December 1, 2009
State Representative Gary Aubuchon
Chairman, Lee County Legislative Delegation
3501 Del Prado Boulevard
Cape Coral, FL 33904
Members of the Lee County Legislative Delegation;
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County. We work for 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.
We are alarmed about the epidemic of preventable deaths of pedestrians and cyclists throughout Florida—an epidemic that has been occurring for over a decade with little acknowledgement and minimal action by our state officials. Over the past two years, 1,286 pedestrians and cyclists have died on Florida roads ― including 42 in Lee County ― while more than 10 times that number has been injured in crashes involving motor vehicles during the same period. A national report, “Dangerous by Design,” jointly produced by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and Transportation for America has ranked Florida as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians, with a danger index three times the national average. Lee County’s danger index is higher than Florida’s statewide average and ranks 23rd worst in the nation, and 9th worst in Florida.
As our Legislative Delegation, we ask you to consider taking the following actions in the next legislative session. It is important to note that NONE of these items require additional funding. They are all things that can be accomplished through oversight, policy and legislative direction to the state government, and a re-prioritization of existing transportation funds.
1. Establish a statewide goal of reducing by 50 percent the share of all traffic deaths that are pedestrians and cyclists, which would bring Florida in line with the national average. Request the Governor and the state Department of Transportation (FDOT) to submit a plan with for achieving this goal within 10 years, with quantifiable measures to track results. (Currently the national average is 14% and Florida’s is 22%)
2. Require FDOT to prioritize the allocation of its safety funds (Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds as well as State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program (Section 402)) in proportion to the share of all traffic deaths of that mode. Given that 22% of all traffic deaths in Florida are pedestrians and cyclists, 22% of the safety funds should be targeted to make the roads safer for these users.
3. Require FDOT to reprioritize its budget for FY 2010-2011 and beyond to at least double the share of its transportation dollars going to pedestrian/bike infrastructure. Currently only 1.5% of Florida transportation dollars are allocated to provide safe and accessible facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Approximately 30% of Floridians, including many senior citizens, do not have access to their own motor vehicle for transportation and many more citizens walk, run, or cycle for recreation and exercise.
4. Hold the Governor and state agencies accountable for implementing laws that are already on the books that would make Florida communities safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
a. Florida law (F.S. 335.065, attached) requires a complete streets approach to roadway design and operation. Require FDOT to issue guidance and accountability measures for ensuring that these provisions are being implemented.
b. The Florida Legislature enacted a Conserve by Bicycle Program (F.S. 335.067, attached) in 2005, requiring both the creation of a Conserve by Bicycle Program in FDOT and the completion of a Conserve by Bicycle study to help accomplish these goals. Require FDOT to implement this program as intended in 2010.
5. Require FDOT to issue its update of the state’s “Green Book” by the end of 2010. The Green Book is the minimum standards for designing roadways. The bicycle and pedestrian accommodations sections in the Green Book are outdated and no longer consistent with national guidelines from FHWA, the FDOT guidelines in the Plans Preparation Manual (PPM), and guidelines and best practices issued by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the American Planning Association. FDOT uses the PPM, which has higher standards, while many Florida counties and municipalities use the Green Book. The outdated Green Book has been used too long as the excuse for not accommodating bike/pedestrian/transit users.
6. Request the Governor and FDOT to expand its Recovery.gov website transparency approach to cover all transportation projects, activities, plans, and outcomes. The public should know where its transportation dollars are going, what percentage is being spent on safety of non-motorists, the progress the state is making in meeting goals of reducing the share of all traffic deaths that are bike/pedestrian, etc.
BikeWalkLee has been working with Lee County officials over the past year to promote a complete streets approach and investments to make our roadways safer for all users, and our local elected officials have begun to act. One of the key recommendations of the “Dangerous by Design” report is the adoption of complete streets policies; complete streets are safer streets that save the lives of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, as well as helping to promote healthy lifestyles. In August, the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization adopted a resolution which requests FDOT and local agencies to accommodate all users in the design, construction, and operation of all roadway projects. On Nov. 10, Lee County commissioners adopted a complete streets policy resolution, the first step in implementing a complete streets program in our community.
As Lee County embarks on this path to safer streets for everyone, it will need support and leadership from the Governor and state agencies, especially FDOT, since many of the policies and approaches for building our roadways are directed by the state and many of the roadways in our county are actually state roads.
We look forward to presenting these requests to members of the Lee County Legislative Delegation on December 15th, and will be happy to work with members of the Delegation to pursue these reasonable and overdue goals. We have included additional materials for your consideration as you review this request. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.
On behalf of BikeWalkLee
1. BikeWalkLee’s 11/20/09 Letter to Governor Crist: requesting action on “Dangerous by Design” report
2. Florida “fact sheet” from the “Dangerous by Design” report (11/9/09)
3. BikeWalkLee’s report: “How Safe are Lee County Streets for Pedestrians” issued 11/9/09
4. Florida Statutes 335.065 and 335.067