Monday, February 28, 2011

BikeWalkLee urges legislative action on texting while driving

February 28, 2011
Members of Lee County Legislative Delegation:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition working to complete Lee County’s streets, urges you to take action this legislative session to address the growing problem of distracted driving, especially texting while driving. Vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, are most at risk from distracted drivers.

It was disappointing to read the recent News-Press story quoting Rep. Gary Aubuchon saying that “the Legislature isn’t in the mood to legislate issues that are really matters of personal responsibility.”Using this logic, we should repeal laws against drunk driving and requirements to wear seatbelts. The seat belt law alone saved 12,713 lives in 2009 and 267,890 lives since 1975, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA). How many more people will have to die from distracted driving before our elected representatives understand that legislative action is needed to save lives? What’s at stake here is the safety of our citizens—motorists, as well as pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

The national trends are alarming. The NHTSA says 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving, and the portion of drivers reportedly distracted at the time of fatal crashes increased from 7% in 2005 to 11% in 2009. Florida ranks in the top third of all states in terms of traffic fatalities (per vehicle miles traveled). Without action by our legislature, Florida’s roads will become even more deadly. The U.S. Secretary of Transportation has launched a national campaign to ban texting while driving and other deadly distractions and 30 states have taken action to ban texting while driving. Sadly, Florida is not one of them.

There are several ways the Legislature could address this issue, from a legislative ban on texting while driving to a revision in the existing Careless Driving statute. The latter approach would address all distractions that impair the drivers’ ability to control their vehicle. Regardless of the approach taken, it’s important that the provisions have teeth and are enforceable.

Laws aren’t the only answer, but they are an important first step. We look forward to working with you to make our roadways safer for all users.

BikeWalkLee letter to commissioners in support of LeeTran/Collier service

February 27, 2011
Dear Commissioners:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition to complete the streets in Lee County, works for a more balanced transportation system, including a public transit system that is more efficient and effective. We urge you to support Item 7A on the March 1st agenda, which provides an agreement to implement inter-county public transit service between Collier and Lee County.

Earlier this month, BikeWalkLee participated in a transit plan development workshop with LeeTran. Our groups emphasized the glaring transit gap between Lee County and Collier counties. This is a very busy corridor with lots of employment opportunities on both sides of the county line. Transit service is important for many workers to be able to access those jobs. In addition, this inter-county line will serve the students of FGCU, many of whom live in Collier County. We are pleased to see that LeeTran has worked in partnership with Collier County and FDOT to come up with an innovative solution to solve this problem. With the State and Federal grant funds, along with a bus leased from Collier County, LeeTran will be able to meet the transit needs in this busy corridor. We urge you to approve this proposal. Thank you.

NOTE: The 3/1/11 Naples Daily News article explains the importance of this link:

Lee Tran bus system ready to add route from Bonita Springs to North Naples


BONITA SPRINGS — Bridging the gap between Collier and Lee counties by bus has come down to a vote.

Lee County commissioners are expected Tuesday to approve a new north-south bus route that will bring a Lee Tran bus into northern Collier County, connecting the four-mile span between Bonita Beach Road and Immokalee Road by early October.

“It’s important,” said Michael Horsting, a representative of Lee Tran. “It’s been on the radar for quite some time. We’ve been hearing from the public, both Lee and Collier residents, that there’s a desire for people to travel across county lines.”

Originally, Lee commissioners agreed to enter into a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, accepting a $626,000 grant last year toward creating the route. Because the plan was expected to be a joint venture between the two counties, Collier County government needed to pitch in $206,000.

Collier government leaders declined. Connie Deane, spokeswoman for Collier Area Transit, said the county was unable to provide the matching amount.

So Collier’s portion of the grant from DOT instead went to Lee County, making the total available for the Lee Tran route now $850,221, Horsting said.

If Lee commissioners approve the plan Tuesday, it’s enough money to keep Lee Tran’s new route running for at least two years.

Lee County government will not spend any additional money to support the proposal.

“The county (Lee) is not providing funding for service that should otherwise be funded by Collier County,” Lee Commissioner Ray Judah said. “I’m fine with providing a regional approach that benefits the riders with state matching funds to provide a more comprehensive route.”

Though Collier County government was unable to financially support the plan, it will provide a new vehicle for the bus route. Deane said money for the bus comes from a state grant called the Congestion Management System, totaling $375,000.

The new route, if Lee commissioners approve, will provide a north-south connection to get from Collier to Coconut Point mall in Estero. There, Horsting said, riders can transfer to anywhere in Lee County.

