Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FDOT District 1 agrees to re-evaluate rumble strips in shoulder of US 41 east of Naples

Good news from our friends at the Naples Pathway Coalition.

Maureen Bonness, NPC Board member and River of Grass Greenway Committee member, had a series of e-mails with Stan Cann, the FDOT District 1 Director, about the rumble strips in the shoulder of US 41 east of Naples. She recently got the word from FDOT that they will re-evaluate these rumble strips. Yes, FDOT is listening!
See their e-mail below:

From: "Tower, Debbie"
To: "bonness@infionline.net"

Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 13:40:01 -0400

Subject: RE: US 41 Shoulders

Thank you for your comments about bicycling on U.S. 41. Secretary Cann asked me to let you know design staff from District One will review rumble strips and shoulders on U.S. 41 from S.R. 951 to the Collier/Dade County line (about 57 miles). Their site visit is occurring in the next several weeks. Our engineers then will evaluate options that may be available to address rumble strips on shoulders in areas of U.S. 41 in Collier County. We'll be back in touch after design engineers complete this evaluation. Thanks again for your e-mail and photographs.

Free FDOT Training: Planning & Designing for our Aging Population

On November 18th, at the FDOT Operations Center in Cape Coral 2981 NE Pine Island Road)the statewide training course on "Safe Mobility for Life Program" will be available locally. To register for this free course, click here.

By the year 2020, one in four Florida residents will be over the age of 65, and half of them will be 75 or older. To meet this challenge the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) developed a strategic plan to develop, implement, and monitor strategies to ensure a safe and efficient transportation system for all road users.

The Safe Mobility for Life Program focuses on mature drivers and pedestrians, with the added benefit of improving safety for everyone.

FDOT is sponsoring a one-day training course, entitled "The Safe Mobility for Life Program: Planning and Designing for our Aging Population ", designed to raise awareness of problems associated with mature drivers and our current roadways, and to present options and alternative solutions to the planning, design, and operation of Florida roadways and associated facilities today and in the future.

Both CE and PE credits are available.

New Matlacha Bridge will have sidewalks and biking shoulders

Good news for both pedestrians and cyclists! The replacement Matlacha Bridge will be similar in design and height to the existing bridge, but with new facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. The new bridge will be about 4 feet wider than the existing and will provide two 11-foot wide travel lanes, one in each direction. Five-foot wide shoulders will be provided on both sides of the bridge. Five-foot wide sidewalks, separated from the shoulder by a barrier will also be provided on both sides of the bridge.

Construction is scheduled to start on September 13th. LeeDOT is holding a community meeting to talk about the construction of the new Matlacha Bridge on Tuesday,
Sept. 7 on Pine Island from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church gymnasium, 12175 Stringfellow Road.

To keep up to date on the project, visit the Matlacha Bridge website. Sarah Clarke is the LeeDOT project manager and can be reached on (239) 533-8718.

Kudos to LeeDOT for providing biking and walking facilities in the front-end of the design of this new bridge!

Want to get people to walk more? make it fun!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Check out our new Video of the Month:Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on July 15, 2010

While Streetfilms was in Copenhagen for the Velo-City 2010 conference, of course we wanted to showcase its biking greatness. But we were also looking to take a different perspective then all the myriad other videos out there. Since there were an abundance of advocates, planners, and city transportation officials attending from the U.S. and Canada, we thought it'd be awesome to get their reactions to the city's built environment and compare to bicycling conditions in their own cities.

If you've never seen footage of the Copenhagen people riding bikes during rush hour - get ready - it's quite a site, as nearly 38% of all transportation trips in Copenhagen are done by bike. With plenty of safe, bicycle infrastructure (including hundreds of miles of physically separated cycletracks) its no wonder that you see all kinds of people on bikes everywhere. 55% of all riders are female, and you see kids as young as 3 or 4 riding with packs of adults.

