Saturday, February 27, 2010

A new bike rack at Captiva Beach

Check out the new bike rack at the Allison Hagerup Beach Park in Captiva. Thanks to Dan Calvert at Lee Parks & Rec and Roger Clark of the Captiva Erosion and Sediment Control District (who manages this park) for making this happen. Now you can ride over the Sanibel bridge, down to the tip of Captiva past the Starbucks, park your bike in this new bike rack and take a long walk on the beach. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moser's Florida Weekly Column: It's peak season for local running and cycling events

Florida Weekly 2/24/10
It’s peak season for local running and cycling events

The Edison Fest 5K, our area’s premier short distance running event, may be over for the year, but there are still many excellent walking, running and cycling events still to come. Unfortunately, two that are especially popular with some of the same people are competing with each other this year.

On Sunday, March 7, the third annual Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon, ( takes place in Fort Myers. On that same date, the well-established Royal Palm Classis bike tour ( is being staged from Buckingham Community Park near Lehigh Acres. Besides the competition for participants, members of the Caloosa Riders bike club, the ride organizer, play an important role in making our road races happen. Many thanks to Dutch and the other Caloosa Riders who have volunteered to pull double-duty on March 7 so both events can be a success. Let’s hope the weather cooperates.

As if a bike ride and road race on the same day aren’t enough to stretch our local resources and spread thin potential participants, there are another couple of events that will cause area runners to make a hard choice. Coming on Saturday, March 13 are both the hugely popular Komen Race for the Cure 5K (www., www.ftmyerstrackclub. com) and always fun Shrimp Fest 5K (www.fortmyersbeachshrimpfestival. com,

The Race for the Cure has been attracting more walkers and joggers than runners since its local inception a few years ago, making it the area’s largest event in terms of overall participants. It begins and ends at the Coconut Point mall in Estero and includes activities commemorating those who have lost their battle with breast cancer and recognizing the many who’ve beaten it.

Anyone who’s run the 5K race that immediately precedes the Shrimp Fest parade on Fort Myers Beach (much like a daytime version of the Edison Fest 5K and parade, only with an atmosphere you can only get at the Beach) knows how much having throngs of spectators all along the course motivates you. Both races happen in the morning of March 13, so you’ll just have to choose one or the other.
There are plenty of other runs and rides in Southwest Florida during March and April. Visit the various running and bike clubs’ Web sites, listed along with this column, for more complete listings.

BikeWalkLee Update

Along with working to move policy and resources towards a more balanced transportation network in Lee County, another of BikeWalkLee’s priorities is to educate as many as we can about how to safely and effectively navigate our roads and sidepaths. Whether it be through media campaigns directed at motorists or classes and programs for cyclists and pedestrians, BWL wants to be part of the solution and help change behaviors that have made Lee County one of the nation’s worse in terms of traffic safety.

To that end, on Saturday, March 6, Bike- WalkLee, with the support of Lee County EMS, is offering a two-hour program for folks of all ages, including families, to learn how to cycle safely and effectively. It will be conducted at the Whiskey Creek Country Club (on Whiskey Creek Drive midway between McGregor Boulevard and College Parkway) from 1 to 3 p.m. You’ll need to bring your own bike and helmet — we’ll be doing a few onbike activities — and there’s no cost, but space is limited to 30 individuals. Contact me to register (see below for contact info). Remember, helmets are required for those who want to participate in onbike activities, including adults.

Also being planned by BikeWalkLee is an outing on Sunday, March 28, at Lakes Park in South Fort Myers. More information about this event will appear in my next column.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

News-Press/BikeWalkLee Commentary: Legislature should act on alarming pedestrian, bicyclists deaths

February 24, 2010
Darla Letourneau and Dan Moser - Guest Opinion
Next week is the start of the Florida legislative session, and elected officials are faced with many tough decisions given the state’s economic situation. However, not all actions to improve our state require new funds. For example, the Legislature, in conjunction with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), could take bold actions with current resources to make Florida’s roadways less dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. They could also improve the safety of all road users by enacting legislation to prevent texting while driving.

Click here to continue.