In Collier, the route to Immokalee Road will allow Lee riders to connect and travel anywhere in Collier County.

Steve Myers, Lee Tran’s transit director, said the new stop will be near Immokalee Road and U.S. 41, where Collier Area Transit currently has a stop.

In addition to this new route, the beach trolley service in Bonita Springs will expand. The current route between Lover’s Key State Park and U.S. 41 at Bonita Beach Road will continue into the “heart of Bonita Springs,” Horsting said, meaning the downtown area on Old 41 Road.

If Lee commissioners approve it, the county will have a more complete service both east-west and north-south.

“I support it,” Judah said. “It’s a terrific idea. It furthers the effort toward ‘regionalization’ of public transportation.” Click here to continue reading the article.

Bi-county connection coming: Lee agrees to link up bus system with Collier's

NDN Tuesday afternoon, March 1, 2011

The gap in bus service between Lee and Collier county will soon be bridged.

The Lee County Commission agreed 3-2 to reconfigure its bus service and extend it to Immokalee Road in Collier County as soon as October.

Commissioners Tammy Hall and Frank Mann dissented.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

April 1st Health, Planning & the Built Environment workshop

This is going to be a great workshop, so mark your calendars & plan to attend. More details will follow.

Part II of Moving Beyond the Automobile: Bicycling

by Elizabeth Press on February 22, 2011

For the second chapter in our Moving Beyond the Automobile series we'll take a look at bicycling. More and more people are choosing to cycle for at least part of their commute in cities across the world. Leading the way in the United States, Portland, Oregon is up to a daily bike count of 17,000 riders! For this video we spent some time with leading thinkers in New York, San Francisco and Portland to discuss the direct relationship between providing safe cycling infrastructure and the number of people biking. The benefits of cycling are simple. Biking helps reduce congestion, air pollution, meet climate action goals and makes for healthier communities. Watch the video:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Streetfilm new series: Moving Beyond the Automobile

Streetfilm: Moving Beyond the Automobile
by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on February 8, 2011

Today is an exciting day here at Streetfilms as we are officially announcing the debut of our 10-part series "Moving Beyond the Automobile" (MBA). Each Tuesday over the next ten weeks, tune in to Streetfilms as we'll be posting a new chapter about smart and proven strategies to reduce traffic and improve street safety for all users.

We'll be tackling many fascinating topics in the next few months from "Bus Rapid Transit" to "Congestion Pricing" to "Car Share" to show how each can help people to use cars less - or not at all.

We've been out talking to the experts. Well-respected voices like former Bogotá mayor Enrique Peñalosa, Tri-state Transportation's Kate Slevin, Commissioner of NYC Department of Transportation Janette Sadik-Khan, Portland's Mayor Sam Adams, former 4-term Mayor of Milwaukee, and President of the Congress for New Urbanism John Norquist and dozens of other transportation authorities across the country to get their input and advice.

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column 2/23/11

Litter, litter, everywhere

Rarely am I so taken aback by a scene I encounter in my daily travels as I was just last week. Being on a relatively intimate level with our area’s natural and built environment because I get around a lot by foot or bike — often taking a route less traveled — I’m used to seeing both stunning and disturbing sights up close and personal. Click here to continue reading.

Advocacy update

I’ll be attending both the National Bike Summit ( summit11) in Washington D.C. in early March and our own Florida Bike Summit ( in Tallahassee later in the month. They’re both vitally important forums in these tumultuous political and economic times. While in Washington I’m looking forward to handing off the executive directorship of Florida Bicycle Association to Tim Bustos who will be replacing FBA’s very competent and dynamic former director, Laura Hallam, who recently retired. Thankfully for us, Ms. Hallam’s been staying on board as a volunteer to help me handle interim duties and to make Mr. Bustos’ transition that much smoother.

To say FBA picked a winner to fill some big shoes is an understatement. Mr. Bustos has 28 years of experience in the field of bicycle transportation planning, design and engineering, including 12 as the Bike/Ped coordinator for Davis, Calif., where he was instrumental in attaining platinum level for the League of American Bicyclists’ “Bicycle Friendly Community” the first in the U.S. to receive the highest designation. Mr. Bustos started out in Florida, serving as the regional bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for seven counties in Northwest Florida. He has an extensive background in bicycle advocacy and legislative work, having served on the original board of directors for FBA in its first incarnation in the late 1980s, and two terms on the board for the California Bicycle Coalition. On behalf of all those who cycle in our state, I’d like to welcome Tim Bustos home.

