order to proceed more efficiently and minimize long-term disruption, the Department of Transportation was  directed to continue the project as a single phase, shortening the timeframe by at least six years. By accelerating the project, the entire project cost is now contained in DOT's five-year Capital Improvement Program with the fiscal year end of 2021 at $59 million. An additional $22 million in utility work brings the total to $81 million.

“The redo of Estero Boulevard has been considered for a long time,” Scott said. “The county got serious the last few years and approved the money.”

Scott said improvements also need to be made in street lighting.

There also have been some serious injuries.

Naples bicyclist Milton Quinonez suffered a brain injury during a crash on Fort Myers Beach on July 12, 2014. They were heading off Fort Myers Beach on San Carlos Boulevard near Buttonwood Drive in the outside travel lane.

That’s why Scott and Gogoi say improvements must be made to the corridors as well as the beach itself.

“Our intention is to put together a bike-ped network,” Gogoi said. “We want to enhance bike-ped mobility as well as enhance the safety for bicyclists.”

What: The Town of Fort Myers Beach, in partnership with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is developing the town’s first Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

When: Project advisory meeting, 10-11:30 a.m.; Public workshop, 5:30-7 p.m. The public is welcome to both sessions

Where: Town Hall, 2525 Estero Blvd.

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, April 22: Run 4 Kayla 5K. Over the last 3 years, the Run4Kayla has brought in up to 7 duo teams (special needs child + pusher), 342 runners/walkers, 496 participants in all, and just over $25,800 raised and split between Patriot Elementary Special Needs Dept. And Special Equestrians (horse therapy for special needs). Patriot Elementary, Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, April 22: Sunshine 5K. This event is designed to bring awareness to our community about the foster care system. All proceeds from the race will benefit foster children in our community. The Vineyards, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, April 29: Head/Neck Cancer 5K, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (3dracinginc.com)
  • Sunday, May 7: Tropicool 5K , Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 13: Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday May 20: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Monday, May 29: SNIP Collier Memorial Day 5K (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, June 17: Sugden Stride 5K, Sugden Regional Park, Naples (eliteevents.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.

Cycling:
  • Friday, April 21: Roll Estero. 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Light Catholic Church at 19680 Cypress View Drive, Estero. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, April 28: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m. at 4706 SE 11th Place for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, April 29: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, May 5: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at 7:15 p.m. 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. (twitter.com/swflcm or meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, May 12: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride. Gathers at 7:30 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, May 13: Sanibel Critical Mass ride. Gathers at 7:15 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Wednesday, May 17: Ride of Silence, Centennial Park, downtown Fort Myers (caloosariders.org
  • Friday, May 19: Roll Estero. 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Light Catholic Church at 19680 Cypress View Drive, Estero. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). 
  •  
Triathlons:

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Get engaged to get better bike-walk facilities

BWL Column
The News-Press, 4/13/2017

by Ken Gooderham

How do you have a say in what bicycle and pedestrian facilities may get built in our area? Sometimes it’s as easy as just showing up – but, often, it means showing up over and over again.

Such decisions are usually part of a long-range plan and overseen (at least in an advisory capacity) by a citizens’ committee focused on bike and pedestrian issues.

To have an impact, the first step can be easy: Ask about the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for the area where you live. If you reside in one of the area’s numerous municipalities, there’s either a plan in place or one getting under way.

To see an example of the former, check out Cape Coral’s newly minted Bike-Ped Master Plan online at www.capecoral.net under the Parks and Rec page. Just approved by the city council, the plan (along with the efforts of the Cape Coral Bike-Ped group) should be a stepping stone to move the city up from its current Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community designation to Silver or Gold, as well as pursuing a “Walk Friendly Community” designation.

Bonita Springs just completed its first bike-ped plan as well, and it’s posted at the city’s website, www.cityofbonitasprings.org, under News Updates.

In terms of plans just getting under way, Fort Myers Beach is in the midst of developing its first master plan, and Beach residents have a great opportunity to share their insights and ideas at a community workshop on Wednesday, April 26, beginning at 5 p.m. at the town hall, 2525 Estero Blvd.