Much thanks to the nearly two dozen folks who talked to us for this piece. You'll hear astute reflections from folks like Jeff Mapes (author of "Pedaling Revolution"), Martha Roskowski (Program Manager, GO Boulder), Andy Clarke (President, League of American Bicyclists), Andy Thornley (Program Director, San Francisco Bike Coalition) and Tim Blumenthal (President, Bikes Belong) and Yvonne Bambrick (Executive Director, Toronto's Cyclists Union) just to name drop a few of the megastars.

So look to the lower right hand of this blog to watch the amazing video!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BikeWalkLee Questionnaire for Lee County State Legislative Candidates

The following 8/26 letter and questionnaire (linked below) were sent to the 2 candidates for Florida Senator, District 27, and the 2 candidates for Florida House District 73.

Dear Candidate for Lee County State Legislators:

BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County. We define complete streets as those 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 have partnered with 30 stakeholder organizations in the community that want to improve the quality of life and mobility in Lee County. Our partners include Florida Gulf Coast University, health care organizations, safety prevention groups, AARP of Florida, citizen and community groups, environmental organizations, planners, smart growth committees and coalitions, bike clubs and bike shops.

Over the past two years, both the Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) and the Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) have demonstrated leadership and taken the initial policy steps needed to make our streets safer and more accessible to all users. However, we have not seen comparable leadership at the state level on these issues.

It is important to BikeWalkLee to elect state legislators who support our values and vision; therefore, we are asking all candidates for Lee County legislative seats to respond to the attached questionnaire. We plan to post your responses on our website and blog and share with our network of 1,000 advocates and supporters. Please submit your responses electronically to: dletourneau@bikewalklee.org.

For more information about our coalition, please visit our website: www.bikewalklee.org and our blog: http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/.. If you have any questions about the organization or the questionnaire, please feel free to contact me at the above email address.

Darla Letourneau
On behalf of the Steering Group

Attachment: BikeWalkLee Questionnaire for Florida Legislative Candidates

When responses have been received, they will be posted on the web and linked here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Fit-Friendly Southwest Florida on the way

Florida Weekly 8/25/10
danMOSER dan@floridabicycle.org

Have you been on McGregor Boulevard on a Saturday or Sunday morning lately? It’s not an understatement to say that the number of people walking, running and cycling on this beautiful public space is impressive. How about Lakes Park? The place teems with people of all ages and sizes being active every weekend. But even with so many participating in aerobic endeavors on a regular basis, the vast majority of us don’t put enough time or effort into being healthy. Or if we do stay active, we frequently offset the benefits by dropping the ball with our food and drink consumption. All this is evidenced by America’s overall girth. But there are easy ways to stay on track in both areas.

As mentioned in previous columns, the “Start!” Campaign” is morphing into “Fit Friendly Southwest Florida.” According to Sally Jackson, one of the key partners from Lee Memorial Health System, the American Heart Association’s website will continue to be a resource for those who want the benefits of fitness and nutrition information as well as the ability to track personal progress. The site is available at no charge and with no strings attached. Soon the site will be expanded to go beyond that and be a place for organizations, informal groups and individuals to exchange ideas and best practices.

Those who really like or need others around them in order to become motivated or to stay on track, may want to take a look at the various “Meet Up” groups. People get together for everything imaginable, including walking, running, cycling and skating. All you need to do to start is pick a geographical area on the site and go from there. These are not clubs, but rather individuals with common interests — or a desire to try something different — who use this resource to plan, coordinate and attract others. If there’s ever a charge it’s minimal, just to cover costs. “Meet Up” is worth looking into.

Advocacy update

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for bicycle-related improvements made to the Sanibel Causeway toll plaza and the existing paved shoulders leading to it was held last week. Those who have ridden through the plaza before the fix will find things much better now, especially upon exiting the islands. Resurfaced shoulders and replacement of a segment that was removed when the Punta Rassa turn lane was added are also welcome results of this project. Unfortunately, one major missing component of the original project — pedestrian access — wasn’t addressed, nor does it appear it ever will be. How our county transportation decision-makers can justify not allowing pedestrians to cross major bodies of water when they build structures that will be in place for many decades still boggles the mind, as does the fact that there’s no apparent move to remedy this blatant inequity.

