Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bonita Springs exemplary complete streets work highlighted in national report

Congratulations to the City of Bonita Springs for being in the national spotlight as one of 12 communities across the country that were singled out in Smart Growth America's new report for their exemplary Complete Streets initiatives. It is gratifying to see one of the five agencies/municipalities in Lee County that adopted complete streets policies in 2009-2015, to have on-the-ground results from their successful implementation of their complete streets policies.  We hope to see other communities in Lee County recognized for exemplary complete streets work in the future.



This week Smart Growth America/National Complete Streets Coalition released its new annual report: The Best Complete Streets Initiatives of 2017.  We're excited that the City of Bonita Springs was one of the 12 communities selected nationwide to feature as doing exemplary work on implementing complete streets.  The write-up on Bonita's work highlights its Downtown Improvements Project, and starts with the following statement:  "Motivated to improve accessibility and safety in its downtown area, the City of Bonita Springs, FL worked with both the community and private sector to create a more people-friendly downtown area.  Through its Downtown Improvements Project, the city created a better connected street network for people walking, biking, and taking transit.  The city also incentivized development that promotes job growth and affordable housing."  (See p. 31-33 of the report for the full Bonita Springs write-up.



As the Director of the National Complete Streets Coalition stated in the report's introduction, "We hope that these stories will not only provide inspiration, but also spur other communities into action so that in 10 more years we are celebrating tangible and lasting changes to our streets, with the benefits extending to everyone."




Smart Growth America

The Best Complete Streets Initiatives of 2017

For the last month, we’ve been profiling one exemplary Complete Streets initiative each week. But now the full report from our National Complete Streets Coalition is out, highlighting 12 people and places doing exceptional work when it comes to making a tangible difference on building safer, more complete streets.
Unlike our usual annual report which grades and ranks policies, we took a different approach this year to celebrate a brand new framework for evaluating what makes a successful Complete Streets policy. The new policy framework, which will be used to grade all policies passed in 2018, moves beyond merely passing a policy and puts a greater emphasis on equity and implementation, reflecting the progress that the Complete Streets movement has made over the last decade.
The 12 communities and people highlighted in the report reflect this more ambitious and effective approach. Congratulations to everyone who had a role in these 12 initiatives and to all the other communities that have passed Complete Streets policies in the last year.

Link to full report:  The Best Complete Streets Initiatives of 2017 by National Complete Streets Coalition/Smart Growth America.

Link to information on the Downtown Improvements Project, found on the City's website.

BWL Blog, July 16, 2015: Kudos to Bonita Springs City Council on approval of downtown redevelopment design.


Memory, cognitive disorders don’t have to end outdoor activities

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 3/28/18
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

Anyone, including those with memory disorders, can benefit from taking a walk in this environment. COURTESY PHOTO
It’s no secret that remaining physically active as we reach our older years is an important aspect of quality of life. Reams of research confirm the physical and cognitive health benefits that result from regular exercise.

For many of us, our own individual experiences can back that up. Rewards are realized even for those dealing with significant health issues — and it may be even more important in such cases — so physicians commonly encourage their patients to continue whatever activities are enjoyable, possible and safe.

While it may be relatively easy to know what activities are enjoyable and possible, determining which are safe is more complicated. Sometimes it’s about staying away from activities that could worsen a specific condition, while in other cases it’s more about unintended or unexpected outcomes.

As memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias affect so many of us as we age, the challenge of remaining physically active after diagnosis is relevant. It’s also a matter I’m personally dealing with on a regular basis, and I thought it worthy of writing about it.

My work in the bike and pedestrian field includes dealing with motorists’ behavior. One direct way I do that is by providing formal driving evaluations for a local driving school. Among those I assess are folks who have been diagnosed with memory disorders and other cognitive conditions.

In the majority of cases my clients are still good-to-go because they are in the early stages of their disorder and have been encouraged by their physician or family to get their baseline for comparison as their condition progresses. An important part of the evaluation is the pre-drive interview, which includes questions and discussion about exercise and recreation. Walking and bicycling are frequently included as activities of choice. It’s always a plus in my mind when someone I’m evaluating is a regular exerciser, and I encourage them to continue doing so. But, like my recommendations related to their driving, it comes with caveats.

Some of the obvious issues to consider for driving with cognitive decline include one’s ability to make quick and accurate decisions, geographic awareness and general wayfinding and remembering one’s destinations. Each of those are just as important — perhaps even more so — for anyone on foot or bike. But there are other elements to consider when the person isn’t protected by the safety features of their motor vehicle.

Getting lost and disoriented is an all too common occurrence for those with memory disorders. When someone is beginning to lose the ability to make sound decisions, crossing the street on foot or by bike is sometimes very difficult. Being unsure about one’s whereabouts may cause them to end up crossing more streets than usual or necessary as they attempt to get back on track. Being disoriented makes things that much more difficult.

Also, when vision, balance and stability are becoming compromised, the probability of a fall increases. Traversing uneven sidewalks or having to walk on the soft shoulder when sidewalks don’t exist can create major challenges. If a fall does occur — whether the person is on foot or riding a bike — even a minor head injury can exacerbate a person’s cognitive decline, as can any incident that requires medical care, particularly if surgery that includes anesthesia becomes necessary.

So, as you can see, sticking to one’s usual exercise routine when cognitive issues are present is tricky. It’s also a moving target since, in most cases, abilities are always declining.