For other municipalities, check out the various websites…and while you’re there, see if yours also has a bicycle and pedestrian advisory committee – and if there are any vacancies. If so, and if you’re inclined to get involved, consider joining one. You’ll be more engaged in your community’s bike-ped decision making process, as well as in a key position to support bike/walk amenities and facilities.

Perhaps the best website for an overview of this region’s bike-ped planning is that of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) at http://leempo.com. You’ll find the region’s master plan and bike safety plan, the various committees working on the issue, and links to what is happening in the municipalities as well as a lot of other bike-ped resources.

Of course, government committees aren’t the only way to get things done to enhance biking and walking. Often, neighborhoods and communities can band together to pursue better bike-walk infrastructure – either on their own or working with government officials, agencies and/or committees.This is how bike/ped facilities got funded in the Villas, Fiddlesticks Road, Palomino Lane, and Orange River Blvd., to name a few.

The common denomination to any of this is involvement… you can make things happen by showing up, but you often need to show up over and over to keep the momentum in place (or to keep the officials aware of public support and pointed in the right direction). That means coming to workshops, attending meetings, writing to your government officials, serving on committees, etc. – not everyone’s cup of tea, to be sure.

If you truly are allergic to meetings and serving on committees leaves you cold, there is (almost) always an opportunity to submit comments as a part of public hearings, community surveys, planning input and other areas where government work gets done. When all else fails, email the appropriate elected official to air your thoughts on pressing bike/ped issues… constituents still carry some weight.

This area has a plethora of examples where a few committed advocates made a huge difference in improving bike-walk amenities, infrastructure and awareness. From Sanibel’s first bike paths to Cape Coral’s evolution into a bike-walk friendly community, the hard work of some committed individuals made that happen.

You could do it, too. Get involved.

For details, go to:
Bonita Springs plan(pdf)
Cape Coral plan


Ready to ride or run?

Run? Celebrate Easter weekend with an Eggs and Ears 5K at Lakes Park in Fort Myers April 15… or at the Wellfit Girls To(tu) Peru 5K and yoga event at North Collier Regional Park in Naples. The following Saturday (April 22) features the Run 4Kayla 5K at Patriot Elementary, Cape Coral, and the Sunshine 5K at The Vineyards, Naples. Details at 3dracinginc.com or gcrunner.org.
Ride? Critical Mass rides tomorrow night (Northeast Lee) and April 21 (Estero). All are at night to bring your lights (and helmet); details at http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/.

Both? Sign up for the Cape Coral Sprint Tri on May 13 (capecoral.net)


TELL US ABOUT YOUR RIDE:

Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at info@bikewalklee.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.


# # #

Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, 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 www.BikeWalkLee.org.



Distracted driving, walking and biking must stop

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 4/12/17
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

Dan Moser
I’m pretty sure you’ll agree from what we all observe - and maybe even engage in - on a regular and alarming basis is that way too many of us require distraction from almost any singular task in order to go about our lives.

From my perspective it’s most obvious when we’re on the move. Whether it be behind the wheel, on our bikes or on foot, we evidently feel the need to entertain ourselves or get other things done while undertaking what we must perceive as activities too mundane on which to focus. And from what it appears, this phenomenon is becoming more pervasive as potential technological distractions continue to be created.

The consequences of multitasking when operating a piece of machinery capable of easily killing or injuring oneself and others is obvious and played out over and over on our roads and highways.

Based on statistics, it’s especially problematic in Southwest Florida, where Lee County’s traffic fatalities total over 100 each year, a rate that’s off the charts in terms of other places with similar population numbers and demographics.

Drivers who have the potential to kill or maim by merely averting attention from operating vehicles for only a few seconds has become one of the primary contributors to crashes — even when considering distracted driving is woefully under-documented by law enforcement or admitted to by drivers involved in crashes.

Deliberately driving while distracted is irresponsible.

