Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Public comments needed in support of Bonita-Estero Trail in Seminole Gulf Railroad corridor

 If you haven't acted already,  please provide comments to the State on its draft FL Greenways and Trails System Maps, urging the state to restore the Bonita-Estero Trail to priority status. Last week the Estero Council of Community Leaders (ECCL) heard a presentation by Bonita and Estero Council members urging citizens to support this effort.  Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation about the Bonita-Estero Trail and to see a sample comment letter.  Below is an excerpt from ECCL's latest newsletter reporting on this meeting.

For background information, see BikeWalkLee's earlier blog posts on the topic:
The ECCL Report: October 2017
Executive Summary: 164th meeting of the Estero Council of Community Leaders


SUN TRAIL/ RAIL CORRIDOR - Nick Batos and Peter O’Flynn

The Florida SUNTrail Path Network was the subject of the first joint meeting between the Estero and Bonita Springs councils. This statewide system has been designed with regional connectors from coast to coast and throughout the state. The Florida legislature has committed about $100 million to this system of bike and walking trails. The Gulf Coast connector runs from St. Petersburg to Naples. The Seminole Gulf Railway right of way could be used to connect Estero to this massive trail system.

“The councils collaboratively decided this should be a priority,” stated Bonita Councilman Peter O’Flynn.  However, the state has now made the Coastal Loop, which runs along Fort Myers Beach down to the Bonita Beach area, the main Gulf Coast connector. The Bonita-Estero Trail, which runs along the rail corridor through Estero, has been downgraded from a priority trail to an “opportunity trail.”The Coastal Loop bypasses Estero.

The ECCL is asking its members to send a letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protections’s Office of Greenways and Trails urging the state to restore the Bonita-Estero Trail to priority status. More information and a sample letter may be found here.










Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Check the current status of the events, using the links below, before heading out.

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Gulf to Gulf 80 Mile Relay. This relay race, consisting of 30 six person teams, will begin at 6 a.m. with runners winding their way through the tropical streets of Naples continuing north to Bonita Springs, Ft. Myers Beach with a turn around at the Sanibel Causeway. (gcrunner.org
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Race 4 F.I.S.H. 10K, 7:30 a.m., Sanibel Community House (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Monster Dash 5K, 7:30 a.m., Fleischmann Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: 6th annual LCEC Goblin Gallop 5K Run/Walk.7:30 a.m. at Jim Jeffers Park, Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com)
  • Sunday, Nov. 5: Fort Myers Marathon, featuring marathon, half-marathon and 5K distances (fortmyersmarathon.com)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Midpoint Madness 5K, 7 p.m., Royal Palm Square, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Olde Naples 10K, 7:30 a.m., Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Sunday, Nov. 19: Naples Fall Classic Half-Marathon and 5K, 7 a.m., Sugden Regional Park, Naples (napleshalf.com
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: 37th annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Hospital (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: Thanksgiving Day 5K Run/Walk, Germain Arena, Estero (eliteevents.org)
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: Gulf Coast Runner’s Thanksgiving 5K, Cambier Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.


Cycling:
  • Friday, Oct. 20: Roll Estero. Meet at Tropical Smoothie, 10011 Town Commons Drive #104a, Estero, at 7:30 p.m. for a 8 p.m. roll out on an easy 10-miler. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Sunday, Oct. 22: Tour de North Port, start at 8 a.m. with 15-, 35- or 65-mile rides plus an off-road “Gravel Grinders” option. (peoplefortrees.com/tourevent1_17.php)
  • Friday, Oct. 27: 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, Oct. 28: Saturday Slow Roll. 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, Nov. 3: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at a special time: 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. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Sunday, Nov. 12: Tour for Epilepsy, 21-, 32- and 62-mile rides, Coasline Cyclery, 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:

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bike, walk or run to the nearest great event

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 10/11/17
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

It won’t be long until summer’s pattern of daily rainstorms, oppressive heat and high humidity will be little more than a memory. With the change of weather comes plenty of choices for outdoor activities that include running, walking and bicycling events.

There are quite a few organized running and walking events in our own back yard but the majority of managed and supported bike rides take place out of town until later during the tourist season. Especially for cyclists seeking a change of scenery and, in some cases, the challenge of riding hills, there are a number of choices to consider that make a road trip worthwhile. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a logjam on the third weekend of October so you’ll have to choose wisely.
  • Florida Bicycle Association’s 20th anniversary and annual meeting (floridabicycle.org), Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21, St. Petersburg.
Riders prepare for Tour De Cape in Cape Coral in January.. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY
Riders prepare for Tour De Cape in Cape Coral in January. Dan Moser / Florida Weekly

  • Gainesville Cycling Fest (gccfla.org), Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 21-22, Gainesville and surrounding communities. This weekend-long event offers many options to fit anyone’s plan. The Santa Fe Century on Saturday and Horse Farm 100 on Sunday; 18-mile Millhopper Ramble, 27-mile Providence Ride, and 65-mile Gravel Challenge dirt road ride on Saturday; and Horse Farm Tour rides of 25-, 30-, and 45-miles on Sunday.
  • Tour de North Port (peoplefortrees.com), Sunday, October 22. Rides of 15-, 35-, and 65-miles through the pine flatwood areas of North Port and the parks that border the Myakkahatchee Creek.
  • Tour for Epilepsy (epilepsy-services.org), Sunday, Nov. 12. Rides of 21-, 32-, and 62-miles in our own town, staging at Coastline Cyclery, Fort Myers. 
  • Horrible Hundred weekend (horriblehundred.com), Friday-Sunday, November 17-19, Clermont. This long-established Florida Freewheelers’ event includes a bike products expo and rides of 35-, 70-, and 100-miles. One of the special aspects of the century ride is that cyclists will climb over 4,000-ft by the time the 100-mile ride is done, with Florida’s second highest point — Sugarloaf Mountain is among the ascents. Prior to the ride on Saturday, Nov. 18, the annual Florida Bicycle Best Practices Workshop takes place. It’s open to anyone who would like to learn or share ideas with other bicycle advocates, enthusiasts, and bike club leadership and be part of solutions for concerns. Registration for the workshop is available at FBA website: floridabicycle.org/floridabicycle summits-and-workshops. 
  • Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club Pasta Bash (coastalcruisers.net), Saturday, Nov. 18, Port Charlotte. Closer to home than Clermont, this event includes rides of 25-, 50-, and 100-kilometer on flat terrain.
  • Iron Joe Century Ride (naplespathways.org), Sunday, Nov. 26, Naples. This annual ride of 20-, 30-, and 62-miles has become a local tradition. ¦

- 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. 