But the rate of change is different for each person, as are the specific abilities and skills involved. And, just as having to stop driving is very difficult for most of us, so too is being relegated to a treadmill or stationary bike for those who enjoy running, walking and bicycling outdoors and on our own terms.

While there’s no room for compromise when it’s time to stop driving, there may be ways to stick to a preferred physical activity for some time after diagnosis.

Here are some suggestions I make to my driving evaluation clients and when I address caregivers.

  • Create a specific route within one’s own neighborhood with safe walking conditions. Minimize street crossings.
  • Have a partner when venturing out.
  • Let others know where you’ll be and when you expect to be back.
  • Always carry an ID that explains one’s condition and a cell phone that includes a tracking feature.
  • Finally, caregivers and the person with the condition must continually keep an eye out for signs of becoming at-risk for taking a fall, being unable to make appropriate decisions or not being able to find their way when venturing out alone.

For anyone dealing with dementia, it will eventually be necessary to undertake physical activity in a controlled and protected environment, such as the aforementioned treadmill or stationary bike. More information on this topic can be found at Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, www.alzheimersswfl.org, and the local Alzheimer’s association chapter, www.alz.org/flgulfcoast

- 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.








The differences in danger


BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 3/29/2018
by Ken Gooderham


Weekday afternoons may be the most dangerous time to drive in Southwest Florida, but what is the most dangerous time to bike or walk?

For those of you who missed the recent article on vehicle crashes, data collected by the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) shows that vehicle crashes peaked weekday afternoons. The worst time was Friday at 4 p.m., followed by Wednesday at 5 p.m. The safest time to drive? Around 3 a.m. most days.

These findings underscore the deadly combination of more vehicles on the road and drivers paying less attention. But would that correlate with crashes involving cyclists and pedestrians?

Since there’s no bike/ped data on which to draw, we can only speculate. Obviously, more traffic would help contribute to more crashes – so the afternoon apex is feasible in bike/ped problems as well. However, there are some additional contributing factors that could affect the dangers.

The primary difference would be visibility, since vehicles hitting cyclists or pedestrians would be more likely in the low-light conditions of dusk and dawn – not to mention the no-light conditions at night. All the more reason bikers, runners and walkers need to work on being as visible as possible, using bright colors, bright lights and bright ideas (such as emphasizing your motion with lights and reflectors). Being seen greatly improves your chances of not being hit.

The second issue is being predictable, either acting like a vehicle if you’re on wheels or walking and running wisely if on foot. Drivers expect other drivers to operate their vehicles by certain rules, and will safely negotiate most roadway interactions based on that predicted behavior. But if cyclists or pedestrians dart in and out of traffic, don’t wait their turn at intersections or otherwise behavior in an unpredictable fashion, their chance of becoming a statistic (and not in a good way) rise dramatically.

Yet another issue impacting the chances of impact is the vast different in agility between vehicles and bikers or walkers. Cyclists and pedestrians can stop and turn dramatically faster than a vehicle, which has much more momentum and mass to deal with. That makes bikers and walkers far more nimble – and moving vehicles far more deadly. Just because you can stop your bike within 10-15 feet, say, doesn’t mean the car behind you can come to a stop anywhere near that – which doesn’t put you in a very good position if you’re operating on the same roadway.

One very common element in increasing danger for both drivers and walkers/bikers is distraction. A distracted driver is more dangerous to everyone and everything around them, whereas a distracted cyclist, runner or pedestrian increases the danger only to themselves.

So what can you do to stay safer on foot or on your bike?
  • Be visible. Bright lights and bright colors.
  • Be predictable. No sudden or stupid moves.
  • Pay attention. Don’t be distracted from everything going on around you.
  • Bike or walk defensively. Acting like they’re out to get you is the best way to avoid danger. (And cyclists… wear a helmet!)
  • Know your weaknesses. If sharing the road scares you, stay on the path. Night vision not so good? Then only go out in the daylight.
One more thought: More road users can mean more road dangers – so avoid rush hour if you have a choice (especially now, when our roads are at their maximum use). The odds just make sense.

A transportation deep dive

Staying with both traffic and the MPO, there’s an upcoming one-day conference for the transportation professionals out there… and for transportation geeks as well.

“Designing for People, Place and Profit” will be held on Thursday, April 19, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fort Myers campus of Florida Southwestern State College. A collection of planners, engineers and transportation heavyweights are scheduled to speak on an array of topics. Not for the casual listener, but certainly invaluable if your profession or your passion tend toward transportation issues.

Your $90 registration fee includes breakfast, lunch and break. You can find out more at www.leempo.com or sign up at MoveForward.ezevent.com.


Ready to ride or run?


Run? Events abound this Saturday, with 5Ks in Fort Myers (Eggs and Ears 5K) and Naples (Wellfit Girls and One Human Race). Details at 3dracinginc.comactive.com or gcrunner.org. The following Saturday features the Fast and Furriest 5K at Hammond Park in Fort Myers, to support the Gulf Coast Humane Society (which means your dog can be part of the action at this one).
 
Ride? Critical Mass rides abound – in Cape Coral on Friday night, downtown Fort Myers on Saturday morning and then downtown Fort Myers again on Friday night. For the night rides, lights are mandatory; for all rides helmets are suggested. Details at meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/.