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 can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

News-Press Editorial: Ban texting while driving

News-Press Feb. 22, 2011

Lawmakers may be reluctant to ban texting
while driving, but they should think again.

There are many types of distracted driving
but texting involves all three types of
distraction: taking your eyes off the road,
your hands off the wheel and your mind off
what you're supposed to be doing.

Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral,
chairman of the powerful House Rules
Committee, says the Legislature isn't in the
mood to "legislate issues that are really
matters of personal responsibility."

Last year, 17 bills on the issue were
introduced, none reached the governor's
desk, and this is a more conservative set of

But the case for saving lives with texting
bans is carrying the day in an increasing
number of states.

So far, 30 states and the District of
Columbia ban text messaging or cell phone
use while driving. Twelve of these laws
were enacted in 2010 alone. The laws
vary. Some apply only to certain ages;
some are secondary laws, meaning you can
be ticketed for violating them only if you
are pulled over for another violation.

But all are in response to chilling statistics.
The National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration says 20 percent of injury
crashes in 2009 involved reports of
distracted driving. Drivers who use hand-
held devices are four times as likely to get
into crashes serious enough to injure
themselves, according to the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety.

One of the more alarming statistics from
the Transportation Department is that the
portion of drivers reportedly distracted at
the time of fatal crashes increased from 7
percent in 2005 to 11 percent in 2009.
The trend indicates more will die from
driving distractions - the worst of which is
texting. Urge our lawmakers to act.

• Sen. Garrett Richter, District 37, 338-2777,
• Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, District 27, 850-487-
• Sen. Mike Bennett, District 21, 225-3697, bennett.
• Rep. Ken Roberson, House District 71, 941-613-
• Rep. Paige Kreegel, House District 72, 941-575-
• Rep. Matt Caldwell, House District 73, 533-2411,
• Rep. Gary Aubuchon, House District 74, 344-
• Rep. Trudi Williams, District 75, 433-6775, trudi.

Click here to see Doug MacGregor's Cartoon.

Monday, February 21, 2011

BikeWalkLee letter to commissioners on EAR: New Horizon 2035

Next week, the Board of County Commission considers the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) of the Lee County Comprehensive Plan, first in a workshop on Feb. 28th, and an adoption hearing on March 1st. Click here for details and background documents.

Below is the 2/22/11 letter that BikeWalkLee sent to the commissioners in support of the EAR:

BikeWalkLee, a coalition to complete the streets in Lee County, works for a more balanced transportation system. Prior to your review and adoption of the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR): New Horizon 2035, we wanted to share with you our views on the report. As we stated in our Jan. 9th letter, we consider the EAR an essential planning tool to facilitate the important land use and transportation changes that need to be made.

The EAR before you is a visionary and bold plan, with a focus on sustainability and a blueprint for changes in land use that will promote transit-oriented development, functional transit, livable communities, walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, and complete streets. It integrates all facets of planning in the county in a holistic way, and lays out a path for achieving a balanced multi-modal transportation system. We are especially pleased to see that complete streets concepts are integrated into every component of this plan.

The plan also benefits from a new collaborative approach of the various county departments working as a team to chart a new path, and reflects the extensive community input they received through dozens of public workshops. It’s quite an accomplishment, and the County Manager and her team are to be commended.

The section of the report that analyzes problems with the existing Lee Plan’s approach to transportation lays out a roadmap for changes that need to be made in order to have a balanced multi-modal transportation system. We look forward to these issues being addressed during implementation of the county’s complete streets plan, especially changes to the transportation planning and budgeting processes that are due in mid-2011. We are also pleased that the report recognizes some existing transportation policies and procedures are detrimental to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, as seen in the emphasis on traffic calming, speed, and design issues, and making improvements that will encourage more walking, bicycling, and transit use.

We are hopeful that the vision outlined in the EAR will be reflected in the changes to the Lee Plan in the next 18 months, as well as in the years ahead. We are hopeful that elements of the report that are currently not specific enough (for example, policies to reduce driving) will be addressed in more specificity in the plan amendment phase. In other words, the key is how aggressively the vision will be implemented in 2012-13 and beyond. We hope that the Board of County Commissioners will make a commitment to implementing the plan amendments consistent with the vision in this report.

Texting ban likely to hit the skids

News-Press 2/21/11
by Bob Rathgeber

Several state lawmakers have proposed legislation that would ban texting while
driving. Chances those bills will pass the Republican-dominated Legislature and
land on Gov. Rick Scott's desk appear to be slim.

State Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral, one of the most powerful members of the
House as head of the rules committee, said last week the Legislature isn't in the mood to "legislate issues that are really matters of personal responsibility."

Last year, 17 bills were introduced to address texting and driving, but none
reached the governor's desk. The legislative session begins March 8.

"Not a lot has changed year over year," Aubuchon said. This Legislature is more
conservative. ... It doesn't seem likely."

Nevertheless, some are pushing for the "Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law"
that has been introduced in the House and the Senate.

Click here to continue reading the article.

For background on this issue and how it impacts cyclists and pedestrians, see the September 26th blog story about the News-Press Sunday opinion page which featured distracted driving.

To read BikeWalkLee's commentary on the issue, click here.

Fort Myers woman dies after bicycle crash with minivan

Naples Daily News
February 21, 2011

Janet LoFranco was a fighter, helping her husband battle two bouts of cancer, as well as one of her own. So when LoFranco lost the fight for her life this afternoon, she left a void in the lives of the people who loved her. “She was a mom, she was an aunt. She was a sister. She was everything,” said Justin LoFranco, son of Janet LoFranco. “All we can ask for is prayers and support from everyone.” Janet LoFranco, 59, died just after 1 p.m. Sunday at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, family members confirmed.

She was riding her Trek bike east on the north crosswalk of Estero Parkway at the intersection of Three Oaks Parkway at 10:24 a.m. Saturday when LoFranco rode into the path of a Ford Windstar that Frank J. Auciello of Cincinnati was driving north on Three Oaks, Florida Highway Patrol reported.

LoFranco, who was wearing a helmet, hit the windshield of the minivan and was thrown to the east side curb. She suffered head injuries and was flown by a medical helicopter to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers.

Neither Auciello, 87, nor his passenger, Sheri Auciello, 58, of Estero, were injured.
Her battle lasted a little more than 24 hours, now her husband will fight to cope with the loss of his wife. Ron LoFranco, 62, Janet LeFranco’s husband of 30 years, is unsure if he believes police accounts of his wife's accident. “We’ll see what caused the accident and we’ll see if something has to be changed to protect bicyclists.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lee County's 2010 Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year

Island Reporter 2/16/11
B.J. Gerald selected Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has selected B.J. Gerald as the recipient of the Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year Award for 2010. The board made the announcement at its meeting on Tuesday.

Gerald works with Lee County Domestic Animal Services, Sierra Club, Alva Inc., CROW, Lee County Parks and Caloosa Riders. She is also an active member of numerous environmental groups to help protect the environment.

The runners up were also acknowledged at the board meeting. They included Sanibel resident Darla Letourneau and Deborah Sebastian of Lehigh Acres.

Letourneau, who helped launch BikeWalkLee, is a community activist who took part in the Complete Streets Implementation Working Group, an active public participant in Community Sustainability Advisory Committee as well as the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Congratulations to B.J. Gerald, who is a member of the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club and part of the BikeWalkLee network.

Complete streets and resurfacing contracts

BikeWalkLee report: 2/19/11

The county’s complete streets policy requires that accommodations for bike/ped/transit be made at all phases of road projects, including resurfacing/improvements. As part of the complete streets action plan the County Commissioners approved in November, the County’s complete streets team has been evaluating the roads on the 3 annual resurfacing contracts (arterials/collectors; Lehigh local roads; and other county local roads) to see what opportunities exist to address the needs of all users when the roads are resurfaced. The evaluation of each contract list of roads has been reviewed by the complete streets work group of the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) and each time the CSAC has endorsed the recommendations of the County’s complete streets team.

Each of the three sets of recommendations has contained some small interim measures that can be taken without widening the road surface (e.g., share the road signs, improved crosswalk, etc.). In particular, the last contract for Lee County local roads contained over a dozen spots where connectivity issues that will be further evaluated by staff. Click here for the list of all the commitments made by the County as part of this process. We will be following up to track the implementation of these commitments.

It became clear to the CSAC as it reviewed these recommendations that the evaluation of roads on the resurfacing contract list was coming too late in the process. Therefore, they recommended, and the BoCC adopted, that this process be used for review of resurfacing contracts for the next 2 years, and at the same time, it should be used for advance planning of resurfacing projects beyond 2013.
The Committee also made it explicit that the funds for meeting the complete streets needs on these streets “should not be limited to a percentage of impact fees or taxes”, i.e., holistic budgeting. The Committee also recommended that the items committed to further evaluation actually be implemented by the county.