Also at the ribbon-cutting, BikeWalkLee presented its inaugural award to Commissioner Ray Judah. He was recognized as “Champion for Complete Streets,” a title he earned well before the award was created. Over the many years I’ve been involved in bike/ped matters and have worked with Commissioner Judah, he has always impressed me with his unwavering commitment to improving Lee County’s pedestrian and bicycling environment. Fortunately for residents and visitors alike, the trail blazed by him is finally the path many of our leaders are now on. But, as I just noted, there’s still major damage to undo.

Rumors of a party for cyclists

Word has it that a bicycle-oriented pub crawl is taking place in downtown Fort Myers — perhaps a first for the area. From what I’ve heard it should be a hoot, with plenty of food and drink specials, giveaways and opportunities to win door prizes. A discounted rate at Hotel Indigo and a secure place to store bikes for those who
decide it best not to ride home are other perks. It all happens, on Labor Day Sunday, Sept. 5, beginning at 3 p.m. at Centennial Park. Wristbands that get you “special treatment” will be available. Any proceeds will go to the United Way. You’ll find more details by clicking here.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting is a league cycling instructor/ trainer and program manager for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334-6417.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Distracted Driving news demonstrates need for care

This week's U.S. Secretary of Transportation,Ray LaHood's blog continues to highlight distracted driving and its dangers for pedestrians:

"A couple of developments this week have me thinking about the dangers of distracted driving and the need for a second distracted driving summit.

First, earlier this week, the New York City Transportation Department released a study The New York Times said, "Offers unusual insights into the precarious life on the city’s streets, pinpointing where, when and why pedestrian accidents have most often occurred."

The report is filled with interesting data. But, for me the most pressing fact is that nearly 36% of crashes with pedestrian injuries or deaths involved driver inattention.

Also, this week I've read about a disturbing number of high-profile crashes killing drivers who were texting or talking on their cell phones."

The U.S. DOT is holding the second National Distracted Driving Summit on September 21, 2010, in Washington, DC. Secretary LaHood will convene leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers, and victims affected by distraction-related crashes to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts.

One of BikeWalkLee's local partners, Just Drive, Stay Alive!, headed by Jay Anderson, will be attending this important summit.

To learn more and get involved in the DOT’s efforts to stop distracted driving,
click on their website.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cape Coral repaving plan and opportunities to consider bike lanes/shoulders

On August 18th, the News-Press published a story, "Cape councilmen say more money needed for street repaving
Cape Coral should spend an additional $1 million on street resurfacing north of
Pine Island Road next year, according to four city councilmen.The paving plan will be outlined for residents on Saturday, August 21st during a town hall meeting
The meeting is from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Northwest Regional Library, 519 Chiquita Blvd. N.

As a follow-up to this story, BikeWalkLee sent an e-mail to Cape Coral staff asking about their plans for including paved shoulders/bike lanes for cyclists in the resurfacing projects planned. And requested a list of roads planned for resurfacing and whether and what bike/ped accommodations are proposed for each of those roads.
support the active role the City relevant units have been taking on pursuing bikeway projects.

The Cape Coral staff provided this link to their bike/ped planning approach and criteria.
According to staff, "Through annual evaluation of potential connections between existing bikeway facilities as well as through the review of residents applications. For example if a road is scheduled for repaving it will be evaluated for potential traffic control enhancements such as adding bike lanes where warranted by the City criterion...as you probably know most of the City areas density is not yet there to generate users for a bikeway. This is why we currently rely on potential users input. One bicyclist or more can initiate the process for adding a warranted bike lane per the criterion."

So, if you live in the Cape and believe that bike lanes or shoulders are needed on a specific road, you should submit a request, consistent with their procedures linked above. The repaving plan could be voted on by the City Council on Monday August 23rd, so make your voices heard now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saved by my helmet!

Letter to Editor—Island Reporter
Published August 19, 2010

Saved by my helmet!