Both?  Since it’s good to plan your tris in advance, put these three on the calendar:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (active.com).
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (active.com).
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (active.com).
  • Also, registration opens for the Galloway Captiva Tri on May 1; the race weekend is Sept. 15-16, with the kids’ events Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday.

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. 


 

Opportunity to participate in Bonita Beach Road Land Use Public Meetings

If you live in Bonita Springs and support a more walkable and bikeable community and a multi-modal transportation system, here's your chance to participate in a series of public meetings, including interactive sessions, to envision future built possibilities for Bonita Beach Road.  Mark your calendars for April 9-12th and plan to attend as many of the evening sessions as you like.





Background
You may have already heard that the City of Bonita Springs took a major step in 2016 to envision the many possibilities to increase biking, walking, and multimodal transportation when it contracted with Toole Design Group to develop a vision for Bonita Beach Road. The result of that visioning was documented in a Final Report that emphasizes safe multi-modal transportation, an extensive multi-use pathway, human scale design, increased road networks, efficient movement of cars and people, and enhancements to the aesthetic quality of the corridor. You can view the Toole Design's entire BBR Vision Study final report or their PowerPoint presentation.

Report by: Darla Letourneau

Links to Bonita Documents:


Links to Previous BWL Blog posts re: Bonita Beach Road Vision Study:



Monday, March 26, 2018

March 26: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, March 31: Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top Easter 5K fun run and yoga event. Gulf Coast Runners and Wellfit Girls are teaming up to bring you the 3rd Annual Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top Easter 5K, Fun Run + Yoga Event. The fun run will begin at North Collier Regional Park at 7:30 a.m. The course will take runners, walkers + the Easter Bunny through the beautiful Collier County Park. 15000 Livingston Road, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, March 31: Eggs and Ears 5K presented by The Rotary Club of Fort Myers-Sunrise to benefit The Lakes Park Foundation is returning for it's 20th 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. The course winds through the wooded paved trails and around serene lakes. 8.00 a.m., Lakes Park, Fort Myers (active.com or 3dracing.com)
  • Saturday, March 31: One Human Race 5K Run/Walk, Golden Gate High School, Naples (active.com)
  • Saturday, April 7: Fast and Furriest 5K, Hammond Stadium. (active.com)
  • Saturday, April 21: Friends of Foster Children Forever 5K, Vineyards Community Park, Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • Saturday, April 21: Lipman 5K Run For Backpacks, 8 a.m., Immokalee High School, Immokalee (active.com)
  • Sunday, May 6: Tropicool 5K, 1161 Third Street South, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 12: Turtle Trot 5K, 8 a.m., Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, May 19: Cape Cops 5K, 7:30 a.m., Cape Coral Yacht Club, Cape Coral (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Friday, March 30: 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, March 31: 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, April 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.(meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, April 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, April 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/)
  • 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:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (active.com).
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (active.com).
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (active.com)
  • Saturday, July 14: Englewood YMCA Sprint Tri, Englewood. (active.com)
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.

Monday, March 19, 2018

March 19: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, March 24: Run for the Music 10K. Presented by the Friends of Artis - Naples with proceeds benefiting the Artis-Naples Orchestra and its youth music education programs. Starts at Artis Naples. (runsignup.com)
  • Saturday, March 24: Running with the Sharks 5K. Come on out to Oasis High School and support the OHS Sharks Football team in our third annual 5k! Race profits are to benefit student athletes in the football program. 7:30 a.m., Oasis High School, Cape Coral (3dracinginc.com).
  • Saturday, March 31: Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top Easter 5K fun run and yoga event (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, March 31: Eggs and Ears 5K, Lakes Park, Fort Myers (active.com or 3dracing.com)
  • Saturday, March 31: One Human Race 5K Run/Walk, Golden Gate High School, Naples (active.com)
  • Saturday, April 7: Fast and Furriest 5K, Hammond Stadium. (active.com)
  • Saturday, April 21: Friends of Foster Children Forever 5K, Vineyards Community Park, Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • Saturday, April 21: Lipman 5K Run For Backpacks, 8 a.m., Immokalee High School, Immokalee (active.com)
  • Sunday, May 6: Tropicool 5K, 1161 Third Street South, Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 12: Turtle Trot 5K, 8 a.m., Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday, May 19: Cape Cops 5K, 7:30 a.m., Cape Coral Yacht Club, Cape Coral (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Sunday, March 25: Cycling for Fallen Heroes. This fundraising ride will benefit the Brotherhood Ride. A non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity organization entirely comprised of volunteers, who are themselves emergency responders: firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel who ride bicycles to honor emergency first responders who have died in the line of duty. 10-, 28-, 42- and 62-miles routes, all starting at Trek in Estero (active.com)
  • Friday, March 30: 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, March 31: 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, April 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.(meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, April 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, April 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/)
  • 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:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (active.com).
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (active.com).
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (active.com)
  • Saturday, July 14: Englewood YMCA Sprint Tri, Englewood. (active.com)
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Use caution when biking and walking on congested pathways

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 3/14/18
danMOSER
bikepedmoser@gmail.com

Even when it’s not crowded, this downtown Fort Myers sidewalk isn’t a place to ride a bike. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY
With high season upon us, our roads aren’t the only place where congestion — and sometimes bad behavior — reign. Many of our pathways are quite busy and some reach capacity at times. Those include some stretches on Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, parts of McGregor Boulevard and sidewalks in the core of downtown Fort Myers. While full-time residents can forego overcrowded restaurants until things get back to normal, that’s not always an option for roads and pathways.