With the adoption of these recommendations, the future resurfacing schedule for each road should serve as the decision point for addressing improvements to meet the needs of all users. This process has highlighted the need for the county to revise its planning and budgeting processes (a deliverable in mid-2011 in the county’s complete streets action plan) in order to look at the roadway holistically and address the needs of all users in the most cost effective way.

Kudos to the County Manager and her interdepartmental complete streets team that are working creatively to look at our roadways in a new way.

Opportunity to Participate: Cape Coral Updates its Comprehensive Plan

Through a series of public meetings, the City of Cape Coral is looking for input about how the City will develop and change.

The City of Cape Coral's blueprint for growth and development, its Comprehensive Plan, is being updated through a series of public meetings. With input from citizens, county planners are looking at some of the following issues related to biking and walking:

• Economic Development and Land Use (including how business growth should occur)

• Transportation (including the provision of bike lanes and places to walk)

• Parks and public spaces

• The location and provision of schools

This update is the basis of an Evaluation and Appraisal Report, which is required by the state every seven years. Through the series of public visioning workshops and work with staff agencies, planners will identify the most important issues and began revising the Cape Coral Plan.

The remaining visioning workshops are the following dates and times:
Tuesday March 1st, 2011 6:30-8:00 PM
Northwest Regional Library
519 Chiquita Blvd. N. Cape Coral, FL

Friday March 4th, 2011: 9:00-11:00 AM
Cape Coral Library
921 S.W. 39th Terrace, Cape Coral, FL
To get more information about the workshops, please feel free to contact Dr. Margaret Banyan at 239-590-7850 or or .

Please also visit the website for meeting directions and background information on the process.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

BikeWalkLee announces representatives in local jurisdictions

BikeWalkLee has been involved in advocacy on a countywide basis, participating in all the Lee County MPO meetings and committees, and in the Board of County Commission committees and hearings. The MPO is a countywide transportation planning body and includes representatives from each of the local jurisdictions. The BoCC and county government covers the unincorporated portions of Lee County. While the majority of transportation decisions that affect bike/ped/transit facilities and complete streets policies are made in these two bodies, the local jurisdictions (Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel) also make bike/ped decisions on their local roads as well as influence decisions on county maintained roads.

BikeWalkLee is pleased to announce its representatives/reporters in each of these jurisdictions. These individuals will serve as our “point persons” who will lead the local advocacy efforts and keep the BWL network informed about what’s happening in their jurisdiction. If you live in one of these jurisdictions, here’s your new “go to” person. The following are the representatives and their contact information:

Bonita Springs: Sarah Baker,

• Sarah Baker is a Senior Analyst / Planner with the Lee County Health Department. Sarah grew up in Fort Myers and has lived in Bonita Springs since 2003. She is a Board Member of the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition and a founding member of Fit-Friendly Southwest Florida. Sarah also leads a troop of Girl Scouts in Bonita Springs. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys rollerblading and ice-skating with her husband and 10-year old daughter Lydia.

Cape Coral: Steve Chupack,

• Steve Chupack has been a year-round resident of Cape Coral since 2003. Steve was a co-founder in 2005 of the Safety on Surfside Committee, which successfully petitioned the Cape Coral City Council to approve new bike lanes in the area. He was elected recently to serve on the Board of Directors of the SW Cape Coral Neighborhood Association. Steve is a former executive with non-profits and the Vermont Agency of Human Services. He is an avid kayaker, cyclist and walker.

Fort Myers: Dan Moser,

• Dan Moser has been a resident of Lee County since 1973, a resident of the City of Fort Myers for the last 25 years, and has been a vocal advocate for biking and walking during most of his career. He is a founding member of BikeWalkLee and serves on its steering group. He has been a member of the City of Ft Myers Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board since its inception in 1999 and is its current chairman. Dan is also the Program Director for the Florida Bicycle Association, an instructor for Lee Memorial Health System Trauma Center's High Risk Driver Program & Young Driver Program, Lee Injury Prevention Coalition vice chairman, and chairman of Lee MPO Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinating Committee. He is also a certified bicycle education instructor and instructor-trainer. Dan’s primary mode of transportation is his bicycle.