For 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). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.





Irma blows away local event schedule

BWL Column
The News-Press, 10/12/2017
by Ken Gooderham

(Photo: Liam James Doyle/Naples Daily News)
Besides its impact on vegetation, screen enclosures and structures in general, Irma also shredded the local run/bike schedule last month – and even into this month.

Hardest hit were local triathlons (the one time of year you can realistically hold them) and running events (which were just getting underway after a long, hot summer). Even now, some events are struggling to stay on schedule. For example, the 9th annual FISH 10K on Sanibel set for Oct. 28 may feature a new route to accommodate vegetation cleanup on the island.

Cancelling an annual and anticipated event is a disappointment for the participants, who trained hard to get ready and who often look forward to seeing fellow athletes and enjoying a good time. It’s also disappointing for event organizers, who have spent months getting things ready for the event while also spending plenty of money in event merchandise, vendors and permitting. (Most of these expenses have to be paid up front, and likely are not refundable.)

The logistical challenges of holding a group athletic event are many, compounded by both the length of the race in both time and distance as well as very real concerns about safety for athletes, volunteers and the general public. Even weeks after the storm blows through, it can be risky to stage an event if roadways are still clogged with debris (or with the trucks picking it up) or the necessary race infrastructure (roads, parking lots, beaches, golf courses etc.) is still being impacted by the post-storm recovery.

Safety for all is paramount, both to event organizers and to the local public safety officials who often have a major say in whether an event gets to go forward. If you’re holding an event on public property, you need a permit – and that permit includes safety plans as well as requirements from local police, fire and EMS officials that must be met for the event to be allowed. That’s good news for having a safe and pleasant experience, but it’s also a standard that race organizers must meet to proceed. (It’s a standard organizers are always happy to meet, since holding an unsafe event is a fast way to lose repeat customers – literally.)

Sometimes events can be rescheduled, if the length and logistics are simple and there’s an opening in the calendar to make that work. But often, getting the permits and other permissions in a different time of year is impossible… I mean, do you think anyone is going to agree to close a public road in season for a few hours?

And when it comes to runs, with something scheduled almost every weekend through November if your event can’t go off on its planned date it’s just unrealistic to move it without hurting someone else’s event (and it’s a small community when it comes to race organizing, so they all try to work together… mostly).

The other losers in the event disruption can be the nonprofits that may profit from an event’s income. No event, no funds, no donation… and a big hole in the budget. Fortunately, often event sponsors will agree to allow their payments to be directed to the charity in question (a round for applause for that generosity) or event organizers find a way to make some level of donation to a much needed community service.

Hopefully, upcoming events will have good weather and clear skies – and things can continue to get back to normal.

Meanwhile on the paths…

Speaking of normal, area bike and walkways are continuing to slowly recover from Irma’s wrath. The reopening of Lakes Park was good news, although trees still down on the Gladiolus Drive and Daniels Parkway paths have made travel on those heavily used routes treacherous.

Too many lanes and sidewalks are still impassable due to downed trees and debris as the one-month anniversary of Irma arrives. The slow pace of debris pickup is frustrating for all, as is the debris being left in (or not being removed from) public roads, sidewalks and lanes. It’s a hazard on many levels that needs to be addressed… but yelling at people probably won’t get anything done faster.

If you want to haul your own debris away, the county has opened collection sites to make that possible. The Solid Waste folks have also set up a special website to show where collections are happening now and where the next pickups are planned. (You can also see progress in overall pickups, which right now is not a very heartening sight.) Go to http://www.leegov.com/solidwaste and click on “Hurricane Irma Daily Updates” for information.

Let’s hope that the county and its contractors start picking up the pace for picking up debris, and that private property owners whose trees have fallen on public rights-of-way get those trimmed and moved soon so vehicles, bikes and pedestrians can get through.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? Scheduled events include the Cops & Joggers 5K on Saturday evening at Centennial Park in Fort Myers; Rocktoberfest 10-miler on Sunday at North Collier Regional Park; and if you really want to get a long run in, the Gulf to Gulf 80 Mile Relay that starts and ends at Cambier Park in Naples on Oct. 21. Go online for details to ftmyerstrackclub.com, eliteevents.org and gcrunner.org respectively – and it’s wise to check that the event is actually going off as planned.

Ride? Look for the regular Critical Mass rides (but remember that debris-strewn streets may screw up some best-laid plans): Friday is the NE Lee ride at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday is the Sanibel ride; and Oct. 20 is the Estero ride. These are all night rides so lights are required, helmets recommended, and details and sign-up info is online at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events. Looking for a traditional group ride? There’s the Tour de North Port on Oct. 22 with 15-, 35- and 65-mile options and an off-road ride as well. Go to http://www.peoplefortrees.com/tourevent1_17.php for details.

Both? Nothing on the horizon, alas.

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. 