For those walking or running the most common complaints relate to cyclists who use the paths — which are frequently narrow sidewalks only 5 feet wide — but travel fast and fail to warn when passing. Another common gripe is that motorists fail to comply with crosswalks, don’t stop before making a right-on-red or block the crosswalk when waiting to proceed.
 
Florida law allows cyclists to use sidewalks unless local jurisdictions enact ordinances banning it. Other than a few blocks in the core of the downtown Fort Myers business district and one side of West First Street in the same general vicinity, the rest of Lee County allows bikes to operate on sidewalks. And as far as I can tell there is no enforcement of the city’s ordinance, even though downtown is frequently crowded with sidewalk cafĂ© tables, diners, servers and other pedestrians. According to Florida law, “A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances” and “A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.”

The law is clear and it should be common sense that cyclists have an obligation to proceed with caution and warn before passing true pedestrians and even other “pedestrian” cyclists. And while there’s no specific language in Florida law related to pedestrians who are running, on skates or skateboards, or those using power wheelchairs and scooters, they should adhere to the same common sense concept so as not to create the potential for surprise and injury when approaching from any direction.

Motorists obviously have a high level of responsibility because of the serious damage vehicles can render.

Unfortunately, Lee County is the most dangerous place in the U.S. for pedestrians, and not much better for cyclists, primarily because too many drivers don’t adhere to the law. It seems so many of us thumb our noses at traffic laws that it’s almost impossible to enforce to the degree necessary to get us off the top of the worst-of list. Add to that the over-design of our roads and lack of adequate bike/pedestrian accommodation in many places and the worse pedestrian environment label is what results. When our roads are maxed out and filled with aggressive, impatient, inconsiderate and distracted drivers, the problems are even more serious. At the very least, sidewalk parking violations can easily be enforced by simply observing the offending cars.

Why this is not the case remains a mystery to me and the fact it’s not addressed is among is one of the reasons we have such a poor reputation.

Like so many other problems in our society, it’s really only a few people who create them. When traffic laws are observed and common courtesy practiced, things usually go smoothly. It’s unfortunate that there are enough who don’t go along with societal expectations that our law enforcers can’t keep up, thus our traffic and especially the bike/pedestrian environment has become dismal and dangerous.¦


- 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.





Do you know your laws?


BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 3/15/2018
by Ken Gooderham


With high season upon us, our roads aren’t the only place where congestion — and sometimes bad behavior — reign. Many of our pathways are quite busy and some reach capacity at times. Those include some stretches on Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, parts of McGregor Boulevard and sidewalks in the core of downtown Fort Myers. While full-time residents can forego overcrowded restaurants until things get back to normal, that’s not always an option for roads and pathways.

For those walking or running the most common complaints relate to cyclists who use the paths — which are frequently narrow sidewalks only 5 feet wide — but travel fast and fail to warn when passing. Another common gripe is that motorists fail to comply with crosswalks, don’t stop before making a right-on-red or block the crosswalk when waiting to proceed.

How well do you know your bicycle laws? Try this:
  1. Is a bicycle is considered a vehicle?
  2. Does a cyclist have a right to ride on a public roadway?
  3. Can a cyclist be given a traffic ticket?
  4. If you’re riding at night, does your bike need to have lights front and rear?
  5. Can a cyclist use a headset while riding?
  6. At what age must a cyclist wear a helmet?
  7. Does a cyclist have to ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic?
  8. Can cyclists ride more than two abreast on a public road?
  9. Do cyclists have to warn pedestrians before overtaking them?
  10. What width driving lane is considered “shareable”?
The answers:
  1. Yes, according to Florida Statutes (FS) 316.003(2).
  2. Yes.
  3. Yes, for violating either the standard or bike-specific parts of FS Chapter 316. Good news is a bike citation does not accrue points on your record.
  4. Yes, according to FS 316.2065(8).
  5. No, according to FS 316.304.
  6. Any cyclist under age 16 is required to wear a helmet. A smart cyclist of any age should wear one as well.
  7. Yes, if you’re riding in the driving lane. No if on a sidewalk.
  8. No, and they can only ride side-by-side if they do not impede traffic. If you’re riding on a bike-only lane, you can ride more than two abreast.
  9. Yes, if on a sidewalk or crosswalk. Not a bad idea on a shared-use path, either.
  10. 14 feet, since that allows a motor vehicle to pass a cyclist in the same lane without violating the three-foot rule (the closest your vehicle is supposed to be to a cyclist).
Know them all? Great! Didn’t do too well? Consider heading to the Florida Bicycle Association website (http://floridabicycle.org/publications/) to download a copy of their “Complete Bicycle & Pedestrian Law Enforcement Guide.” A good summary of the pertinent statutes for both biking and walking.

Beware the autonomous auto

Bad news, cyclists. The driverless technology that’s going to revolutionize transportation? Not so good at seeing someone on a bike.

I guess we can’t be too surprised. Given all the trouble human drivers sometimes have sharing the road with cyclists, why would we expect AI would make it any better?

One study of autonomous cars – a phrase we’ll have to start getting used to – says bicycles are “the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face.”

Why? Nimble, small and unpredictable – the same issues that human drivers have with them.

