Welcome to the new format for the BikeWalkLee News. Thanks to Bert Hamilton for setting up BikeWalkLee’s blog site. On this blog, you’ll see regular postings of press releases and news stories about BikeWalkLee and related issues. At least for now, this “News” will be communicated to you by e-mail about weekly, but you should start checking the blog on a regular basis (http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/). We’re also featuring a weekly video clip, so check that out. The past issues of the blog will be kept on the blog site, attached to our website (www.BikeWalkLee.org) so that you can easily find them again. Stay tuned for additional new features coming soon.
This newsletter contains the following news items and action requests:
1. County Commissioners unanimously adopt Complete Streets Resolution 11/10/09
2. November 10th: release of national report on pedestrian safety, “Dangerous by Design” (previously called “Mean Streets”) & BikeWalkLee’s companion report of Lee County pedestrian safety—extensive press coverage
3. November 8th: BikeWalkLee Lakes Park Event: “Turning Lee County’s Mean Streets into Complete Streets” a big success
4. Update on National Legislation & Activities
5. Sanibel’s Successful Bike Rodeo for Sanibel School Students
1. County Commissioners unanimously adopt Complete Streets Resolution 11/10/09
On November 10th, Lee County commissioners (BoCC) made an historic first step to make Lee County's streets safer for all the people who use them, thanks to its unanimous passage of the county's first Complete Streets resolution. Almost as gratifying as the unanimous support from county commissioners was the broad range of support shown for the resolution this morning. During the public comment period, commissioners heard from senior citizens who want to maintain mobility after they no longer drive; parents who want a place for their children to safely walk and bike; high school and college students who want a more livable community as they make their careers here; public health officials concerned about the obesity epidemic, and emergency room doctors who see the tragic results every day of Lee's dangerous roads. Thanks to all the supporters who spoke at the county commission meeting or sent letters of support. They really made a difference! http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/2009/11/bikewalklee-applauds-commission-vote-to.html
A special thanks to Jim Nathan, CEO of Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS), for his excellent commentary on pedestrian safety, published in the News-Press on November 10, 2009: http://www.news-press.com/article/20091110/OPINION/911100322/1015/opinion/Jim-Nathan--Complete-Streets-can-save-lives-of-walkers--bicyclists; and to News-Press for the November 9th editorial in support of the Complete Resolution. http://www.news-press.com/article/20091109/OPINION/911090321/1015/Editorial--Support-bike--walk-resolution
If you are interested in watching the BoCC proceedings, just click on the link below, then choose the video icon for the 11/10/09 BoCC agenda and from 17.20 – 1:01 (timeframe on video) are the public comments made in support of complete streets. The BoCC discussion of the agenda item occurs between 1:12 – 1:38 on the video.
Lee County’s success in adopting the complete streets resolution was highlighted on Transportation for America’s blog: http://t4america.org/blog/2009/11/13/florida-county-heeds-call-for-complete-streets-days-after-reports-release/
Now comes the hard part: implementation. The Resolution directs the County Manager to develop guidelines for creating a complete streets program and report back to the County Commissioners (BoCC). The planning process is underway as part of the County Manager’s Strategic Planning Process, which will culminate in a 2010 goal-setting session with the Commissioners in late February. Once those goals have been established, the proposed complete streets program will be presented to the BoCC in April 2010, and October 1st of each year there will be a report to the BoCC on the status of implementation of the complete streets program. Stay tuned for updates as this unfolds.
2. Release of “Dangerous by Design” and BikeWalkLee’s report on Lee County pedestrian safety
Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians, and Lee County is even more dangerous than the statewide average. Lee County is among the most dangerous communities in the nation for pedestrians, ranking 23rd out of all 360 metro areas in the nation, according to a report released by Transportation for America (T4America.org) and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (STPP). In 2007-2008, 1,047 pedestrians were killed on Florida roads. Over the past two years, 32 Lee County pedestrians have died and another 422 were injured.
The report notes that most pedestrian deaths are preventable, because they occur on streets that are designed to encourage speeding traffic and lack safe sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian signals and other protections. Fixing these problems is a matter of will on the part of state departments of transportation and local communities, and of shifting spending priorities, the report concludes.
"Dangerous by Design" also examined how states and localities are spending federal money that could be used to make the most dangerous streets safer, and found that Lee County spends only $1.12 per person ― far below the national average of $1.63 per person or the statewide average of $1.41 per person. There is a big disconnect between who is dying on our roads and where our road safety dollars are going. To check out the full reports (both national and local), here are the links:
National report: “Dangerous by Design”: http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign
BikeWalkLee report on Lee County:
Listen to Dan Moser’s interview on WGCU “Gulf Coast Live” on Tuesday, discussing the Dangerous by Design report: http://wgcu.org/audioplayer/6308.aspx
Visit the BikeWalkLee Blog to read more of the local media coverage of this report.
3. Nov. 8th BWL event at Lakes Park: “Turning Lee County’s Mean Streets into Complete Streets”
We had a great turnout on Sunday, with 200-250 people showing up to fill out surveys about their views on biking and walking in Lee County, to chat with other local walkers and cyclists, talk to officials from Lee County’s Department of Transportation and Parks and Rec Department, Just Drive, Stay Alive! Coalition, to mark up maps of the sidewalks and biking facilities of most concern to them, and to enjoy a few snacks and bottled water (thanks to Sanibel’s Billy’s Bikes). The Caloosa Riders made Lakes Park the destination of their Sunday morning ride, which was great. Ken and Kate Gooderham did an excellent job of making sure everyone in Lakes Park on Sunday participated in our survey. Fox-4 News did a story on the event on their Sunday evening news, and the News-Press posted a photo gallery from the event.