 

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Sunday, Oct. 15: Rocktoberfest 10-mile (or 2x5 mile relay). The 6th Annual Rocktoberfest 10 Miler and Relay will be held at North Collier Regional Park. This rare distance course is one of the only 10 milers in the entire state of Florida and the only one in Southwest Florida. The 2 person relay category is another fun option that will have 2 runners each racing a 5 mile section of the course. 7 a.m., North Collier Regional Park, Naples (eliteevents.org)
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Gulf to Gulf 80 Mile Relay, 6 a.m., starts and ends at Cambier Park, Naples, with a turnaround at the Sanibel Causeway (gcrunner.org
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Race 4 F.I.S.H. 10K, 7:30 a.m., Sanibel Community House (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Monster Dash 5K, 7:30 a.m., Fleischmann Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Midpoint Madness 5K, 7 p.m., Royal Palm Square, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Olde Naples 10K, 7:30 a.m., Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Sunday, Nov. 19: Naples Fall Classic Half-Marathon and 5K, 7 a.m., Sugden Regional Park, Naples (napleshalf.com
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: 37th annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Hospital (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: Thanksgiving Day 5K Run/Walk, Germain Arena, Estero (eliteevents.org)
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: Gulf Coast Runner’s Thanksgiving 5K, Cambier Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.


Cycling:
  • Friday, Oct. 13: 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, Oct. 14: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, Oct. 20: Roll Estero. Meet at Tropical Smoothie, 10011 Town Commons Drive #104a, Estero, at 7:30 p.m. for a 8 p.m. roll out on an easy 10-miler. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Sunday, Oct. 22: Tour de North Port, start at 8 a.m. with 15-, 35- or 65-mile rides plus an off-road “Gravel Grinders” option. (peoplefortrees.com/tourevent1_17.php)
  • Sunday, Nov. 12: Tour for Epilepsy, 21-, 32- and 62-mile rides, Coasline Cyclery, 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:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

FDOT Context Classification Complete Streets Handbook and Design Manual Workshop Rescheduled for Nov. 6th

Due to Hurricane Irma, this FDOT workshop scheduled for Sept. 19th was postponed.  The new date is Nov. 6th.  Local governments (officials and staff) and their partners (including complete streets/bike/ped advocates) are encouraged to attend.  RSVP now.


 Previous BWL Blog:
6/30/17: Save the Date: FDOT Workshop Sept. 19th on Complete Streets Handbook and Design Manual

NEW Schedule for Florida Greenways and Trails Plan Workshops

 In BikeWalkLee's 9/19/17 Action Alert blog, we reported that the OGT workshops would be rescheduled due to Hurricane Irma.  This week, the new schedule has been released (see below).  If you're interested in seeing the Seminole Gulf Railroad corridor trail between Bonita Springs and Estero restored to the official Trail Map, please plan to attend one of these workshops (closest is in North Port on Oct. 26th) or submit comments to OGT.  Instructions are found in our Sept. 19th blog post.

Office of Greenways and Trails: October 3, 2017
DRAFT 2018-22 Florida Greenways and Trails System (FGTS) Plan & maps available online HERE.

Public Workshops Re-scheduled

The FGTS Plan establishes the vision for implementing a connected statewide system of greenways and trails for recreation, conservation, alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles, a vibrant economy, and a high quality of life. The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) is updating the FGTS 5-Year Plan and holding 14 public open houses throughout the state.
The purpose of these meetings is to receive public input on the proposed update to the draft written 2018-2022 FGTS Plan and Land and Water Opportunity & Priority Maps.

Please plan to join us at a location close to you. If you are unable to participate in person, there is a comment form online which you can submit by e-mail or conventional mail.

Comments accepted through December 15, 2017.

The Open House schedule:

Thursday, October 26 – North Port  (closest)
Morgan Family Community Center
Meeting Room A/B
6207 West Price Blvd.
North Port, FL 34291
4:00-7:00 ET


Monday, November 6 – Miami Lakes
Miami Lakes Optimist Park Clubhouse
6411 NW 162 Street
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
4:00-7:00 ET

Monday, November 6 – Tallahassee
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Douglas Building
Conference Room A
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard
Tallahassee, FL 32399
4:00-7:00 ET

Tuesday, November 7 - Sebring
Bert J. Harris, Jr. Agricultural Center
Conference Room #2
4509 George Boulevard
Sebring, FL 33875
4:00-7:00 ET

Wednesday, November 8 – Port St. Lucie
St. Lucie Transportation Planning Organization
Coco Vista Center
466 SW Port St Lucie Blvd. #111
Port St. Lucie, FL 34953
4:00-7:00 ET

Wednesday, November 8 - Dunnellon
Historic Train Depot
12061 S. Williams Street
Dunnellon, FL 34432
4:00-7:00 ET

Thursday, November 9– Temple Terrace
Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest District
13051 N Telecom Parkway
Temple Terrace, FL 33637
4:00-7:00 ET

Tuesday, November 14 - DeBary
Debary Hall
198 Sunrise Boulevard
DeBary, FL 32713
4:00-7:00 ET

Wednesday, November 15 - Palatka
Ravine Gardens State Park
1600 Twigg Street
Palatka, FL 32177
4:00-7:00 ET

Thursday, November 16 - Jacksonville
Ed Ball Building
Conference Room 851
214 N Hogan Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
4:00-7:00 ET

Monday, November 20 – Live Oak
Suwannee River Water Management District
Suwannee Room
9225 County Road 49
Live Oak, FL 32060
4:00-7:00 ET

Monday, November 27 – Port St. Joe
St. Joseph Bay State Buffer Preserve Center
3915 State Road 30-A
Port St. Joe, FL 32456
4:00-7:00 ET

Monday, December 4 - Milton
Blackwater Heritage State Trail
Visitor Center
5533 Alabama Street
Milton, FL 32570
4:00-7:00 CT

Related BWL Blog:
9/19/17: UPDATED Action Alert: Support Seminole Gulf Railroad corridor trail between Bonita Springs and Estero--Ask State to restore trail to Priority Florida Greenways and Trails Map





Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

As we are still in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, please check with the organizer (use the links below) before heading out to these events.