One solution being proffered is to have cyclists wear a communications gizmo that would allow the autonomous vehicle to sense its digital presence. This could allow a faster response by the vehicle, befitting the bicycle’s more nimble moves (and the cyclist’s more unpredictable behavior).

Of course, this early in the beta-testing means the developers of autonomous-vehicle technology still have time to tweak the software, hopefully making it easier to sense bicyclists more in line with its capacity to navigate vehicles, pedestrians and various road hazards.

Who knows? Maybe if they find an answer for autonomous vehicles, they might figure out a way to make cyclists more visible to human-driven ones next!


Ready to ride or run?


Run? If your St. Patrick’s Day celebration needs to include a run, there’s one tonight in Naples, -- a 5K at Fit & Fuel (gcrunner.org). There are two options on March 24 – a 5K in Cape Coral (3dracing.com) or a 10K at Artis Naples (gcrunner.org).
 
Ride? On March 25, join the Cycling for Fallen Heroes event and pick from your choice of a 10-, 28-, 42- or 62-mile ride (active.com). A rare gap in Critical Mass rides due to the calendar, with the next one not until March 30 in Cape coral.

Both?  Since it’s good to plan your tris in advance, put these three on the calendar:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (active.com).
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (active.com).
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (active.com).
  • Also, registration opens for the Galloway Captiva Tri on May 1; the race weekend is Sept. 15-16, with the kids’ events Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday.

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, March 12, 2018

Save the date: April 19th - Creating the Future Today

Mark your calendars for this important event presented by Streets Alive of  SWFL, Florida CCIM Chapter Southwest District and Lee County Economic Development Southwest Florida.



The Summit is scheduled for April 19, 2018, and will feature experienced speakers on topics that include “Integrating Land Use, Transportation, and Economic Planning”.

SPEAKERS:

VICTOR DOVER, AICP
Dover, Kohl & Partners
Victor has a national and international portfolio of work emphasizing community revitalization.

IAN LOCKWOOD, P.E.
Toole Design Group
Ian is a national leader in sustainable transportation policy and urban design, with extensive background in both public government and private consulting.

BILLY HATTAWAY, P.E.
City of Orlando
Working closely with a Smart Growth America Advisory Team, Billy initiated and developed Florida’s new Complete Streets program, called Context Classification.

JOE MINICOZZI, AICP
Urban 3
Joe’s analyses help localities make better decisions, measuring investments against ROI, through identification and comparative assessment of revenue streams.

DEWAYNE CARVER, AICP
FDOT Complete Streets Team
The new state-wide Context Classification Program will be presented.

Registration here and more information here.


For more information contact: AnnPierce350@gmail.com


March 12: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Thursday, March 15: St Patrick’s Day 5K Fun Run. Come join Gulf Coast Runners for our third "GCR St. Patrick's Day Event"!  The event will be held at Beach Box Cafe (9020 Gulf Shore Dr, Naples, FL 34108) as Fit & Fuel will be under construction. This 3K fun run is not chip timed. 6:00 p.m., Naples (gcrunner.org
  • Cancelled: Saturday, March 17: Hodges University Student Success 5K for Scholarships, 4501 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers (3dracing.com).
  • Saturday, March 24: Run for the Music 10K, Starts at Artis Naples. (gcrunner.org
  • Saturday, March 31: Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top Easter 5K fun run and yoga event (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, March 31: Eggs and Ears 5K, Lakes Park, Fort Myers (active.com or 3dracing.com).
  • Saturday, March 31: One Human Race 5K Run/Walk, Golden Gate High School, Naples (active.com).
  • Saturday, April 7: Fast and Furriest 5K, Hammond Stadium. (active.com).
  • Saturday, April 21: Friends of Foster Children Forever 5K, Vineyards Community Park, Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • Sunday, May 6: Tropicool 5K, 1161 Third Street South, Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Sunday, March 25: Cycling for Fallen Heroes. This fundraising ride will benefit the Brotherhood Ride. A non-profit 501(c)(3) public charity organization entirely comprised of volunteers, who are themselves emergency responders: firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel who ride bicycles to honor emergency first responders who have died in the line of duty. 10-, 28-, 42- and 62-miles routes, all starting at Trek in Estero (active.com)
  • Friday, March 30: 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, March 31: 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/
  • 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:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (active.com).
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (active.com).
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (active.com).
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Collier Co. Wins $13 M TIGER grant for Immokalee bike/ped safety project

Kudos to Collier County for their successful efforts in winning TIGER grant to address longstanding bike/ped safety issues in Immokalee. Proud of SWFL for winning $23 M (including Lee MPO $10 M complete streets grant in 2013) over past 5 years from the federal TIGER grant program to make our streets safer for walkers and cyclists.

Naples Daily News, March 9, 2018
Immokalee gets $13 million grant for sidewalks, lights, bus shelters, drainage
Greg Stanley, greg.stanley@naplesnews.com

After years of trying, Collier County will receive a $13 million federal grant to build sidewalks, streetlights and bus shelters in Immokalee, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced this week.

The money — enough to build 20 miles of sidewalks, upgrade 32 intersections and add 22 shaded bus shelters — will fund one of the largest projects to make Immokalee safer for its many pedestrians and bicyclists.

The grant also will be used to add lights to most intersections in town and build 20 miles of drainage ditches along roads to keep paths from flooding and forcing pedestrians onto the sides of streets.
Immokalee's Community Redevelopment Agency has been trying to add sidewalks, illuminate streets and install adequate road drainage systems for years.