If you ever doubted the importance of wearing a helmet at all times while biking, believe me, it can save your life. I am a daily rider on Sanibel's paths and am very focused on safety as one of the leaders of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition working to make Lee County a bike/ped-friendly community. On Sunday, August 8th, I was on a bike ride around the island and over the Sanibel bridges, then back on Sanibel coming down the path on Periwinkle Way when I had a nasty bike crash. I came around the curve on the path right before the crosswalk on Donax and Periwinkle, and saw a car coming towards the crosswalk at full speed, so I slammed on my brakes to avoid getting hit by the car. Unfortunately, I managed to flip over my handlebars head first, landing with full force on the back of my head. If I had not had my helmet on, I would have had a serious head injury. Instead of a debilitating injury, I just have some lacerations and stitches. The Sanibel Police, EMS, Fire Department and then the Health Park emergency room all responded quickly and made sure I was OK.

So, next time you hop on your bike on Sanibel, remember my story and wear your helmet...even in off-season and even on a short neighorhood ride. Yes, even on Sanibel wearing a helmet can save your life!

As I was counting my lucky stars this week, I read the August 12th Island Reporter article, "Bike riders after dark safety risk to walkers," and realized there are really two take-away messages from my crash. In addition to encouraging everyone to wear a helmet while biking, all of us need to be reminded that pedestrians and cyclists have the right-of-way at crosswalks. Over the past 10 years that I've lived on Sanibel, I've noticed an increasing lack of compliance with this law. Whether it's a function of our culture's growing lack of common courtesy or our increasing distraction while driving with cellphones, the fact is that residents and visitors alike don't yield to pedestrians and cyclists in the crosswalks like they used to. I cross Periwinkle at the Dixie Beach intersection several times a day on my bike and I'm amazed that it often takes 3-4 cars before a motorist will yield to me in the crosswalk...and I'm not shy about asserting that I have the right-of-way. Most cyclists and pedestrians on the island would tell you they've noticed the same trend. It would help if there was some periodic enforcement of the crosswalk laws by the Sanibel Police. Since there's no penalty for not yielding, cars have gotten more and more in the habit of "running the crosswalk". For a pedestrian or cyclist that's akin to having a car run a red light. But the problem isn’t simply a matter of enforcement. Every one of us has a responsibility to follow the laws that are intended to keep all of the road and path users safe.

Our path system is an island treasure for both residents and visitors and safety should be a top priority. So, please, when you're driving around Sanibel, yield to the pedestrians and cyclists at the crosswalks...it's the considerate thing to do, it's the law, and it might just be your friend, neighbor or grandchild. And don’t forget to tell everyone to wear a helmet when they’re riding a bike!

Darla Letourneau

News-Press Editorial: Make room for bicycles

Editorial • news-press.com • August 20, 2010

The Sanibel Causeway used to be bike-tolerant; now
it's bike-friendly.

It's a triumph for those who want to see our roads
made fully and safely usable by bicyclists and

Lee County officially opened improvements at the
causeway Wednesday that allow bikes to pass safely
from the bike lane through the toll area. Used to be,
it was necessary for bikers to merge with traffic, a
dangerous proposition.

Biking, walking and using buses reduce congestion
and greenhouse gases and help reduce our
dependence on oil. It also helps in the war against
costly obesity.

Another opportunity to make a major road bike-
friendly is pending in Bonita Springs. The city
council wants answers from county staff and input
from residents before spending $500,000 in gas
taxes set aside by the county to add a 4-foot-wide
bikeway on each side of Hickory Boulevard.

The disagreement over the impacts of this retrofit
shows why it is important to accommodate bikes
and pedestrians when these roads are built in the
first place.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bonita Springs debates bike lanes at Hickory Blvd--Make your voices heard!

Naples Daily News
Some Bonita Springs beach residents seek more room for biking, walking along road

Updated 01:58 p.m., August 18, 2010

BONITA SPRINGS — Residents on Hickory Boulevard who say they have no safe place to walk have urged Bonita Springs to do something about it.

Dennis Calabresa experienced firsthand the dangers pedestrians face on a road with no shoulder or sidewalk. A woman staying in his home a couple of years ago was killed as she was walking home from a restaurant.