City of Fort Myers Beach: Carrie Hill,

• Carrie is a long-time resident of Fort Myers Beach and an active advocate for biking and walking. She was appointed by the City of Fort Myers Beach to represent the city on the MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinating Committee (BPCC). Carrie bicycles as her mode of transportation on FMB. She is a native Floridian and a homeowner on Fort Myers Beach for 15 years. In addition to being an avid cyclist and scuba diver, she is a published poet, artist, and thespian. Her artwork has been used for the Sand sculpting and Shrimp Festivals. Carrie serves on the Cultural and Environmental Learning Center Advisory Board (CELCAB), which oversees the Mound House, and is President of Friends of Mound House, She is also a long-standing member of the FMB Community Foundation.

City of Sanibel: Tom Sharbaugh,
• Tom Sharbaugh has been a resident of Sanibel since 2002. He is a member of the Sanibel Bicycle Club, serving as a current board member, communications chair and past president. He created the Club’s award-winning Bike Safety Education Program to increase awareness of safe biking “rules of the road” among island residents and tourist visitors. He is currently leading a community-wide effort to construct a “path welcome center” that will serve as a trailhead for Sanibel’s path system and also provide rest stop amenities for path users. Tom is a former business executive who has managed marketing and communications functions for national companies. He’s an avid recreational cyclist , enjoys kayaking, and returns to the Chicago area during the summers.

Florida Gulf Coast University: Dr. Margaret Banyan,
• Margaret Banyan, Ph.D., is a Visiting Assistant Professor at FGCU, and teaches in the Division of Public Affairs in the areas of land use planning, public administration, and political science. She is a member of the FGCU Master Plan Committee. She is a founding member of BikeWalkLee and part of its Steering Group. She is chair of the Lee County Community Sustainability Advisory Committee, and a member of the Lee County Homeless Coalition. Her interests center on sustainability, equity, public transit, and citizen involvement. Before moving to Lee County, she worked at Portland State University as the director of the Center for Public Participation.

We’re excited to have these representatives as part of the BWL team!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mark your Calendar 4/15-23:"Taking it to the Streets" Transportation Transformation 2011

WHO? We are a regional partnership of individuals, advocacy groups and governmental agencies leading a multi-modal transportation awareness-to-action campaign.
WHAT? “Taking it to the Streets” is a nine day promotion for Transportation Transformation among neighboring counties in Southwest Florida, to move people from talking and into doing, or actually……walking, biking, busing, vanpooling, carpooling and, of course, having Fun!
WHEN? Campaign begins April 15 continues through Earth Week and culminates on Saturday April 23….Save the Dates!
WHERE? All of regional Southwest Florida - Individual worksites, campuses, transits companies and public venues. This is a multi-county action project including municipalities, businesses, resorts, colleges, civic and community organizations.
HOW? Simply choose action items from our list or create your own activity. Schedule and complete your activities leading up to or during the campaign period of April 15-23, 2011. Participate: as an employer, as a community leader, as an individual, as a student or as a team. Whatever you are planning, let us know so we can promote you!

Do something that involves or supports alternative and less costly modes of transportation: biking, walking, carpooling, vanpooling, or public transportation. If you’d like to participate, but need help getting started or have comments or concerns, don’t be afraid to speak up. We can come to your site, at no cost, to help. Call us at 1.866.585.RIDE.

Prove it – Track, log and promote all those miles you don’t drive in your auto with Trip Track, a program that will help us calculate Vehicle Miles Reduced (VMR) and other statistics at Commuter Service Florida website.

BikeWalkLee is a supporter of this initiative, and sees it as an opportunity to participate with hundreds of others to promote healthier and less costly transportation alternatives while bringing focus to the improvement of mobility choices here in SWFL. With your participation, we can move forward together as a region.

Stay tuned for further details and opportunities to participate.

Opportunity to participate: Public Workshop on McGregor Boulevard Sidewalks

Hosted by FDOT District 1
Date: Thursday, March 03, 2011
Time: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Location Name: Faith United Methodist Church, Family Life Center
Street Address: 15690 McGregor Boulevard
City: Fort Myers

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will hold a public meeting to provide information about projects to add sidewalks to either side of McGregor Boulevard from College Parkway to Colonial Boulevard in Lee County, Florida. The meeting is held in an open house format with no formal presentation. Project staff will be available to answer questions about the sidewalk projects. For more information about the projects, please contact project manager Aaron Kaster by e-mail at

CDC maps show diabetes, inactivity 'very closely tied'

Activity, health: By county

By Mary Brophy Marcus

Colorado has one of the most active populations in the country and Kentucky has one of the least active, according to a new government study that looked at people's physical activity county by county.