Running/walking:
  • Thursday, Oct. 5: Moe’s Corporate 3-Mile Run-Walk, 6:15 p.m., Moe’s Southwest Grill, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Oct. 7: St. Andrews Run for the Stars 5K, 7:30 a.m., Jaycee Park, Cape Coral (3dracing.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 14: Cops & Joggers 5K, 7:45 p.m., Centennial Park, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Sunday, Oct. 15: Rocktoberfest 10-mile (or 2x5 mile relay), 7 a.m., North Collier Regional Park, Naples (eliteevents.org)
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Gulf to Gulf 80 Mile Relay, 6 a.m., starts and ends at Cambier Park, Naples, with a turnaround at the Sanibel Causeway (gcrunner.org
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Race 4 F.I.S.H. 10K, 7:30 a.m., Sanibel Community House (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Monster Dash 5K, 7:30 a.m., Fleischmann Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Midpoint Madness 5K, 7 p.m., Royal Palm Square, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Olde Naples 10K, 7:30 a.m., Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Sunday, Nov. 19: Naples Fall Classic Half-Marathon and 5K, 7 a.m., Sugden Regional Park, Naples (napleshalf.com
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: 37th annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Hospital (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: Thanksgiving Day 5K Run/Walk, Germain Arena, Estero (eliteevents.org)
  • Thursday, Nov. 23: Gulf Coast Runner’s Thanksgiving 5K, Cambier Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.

Cycling:
  • Friday, Oct. 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at a special time: 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, Oct. 13: 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, Oct. 14: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, Oct. 20: Roll Estero. Meet at Tropical Smoothie, 10011 Town Commons Drive #104a, Estero, at 7:30 p.m. for a 8 p.m. roll out on an easy 10-miler. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Sunday, Oct. 22: Tour de North Port, start at 8 a.m. with 15-, 35- or 65-mile rides plus an off-road “Gravel Grinders” option. (peoplefortrees.com/tourevent1_17.php)
  • Sunday, Nov. 12: Tour for Epilepsy, 21-, 32- and 62-mile rides, Coasline Cyclery, 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:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Irma’s debris demands caution for bikers, walkers

BWL Column
The News-Press, 9/28/2017
by Ken Gooderham

Image: The News-Press
Well, wasn’t that exciting?

“That,” of course, is Irma, which blew into town Sept. 10 and wreaked enough havoc to keep us busy for months. Hopefully we’ll see the debris piles gone in time for Halloween, and giving thanks will have some new meaning this year.

A massive cleanup lies ahead, but at least power has been restored, most stores have re-opened and roadways are returning to “normal.” The bike and pedestrian infrastructure may take a little longer for a couple of reasons.

First, traffic comes first – and post-natural disaster, it’s hard to argue that getting vehicles back on the road takes priority, However, some people’s main form of transport may be a bike or their own feet, so we hope their paths get more passable soon.

Second, there are some good sized obstacles (e.g. trees) still waiting to be tackled. Some paths were cleared very quickly – kudos to government and private workers who made that happen – while others still have large trees down that will take some time to be cleaned up.

Third, the debris removal process will be slow – and, unfortunately, some of that debris is on shared-use paths, bike lanes and sidewalks. That’s why the Sanibel path system was closed to use post-Irma, to ensure debris removal did not have to compete with bike/pedestrian traffic. (At the rate the city was proceeding with cleanup, the paths may be open already.)

Unfortunately, some of the debris problem was caused by property owners who thought it was OK to pile up their vegetation either in the roadway or on bike lanes and sidewalks. (Note for the future: It’s not OK… “on the right-of-way” means the edge of your property nearest the road, not in the road itself.) There are also some paths where fallen trees on private property are blocking the way on public rights-of-way, which slows down cleanup crews who may feel uncomfortable clearing the mess (or who may need access to private property to do the job safely).

Most people got debris removal and placement right (thanks!), but just one errant pile or large downed tree can push bikers and walkers into traffic.

Fortunately, most drivers have also been aware of this, and are working to avoid cyclists and pedestrians as well as the pile of branches in the road. Perhaps having to deal without traffic signals for a few days (which went surprisingly well, it seems) tuned up drivers’ awareness of obstacles and the need for patience.

So what should you do to negotiate debris-endangered paths, lanes or sidewalks? On foot, step carefully and be aware of your surroundings (and traffic), or find another route if possible. On a bike, ride defensively, know your limits and, if in doubt, get off and walk around the obstacle. Even little pieces of debris can mess up your balance (and, thus, your ride), so proceed with caution.

If you rode around post-Irma before everything dried up, you should also do a little post-storm cleanup on your bike (if you haven’t already). Clean and lube your chain, check your shift and brake cables (and spray them to be safe), check your tires (not all the storm debris was vegetation, remember) and in general clean up your bike so it’s ready for your next ride… hopefully in the not too distant, debris-free future.

And while you’re hoping, include a hope that this hurricane season quiets down and the storms stay away from Florida, Texas and all the other places that had a visit from Harvey, Irma, Jose or Maria.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? Race options start picking up with a MADD 5K walk/run at JetBlue Park Sept. 30, Moe’s Corporate 3-mile Run/Walk in Naples Oct. 5, and St. Andrews Run for the Starts 5K at Jaycee Park in Cape Coral Oct. 7. Details at active.com, gcrunner.org and 3dracinginc.com respectively.

Ride? Look for the regular Critical Mass rides: Friday is the Cape Coral ride at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday is the morning slow roll in downtown Fort Myers, and the original downtown Fort Myers ride convenes on Oct. 6 at 7:15 p.m. For night rides lights are required, helmets recommended, and details and sign-up info is online at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events.

Both? You can head north (Siesta Key Sprint Sept. 30) or south (Marco Island Spring Oct. 1.) If you registered for the Galloway Captiva Tri (cancelled due to Irma) and want your race T-shirt and medal, you can pick them up Friday 5-7 p.m. or Saturday 1-3 p.m. at Galloway Ford in Fort Myers.


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. 


 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Cyclists, walkers need to use caution as debris lingers from Irma

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 9/27/17
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

Hurricane Irma made recreational and exercise cycling a challenge, especially in the first days and weeks after its impact.