Residents want City Council to consider supporting 4-foot shoulders for biking and walking.

“I can’t say that she would be alive today but she’d have had a better chance if she did have a space she could walk on,” Calabresa said.

There is a bike path on the east side, several feet away from the road. However, there is nothing along the west side.

While several supported the widening, one couple had their own safety concerns leading them to oppose widening.

“We’re concerned it will be an opportunity for people to pass on the right,” said Jerry Sauber. “(It will) encourage people to not observe the speed limit.”

But Neil Arnal, vice president of the Bonita Beach Improvement Association, said a majority of homeowners who responded to a survey supported adding shoulders.

“It’s dangerous to bike on, to get your mail, to walk on,” Arnal said. “It’s hard to go and talk to your neighbor.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

christina cepero • ccepero@news-press.com •
August 18, 2010

4:03 P.M. — The city of Bonita Springs will ask the
Lee County transportation department to answer city
staff’s questions and gather input from residents
before adding bike lanes to Hickory Boulevard.

Council voted 6-0 today to take that action.
Councilwoman Janet Martin was absent.

Lee County’s proposed 2010-2011 budget includes
$500,000 in gas taxes set aside to build 4-foot bike
lanes on each side of Hickory, which runs along
Bonita Beach. It is a county road.

City Manager Gary Price presented council with a list
of impacts, mostly negative, the lanes would have
including: To continue reading the article, click here:

BWL advocates: If you live in Bonita Springs or Estero or ride in this area, please contact the Bonita Springs City Council members in support of these bike lanes.
You can find their names & connect with them by e-mail by clicking on “Meet Us” at the top of the page on their website. Click here:

You should also contact Lee County Commissioners, asking them to keep the Hickory Blvd. bike lanes in the county's transportation budget. Contact info is below:

• John Manning, District 1, 533-2224, Dist1@leegov.com
• Brian Bigelow, District 2, 533-2227, Dist2@leegov.com
• Ray Judah, District 3, 533-2223,
• Tammy Hall, District 4, 533-2226, Dist4@leegov.com
• Frank Mann, District 5, 533-2225, Dist5@leegov.com

• Mailing address:
P.O. Box 398,
Fort Myers, FL 33902-0398;

• Fax: 485-2143.


"Generally, adding paved shoulders to Hickory Boulevard provides both improved operation and reduced maintenance. Paved shoulders have been shown to reduce the number of run-off-the-road crashes and provide a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians to travel. Specifically, we plan to create two 11-foot travel lanes with 4-foot shoulders striped and signed as designated bike lanes. In addition, Hickory Boulevard will be milled, resurfaced, and re-striped and we'll resurface the existing off-road bike path as well, creating a very functional corridor for many years to come. We plan to do the work sometime after Easter 2011 to lesson the impact on seasonal traffic..."

Kudos to LeeDOT for their strong support of bike lanes when faced with concerns from Bonita Springs. We look to these new bike lanes next year!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sanibel Causeway bicycle access-area improvements completed

News-Press online 8/18/10
By Dennis Culver • dculver@news-press.com • August 18, 2010

Lee County held a ribbon cutting ceremony today at the base of the Sanibel Causeway to celebrate the completion of improvements made to a bicycle access area near the causeway’s toll plaza.

The $320,000 project, completed in June, created a path from the causeway bike lane through the toll plaza to give bicyclists and pedestrians easier and safer access through the plaza.

Sanibel resident Sally Kirkland said the improvements make the causeway more bicyclist and pedestrian friendly.

“For me, it’s fabulous, because I ride the bridge back and forth a couple times a day,” she said. “With the old way, you got slammed into a concrete wall when you were coming off the bridge, which wasn’t very safe. I truly love the improvements they made, because it is a beautiful bridge to ride over.”

County commissioner Ray Judah was on hand for the ceremony and said he knows from personal experience how potentially dangerous the ride over the causeway was before the improvements.