Maybe the chance that the armored cocoon of cars and trucks will provide enough protection in a crash to stave off death or serious injury makes us feel it’s worth the risk.

That’s not the case for vulnerable road users involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. The fact that pedestrians have a 50 percent chance of being killed by a car operating at 30 mph and only a 15 percent chance of surviving a hit at 40 mph makes one wonder why so many of us who are walking, running and on bikes feel it’s OK to be distracted, too.

Whether in a car, on a bike or on foot, we should assume others are distracted and keep a keen eye out.

Lee County is officially known as the most dangerous place in the U.S. to be a pedestrian (see smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design) so that should motivate anyone who uses our roads and highways to be more cautious.

But electronic devices appear to be as prevalent among vulnerable road users as they are for drivers - so our status as having the most dangerous pedestrian environment in the country will likely continue. And our overall traffic crash numbers probably won’t decline, either.

Those involved in injury prevention - as am I - often feel we’re beating our heads against a wall. Our state elected officials refuse to enact laws that are proven to curb the use of electronic devices when one is behind the wheel. Florida has the weakest law in the country when it comes to reducing driving distractions, something that likely won’t change this session.

Advocacy update

At last week’s city council meeting the city of Cape Coral was formally presented with an award from Florida Bicycle Association for being named the state’s 2016 Bike Friendly Community of the Year. Here’s what Becky Afonso, FBA’s executive director, had to say afterward: “I enjoyed meeting Carolyn (Conant) and Mike (Swanson) of Cape Coral Bike-Ped yesterday for the award presentation. We talked a little bit after the presentation and it’s encouraging to know that such dedicated people are behind the Cape Coral bike-friendly movement. They couldn’t say enough about the mayor and the city, and the city and the mayor couldn’t say enough about their volunteer organization during the council meeting. This morning I rode a little of the yacht club route and the Cape Coral chamber of commerce route. Both were well marked and easy to navigate. I like that anyone can come to this town and enjoy an hour or so experiencing the community by bike.”

To stay abreast of how the Cape moves forward and other Complete Streets matters, be sure to regularly visit BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee.blogspot.com). ¦ 

- 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 bikepedmoser@gmail.com and 334-6417. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, April 15: Eggs and Ears 5K. Eggs and Ears 5K presented by The Rotary Club of Fort Myers-Sunrise to benefit The Lakes Park Foundation is returning after a year’s hiatus for it’s 18th running. This family friendly and inclusive event is a local favorite (formerly The Do The Right Thing Eggs and Ears Race) and a great way to kick off the Easter weekend. Lakes Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, Fort Myers.(3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, April 15: Wellfit Girls To(tu) Peru 5K and yoga event. Gulf Coast Runners and Wellfit Girls are teaming up to bring you the 2nd Annual Wellfit Girls To(tu) Peru 5K + Yoga Event sponsored by Lee Health Foundation. The fun run will begin at North Collier Regional Park at 7:30 a.m. The course will take runners + walkers through the beautiful Collier County Park. North Collier Regional Park, 15000 Livingston Road, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, April 22: Run 4 Kayla 5K, Patriot Elementary, Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com)
  • Saturday, April 22: Sunshine 5K, The Vineyards, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, April 29: Head/Neck Cancer 5K, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (3dracinginc.com)
  • Sunday, May 7: Tropicool 5K , Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 13: Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday May 20: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Monday, May 29: SNIP Collier Memorial Day 5K (gcrunner.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.

Cycling:
  • Friday, April 14: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, April 21: Roll Estero, 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Light Catholic Church at 19680 Cypress View Drive, Estero. Lights required, helmets recommended. (http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, April 28: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m. at 4706 SE 11th Place for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, April 29: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (http://www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Wednesday, May 17: Ride of Silence, Centennial Park, downtown Fort Myers (caloosariders.org)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL). 
  •  
Triathlons:

Friday, April 7, 2017

BWL urges Lee Legislative Delegation to support roadway safety legislation

As a follow-up to today's NDN/NP editorial about the need for renewed emphasis on roadway safety, BikeWalkLee sent a letter to the Lee Legislative Delegation urging them to support legislation to strengthen laws against distracted driving (HB 47) and to pass the Passidomo bike safety bill (SB 408)Add your voices by contacting members of the delegation.