Downed trees, pathways and bike lanes were blocked, there were tire-flattening hazards everywhere and service vehicles peppering the roadways created quite the obstacles for those seeking to get their regular rides in.

For those using their bikes as transportation it was the same story. However, in the early hours and even days after Irma hit it was actually easier to overcome the obstacles on a bike than in other vehicles. The same was true for those walking for a purpose — versus exercise or recreation. Traversing fallen trees and debris to check on neighbors was possible on foot, but not by motor vehicle.

With fewer motor vehicles on the roads right after the storm, walking and biking were relatively safe, at least for a little while. Once cars and trucks returned the dynamics changed drastically. Being on the roads in the days before traffic signals were back up and running was dicey for anyone, whether in a car, on a bike or on foot.

A tree hangs precariously on a power line along North Colonial Trail after Irma. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY

Appropriately, roads were the first priority and cleared as soon as possible.

I witnessed crews from public works removing large downed trees at 1 a.m. while still dealing with Irma’s rain and wind. Especially early on, sidewalks and bike paths were turned into debris storage areas, something to be expected in the initial clean-up stage.

Public works folks did a good job of reopening many sidepaths soon after the road-clearing phase.

And much to my pleasant surprise, in the days following Irma, most residents placed debris from their property off the sidewalk, allowing pedestrian and bicycle traffic to pass. Unfortunately, this practice was not universal (some had no choice but to place debris on sidewalks) and some folks selfishly blocked — and continued to obstruct — pedestrian paths with their vehicles merely for their own convenience.

Sidewalks broken or heaved-up by fallen tree roots will take a while to be replaced and repaired. In some locations, where there’s no other place to pile debris, sidepaths will be impassible until it’s picked-up. For those needing to get around by bike or foot it’ll be a challenge for quite some time in some areas. Those with mobility issues will be especially impacted. Time and money will eventually lead to things getting back to normal, at least in neighborhoods where adequate infrastructure exists.

In the bigger picture of bike and pedestrian access, events such as Hurricane Irma highlight the fact that there’s a lot to be desired in neighborhoods where residents depend on their feet, bicycles and transit as their primary transportation where infrastructure is lacking.

In Lee County, where our transit service is less than adequate but nonetheless available, safe and easy access to it is critical. As is the case with transit in general, the “first mile/last mile” (FM/ LM) is a term used by professionals and advocates that refers to the primary obstacle to people’s access to a transit stop. In reality, the average distance one should have to walk to a transit stop is ¼ mile, but that’s usually not the case in a place with marginal transit service such as in Southwest Florida. So we’re closer to the literal FM/LM than others. That being the case, there’s quite a problem with that in many transit-dependent neighborhoods in Lee County due to lack of infrastructure.

During this time of hurricane recovery, few people want to think about transportation inequity, unless, of course, you’re experiencing it yourself now as well as before and after the storm recovery.

It’s not about walking, running or riding a bike for exercise or recreation that’s at issue here — although those reasons are important, too — but more about basic access and transportation options. For more about transportation equity, visit BikeWalkLee’s blog at bikewalklee.blogspot.com and Streets Alive at facebook.com/StreetsAliveSWFL.¦


- 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. 

For 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). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.





Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

As we are still in the aftermath of hurricane Irma, please double check with the organizer before heading out to these events.

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, Sept. 30: Walk Like MADD & 5K Dash, JetBlue Park, Fort Myers (active.com)
  • Thursday, Oct. 5: Moe’s Corporate 3-Mile Run-Walk, 6:15 p.m., Moe’s Southwest Grill, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Oct. 7: Lexington Cares 5K, 7:30 a.m., Lexington Country Club, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 7: St. Andrews Run for the Stars 5K, 7:30 a.m., Jaycee Park, Cape Coral (3dracing.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 14: Cops & Joggers 5K, 7:45 p.m., Centennial Park, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Sunday, Oct. 15: Rocktoberfest 10-mile (or 2x5 mile relay), 7 a.m., North Collier Regional Park, Naples (eliteevents.org)
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Gulf to Gulf 80 Mile Relay, 6 a.m., starts and ends at Cambier Park, Naples, with a turnaround at the Sanibel Causeway (gcrunner.org
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Race 4 F.I.S.H. 10K, 7:30 a.m., Sanibel Community House (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Monster Dash 5K, 7:30 a.m., Fleischmann Park, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Midpoint Madness 5K, 7 p.m., Royal Palm Square, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Olde Naples 10K, 7:30 a.m., Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Sunday, Nov. 19: Naples Fall Classic Half-Marathon and 5K, 7 a.m., Sugden Regional Park, Naples (napleshalf.com)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.

Cycling:

  • Friday, Sept. 29: 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, Sept. 30: Saturday Slow Roll 8 a.m. meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, Oct. 6: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at a special time: 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, Oct. 13: 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, Oct. 14: Sanibel Critical Mass ride, gathers at 7:30 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, Oct. 20: Roll Estero. Meet at Tropical Smoothie, 10011 Town Commons Drive #104a, Estero, at 7:30 p.m. for a 8 p.m. roll out on an easy 10-miler. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Sunday, Oct. 22: Tour de North Port, start at 8 a.m. with 15-, 35- or 65-mile rides plus an off-road “Gravel Grinders” option. (peoplefortrees.com/tourevent1_17.php)
  • 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:
  • Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 9-10: Galloway Captiva Tri. Kids’ events Saturday, three age groups and varying distances. Adult sprint Sunday (www.captivatri.org).
  • Saturday, Sept. 30: Siesta Key Triathlon, sprint distance, Siesta Key Public Beach (trifind.com
  • Sunday, Oct. 1: Marco Island Sprint Tri (active.com)
  • Check trifind.com to find more regional and state tris.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bike safety report echoes need for better roadways, slower motorists

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 9/13/17
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

On the 200th anniversary of the invention of the bicycle, it’s a mixed bag for users of what is still considered one of the most efficient human-powered machines ever devised.