Bike/Ped actions at 2/19/2010 MPO Meeting

At the February 19th Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)local elected officials voted unanimously in support of BikeWalkLee's proposal that when the next round of federal highway stimulus funds comes, a minimum of 5 percent of the funds FODT receives for Lee County (on the state project ready list) be set aside for stand alone bike/ped projects. In addition, 43 of the 44 top priorities on the local project ready list are bike/ped projects. When (and if) Congress enacts a Jobs Bill, Lee County will see more sidewalks and bike facilities constructed. Kudos to the MPO members for demonstrating their strong commitment to making progress on improving bike/ped facilities with stimulus funds.

The MPO Board spent over an hour in a conversation with Dan Moser and FDOT and LeeDOT officials about planned bike/ped improvements through interstate interchanges--I-75/Bonita Beach Road Interchange; I-75/Colonial Blvd. Interchange; and I-75/SR 78 Interchange. Although transportation officials have determined that they cannot put on-road biking facilities on any of these 3 locations, they have agreed to put 10 ft. bike path (concrete) on both sides of the Bonita Beach Rd. interchange, 8-10 ft. bike path (asphalt) on both sides of the Colonial interchange (LCDOT to check to see if 10 ft. is possible--currently only planned for 8 ft.). The SR 78 interchange still has no facilities but they are planning to request separate funding for sidewalks in that area.

At Fort Myers Councilman Flanders' suggestion, the Board adopted a motion to request FDOT to make crosswalks in these interchange areas more pronounced where the path crosses the road (to the extent possible by the federal guidelines). Although the motion pertained only to these interchange, the conversation was a broad message to transportation planners that high visibility crosswalks should be installed throughout the county, and Commissioner Hall asked the MPO committees to come up with consistent policies for safety at crosswalks.

BikeWalkLee will continue to push for accommodating cyclists and pedestrians to the fullest extent possible as early in the planning process as possible. Progress is being made. Thanks to Chairman Judah for bringing these issues before the MPO Board for discussion.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Buckingham Shoulders construction deficiencies being corrected

Thanks to BikeWalkLee cyclists who noticed the problems with the Buckingham Rd. shoulders project that had just gotten underway last week. Several cyclists alerted LCDOT that the shoulder pavings were not wide enough and were not smooth, making it dangerous for cyclists. As soon as LCDOT officials were made aware of the situation, they took action and instructed the contractor to mill and repave sections of the shoulder that were out of compliance with the contract. According to LCDOT, once the shoulder work is completed (done with federal stimulus funds), Lee County will overlay the entire roadway (including the shoulders) using their annual resurfacing contract. Thanks to Bert, Jeff, and Steve for effectively raising this with LCDOT, and thanks to Sarah Clarke and Randy Cerchie of LCDOT for taking quick action to resolve the problems.

Opportunity to provide input on prioritization for signing and marking bicycle lanes in Lee County

Here's another great opportunity to provide input to the Lee DOT staff about how to prioritize signing and marking of bicycle lanes. Please consider providing your input to Andy Getch by March 1st. Darla

From: Getch, Andrew []
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 4:07 PM
To: Getch, Andrew
Cc: Gilbertson, Scott; Tisch, Michael; Loveland, David; Campbell, Harry; Jansen, Stephen
Subject: On-road bicycle facility prioritization method input
You are being sent this e-mail since you have indicated interest in bicycle facilities in Lee County.

The county Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) has previously developed a set of point scoring criteria to compare prospective projects. Points are awarded based on measurable criteria so that projects may be compared objectively. The most recent point scoring criteria was approved by BPAC in May 2003 (2003 BPAC scoring) and at that time primarily focused on pedestrian related projects. Areas of measurement are in latent demand, roadway (and crash) data, network completion and citizen support.

LCDOT staff has had discussions with BPAC on signing and marking bicycle lanes and will be looking for specific BPAC facility prioritization recommendations for on-road facilities, including signing & marking bicycle lanes, at the March BPAC meeting. LCDOT staff recommends use of a point scoring system to select specific projects and is looking for input from the bicyclist community on the proposed scoring method. The following sketch planning scoring method is suggested primarily based on information from (readily available) data identified in a Mode Shift Model and an Induced Recreational Bicycle Travel Model in the "FDOT Conserve By Bicycle Study, Phase II". The study can be found at this

The following is LCDOT staff suggestion for a set of scoring criteria.
It should be noted that, at their option, BPAC may or may not use scoring criteria in their recommendation of facility prioritizations to the Board of County Commissioners:


Future Land Use Map area (Total 3 points) If the proposed bicycle facility is adjacent to an area identified in the Lee Plan Future Land Use Map as:
Urban (and is mostly built-out) = 3 points Urban (and is partly built-out) = 2 points Suburban = 1 points Non-Urban = 0 points
NOTE: The Mode Shift Model identifies nearby population and employment as a factor. The Induced Recreational Bicycle Travel Model uses population as a factor. Measurement of actual or future population & employment is very data intensive, however, it is suggested that the Future Land Use Map is an indicator that Urban Areas will have the highest population & employment density, Suburban less & Non-Urban the least population & employment.

