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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.
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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.