"So many of our side streets have no lighting, and it gets very dark," said Christie Betancourt, operations manager of the CRA. "This is just great news."

Almost 250 people on foot or on bicycles have been hit by cars in Immokalee since 2005, according to county data. Immokalee has a population of 24,000.

The county estimates a quarter of Immokalee residents don't have a car. More than 30 percent of students walk or bike to school, and almost half of adults walk, bike or take a bus to work.
Yet 63 percent — almost two-thirds — of Immokalee streets don't have a sidewalk.

Design work will begin in the coming months, with construction expected to begin sometime in late 2019, according to the county's grant application.The work is expected to finish in 2021.

Betancourt and Collier County Commissioner Bill McDaniel, who represents the area, said much of the credit for the grant should go to Trinity Scott and Lorraine Lantz, county transportation planners who were instrumental in writing the application, prioritizing needs and capturing the grant.

"We're always talking about how Immokalee is a walking community," McDaniel said. "That means having safe sidewalks for our children to get to and from school and for our residents to get around is paramount."

McDaniel thanked U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, chairman of the House Transportation Appropriations subcommittee, and U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, of Florida, for supporting the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.
Diaz-Balart, whose district includes Immokalee, said in a statement he is eager to see the effects of the grant.

"From the installation of streetlights to the construction of bus shelters and sidewalks, the funds from this grant will be utilized to improve the quality of life for Immokalee residents,” he said.


Monday, March 5, 2018

March 5: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

Running/walking:
  • Saturday, March 10: Shrimp Run 5K, Matanzas Bridge, Fort Myers Beach (active.com
  • Thursday, March 15: St Patrick’s Day 5K Fun Run, 6:15 p.m., Fit and Fuel, 819 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples (gcrunner.org
  • Cancelled: Saturday, March 17: Hodges University Student Success 5K for Scholarships, 4501 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers (3dracing.com).
  • Saturday, March 24: Run for the Music 10K, Starts at Artis Naples. (gcrunner.org
  • Saturday, March 31: Wellfit Girls Hop to the Top Easter 5K fun run and yoga event (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, March 31: Eggs and Ears 5K, Lakes Park, Fort Myers (active.com or 3dracing.com).
  • Saturday, March 31: One Human Race 5K Run/Walk, Golden Gate High School, Naples (active.com).
  • Saturday, April 7: Fast and Furriest 5K, Hammond Stadium. (active.com).
  • Saturday, April 21: Friends of Foster Children Forever 5K, Vineyards Community Park, Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • Sunday, May 6: Tropicool 5K, 1161 Third Street South, Naples (gcrunner.org).
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com

Cycling:
  • Friday, March 9: 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, March 10: 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/)
  • Saturday, March 10: Pedal and Play in Paradise, 62-, 30- and 15-mile rides, plus a 10-mile Mystery Ride (pedalandplayinparadise.com)
  • Saturday-Sunday, March 10-11: 20th annual Royal Palm Challenge, 32- and 42-mile rides both days, starting from Fort Myers Brewing Co. (www.caloosariders.org)
  • Saturday-Sunday, March 10-11: Pan-Florida Challenge, six routes from 10 miles to 200 miles, Naples to Vero Beach. Ride for a weekend, feed a child for a year (panfloridachallenge.org
  • Sunday, March 25: Cycling for Fallen Heroes, 10-, 28-, 42- and 62-miles routes, all starting at Trek in Estero (active.com)
  • Friday, March 30: 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, March 31: 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/
  • 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:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (active.com).
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (active.com).
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (active.com).
  • Check trifind.com to find regional and state tris.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Making Bonita Bike-Friendly

Exciting to see all the work going on in Bonita Springs to make the city a friendlier (and safer) place to bike and walk. Thanks to Deputy Mayor Peter O'Flinn for writing this commentary in Spotlight Magazine. Be inspired...and get involved.

Bonita Spotlight Magazine:  Making Bonita bike friendly
March 1, 2018



By Peter R. O’Flinn
Deputy Mayor
City of Bonita Springs

A few weeks back, a group of cyclists from around town gathered near the community pool on Terry Street. During the course of an hour-long discussion and subsequent walk along the roadway, members of the Pelican Landing and Bonita Bay bike clubs and the city’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Group shared safety ideas with design professionals from Alta Planning + Design, a national design leader engaged by the city.
From left to right, Bonita Bay's Bill Drum and Dave Timm, and Pelican Landing's Steve Gunther and John VanderMeer meet with Arleen Hunter, assistant city manager, and Matt Feeney, public works director, and representatives from Alta Planning + Design to discuss Terry Street bike safety.

The meeting place was fitting. Terry Street between US 41 and Old 41 has been selected as the city’s first priority on its new bike/pedestrian master plan.

The goal of the Terry Street project is to have something special – a transformational project to serve as a template for future improvements in town. It will include a safe, shaded pathway for recreational cyclists and pedestrians, replacing the narrow sidewalk on Terry Street’s north side. An expanded road right of way on both sides of the road is expected to allow better separation of road bicyclists and automobiles, enhancing safety for all.

Around the country, the creation of mobility infrastructures for bicyclists and pedestrians are pathways to healthy living and quality of life. It also enhances good economic development. As a result, this initiative is a city priority.

For the sake of public safety, it’s a necessity.