Points of Interest (Total 2 points)
The Induced Recreational Bicycle Travel Model identifies a regional park, beach, regional tourist attraction, college/university or multi-use trail & greenway as a point of interest. LCDOT staff suggests possible scoring as:
Along the facility = 2 points
Within one (1) mile = 1 point

NOTE: The 2003 BPAC scoring also includes criteria/points for adjacency to schools, parks, libraries & post offices. Parks are included in regional attractions. It is suggested that schools, libraries & post offices generally are located according to population density so the planned urbanization of an area would generally reflect the location of the facilities without requiring data collection.


Network Friendliness (Total 5 points)
This criteria is not in the 2003 BPAC criteria but is identified in the Conserve By Bicycle Study Mode Shift Model Based on the relative density of major and through roadways intersections. For purposes of this measurement a through roadway is considered a publicly accessible street identified on county maps that connects two major roadways. The density of intersections is based on one (1) road mile of distance from the bicycle facility under consideration. Twenty intersections per square mile represents a "grid" with approximately 1/4 mile spacing. The number of intersections could be divided by four to fit the point range.

Bicycle LOS (BLOS) (Total 5 points)
This criteria is not in the 2003 BPAC criteria but is identified in both the Mode Shift Model and Induced Recreational Bicycle Travel Model. The calculation uses FDOT provided software also used to calculate roadway level of service (LOS). Input factors are based on roadway data. Roadway data are the peak hour traffic volume, number of lanes, posted speed, width of outside lane, bike pavement condition and presence of a paved shoulder or bike lane. The letter grad could be used to reflect, LOS A =
5 points, LOS B = 4 points, LOS C = 3 points, LOS D = 2 points, LOS E =
1 point, LOS F = 0 points. However, the software provide a numeric measure to one hundredth of a point, with the lower the number, the better the LOS. Staff also evaluated using the numeric measure subtracted from six (6) with a maximum number of 5 points.

NOTE: The 2003 BPAC scoring also includes criteria/points for bicycle & pedestrian crashes, automobile crash rate, traffic volume and traffic speed. Traffic volume & speed are in the BLOS data inputs. It is interesting that a higher traffic volume and speed in the BLOS criteria results in a lower BLOS, while the 2003 BPAC criteria awards more points for a facility with higher traffic volumes and a higher posted speed.


Network Extension (Total 5 points)
Staff evaluated the measured number of existing on-road bicycle facility connections per mile with a maximum of five.

Length of Bicycle Facility (Total 5 points) Staff evaluated the length of analyzed bicycle facility, plus any existing through extensions in miles with a maximum of five.

Cost Effectiveness
This criteria is in the 2003 BPAC criteria based on cost estimates.
Relative cost can be determined based on the level of work to be done.
An existing Undesignated Bike Lane with all existing bicycle lane "keyholes" will have the lowest cost. The cost per mile increases relative to an existing paved shoulder with turn lanes per mile or lane lines requiring restriping. Required pavement addition is the most
Undesignated Bike Lane with all keyholes = 5 points Full Paved Shoulder = 5 points minus the average number of restriped turn lanes per 1/2 mile Restripe lanes to convert wide outside lane to 11 foot lanes + 4 foot bike lane = 2 points Add less than 1 foot width (average) paved shoulder = 1 points

NOTE: The 2003 BPAC scoring also includes roadway functional classification with the intent to focus retrofit facilities on arterial and major collectors. However, it is not recommended to exclude the possibility of bicycle facilities such as bike routes, bicycle boulevards, shared lanes, signed and marked bicycle lanes or similar facilities that may be on local streets and minor collectors.

While factoring heavily in the 2003 BPAC criteria, points for citizen support are not part of the Mode Shift Model Induced Recreational Bicycle Travel Model and are not recommended at this time.