Bicycle design, materials and construction make it more efficient than ever, and more people are using them for function, recreation or exercise. But the environment for people on bikes has been getting riskier in recent years after several years of steady decline in crashes, injuries and fatalities.

A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association documents the state of conditions for bicycle users and many other aspects of the dynamics involving bicycles. “A Right to the Road — Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety” (ghsa.org/resources/bicyclist-safety2017) is a comprehensive and well-written document that details problems, lists potential solutions and links to resources to get to those solutions.

A ghost bike represents the death of a cyclist.
COURTESY PHOTO
One fact included is that fatalities among users of bicycles are much lower than those for pedestrians. Nationally it’s almost seven pedestrians to each bicyclist. Florida is around five to one and Lee County is closer to three to one (these estimates are from nhtsa.dot.gov and flhsmv.gov). On a positive note, many states and communities are taking one or more of the actions suggested by the GHSA as potential solutions to reducing injuries and fatalities. Implementing Complete Streets, which includes slowing motorists and improving infrastructure for all road users, is a recommendation with the most potential impact. Locally, we are moving in that direction, at least in the Complete Streets policies that most jurisdictions have put in place.

BikeWalkLee, a community coalition whose mission is to raise public awareness and advocate for Complete Streets in Lee County, recently posted the following about the GHSA report on its blog: “As one of the highest ranked Florida communities for bicyclist fatalities, Lee County is acutely aware of the need to improve safety for cyclists (and pedestrians). This national report again puts this growing national problem on the front pages of national newspapers. The report found that bicyclist deaths rose 12.2 percent in 2015, the largest percentage increase of any roadway user group that year. In response to this safety crisis, the Governors Highway Safety Association report details 30 actions that states can take to reduce deaths and injuries among people who bike. What are our local elected officials and government agencies doing to address these serious safety concerns in our community?”

As I’ve noted before in this column, it’s quite disappointing to me that the Dangerous by Design report that placed Lee County as the most dangerous place in the U.S. to be a pedestrian hasn’t prompted the action or even a sense of urgency it should have among our governments or tourism and real estate community. Here’s yet another wake-up call to all of us.

Perhaps a partial answer to BikeWalkLee’s question about what is being done is that Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization is about to embark on an update of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Action Plan that was originally approved in 2013. With the data and resources from GHSA’s report and that from Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design (smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design) the updated plan could make a difference if it’s done right and actually implemented. The League of American Bicyclists called the governors report “a great resource for individuals who want to know more about bicycle safety efforts, state and local agencies looking to address bicycle safety issues and everyone who wants to know more about why bicyclist safety is a persistent issue in our current transportation system.”¦


- 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. 

For 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). The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.





Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New book: Backcountry trails of Florida

BWL Column
The News-Press, 9/14/2017
by Ken Gooderham

Mention hiking to the average person, and slogging through a Florida trail is probably not the first (or second or third) image that comes to mind. Most people harken to cool mountain air and serious elevation changes – two things that are very hard to find in flat and fetid Florida.

That’s doesn’t mean we don’t have some good place to get back to nature… it just means you may need to travel a little to find them.

There’s a new book being published this month that can help – and that can give you some history on the state’s water management efforts while it guides you to some off-the-beaten-track trails.

It’s titled “Backcountry Trails of Florida: A Guide to Hiking Florida’s Water Management Districts” by Terri Mashour, who put her time with one of the districts as an inspiration for this book.

The districts form the backbone of this tome, both as the locales for all the trails described therein and as the basis for the conservation that made these trails possible. You get a little history of the districts, descriptions of the plan communities you’ll find, the hikes being reviewed, what you can expect in general (think lots of nature and not a lot of people) and some tips before you head off-road.

Then it’s on to the heart of the effort, descriptions of the various trails broken down by the five water management districts. For those not conversant with them, they are:

  • Northwest Florida: The Panhandle to around Tallahassee.
  • Suwannee River: From west of Tallahassee to Gainesville, and from the state line to the Big Bend.
  • St. Johns River:  The east coast from the state line to Vero Beach, and inland to Gainesville, Ocala and Leesburg.
  • Southwest Florida: From the Big Bend down to Charlotte County, the Withlacoochee River to the Peace River.
  • South Florida: The entire Lake O/Everglades watershed, from Orlando to Fort Myers and Palm Beach

For each district Mashour gives you some background and describes numerous recreation areas therein, complete with directions (written and GPS coordinates), size, distance, hiking times and difficulty, trail surface and shade, what critters and habitats you’ll see, what you can and cannot do, highlights and what’s nearby. This is followed by a brief description of the hike, then it’s on to the next adventure.

While the focus is hiking, other forms of transportation are included (if allowed). Some areas include opportunities for biking, horseback riding or canoe/kayak trails, and large tracts may offer guides to see area by vehicle as well.

All told, Mashour offers up 100 hikes across the five districts all across the state – although prospective hikers in Southwest Florida will need to hit the road to enjoy most of them. There are trails in Arcadia, the Myakka River and Immokalee, and other near enough to be done as a day trip or overnight.

“Backcountry Trails of Florida” is published by the University Press of Florida, part of its Wild Florida series.

For those interested in more local hikes, check out “Day Hiking Southwest Florida: A Guide to the Best Trail Adventures in Greater Naples and Fort Myers,” also offered by University Press of Florida. In fact, navigate your way online to upf.com and wander through an amazing array of titles covering all things Florida – past, present and future.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
  • “Backcountry Trails of Florida: A Guide to Hiking Florida’s Water Management Districts”
  • Author: Terri Mashour
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • ISBN: 978-0-8130-5454-4
  • Trade paperback: $19.95
  • Publication date: Sept. 19, 2017
  • Online at http://upress.ufl.edu

Ready to ride or run?

Run? Still not much on the calendar (just wait until October)… but you can find a MADD 5K walk/run at JetBlue Park Sept. 30 (check before you go, with Irma cleanup still ongoing).