Florida has consistently topped the most dangerous list in the national “Dangerous by Design” report; the Fort Myers- Cape Coral metropolitan sta­tistical area has ranked as the most dangerous in Florida. Obviously, this is a designation Bonita Springs must have zero tolerance for.

Terry Street as it appears today, before pathway.

After taking additional public in­put, Alta will be designing the Terry Street project this spring, with a goal of construction beginning later this year. Other priority projects include exploring the creation of a route, north of the Terry Street roundabout, so that students living in Rosemary Park can better access the middle school, and building a pathway along Terry Street east of Imperial Parkway toward the YMCA, Bonita Nature Place and Cullum’s Bonita Trail.

As we know, Bonita’s selfless volunteers are the heartbeat of kindness in town. Their efforts also ease the taxpayer burden, and the city’s bike safety initiative is no exception.

Earlier this year I mentioned to Bonita Bay’s Jim Wurster that I had just learned, a bit too late I thought, of a state grant program for bike paths. Two weeks later, Jim beat the deadline by work­ing with our public works staff, and a full grant application was submitted. When the results were announced, Bonita Springs was awarded a $200,000 state grant for the Terry Street project. Thank you, Jim Wurster.

In a presentation to the city, Alta Planning + Design showed before and after concepts depicting a new Terry Street pathway near the city’s community pool. The actual design awaits the formal process.

Public involvement also has proved essential to a longer-term project we are investigating with our friends in Estero – the possibility of a pathway along the railroad right of way from Bonita Beach Road to Estero Parkway. When its “Priority Trail” status recently was in jeopardy with the state of Florida, Estero Village Council member Nick Batos and I traveled to Tallahassee to advocate before the state’s Greenways and Trails Council. The council unanimously re-approved Priority Trail status, making special note of nearly 1,000 emails of support from Bonita and Estero, together with letters from Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Rep. Ray Rodrigues.

The Bonita Spotlight provides this space to members of the Bonita Springs City Council for commentary on their person­al views about city matters.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

BikeWalkLee's Letter to County Commissioners in Support of 100% Impact Fees


 On Tuesday, March 6th, the County Commissioners will be considering whether impact fees should return to the 100% rate or continue its impact fee reduction policies, which has resulted in the loss of $83 million in revenues over the past 5 years.  BikeWalkLee strongly supports returning to the 100% impact fees and has shared our comments with Commissioners.  Make your voices heard before or at this important meeting on Tuesday. Here's the Link to this Letter.





March 1, 2018

Lee County Board of Commissioners
2120 SW Main Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901

Dear Commissioners: 
BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County's streets, works for a more balanced multi-modal transportation system that values transportation choice, connectivity, economic opportunity, livable communities, community character, safety, and quality growth.  Over the past six years, we have steadfastly opposed the suspension or reduction in impact fees.  We believe that providing public infrastructure should be a shared responsibility; that investments in public infrastructure necessitated by growth should be paid for by those creating that need;  and that infrastructure investments should keep pace with permitted development so that the quality of life for all residents does not erode as a result.

At your March 6 Board meeting, we urge you:

·        To take no action to extend reduced impact fees, so that the full base rate (100%) is automatically reinstated effective March 16, 2018, as called for in your March 2015 ordinance;

·        To adopt the recommendations in the 2018 Duncan Associates impact fee studies (roads, schools, parks, fire/EMS), updating the 100% rates reflecting current costs;

·        To oppose any efforts to lengthen the impact fee update cycle beyond the current long-standing practice of updating the fees on a three-year cycle. 

When the Board enacted the reduced collection rate (20% for two years) in 2013, and then extended it in 2015 (with a reduced collection rate of 45% for three years), the ordinances stated that these reductions were to provide temporary relief to the building and construction industry in recognition of the downturn in the U.S. economy. The downturn in the economy is long over, with employment and growth booming in Lee County, and it's past time for the "temporary relief" to come to an end.
This "temporary relief" has come at a high cost to the taxpayers. As a result of this Board's policy decisions (supported by all Board members with the exception of Commissioner Mann) to reduce impact fee collection rates over the past five years, $83 million in revenues has been lost (approximately half for roads as well as parks; and the other half for schools). Public infrastructure costs due to permitted development are determined by state-mandated impact fee studies which establish the base impact fees. According to these studies (e.g. Duncan Update studies), $128 million is necessary to cover the public infrastructure costs associated with these developments, yet the county collected only $45 million of that amount, creating a $83 million unfunded liability for the taxpayers of Lee County. [See Attachment 1.]
Now the Board is considering a proposal to extend this 45% collection rate for another five years, which would result in an additional estimated loss of $122 million ($24 million a year), bringing the 10-year revenue loss to over $200 million (half for schools and other half for roads and parks). [See Attachment 2.]  If this 45% collection rate becomes permanent (as the majority of the Commission clearly intends), by 2040, the County will have lost an additional $400 million in revenue...for a grand total of $600 million (half for schools and half for roads and parks)! It is fiscally irresponsible of the Board to give away a vital revenue source necessary to meet the public infrastructure needs of this growing county, even more so because no replacement revenue sources have been put in place to cover these costs. 

During the 24 years from when road impact fees were instituted (FY 1990 through FY 2013, when slashing of impact fees began), this revenue source constituted about one-third of all revenues funding transportation projects. As a result of the Board's impact fee reduction policy decisions over the past five years, that share has dropped from 36% to 10%. It is time to re-assert the community compact of shared responsibility that served the county well for the previous 24 years, and return impact fees to 100% of the base rate. [See Attachment 3.]