OTHER FACTORS NOT IN THE 2003 BPAC SCORING All of the Induced Recreational Bicycle Travel Model criteria are included. The remaining criteria in the Mode Shift Model are Motor Vehicle LOS, Transit LOS, median household income and a pedestrian connectivity factor. Motor Vehicle LOS and Transit LOS could also calculated with the same FDOT provided software as BLOS. Pedestrian connectivity measures network friendliness for the walking mode. Median household income data may not be available to the extent used in the Mode Shift Model.

Please feel free to forward this to other interested cyclists. Any
suggestions comment or input is welcome. Please provide comments or
input to me by Monday March 1 so that they can be considered in the
LCDOT staff analysis included in the March 17, 2010 BPAC meeting agenda.
The meeting will occur at 3 p.m. at the address below. Attendance at the
meeting by any members of the public is welcome and I hope to see you

Andy Getch, P.E.
Engineering Manager I
Lee County Department of Transportation
3rd floor
1500 Monroe Street
Fort Myers, Florida 33901
direct line (239) 533-8510
LCDOT department line (239) 533-8580
FAX (239) 485-8520

Monday, February 22, 2010

BikeWalkLee study on FL federal safety programs, pedestrian/bicycle improvements & recommendations for action

Members of 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. In our December 1, 2009 letter and our December 15th presentation to the Lee Legislative Delegation, we asked you to consider a list of specific actions to address the epidemic of preventable deaths of pedestrians and cyclists throughout Florida.

In support of our proposed legislative language to provide pedestrian/bicycle projects a “fair share” of federal highway safety funds, I have just completed a study, “Analysis of Florida’s Highway Safety Programs, Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Improvements and Recommendations for Action.” (See full report.) This report found that our most vulnerable road users are being short-changed. A significant share of the funding provided to Florida for safety improvements has been diverted to protect the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) highway road projects from obligation authority shortfalls.

In addition, the state’s 2006 five-year strategic highway safety plan, which made vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists) one of its four focus areas, did not set workable performance measures. In addition, the plan is not driving FDOT’s spending on safety and there has been little follow-through or accountability for implementing the plan. The data shows that roadways are just as dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists in 2010 as they were in 2006.

Based on these findings, BikeWalkLee believes a greater commitment to safety by Florida elected officials and agency leaders is needed. The need for budget-neutral legislative language to bring more resources to reducing pedestrian/bicycle fatalities is reinforced by this report, and could be addressed by these two components:

· FDOT must be required to allocate all the federal safety funds (both the annual federal allocation and any balance forward from previous years) for safety improvement projects, ending the practice of using these funds to meet FDOT “obligating constraints.”

· Safety projects for pedestrians and bicyclists should receive their fair share of safety funds. Since these users made up 21% of all traffic fatalities in Florida (2008), 21% of these funds should be targeted to pedestrian/bicycle safety improvement projects.

In addition to this legislative language, we urge you to consider the following additional budget-neutral actions that can improve the safety for all road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists:

· Urge FDOT to aggressively promote “complete streets” as a statewide approach for design and operations of roadways. Streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users (including pedestrians and bicyclists) are safer for everyone.

· Enact the strongest legislation possible to prohibit texting while driving.

· Urge FDOT to issue the long-overdue updated road design standards to reflect the latest guidelines for accommodating bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users.

· Reinstate a state-level Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board that would make recommendations to elected officials and FDOT.

· Encourage another Florida Safety Summit to develop Florida’s next five-year plan with goals to reduce traffic pedestrian/bicyclist fatalities by at least 50 percent to bring Florida in line with the national average.

Finally, FDOT should be required to provide the public with easily accessible and updated information on all transportation projects, activities, plans, reports, and outcomes. This is best done on the FDOT website. The public should know where its transportation dollars are going, and what progress the state is making in improving the safety for all road users.

As Lee County embarks on implementation of its recently adopted complete streets policies aimed at making our streets safer for everyone, it will need the support and leadership of state government. We look forward to working with you during the upcoming legislative session on actions that will improve the safety of vulnerable users of Florida’s roadways. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions:, or 239-472-1179.

Again, the report is available online . Thank you for your attention to this important issue.