Ride? Look for the regular Critical Mass rides: Sept. 29 is the Cape Coral ride at 7:30 p.m.; followed by the Slow Roll in downtown Fort Myers Saturday morning, Sept. 30. For night rides lights are required, helmets recommended, and details and sign-up info is online at www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events (check before you go).

Both? At the end of the month, you can head north (Siesta Key Sprint Sept. 30) or south (Marco Island Spring Oct. 1. Check before you go.

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. 


 

UPDATED Action Alert: Support Seminole Gulf Railroad corridor trail between Bonita Springs and Estero--Ask State to restore trail to Priority Florida Greenways and Trails Map

9/19/17 UPDATE: Shortly after posting this Action Alert 2 weeks ago, Hurricane Irma struck. The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) workshops listed below have been postponed for now. When new dates are available, an updated blog will be posted.

It is important that written comments are submitted to OGT. To facilitate completing the comment form, here is a link to a Word Version of the form so that you can type in your comments and attach them in an email to OGT.

Tips for filling out the comment form:
  • Leave the first page of comments for the FGTS 2018-22 Plan blank.
  • Under the Comment Section (second page) on the Draft Land or Paddling Trail Opportunity Maps refer to the Draft Southern Region Opportunity and Priority Trail Map, (also mention that you support FDEP's addition of the Imperial/Three Oaks Trail from Bonita Beach Road to Alico Road, consistent with the Lee MPO request.
  • Under the Comments for the Draft 2018 Priority Trails Map, refer to the Priority Trail Map for the Draft Southern Region Opportunity and Priority Land Trails Map and ask them to restore the SGLR alignment. Also thank them for adding the Coastal Loop through the Town of Fort Myers Beach and City of Bonita Springs and the SR 78/80 Corridor in Lee County to fill the void for the removal of the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG).
Background


Since BikeWalkLee's inception in 2009, it has been a strong supporter of the vision of a connected and integrated statewide trail system throughout Florida.  [BWL 2016 Letter ] While a statewide trail map was developed in 1998, the initiative gained momentum beginning in 2014 when the State Legislature provided annual funding ($25 M/year) for the SUN Trail program that uses the Florida Greenways and Trails Plan and maps to prioritize funding for the system.  This Plan and maps (last updated in 2015) will guide implementation of the connected statewide trail system from 2018 through 2022.  Since 2015, the Lee MPO has proposed several new segments for the trail, which need to be incorporated into the updated maps.

We are concerned that the revised statewide trail maps contained in the draft FGTS update have deleted the Seminole Gulf Railroad right of way corridor between Bonita Springs and Estero that has been on the FGTS map since the beginning
as the primary spine for the Southwest Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail) in Lee County,.  It is critical that this trail be added back as a Priority trail before the update is finalized.  Why is this important? Because being a "Priority Trail" gives you priority for SUN Trail funds.  Bonita and Estero officials have been working jointly over the past 8 months to move this "rails-to-trails" project forward, with strong support from their communities. 


Please submit comments in support of this project as requested in the Lee MPO's email request (see below), or attend next week's public workshop in North Port (9/14) to express your support in person.  Thank you! 
 
Introduction (by Office of Greenways and Trails)

"The Florida Greenways and Trails Plan establishes the vision for implementing a connected statewide system of greenways and trails for recreation, conservation, alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles, a vibrant economy, and a high quality of life. The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) is updating the FGTS 5-Year Plan and holding 14 public open houses throughout the state. "


Lee MPO Email 9/5/17:
URGENT: Please Submit Comments to Office of Greenways and Trails to Restore the Seminole Gulf Alignment to the Priority Trails Map


The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has released its Final Draft Priority Trails Map for the Southern Region that includes Lee County, and it is disappointing to see that they have removed the Seminole Gulf Railroad (SGLR) alignment from the Draft 2018-2022 Update of the Priority Trails Map. This is inconsistent with the Lee MPO Board resolution that was adopted back in February 17, 2017 which urged the Florida Greenways and Trails Council to (1) add the proposed Coastal Loop to the Priority Trails Map while (2) maintaining the SGLR Right of Way as the primary spine for the Southwest Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail) in Lee County, and thereby continuing to maintain that alignment in the Priority Trails Map. That resolution was transmitted to the FDEP Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) staff on the same day it was adopted by the Lee MPO. 

Staff had subsequent discussions with OGT staff where we had consistently and repeatedly urged OGT staff to recommend that the SGLR alignment be maintained while adding the Coastal Loop in the Draft Priority Trails Map Update. They had said that the OGT Council would not approve loops in urban areas, yet OGT staff went and added a proposed loop trail requested in Sarasota Manatee County in the draft Priority Trails Map for Council consideration, but denied our request. The Sarasota loop trail can be found in the West Central Florida Region Map.

A Joint Resolution was adopted by the Central Florida MPO Alliance and the TBARTA MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee in June 16, 2017, that had endorsed the Lee and other MPOs proposed changes to alignments in their respective counties to the South West Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail).

Please fill the attached comment sheet [Comment Form]:
asking OGT Council and staff to restore the SGLR ROW alignment in the Southern Region Draft Priority Trail Map. Make sure that you ALSO write in the comment sheet expressing your thanks and support to OGT staff for adding the Coastal Loop and the SR 78/80 Corridor in Lee County to the Draft Priority Trails Map. 

 In addition to Samantha Browne, please cc OGT Council Chair Brian Smith at smithozona@gmail.com . We would like you to send your comments as soon as possible, and if possible attend one of the public open houses either in Sebring or North Port for input on the draft priority map for the Southern Region to express your concerns in person. The open houses in Sebring and North Port are as follows:

9/6/17 UPDATE: SEPT. WORKSHOPS POSTPONED DUE TO HURRICANE IRMA
"The Public Workshops scheduled for September (see below) will be rescheduled for a later date due to the potential of Hurricane Irma impacting the state.  This will allow individuals to focus on preparing their communities and families for the storm.  The Office of Greenways and Trails will send out more information once new dates have been confirmed."