In addition to the detrimental impacts from the past five years' $83 million revenue loss, there has been an even more lasting casualty: In the Board's attempt to justify slashing impact fees, it has created a false narrative that there are sufficient revenues to meet the transportation needs of this growing community. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The countywide long range transportation plan (2040 LRTP) approved in 2015 by the MPO Board (consisting of all 5 Commissioners along with elected officials from each of the 6 municipalities), clearly sounded the alarm about the growing transportation funding shortfall. Less than half of the projects in the approved list can be funded with the estimated revenues coming in through 2040. For the LRTP projects that are solely the responsibility of Lee County, there is a $1.2 billion shortfall over the next 22 years, with 55% of the need left unfunded. This is half of the $2.3 billion shortfall  in the overall Plan. Furthermore, as the MPO's LRTP made clear, the upward pressure on project costs coupled with worsening downward trends on almost all revenue sources, the transportation funding shortfall with be significantly higher when the 2045 LRTP is adopted in 2019. [See Attachment 4.]  

The County Administration has argued that it has "solved" the funding shortfall problem with its Growth Increment Fund (GIF).  This is not true.  First, no new revenues have been raised.  GIF simply shifts approximately $11 million/year in already collected property tax revenues (from all residents) to the transportation CIP every year; thereby shifting who is paying for this infrastructure.  Second and most importantly,  even with these GIF revenues, the funding shortfall has only been reduced to $864 million-- with  41% of the funding shortfall remaining.  

Restoring impact fees to 100% will make a big dent in the shortfall (closing half of the gap), but the County will still be faced with  a remaining 23% funding shortfall ($481 million).  As has been discussed by the MPO, new revenue sources are needed and it is the responsibility of local leaders to come up with solutions; yet nothing has been done. Through its actions to reduce impact fee revenue collections, this Board has made an already dire funding situation much worse. [See Attachment  5.]

The Board's exclusive focus on the Transportation CIP's five-year window is very deceptive. In order to create the impression that no additional funds are needed, it simply pushes the true costs of completing these projects into the outyears beyond the "visible" five-year window, hiding the fact that sufficient revenues are not available to complete these projects. 

Using the County's own numbers--the FY 2017-18 5-Year Transportation CIP (adopted in Sept. 2017)and its revenue estimates (provided in Feb. 6, 2018 workshop), just to complete construction of the projects already underway in the current 5-year CIP (totaling $244 million) an additional $225 million is needed, as shown the County's "6-10 year" column on its detailed CIP spreadsheet. This means that over 80% of the revenues coming in for the next 5-year window (FY 22/23-26/27) are already committed for the completion of the projects now underway.  Only $55 million will be available to spend on all the unfunded Tier II and III projects, which have a $165 million price tag.

The reality is that it will take over 15 years to fund all the projects in the current five-year CIP and on the county's approved Tier I, II, and III priorities list.  No funds will be available for any new projects until  FY 2032/33 -- 14 years from now, by which time Lee County will have another 182,000 residents on top of our current population of 700,000. [See Attachment 6.]

In addition to these "big picture" transportation funding concerns, BikeWalkLee is particularly concerned about the consequences of this funding shortfall on the growing backlog of stand-alone bike/ped retrofit projects, as well as road projects that incorporate a complete streets approach. In 2017, Lee County was ranked the deadliest metro area in the country for pedestrian safety. [The 2016 Dangerous by Design report released by Smart Growth America.] This report demonstrated the urgent need for increased investment in pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure to make Lee County roadways safer for all users. A year ago, BikeWalkLee challenged the County along with the six local municipalities, to step up their investments to make our roadways safer for everyone. Without these additional investments now, we are likely to see our "worst in the country" label stick when the next report comes out next year, hurting Lee County's reputation well beyond this one issue. Safety is essential to one's quality of life, and without it, our economic vitality cannot be sustained. 

While the County has provided some increased funding for bike/ped projects, much more needs to be done. As of January 2018, there are $105 million in bike/ped stand-alone projects that have been approved and prioritized by the County's Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee waiting to be funded. In addition, there are $38 million more in approved projects that are currently on hold until other issues are resolved.  The list of approved projects has grown from $68 million in FY 2015, essentially doubling over the past 3 years. To eliminate this backlog, and to make our existing roadways  safer for pedestrians and cyclists, significant additional revenues are needed in the transportation budget over the next 15 years and beyond. [See Attachment  7.] 
The Board needs to be honest with the citizens of Lee County about the growing transportation funding shortfall rather than pretending it doesn't exist so the Board can squander much needed revenues by only collecting a fraction of impact fees due to the county and school district. The Board's actions on this critical issue over the past five years have misled the public about the true transportation funding situation and undermined the long-standing social compact of "shared sacrifices" that is critical to the public's trust in its elected officials, making it even harder to gain public support for these efforts in the future.
Economic prosperity comes from quality investments in community infrastructure. We urge you to vote to return impact fees to the full 100% rate, as updated by the 2018 Duncan impact fee update studies. 

Sincerely, 

Darla Letourneau
On behalf of
BikeWalkLee

cc: Roger Desjarlais, County Manager

Attachments:




Attachment  4:  Lee County/BoCC Approved Projects in 2040 LRTP