Darla Letourneau

Steering Group


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dan Moser's column: Biking and Walking as Viable Transportation Options

Florida Weekly 2/17/10
Biking and walking as viable transportation options


In the not-too-distant past when I showed up for work-related events on my bike, I was often greeted with reminders that bicycling rather than driving was very unusual, to say the least. Same when I’d arrive having walked there, although not as many questioned my sanity, just my decision making. Some may have even thought I lost my driver’s license, asking themselves why anyone would brave the weather and take the risks that surely must accompany getting somewhere other than by car?

But now that most people who are familiar with me are used to my preferred means of transportation, the questions about my choices come only when I arrive by motor vehicle. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I better have a pretty good reason for driving because I’ll invariably be pressed to answer why I’m burning fossil fuel and not using human power.

As a recent column revealed, I’ve been keeping track of my running and other physical activities for many years, a habit I got into early on. Looking back at last year, I saved 320 car trips by instead cycling, walking, or running, or combining those with a bus ride to buy groceries, go to the bank and post office, attend meetings, and get to locations where I was offering bike/ped education and outreach services. Probably about 75 percent of my 2,500- plus miles of cycling and almost 600 miles of walking were for a purpose, as well as about 20 percent of the 600-plus miles I ran. That’s a significant savings in fuel cost, not to mention routine maintenance and wear and tear on my motor vehicle. Add to that the fact that I’m recreating and exercising while commuting and it’s hard to see any downside.

Of course, there are challenges and times when I’d rather be in the comfort of my air-conditioned car, but never would I go back to limiting myself to only one way to get around. What I’ve found — and as I believe others who at least occasionally get out of their car and on their bike or feet also know — is that comfort and convenience are relative terms. For me, the physical and mental benefits are real. Sitting in traffic jams, finding and paying for parking, and covering the bills that are associated with exclusively driving a car to get around can negate any convenience factor, be it real or perceived.

BikeWalkLee Update

Now that Lee County’s Smart Growth Director Wayne Daltry has retired, Bike- WalkLee’s work just got harder. But there are still high hopes that with County Manager Karen Hawes at the helm and Commissioner Ray Judah’s subject-matter knowledge and leadership on the board the many policies and projects Mr. Daltry has guided into place will keep the momentum moving toward the development of a Complete Streets transportation network.

Coming from a human services background, Ms Hawes understands the diverse transportation needs of our citizens, especially those with limitations that make automobile ownership or driving a non-option. She’s made a commitment to improving LeeTran and to providing better access to those who depend on their feet to get around. BikeWalkLee looks forward to assisting Ms Hawes in her pursuit.

As for Commissioner Judah, we’re sure he’ll continue to be BWL’s champion on the board, a board that has indicated it is also committed to making the things Mr. Daltry envisioned become reality sooner rather than later.

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 f itness. He can be contacted at or 334-6417.

Monday, February 15, 2010

BikeWalkLee supports Cape Coral efforts to lower speed limits around schools

From: Darla []
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 2:28 PM
To: Mayor John Sullivan/Cape Coral (; Kevin McGrail (; Chris Chulakes-Leetz/Cape Coral (; Peter Brandt (; Eric Grill (
Cc: Don Scott/MPO (; Dan--BWL (; Margaret Banyan (; Steve Rodgers (; Ron Gogoi; Brenda Tate (; David Plazas (; Dawn Gordon (; Persides Zambrano (
Subject: Cape Coral schools want city to lower speed limits

Mayor Sullivan and Cape Coral Council members,
On behalf of BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, I would like to applaud your efforts to reduce the speed limits around Cape Coral schools so that it is safer for students to walk or bike to school. We urge you to reduce the speed limits around all the schools in Cape Coral. We know that vehicle speeds along routes to school are a safety concern for parents, teachers, and members of the community for good reason. Research shows that “ the chances a pedestrian will survive a crash with a vehicle decline rapidly the faster the car is driving. For example, a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph has a 95 percent chance of surviving. If the vehicle is traveling at 30 mph, chances of survival decrease to 55 percent. At 40 mph, only 15 percent of pedestrians are expected to survive.” I’ve attached an excellent new report by the Safe Routs to School National Partnership, entitled Safe Routes to School: Putting Traffic Safety First, which contains this information and other ideas for improving student traffic safety.

Thank you for your efforts to make it safer for students to walk and bike to school. BikeWalkLee looks forward to working with you on further efforts to make Cape Coral roads safer and more accessible for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists.