Thanks to Dan Moser and his team for organizing the event and working hard to make sure we had a good turnout. We got over 175 completed survey forms and Ken and Kate, with the assistance of FGCU students, are busy analyzing them. We’ll share a summary of what we heard with you, as well as communicate your comments to the local elected and public officials. If you indicated an interest in volunteering, you’ll be hearing from us soon. I’ve already contacted one of those who volunteered, and he will be attending Friday’s MPO meeting to speak during public comment period about the need for completing all segments of the Buckingham Rd. shoulders project. There’s lots of work to do, so don’t be shy! Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you to work on something that matches your interests and skills. Thanks again to everyone who came. We hope to make it an annual event.
4. Updates on National Legislation and Activities
Transportation Bill: The current transportation legislation (SAFETEA-LU) has been extended temporarily on a series of “continuing resolutions” (stopgap funding measures). In January, there could be a longer extension of maybe 6 months. Debate on the reauthorization legislation is unlikely to move forward until after the short-term extension expires. The House leadership is also beginning to talk about a possible “jobs bill” that they hope to take up before Christmas. One of the elements could be spending on public works, like transportation projects. Stay tuned.
Climate Change Bill: the Senate is beginning to move forward on its draft of a climate bill (S. 1733). This bill would set a national goal for reducing transportation related greenhouse gas emissions, require states and metropolitan planning organizations to incorporate emission reduction targets and strategies in existing transportation planning processes, and then provide the tools, technical assistance and funding to states and MPOs to create plans as well as set up a competitive grant program to invest in smart growth and green transportation projects. The Senate bill also includes funding for public transportation agencies. Allocations for clean transportation and smart growth programs would average out to about 2.4% over the life of the bill. This legislation is lined up behind health care and financial reform, making Spring a better bet for when this legislation will be considered.
5. Sanibel Holds Successful Bike Rodeo for Sanibel School Students
On October 22nd, the Sanibel Rec Center, Billy’s Bikes, the Sanibel Bicycle Club, and Kiwanis Club, along with Dan Moser, teamed up to do a great bike rodeo for 50 Sanibel students. It was a great way to teach beginning riders about bike safety. Kudos to our “partners” for their great work! If you’re interested in setting up one of these in your community, contact Dan Moser (email@example.com ), or ask the Sanibel Bicycle Club (SanibelBC@comast.net ), for tips from their experience.
6. Dan Moser’s Florida Weekly Column—November 18th
Complete Streets: Moving from concept to implementation
In the opinion of many, myself included, their action came not a moment too soon.
“Dangerous by Design,” the latest edition of the report formerly known as “Mean Streets” that rates the state of the pedestrian environment in communities throughout the U.S., indicates that the Fort Myers/Cape Coral metro area has improved somewhat from our third most dangerous-place position in the last ranking, but our Pedestrian Danger Index is still off the charts, as is the case for so many Florida communities.
What the report tells us isn’t anything new; “Dangerous by Design” merely documents the problem. And the solution being put forth — that government — in particular, transportation departments — must change the way they design and develop our public rights of way and reform land-use policies — isn’t much different from the two previous documents’ conclusions. So, even with the recent commission decision directing county staff to move toward complete streets, League of American Cyclists denying us even the lowest level Bike Friendly Community designation, and “Dangerous by Design” confirming again that we have a major problem, the question still remains: Will key department leadership do what is now clearly laid out before them or will they continue to find ways to continue to do business as usual?
You can view the “Dangerous by Design” report at http://t4america.org/ resources/dangerousbydesign/. For an in-depth look at the local situation, BikeWalkLee’s corresponding report is at http://www.bikewalklee.org/pdfs/ BWLPedreportFINAL.pdf. Thanks to Darla Letourneau, Margaret Banyan, Mindy Collier [and Ken Gooderham]and other BikeWalkLee members who worked hard to compile this report in time to coincide with “Dangerous by Design” publication.
As is usually the case on a beautiful Sunday, Lakes Park was teeming with people engaged in all kinds of physical activity, enjoying the unique surroundings of these former rock quarries. BikeWalkLee was there as well, asking anyone who dropped into “Turing our Mean Streets into Complete Streets” what they thought of our county’s built environment for getting around outside one’s car. Maps and literature were offered, refreshments were served, and representatives of agencies that plan and build our roads and trails were on hand to answer questions, listen to suggestions, and socialize with people who enjoy being active and outdoors.
Although the surveys BWL asked attendees to complete weren’t analyzed as of the time of this column’s deadline, it was quite evident from comments and discussions that folks really want to be able to take advantage of our area’s assets: weather, natural environment, flat terrain, outstanding parks and recreation opportunities and extensive road system. Results of the survey will be posted on www.bikewalkle.org soon, perhaps by the time of this being published.
With improvements to the infrastructure — changes that make it safer and more appealing to all users — perhaps we’ll see a change for the better in behavior by everyone, something I think is vital for Lee County to become an LAB Bike Friendly Community and to significantly reduce our Pedestrian Danger Index in the next “Dangerous by Design” report. It’ll take a while, but it looks like we’re finally on the right track.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. �
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and program manager for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He may be contacted at dan@ floridabicycle.org or 334-6417.
· Updates on bike/ped stimulus projects
· Lee Department of Health’s grant application for the CDC’s national grant competition a Prevention and Wellness project that will focus on promoting healthy/livable communities.
· Happenings at recent BoCC, MPO & Smart Growth meetings
· What’s ahead with the MPO’s countywide bike/ped master plan, to get underway in December
· If there’s something you’d like to hear about, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
a coalition to complete Lee County's streets