Thursday, September 14 – North Port
Morgan Family Community Center, Meeting Room A/B
6207 West Price Boulevard, North Port, FL 34291
4:00-7:00 ET



Monday, September 11 - Sebring
Bert J. Harris, Jr. Agricultural Center, Conference Room #2
4509 George Boulevard, Sebring, FL 33875

4:00-7:00 ET


Related BikeWalkLee Blog Posts:




October 12, 2016: Cape Receives $1.8 Million SUN Trail Grant to Design Multi-Use Trail in North Cape

March 9, 2016: Moser Column: Cross-country bicycling network offers local benefits

March 7,2016: BikeWalkLee supports Southwest Coastal Regional Trail



Report by Darla Letourneau

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Action Alert: Support Seminole Gulf Railroad corridor trail between Bonita Springs and Estero--Ask State to restore trail to Priority Florida Greenways and Trails Map

Background


Since BikeWalkLee's inception in 2009, it has been a strong supporter of the vision of a connected and integrated statewide trail system throughout Florida.  [BWL 2016 Letter ] While a statewide trail map was developed in 1998, the initiative gained momentum beginning in 2014 when the State Legislature provided annual funding ($25 M/year) for the SUN Trail program that uses the Florida Greenways and Trails Plan and maps to prioritize funding for the system.  This Plan and maps (last updated in 2015) will guide implementation of the connected statewide trail system from 2018 through 2022.  Since 2015, the Lee MPO has proposed several new segments for the trail, which need to be incorporated into the updated maps.

We are concerned that the revised statewide trail maps contained in the draft FGTS update have deleted the Seminole Gulf Railroad right of way corridor between Bonita Springs and Estero that has been on the FGTS map since the beginning
as the primary spine for the Southwest Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail) in Lee County,.  It is critical that this trail be added back as a Priority trail before the update is finalized.  Why is this important? Because being a "Priority Trail" gives you priority for SUN Trail funds.  Bonita and Estero officials have been working jointly over the past 8 months to move this "rails-to-trails" project forward, with strong support from their communities. 


Please submit comments in support of this project as requested in the Lee MPO's email request (see below), or attend next week's public workshop in North Port (9/14) to express your support in person.  Thank you! 
 
Introduction (by Office of Greenways and Trails)

"The Florida Greenways and Trails Plan establishes the vision for implementing a connected statewide system of greenways and trails for recreation, conservation, alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles, a vibrant economy, and a high quality of life. The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) is updating the FGTS 5-Year Plan and holding 14 public open houses throughout the state. "


Lee MPO Email 9/5/17:
URGENT: Please Submit Comments to Office of Greenways and Trails to Restore the Seminole Gulf Alignment to the Priority Trails Map


The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has released itsFinal Draft Priority Trails Map for the Southern Region that includes Lee County, and it is disappointing to see that they have removed the Seminole Gulf Railroad (SGLR) alignment from the Draft 2018-2022 Update of the Priority Trails Map. This is inconsistent with the Lee MPO Board resolution that was adopted back in February 17, 2017 which urged the Florida Greenways and Trails Council to (1) add the proposed Coastal Loop to the Priority Trails Map while (2) maintaining the SGLR Right of Way as the primary spine for the Southwest Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail) in Lee County, and thereby continuing to maintain that alignment in the Priority Trails Map. That resolution was transmitted to the FDEP Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) staff on the same day it was adopted by the Lee MPO. 

Staff had subsequent discussions with OGT staff where we had consistently and repeatedly urged OGT staff to recommend that the SGLR alignment be maintained while adding the Coastal Loop in the Draft Priority Trails Map Update. They had said that the OGT Council would not approve loops in urban areas, yet OGT staff went and added a proposed loop trail requested in Sarasota Manatee County in the draft Priority Trails Map for Council consideration, but denied our request. The Sarasota loop trail can be found in the West Central Florida Region Map.

A Joint Resolution was adopted by the Central Florida MPO Alliance and the TBARTA MPO Chairs Coordinating Committee in June 16, 2017, that had endorsed the Lee and other MPOs proposed changes to alignments in their respective counties to the South West Coast Connector (aka Gulf Coast Trail).

Please fill the attached comment sheet [Comment Form]:
asking OGT Council and staff to restore the SGLR ROW alignment in the Southern Region Draft Priority Trail Map. Make sure that you ALSO write in the comment sheet expressing your thanks and support to OGT staff for adding the Coastal Loop and the SR 78/80 Corridor in Lee County to the Draft Priority Trails Map. 

 In addition to Samantha Browne, please cc OGT Council Chair Brian Smith at smithozona@gmail.com . We would like you to send your comments as soon as possible, and if possible attend one of the public open houses either in Sebring or North Port for input on the draft priority map for the Southern Region to express your concerns in person. The open houses in Sebring and North Port are as follows:

9/6/17 UPDATE: SEPT. WORKSHOPS POSTPONED DUE TO HURRICANE IRMA
 
"The Public Workshops scheduled for September (see below) will be rescheduled for a later date due to the potential of Hurricane Irma impacting the state.  This will allow individuals to focus on preparing their communities and families for the storm.  The Office of Greenways and Trails will send out more information once new dates have been confirmed."

Thursday, September 14 – North Port
Morgan Family Community Center, Meeting Room A/B
6207 West Price Boulevard, North Port, FL 34291
4:00-7:00 ET



Monday, September 11 - Sebring
Bert J. Harris, Jr. Agricultural Center, Conference Room #2
4509 George Boulevard, Sebring, FL 33875

4:00-7:00 ET


Related BikeWalkLee Blog Posts:




October 12, 2016: Cape Receives $1.8 Million SUN Trail Grant to Design Multi-Use Trail in North Cape

March 9, 2016: Moser Column: Cross-country bicycling network offers local benefits

March 7,2016: BikeWalkLee supports Southwest Coastal Regional Trail



Report by Darla Letourneau