Darla Letourneau
Steering Group
a coalition to complete Lee County's streets

Read the article:
February 14, 2010
Cape Coral schools want city to lower speed limits

Comments invited by LeeDOT on Midpoint Bridge Toll Booth Modifications

From: Getch, Andrew []
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 11:14 AM
To: Dan--BWL; Bert Hamilton
Cc: Wingard, Paul; Tisch, Michael; Loveland, David; Ron Gogoi; Matt Grogger; Rashad Hanbali; Campbell, Harry; Jansen, Stephen; Say, Mike; Philpott, Joshua; Darla Letourneau
Subject: Midpoint Bridge Toll Plaza modifications

Dan and Bert,
I have been asked by Paul Wingard for BPAC/bicyclist input into design alternatives for accommodating westbound bicycle traffic (to Cape Coral) to travel through or around the Midpoint Bridge Toll Plaza. The work is expected to be part of the modifications for one-way tolling so to keep that project moving forward we will need feedback soon. I am requesting replies by next Monday 2/22. The alternatives are briefly described below.

Alternative 1 - The bicyclist would proceed through the toll plaza in a signed and marked area as part of transponder only lane. The area for bicycles is anticipated to be the width of a bicycle lane, approximately four feet wide along the curb line. The overall lane width is about 15 feet. The attached PDF n the first page shows a handwritten four foot dimension with some dots to approximate flexible stakes (one option for delineation).

Alternative 2 - The attached PDF file contains a sketch alternative that depicts a path around the rear (or north side) of the Toll Plaza administration building. A brief description is that a bicyclist would exit the roadway a few hundred feet east of the toll plaza travel, cross the administration building parking lot entrance and go around the north side of the building on a path as depicted on the sketch. In order to prevent motorcycles and small automobiles from using the path (to avoid a toll) bollards would need to be placed that would require a very sharp turn that would only allow a bicycle to pass. My understanding is that in order to negotiate the bollards, the bicyclist would need to dismount and turn to reposition the bicycle. A variation on this alternative is the use of Southeast 23 Terrace (City of Cape Coral maintained) from the parking lot entrance to the west.

In the interest of not inviting Sunshine law problems I have blind copied other BPAC members. I have also copied other interested parties.
Please feel free to forward this e-mail to other cyclists that you feel may be interested in providing input.


Andy Getch, P.E.
Engineering Manager I
Lee County Department of Transportation 3rd floor 1500 Monroe Street Fort Myers, Florida 33901 direct line (239) 533-8510 LCDOT department line (239) 533-8580 FAX (239) 485-8520

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Primer on Transportation Decision-Making Bodies in Lee County

Transportation Decision-Making Bodies in Lee County, Florida
Winter, 2010

by Dan Moser

For a variety of interests – including supporters of better bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, opportunities to influence policy, funding, and priorities related to our transportation system here in Lee County are many. They range from our formal decision making, multi-jurisdictional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), which includes elected officials from every government that manages roads (state, county, and municipal), to the Community Traffic Safety Team, an informal forum where front-line staff from those same governments, as well as many other interested and involved parties, attempt to work together to resolve specific problems on our roadways.

In almost every instance, the public has an opportunity to provide input and become part of the decision making process, at least in theory. Transportation projects are big-ticket items having far-reaching implications that can last for a very long time so there are many interests seeking decisions that would benefit them or those they represent. Based on the type of system that’s resulted nationally, the power wielded by the trucking industry, American Automobile Association and similar entities that focus on motor vehicles, and professional organizations like the Institute of Transportation Engineers, has had significant influence, leaving other modes such as pedestrian (including those with mobility limitations), and bicycle, as a relatively low priority.

With your help and participation, this long-standing trend can be reversed.

Following is a list of forums where transportation decisions are made with a brief description of each. Please consider it a resource to help you become involved in the process.

Name: Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

Tasks: Elected officials from Lee County and each municipality make decisions about our transportation system, including almost all those of importance. FDOT, the entity that most funds at least pass through, are non-voting but vital members at the table.

Meetings: Monthly, usually the third Friday, beginning at 9am in the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council conference room at 1926 Victoria Ave, just south of downtown Fort Myers. See agenda packages on website.

Comments: MPO staff members are very understanding of bike/ped/transit issues and needs, as are most board members. A very good forum at which to voice your opinion.

