Friday, January 29, 2010
We still can't always get there from here--Dan Moser
Florida Weekly 1/27/2010
We still can’t always get there from here (at least not safely)
Dan Moser email@example.com
The people who work for the various transportation and community development departments who have to deal with me must really tire of my constant badgering of them. They don’t deserve it since most are merely the messengers relating decisions from their department’s leaders, news that makes it clear that we still have a long way to go before we in Lee County ever see a transportation network that works for everyone. And although we are undoubtedly making progress, significant problems continue to be ignored or sometimes even created.
Case in point: A recent transportation planning meeting included a discussion of how the surface roads at some of our I-75 interchanges that are currently being “improved” will handle cyclists and pedestrians. Anyone who’s had to traverse the segment of road under the interstate knows it’s no picnic, whether on foot or by bike — or even by car, for that matter. For some non-motorists, the interstate actually serves as a barrier similar to a river, even though the high-speed, limited-access highway is actually above the road that cyclists and pedestrians can use and shouldn’t be a problem. But if poorly designed, as are most of ours, it can be perceived as impassible except by the most accomplished — or desperate — cyclist or pedestrian.
By continuing to design and build our roads in this way, our transportation departments’ leadership is ignoring the resolution approved by elected officials from our transportation planning committee to ensure adequate accommodation for all users. In the case of those just discussed, Colonial Boulevard will have no on-road bike accommodation when it passes under the interstate, even though it has that feature on either side leading up to the interchange. And on Bayshore Road, neither cyclists nor pedestrians will have a place dedicated to them in the interchange; there will be nothing other than motor vehicle travel lanes. The only bone thrown on behalf of non-motorists is the possibility of erecting “Bikes Sharing Roadway” signs in these areas.
After all that’s been said and done in support of making our public space more suitable for the different user types it serves you’d like to think that this kind of problem is in the past. But the status quo lives on, at least among the transportation departments’ leadership. That being said, I hope the folks on the front line never take personally my criticism of the messages they deliver.
Free class for new drivers
Lee Memorial Health System’s Trauma Center offers a free class once a month for soon-to-be drivers or those who are already behind the wheel but have minimal experience. The Young Driver Program is a short version of their High Risk Driver program, a court ordered, eight-hour class that’s conducted twice each month. Bike and pedestrian elements are covered in both programs with the aim of helping anyone who’s interested (or have no choice because they have no license) get around safely and efficiently by foot, bike, and transit. The message of just how easy it is for someone operating a two-ton weapon made of steel and plastic to kill those who are most vulnerable is clearly delivered, as is advice on ways to share the road when behind the wheel.
We encourage one or both parents to attend and welcome other siblings who may not yet be ready to drive but will be in a few years. Classes are held at Lee Memorial Hospital near downtown Fort Myers and run from 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. on a weeknight, the next being Tuesday, Feb. 23. Contact Syndi Bultman, the Trauma Center’s injury prevention coordinator, at 336-6797 to sign up.
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.