April 7, 2017

Members of the Lee Legislative Delegation:

Four weeks into the 2017 legislative session, no action has been taken on pending bills (HB 47 and SB 408) aimed at addressing distracted driving and safety for vulnerable road users (including cyclists and pedestrians). We urge you to provide leadership and support for ensuring this legislative session doesn't end without legislative action to improve the safety of all road users in Florida--especially pedestrians and cyclists.

In light of Florida's continuing ranking as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians and this year's ranking of Lee County's as the most dangerous metro area in the country for pedestrians, our legislative delegation should be leading the charge.

Naples Daily News (4/6/17) editorial (published today in News-Press), "Toughen laws to help stop distracted driving", is a timely reminder of the need for legislative action.

As stated in our Jan. 18th letter* (which we presented to you at the January Delegation hearing) BikeWalkLee's top priority is for stronger laws and enforcement tools to make Florida roadways safer for all road users, esp. pedestrians and cyclists. One of the reasons Florida has made so little progress is its lax driver safety laws.

We wholeheartedly support the NDN editorial's call for enactment of two legislative initiatives: stronger legislation against distracted driving (including texting while driving) and urge you to champion and support bills that will, at a minimum, make texting while driving a primary offense (HB 74), and passage of the Passidomo bike safety bill (SB 408).

Thank you for your support.

Darla Letourneau
BikeWalkLee

Links:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 26th: Fort Myers Beach Community Workshop on Bike/Ped Master Plan

 If you live, work, or play in Fort Myers Beach, your input into the Town's first Bike/Ped Master Plan is really needed!  Mark your calendars now, and plan to attend the April 26th meeting from 5-7 p.m. at the FMB Town Hall. 

4/4/17 Press Release:                   Town of Fort Myers Beach to host 
Second Community Workshop on the Town’s
First Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan


Fort Myers Beach, Fla. — The Town of Fort Myers Beach, in partnership with the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is developing the Town’s first Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. It is an exciting project that promotes a healthy, vibrant, and safe community through cycling and walking. We want you to help the Town plan for bikeways, walkways, trails, and other related biking and walking projects.

Please join the Town, your friends, and neighbors at an interactive, community workshop on Wednesday, April 26 at the Town Hall (2525 Estero Blvd, Ft. Myers Beach, FL) from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.  

The workshop will include a presentation about the project including a description of the needs assessment and initial programs, project, design, and policy recommendations. The consultant team of Jacobs Engineering and Alta Planning & Design will provide interactive exercises to collect opinions on the plan recommendations, and time to talk with Town staff and project team members about your interests and ideas to improve walking and biking in Fort Myers Beach.

For more information about the project, please check the Town’s website (fortmyersbeachfl.gov) for regular updates.

 Contact: Chelsea O’Riley, Town of Ft. Myers Beach
239-765-0202 x1701
Chelsea@fortmyersbeachfl.gov


Master Plan Presentation PowerPoint 3/27/17

Cape Coral Council takes actions in support of its complete streets policy and receives award from FBA

Cape Coral's City Council meeting on April 3rd highlighted the City's ongoing progress in implementing complete streets in the Cape.  There were three items on the agenda related to these efforts. 
FBA's Afonso, CM Szerlag, Mayor Sawicki, PW's Zambrano, CCBP's Conant, Swanson, and Aubuchon

First, The Florida Bicycle Association's (FBA) Executive Director, Becky Afonso presented the FBA 2016 Bicycle Friendly Community of the Year award to the City of Cape Coral, recognizing both City officials and Cape Coral Bike-Ped group.  
 