This is the third in a series of county-focused reports by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first two looked at diabetes and obesity rates, says Ann Albright, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation.
"When you actually take all three maps together, it really does give you this clear picture that the Southern and Appalachian areas on all three — obesity, diabetes and inactivity — are very closely tied to each other. It lets you step back and gives the big picture," Albright says.

To continue reading the article, click here.

"Physical inactivity is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes and obesity, so it's not surprising this study mirrors that the diabetes and obesity-prone Southern states have more inactive counties, he says. Physical activity is any dedicated and purposeful moving beyond normal everyday activities.

"At every level of society we need to make it easier to do routine exercise as part of our day," says Susan Spratt, an endocrinologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Click here to access the CDC report. To see Lee County data, as well as the other counties in Florida, click here.

The CDC hopes community groups and policy makers use the data to promote communities with sidewalks and access to parks and recreation areas that encourage people to get out and exercise.

Update from Washington--biking & walking programs dodge budget cuts in 1st round

Message from Alliance for Biking & Walking:
Thank you for all your great work and preparation to protect federal funding for biking and walking this week. I know many of you have done some incredible outreach to your members of Congress and their staff, educating them about the important ways that biking and walking contribute to our health, our economy, and our communities.

Well, great news: It worked!

Of the nearly 600 amendments to the 2011 House budget bill (HR1), biking and walking, Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School were not singled out to be cut. It's an amazing testament to your work, and the work of all the partners in the America Bikes coalition, that we're still standing. Special thanks to Caron Whitaker, America Bikes' Campaign Director, who has been a strong voice for our issues on Capitol Hill. It's still possible that, in a few weeks, we may face amendments in the Senate that attack biking and walking. So keep your radar up for upcoming alerts.

Additional note from Rails to Trails:
AASHTO2—a powerful voice in the federal transportation debate—is turning to the millions of Americans on Facebook to provide their thoughts on transportation priorities. We encourage everyone who has an opinion on active transportation improvements to stop by AASHTO's "I Told Congress" discussion page and leave a comment to influence future transportation priorities!

Please speak up for trails, walking and bicycling on Facebook now--click here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fit Friendly SWFL initiative

Ideas! Action! Results!
A report on three projects aimed at upgrading our lives here.

Author: Nanci Theoret

In her quest for information, Markham soon learned about Lee Memorial Health System’s success with the three-year Fit Friendly START! campaign, offered through the American Heart Association. Since launching with a simple goal of promoting walking for exercise, the program has reached nearly all community stakeholders, from private businesses and local governments to social service agencies and schools, says Sally Jackson, Lee Memorial’s community projects director.

“START! was about walking to achieve fitness and eventually evolved to include food and nutrition,” she says. “It’s now a community-based wellness program.”

From a simple premise—walking as a tool to fight the battle of the bulge—the campaign has grown to identify factors increasing the obesity problem. It has helped government rewrite policy to mandate walking paths in new parks (45 are completed or in the process), promoted neighborhood gardens as a source for fresh veggies, and challenged local businesses to increase employee fitness and health.
The success of Lee County’s Fit Friendly program has also caught the eye of the AHA’s top brass, who participated last summer in a round-table discussion about implementing the second three-year phase. That next step, says Jackson, will expand the program into Charlotte and Collier counties, a project Markham and her team will help shepherd. “In my opinion, our health team has done its job when this becomes a Southwest Florida initiative,” she says.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pre-Alert: Possible federal budget cuts in bike/ped this week

Working with our partners at Alliance for Biking and Walking and America Bikes, we have been monitoring and preparing for possible federal budget cuts that attack programs which fund biking and walking infrastructure. This is a “pre-alert” to give you the heads up that if biking and walking funding and programs are attacked, we will have a very short window in which to take action.

If an amendment attacking biking and walking is proposed, we will let you know right away and ask that you contact your U.S. Representative, asking them to protect federal investments in biking and walking. If such action is needed, we will provide specific information and directions.

There is no action to take at this moment – this is just a heads-up that we need everyone to stand-by for action.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

News-Press:Planners pan suburbia at Harborside event in Fort Myers

News-Press Article from Friday's Symposium
Brian Liberatore

The next generation doesn’t want sprawling
subdivisions, strip malls and multi-lane highways,
says real estate adviser Woody Hanson, and failure to
recognize that will condemn Lee County to decades
of stagnation.

“I will tell you now, Generation X will not
come here,” Hanson told a crowd packed
into the Harborside Events Center on
Friday. “Generation X will not buy a three-
two. They want a 24-hour city and things
within walking distance. We’re no longer
moving to suburbia.