Name: Lee MPO Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinating Committee (BPCC)

Reports To: Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

Tasks: Reps. from Lee County, all its municipalities, Lee Tran, Lee Parks & Rec, FDOT, Lee School District, and the Injury Prevention Coalition (IPC), along with MPO staff, focus on ensuring that bike/ped projects, priorities, policies, and resources (such as maps) are compatible and coordinated. $500,000 - $1.5 mil/yr. is available to spend on State road retrofit needs; BPCC advises MPO on which retrofit project(s) to approve, among other duties.

Meetings: Every other month at Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council offices,
1926 Victoria Ave, near downtown Fort Myers.

Comments: Membership is restricted to the above named entity reps. but the public is welcome to attend. See agenda packages on website.

Name: Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC)

Tasks: Makes decisions on all matters related to county government.

Meetings: Every Tuesday beginning at 9:30am at Old Courthouse Commission Chambers, downtown Fort Myers.

Comments: Transportation and community development matters are frequently on the agenda. See agenda package on website.

Name: Lee County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC)

Reports To: Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

Tasks: Recommends bike/ped retrofit projects for County roads.
Any other bike/ped issue or recommendation can be considered.

Meetings: Bi-Monthly (third Wed of Jan, Mar,…, 6pm) at Lee County Public Works Bldg.

Comments: Commissioners each appoint a citizen rep. from their district and any Commissioner may appoint the one at-large citizen rep. and the bicycle industry/group rep. Also appointed by Commissioners are reps. from Co. Parks & Rec. District School Board and Sheriff’s Office each designate a rep. from their organization, who is then appointed by a commissioner. BPAC makes recommendations on retrofit project funding (dedicated funds from gas taxes and impact fees) and any other bike/ped-related matters. County DOT provides staff support. See website for agenda package.

Other Forums

Each municipal government addresses its own transportation and land use issues on a routine basis. It’s important that bike/ped/transit be made a high priority, something that can be done if the public attends and speaks to these matters. Here is a list of them:

Name: Bonita Springs City Council

Meetings: Meetings held on the first and third Wednesday, beginning at 9am, at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Rd. See website.

Name: Cape Coral City Council

Meetings: Meetings held weekly on Monday, beginning at 4:30pm, at City Hall,
1015 Cultural Park Boulevard. See website.

Name: Fort Myers City Council

Meetings: Meetings held on the first and third Mondays, beginning at 4:30pm, at City Hall, 2200 Second St. See website.

Name: Fort Myers Beach Town Council

Meetings: Meetings usually held on the first and third Monday, beginning at 6:30pm at Town Hall, 2523 Estero Blvd. See website.

Name: Sanibel City Council

Meetings: Meetings held on the first and third Tuesday, beginning at 9am, at City Hall, 800 Dunlop Rd. See website.

More opportunities to address bike/ped/transit matters:

Lee MPO Citizen’s Advisory Committee advises the MPO on transportation planning and priorities. (reps. are citizens who are appointed by MPO members). CAC meets monthly a week or so before MPO meeting.See website.

Lee MPO Technical Advisory Committee advises the MPO on overall transportation planning and priorities (reps. are employees of various governments and departments that are affiliated with MPO). TAC meets monthly a week or so before MPO meeting. See website.

Community Traffic Safety Team is a Florida Dept. of Transportation initiative that is intended to bring together any organization or agency that in some way deals with traffic safety and find solutions to traffic-related problems and concerns (from big-picture issues like red light running and DUI to problems that are specific to certain roadways or intersections). Anyone may participate. CTST meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month from 10am – 12pm at FHP HQ in old Page Field terminal building. Contact Steve Jansen for more info.

Injury Prevention Coalition is similar to CTST but broader in scope. Traffic-related issues are, however, a major aspect of IPC’s focus. Anyone may join or participate. IPC meets on the third Wednesday of the month from 10am – 12pm at United Way of Lee County, 7275 Concourse Dr, Ft Myers (Harlem Heights neighborhood). See website.

Cape Coral Transportation Advisory Commission is a body that meets the Wed prior to MPO meetings and is made up of City Council members exclusively – no citizen members. Based on conversation with the City Clerk’s office, public input is usually taken, although the agenda and minutes do not reflect any formal opportunity for doing so. See website

This is only a partial listing of forums. Many other opportunities to bring up bike/ped issues exist. Public safety organizations, government agencies, neighborhood and community groups, and even Chambers of Commerce often address such issues, either formally through standing committees or informally on an ad hoc basis. Call around and inquire – you might be surprised by your findings.