 Second, the Council approved the City's first Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.  Third, the Council approved the project design for the SE 47th Terrace Streetscape Project, which focuses on revitalizing this area by making it a "complete street", making it a safe and welcome place for pedestrians.  Kudos to the City Council, City staff, and the Cape Coral Bike-Ped group for their outstanding efforts, and to FBA for bringing statewide recognition to these local accomplishments.  Below is an article reporting on yesterday's Council actions, along with links to the Master Plan, and previous BWL blogs about these initiatives.

[excerpts below--#3 and #4]

#3:  Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan approved

The city's first Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan is now official.

During Monday night's meeting, the city council unanimously approved the plan that will add 93 miles of sidewalks, 22 miles of multi-use paths, and 138 miles of on-street bike paths over the next 15 to 20 years.

The plan was created to provide a cycling network safe for bicyclists and pedestrians that will spread throughout the city.

The cost to construct the network is estimated at $63 million.

Alta Planning and Design, the company hired by the city to create the master plan, recommended the city seek state and federal grants, make the improvements part of the city's UEP and Road Repaving initiatives, as well as using future gas tax allocations to fund the projects. According to the firm, with those allocations, 30% of the proposed bike and pedestrian projects would be funded through Fiscal Year 2022.

The city has already utilized an over $3 million grant it received from the state to begin construction of a multi-use path along Kismet Parkway.

In related news, at the beginning of Monday's meeting, the City of Cape Coral and the Cape Coral Bike-Ped organization received the 2016 Bicycle Friendly Community Award from the Florida Bicycle Association.

The non-profit organization was created to promote bicycle safety throughout the state of Florida and annually recognizes contributions to accomplish that goal. Florida Bicycle Association President Becky Afonso was on hand at the meeting to present the city and Bike-Ped the award, and commended both for their partnership to create a network of bicycle paths in the city making it safer for both bicyclists and pedestrians.

#4: Council/CRA approves SE 47th Terrace Streetscape Project design
Before Monday's regular meeting, the city council, acting in their roles as CRA Commissioners held a special meeting to discuss whether or not to approve the proposed design plan for the SE 47th Terrace Streetscape Project.

Called a "legacy project" by City Manager John Szerlag, the $8.5 million initiative will completely revitalize the look of SE 47th Terrace from Del Prado Boulevard to Coronado Parkway.

According to the proposed design, the project will include brick paver expanded sidewalks on both sides of the road, new landscaping, custom street lighting, elimination of on-street parking, and a roundabout at the intersection of SE 47th Terrace and Vincennes Boulevard.

It has been the roundabout that has caused the most publicity since the design plans have been released, with some concerned the roundabout could cause traffic issues on the busy street.

However, city traffic engineer Bill Corbett explained during Monday's presentation that roundabouts provide a safer option for both pedestrians and drivers reducing traffic crashes by 48% than other traffic calming options on the average.

Regarding the size of the roundabout, Corbett also assured the board of commissioners that the city has enough land in the surrounding right-of-ways to accommodate for the roundabout.

In addition to the aesthetic upgrades, the project will also include water and sewer upgrades. The $1.9 million cost for those upgrades will be paid through the city's water and sewer fund. The remaining $6.6 million cost of the project will be shared by the city and CRA. Szerlag says the current plan is for the city and CRA to equally share that cost. However, as time comes closer to pay for the construction that could change depending on the financial health of both entities. Meaning if one fund has a stronger financial setting, it could cover more of the cost burden for the project.

After hearing the presentation, the commissioners unanimously voted to approve the design, and later during the regular city council meeting, council members once again unanimously approved the design moving the project to the next phase.

Szerlag says the goal is to have shovels in the ground later this year to begin the project with a projected construction timeline of nine to twelve months to complete.

 Related Links:

Cape Coral Bike Ped Master Plan--approved 4/4/17

Agenda Pkg for Cape Coral Council 4/3/17 Meeting

BWL 2/17/17 Blog:  Cape Coral selected as 'Bicycle friendly community of the year' by Florida Bicycle Association

BWL 4/22/16 Blog: Cape Coral residents share ideas for improving walking and biking