“Over a year ago, my wife and I took our bicycles and crossed the Sanibel Causeway,” he said. “On our way back, as we were heading for the toll, we realized we had to merge with traffic.” To read the rest of the story, click here.
Wink TV did a nice story on the project early Wednesday morning and mentioned BikeWalkLee, Caloosa Riders, and the Sanibel Bicycle Club. Click here to watch the video.

The Island Reporter's August 26th edition also had a lengthy story about the event and BikeWalkLee's award to Commissioner Judah as Complete Streets Champion of the Year. Click here to read the story.

BikeWalkLee urges Governor Crist not to cut funding for biking and walking programs

The Jobs Bill passed by Congress last week contains a $2.2 billion rescission of transportation funds from state Departments of Transportation. Florida's rescission is $112.6 million. States must report which program funds are affected by August 25th. BikeWalkLee sent a letter to Governor Crist and other state officials to urge them not to cut funding for biking and walking programs. See below:

August 18, 2010

Dear Governor Crist:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, urges you not to cut funding for programs that support biking and walking as you decide how to distribute the recent congressional rescission of $112.6 million from Florida’s federal transportation funds. To continue reading the letter, click here.

Ray Judah honored as bike/walk champion

BikeWalkLee Press Release 8/18/10

BikeWalkLee (BWL), a local community coalition advocating for better bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Lee county, has selected Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah to receive its first award. Judah will be recognized as a "Champion for Complete Streets" as part of today's ceremony to spotlight improvements to the Sanibel Causeway tollbooth and approach to facilitate bicycle access to the causeway and Sanibel Island.

Judah, the District 3 commissioner since 1988, was singled out for being a tireless champion for bicycle and pedestrian issues in Lee County. According to Dan Moser, a member of the BWL steering committee, "Ray has fought to ensure that biking, walking and mass transit has had a place at the transportation table -- and that has helped ensure that bikers, walkers and those who rely on public transportation have had a place to enjoy on our roadways."

To read the rest of the press release, click here.

We received the following thank you note from Commissioner Judah:

To: "Dan Moser (moserdeleon@juno.com)"
Subject: Thank you
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2010 08:53:41 -0400

Dear Dan,
A very special note of thanks for the incredible recognition and beautiful hand-sculpted plaque from Bike Walk Lee.

It has been my pleasure standing shoulder to shoulder with you and to many wonderful bicycle/pedestrian advocates to complete and enhance our bicycle/pedestrian network.

Take care.

Commissioner Ray Judah, District 3

Lee County Board of County Commissioners

Thursday, August 12, 2010

News-Press Letter to Editor: Bicyclists Beware!

Yet another indication of our auto-centric community and the lack of understanding of the law....how dare the cyclists be in the road! and on Fiddlesticks Blvd where there is NO path or sidewalk so what were the cyclists supposed to do?? What happened to the signs BikeWalkLee and Fiddlesticks Blvd. residents requested to remind drivers that they are required to "share the road" with bicycles? If you'd like to respond to this letter, feel free to e-mail the News-Press mailbag. Thanks. Darla

News-Press Letters to Editor 8/12/10
Bicyclists beware

Florida is one of the worst states for bike/vehicle related accidents, yet we build bike paths on highways.
One morning recently, I passed two bikers on Fiddlesticks Boulevard riding in the middle of the road. Cars were going in the opposite lane to pass these careless people.
Several years ago a friend was struck and killed by a woman in a SUV that simply could not see him. He left a wife, three children and many family and friends. The woman driving the vehicle will live with it for the rest of her life.
We have too many bike paths for them to use. Is it lack of common sense? Selfish people? Stupidity? Lack of concern for drivers?
If my friend were here today, I am sure he would admit to all of the above and he would choose not to ride in the road again. Please be considerate of others.
Fort Myers

Letter to Editor Response in News-Press 8/26/10
Tough road

Re: “Bicyclists beware,” John Fergusen, Aug. 12. Mr. Fergusen makes an interesting point that two inconsiderate bikers were riding in the middle of the lane on Fiddlesticks Boulevard. Why? Not because they had a death wish but to the contrary: the two cyclists were riding in the road because there is no bike path, no sidewalk and no breakdown lane at all on Fiddlesticks Boulevard.

