Wednesday, March 10, 2010

BikeWalkLee Letter to Florida Legislature: Take action to make roads safer for pedestrians & cyclists

On March 9th & 10th BikeWalkLee sent the following letter to the Lee County Legislative Delegation, the House & Senate Leaders, members of the House Roads & Bridges Committee and Members of the Senate Transportation Committee. A copy of the letter was also sent to Governor Crist. Add your voices to the conversation!

Senate President Atwater,
BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, urges you to take action this legislative session to make Florida a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists. A complete streets approach is needed by the state in designing roads so that they provide safe and convenient travel for all road users—pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.

We are pleased that the News-Press published an editorial on Saturday, urging the State Legislature to act. (See editorial.

BikeWalkLee wrote the Lee Legislative Delegation on February 22nd (BikeWalkLee study on FL federal safety programs, pedestrian/bicycle improvements & recommendations for action, with a specific list of the budget-neutral proposals we would like to the Legislature act on this session:

• Urge FDOT to aggressively promote “complete streets” as a statewide approach for design and operations of roadways.
• Require FDOT to allocate all its federal safety funds for safety improvement projects, and then ensure that pedestrian/bicycle safety improvement projects receive a “fair share” of those funds, using the share of all traffic fatalities that are pedestrians and bicyclists (21 percent).
• 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.

The need for these actions was reinforced by a March 1st featured article in USA Today: Fla. deadliest state for walkers, cyclists. This article quoted a FDOT official who said, "The roadways aren't as dangerous as the (study) would have made it seem,"…. "It's not the roads. The roads are just sitting there by themselves.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Florida has been either the deadliest or the second deadliest state in the nation for walkers and cyclists for the past seven years (2002-2008). Yet, this quote demonstrates that FDOT refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem with road design, that measures can be taken to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and that it is its responsibility to take action.

FDOT should be setting rigorous goals to reduce pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, developing effective strategies for reaching those goals, targeting safety funds to reduce the unacceptable rates, and closely monitoring progress towards those goals to ensure that they are reached.

On November 20, BikeWalkLee sent a letter to Governor Crist asking for a plan of action to reverse this long-standing stain of being the most dangerous state for pedestrians and cyclists. To date, our letter has been met with deafening silence. In the absence of any leadership from the Governor on these issues, we are appealing to the Florida Legislature to direct FDOT to take necessary actions and to hold them accountable for results.

We look forward to working with you to make our roadways safer for all users.

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

News-Press 3/6/10 editorial: Make roads safer for bikes/pedestrians
Links to related BikeWalkLee documents


  1. I thought you might be interested in the response I received from Speaker Cretul to this BikeWalkLee letter. Darla

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Speaker Larry Cretul []
    Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 8:57 AM
    Subject: Take action to make roads safer for pedestrians & cyclists(Thread:89580)

    Thank you for your e-mail regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. I welcome the opportunity to learn of your concerns and I appreciate your suggestions for improving transportation safety.

    Please know the Florida Legislature is concerned about the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities, and has worked to make our state safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. State law requires walkers and riders to be fully considered in the development of transportation facilities. In addition, the Legislature passed legislation in 2005 that requires motorists to completely stop for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal, and 2006 legislation requires motorists to allow three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist. These efforts have resulted in increased pedestrian safety, as this past year saw pedestrian deaths decrease five percent over the previous year.

    The Florida Department of Transportation's Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with many offices within the department to provide input and suggestions throughout the various stages of planning and design. This position also serves as a member of the Strategic Intermodal System technical advisory committee to ensure a focus on safety with alternate modes of transportation. In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has a bicycle and pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues.

    I would encourage you to work with your local government and metropolitan planning organization on pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs in your area. State law requires the plans and programs for each metropolitan area provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system. I assure you that I will keep your concerns and suggestions in mind throughout the legislative process

    Thank you again for writing to me. If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Larry Cretul

  2. Toni Ferrell, a BWL steering group member, wrote Rep. Aubuchon a letter on this topic and received the following response:

    From: "Aubuchon, Gary"
    Date: March 10, 2010 10:56:41 AM EST
    Subject: RE: Letter to Representative Aubuchon

    Dear Toni Ferrell,

    Thank you for contacting the office of State Representative Gary
    Aubuchon to voice your support for BikeWalkLee. Representative Aubuchon
    has reviewed your attachment and asked me to respond directly to you to
    share his thoughts. I am honored to have this opportunity to be of
    assistance to you in this way.

    As the Chairman of the House Roads, Bridges, and Ports Policy Committee,
    Representative Aubuchon is in a unique position to make proactive
    changes to Florida's infrastructure. Advocating for good policy planning
    in public infrastructure, Representative Aubuchon managed the passage of
    HB 1B, entitled, "Transportation". This bill, among other things, set a
    policy in place that will encourage future development along major
    transportation corridors and promote increased density with access to
    public transportation. We believe that this type of policy provides the
    core foundation for the complete street.

    There is no doubt that sidewalks and bike paths play an integral role in
    a comprehensive, "complete" street. However, the state of Florida faces
    a budget shortfall of $3 billion this year, with future revenue
    being less than austere. Since Florida is constitutionally mandated to
    the budget, the economic impact, as well as the financial cost to
    taxpayers, are the key rubric by which policy decisions will be made.
    To that end, Representative Aubuchon is working with FDOT to place a
    focus on pedestrian walkways, bikes, rails and trails.

    Again, thank you for contacting our office. Please do not hesitate to
    contact us in the future about this or any other matter of significance
    to you.

    Kind regards,

    Matt Visaggio,
    Senior District Aide
    Representative Gary Aubuchon, District 74
    3501 Del Prado Blvd. Ste. 305
    Cape Coral, FL 33904
    (239) 344-4900
    Fax: (239) 344-4901


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