There is a bike path at the end of Fiddlesticks Boulevard, about two miles away, and there are 2,500 residences that use Fiddlesticks Boulevard as their primary transit access. So how do you get to the bike path unless you ride on the road?

Bicyclists have a legal right to the roadway. There is even approved national signage that states “Bikes may use full lane” for roads like Fiddlesticks Boulevard, which have zero accommodations for cyclists.

I live off of Fiddlesticks Boulevard and will continue to ride my bike, so, I’m at risk on the road as I bike to the “bike path.” I’m not careless as I ride where the drivers can see me — in the road. I might even be safer if there was signage advising drivers that cyclists were ALLOWED to share the road.

Fort Myers

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column: Local candidates’ responses suggest healthier streets are coming

Florida Weekly 8/11/10
danMOSER dan@floridabicycle.org

If you’re already active outdoors or want to be, but have reservations about the safety and ease of getting out there to engage in various activities that require you to deal with traffic, you’ll be interested in what our local candidates have said. Based on answers to a survey BikeWalkLee sent to all those running for the Lee County Board of County Commissioners, it appears that everyone who submitted feedback is aware of the benefits of significantly improving the bike/ped environment and will work to that end. At least that’s what everyone who responded appeared to indicate.

Following are verbatim responses to the survey question that relates directly to our community’s overall heath (some shortened due to space limitations). Full survey answers are available at BikeWalkLee's website.

BikeWalkLee Statement: Research shows that biking, walking and transit users are healthier than those who do not take part in these activities. It has also been proven that biking, walking and taking public transit decreases the risk of serious illness and obesity.

Question: What kinds of initiatives would you support to ensure that planners and developers prioritize health in the built environment?

Bob Chilmonik, Republican, District 1 - I, myself, am very committed to physical exercise as a way to maintain good health. I run several miles a day and run in local races, including mini-marathons, very frequently. I am personally aware of the dangers of walking and running on Lee County streets and will make every effort to raise the awareness of our planners and policy makers with regard to the need to protect our citizens and our environment by making our county more amenable to healthy living.

Mike Jackson, Republican, District 1 - If the policy reflected in the Complete Streets Resolution is followed, the direction to planners and developers should be clear and the opportunities for a more active lifestyle will grow. The BoCC must follow through on the execution of the policy as contracts are negotiated for county transportation projects.

Carla Johnston, Independent, District 1 - Advocacy groups must persist. There is nothing at present requiring this consideration. So, it depends on a mix of thoughtful persons in staff and policy jobs and advocacy groups making certain that the topic remains high on the media horizon.

John Manning
, Republican, District 1 - Mandating facilities in an applicant’s Development of Regional Impact application as well as any Planned Unit Development application.

Brian Bigelow, Republican, District 2 - Through the educational efforts of Bike- WalkLee and its partner, Reconnecting Lee, an organization I helped found, the public and public officials are becoming more aware of the high cost of development patterns and infrastructure systems that depend so heavily on travel by car. It is expensive in public health and public wealth when doing anything outside of one’s home requires a car trip first. Now we are more aware as a community, we need to act and require others to act. The adoption of regulations favoring and in some cases requiring complete streets and mixed-use transit oriented development is an easy first step, if only we have the will to do it.

Sonny Haas, Republican, District 2 – We need to offer incentives to companies that are building to include in their plans a bike path that runs in front of their facility and even extends down the street. An indoor/outdoor exercise area should be encouraged as a common addition to any new building being built, with tax incentives being given to those who do provide this option. Having a fitness center on premises as many fire and police departments have will encourage employees to come in and exercise.

Cecil Pendergrass, Republican, District 2 - As county leaders, we must use all of our resources from both the public and private sectors, including those in the medical field, to raise awareness about the benefits of bicycling, walking and transit use. I will support initiatives that promote such healthy living to the public. As the public generates more interest and demand increases for livable communities, planners and developers will accommodate by developing more compact communities with adequate sidewalks and bicycle paths, which in turn will provide for safe and convenient travel, thereby encouraging a healthier lifestyle.

Dick Ripp, Republican, District 2 - have been walking the precincts, meeting our citizens while running for election to the commission, and I have lost 22 pounds, and shortened my belt two notches. Walking/biking to work make you healthy. Government-provided tax and legal incentives to home and business developers for the incorporation of physical activity facilities will result in a better, healthier Lee County, and a better place for people to live and work in. Our citizens must prod our elected officials to make sure that the developers “do the right thing.”

Tammy Hall, Republican, District 4 Sustainability is what I have focused on over the last four years and I will continue to support this effort by creating changes to the requirements in the zoning and entitlement process. By guiding developers to start their projects with designs that include walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly communities, we ensure the quality of life we want and desire in Lee County.

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 Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at dan@floridabicycle.org or 334-6417.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gubernatorial Candidate Sink's Transportation Plan supports greater focus on bike/ped & transit

Below are some interesting excerpts from Gubernatorial Candidate Sink's Transportation Plan that was released earlier today.

- As Governor, Alex Sink will make smart choices for improving our transportation system. Alex will start with ensuring that transportation revenues are stabilized. Alex will fight to protect state transportation funding sources that the Florida Legislature has raided for other programs. She will show leadership by demanding that Washington provide Florida a larger share of federal funds. She will work to build Florida's high-speed rail system, expand commuter rail networks and ensure transit, bicycle and pedestrian connectivity. Alex will better promote our seaports and airports and find ways to produce jobs in the aerospace industry as the space shuttle program winds down.

- Incorporate more trails, bicycle paths, bike lanes and pedestrian facilities into transportation planning. Bicycling or walking to work and as leisure activities not only reduce congestion but provide numerous health and environmental benefits. The FDOT reports that 66 percent of our state highway system has bicycle lanes or paths. Studies also show more people are bicycling and walking than ever before. Alex believes in developing more bike and pedestrian friendly facilities and will ensure representation of these interests on the FDOT's leadership planning committees, including the Strategic Intermodal System planning group. Florida is known for its award-winning Greenways and Trails program. Alex will support these "active transportation" programs and work to ensure that rail and transit facilities are easily accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians

- Encourage innovative solutions for transportation needs. Alex will encourage regional transportation planners to develop innovative projects that address congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create more livable communities. She will create a pilot program that allows transportation proposals for roads, transit and seaports from across the state to compete for grant funding from a special transportation pool set aside for innovative projects.

- Stopping the raids on Florida's highway trust funds. The Florida Legislature diverted $160 million from the state's highway trust fund in the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget it presented to Gov. Charlie Crist, who vetoed the cut. The fund is used to support the FDOT's transportation improvement and maintenance program; the cut would have eliminated over 11,000 jobs in the transportation industry. As Governor, Alex will veto efforts by the Florida Legislature to raid this funding source and ensure that it is spent only on transportation projects.

- Another serious safety concern is distracted driving, which national studies have shown is on the rise and causes thousands of fatal accidents each year. Alex supports laws that would prohibit sending text messages while driving and restrict the use of cell phones by truck and bus drivers except in emergencies. Alex will make these safety initiatives an integral part of her transportation agenda.

- As Governor, Alex also will seek to expand the percentage of federal safety funds that FDOT spends on bicycle and pedestrian safety programs. Bicycle and pedestrian fatalities represent 21.4% of all Florida traffic deaths yet less than 5% -- about $4 million -- of federal highway safety funding is spent on bike and pedestrian safety for the entire state. Even a modest increase could help boost safety outreach efforts.
- Florida's rail system defined the development of this state. But in recent history, the focus has been on road projects at the expense of improving our rail system. As road traffic congestion worsens and awareness grows concerning the environmental damage caused by carbon emissions from vehicles, more alternative forms of transportation are necessary and wise investments.

- Alex Sink will think comprehensively when it comes to Florida's transportation system. Our highways, roads, rails, trails, airports, seaports, and even aerospace industries must be innovative and integrated. Alex will require that transportation improvements meet these criteria.