“Finally, we’re turning around and moving
back to the cities.”

Hanson joined a panel of economists, local
leaders and land planners in downtown
Fort Myers for an all-day symposium on
land planning over the next 25 years.
Speakers universally panned suburbia in
favor of planning that puts housing,
entertainment and businesses next to one
another or within walking distance.
It’s the key to economic recovery, they

said, and a necessity in a rapidly changing

About 140 students invited to the event —
the top 10 students from area schools —
confirmed Hanson’s assertion.

More than two-thirds said in a survey they
would be most likely to stay in Lee County if
development is focused in dense urban

Ninety-two percent rejected the stark
division of housing areas and commercial
centers now dominant in Lee County.

The Great Recession has changed Florida
permanently, economist Henry H. Fishkind
told the crowd.

Turning swampland into housing won’t save

“If we just keep doing what we’re doing,
stagnation is what we’re seeing,” Fishkind

Typical of Florida, Lee County has botched
land use, Fishkind said. Functional public
transportation is non-existent and the
county pays for its services on the backs of
new development with sky-high impact
fees and inequitable property taxes.

“We all need to pay for infrastructure,”
Fishkind said. “The days of sticking it to the
new people is over.”

Real estate professional Gary Verwilt said
tourism will still be the base of the region’s
economy two decades from now. And
beaches will still be the backbone. But
people want a link to those attractions:
public transportation between multiple-use
town centers and attractions.

Change will happen, Hanson said.

“You have no choice,” he said. “We cannot
go about doing business as usual.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Secretary LaHood's Blog:Congratulations, Let's Move! for a tremendous first year

FastLane: February 10, 2011

Today I want to congratulate First Lady Michelle Obama and the Childhood Obesity Task Force for completing a very effective first year.

A year ago, President Obama announced that the First Lady would lead the charge to encourage children to exercise more and adopt healthier eating habits through the new Childhood Obesity Task Force.

In assuming this charge, Mrs. Obama asserted an ambitious goal: "I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food nutrition and physical activity."

One of the Task Force's first steps was to create Let's Move!, a great web resource offering parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. I urge you to pay this terrific site a visit.

Here at DOT, several of our initiatives complement the work of the First Lady's task force. Walking, bicycling, and complete streets efforts all promote the healthier lifestyle needed to help eliminate childhood obesity. And whenever we get the chance, we've enjoyed sharing those initiatives on Let's Move!

Some of those include:

* Encouraging children to walk and bike safely to school through our Safe Routes to Schools programs. Believe it or not, riding to school in a car is less safe than either riding a school bus or walking or biking. Safe Routes programs also reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment, making communities more livable for everyone.
* Promoting bicycle and pedestrian-friendly “complete streets” policies. DOT wants to ensure that the roads we build and repair are safe and convenient for everyone using them. This means considering drivers, cyclists, and walkers when undertaking road work and taking their interests into account when planning new roads.
* Using TIGER discretionary funds to support projects that benefit communities and create opportunities for increased physical activity. Projects like the Philadelphia Area Pedestrian and Bicycle Network allow commuters and recreational walkers and bicyclists to exercise more options for getting around. We've also worked hard through our TIGER program to offer improved connections for bicyclists and pedestrians to transit centers.

Investing in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is a cost-effective strategy for reducing traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and dependence on oil while also providing public health, safety, and air quality benefits.

And, as it turns out, investing in infrastructure for non-motorized transportation is also a pretty good engine for job creation.

It's important to remember that DOT's bicycle and pedestrian-friendly initiatives don't subtract from other ways of getting around. Rather, these programs add more options to the mix. And Americans have said that's exactly what they want.

So, you bet I’m excited about the work we’ve been able to do this year to support Let’s Move! and the First Lady’s efforts to combat childhood obesity. And I hope you'll join me in wishing Let’s Move! and the Childhood Obesity Task Force an even more successful year two!

NP editorial:Join workshop thinking about Lee's future now

Feb. 9, 2011

With so many people struggling just to
survive this bleak economy, it’s easy to
forget about the future, and to neglect a
vision for what we want Lee County to be
like, say, a quarter century from now.

Friday, the third in a series of imaginative
workshops on that subject will take place,
free and open to the public, in downtown
Fort Myers. Like the others, it is hosted by
the law firm Fowler White Boggs in
connection with the volunteer think tank
group, Reconnecting Lee County.

This meeting will feature several local
experts, and aims at engaging young
people. Included in the program are high
school honor students from throughout Lee
County; Jim Nathan, president of Lee
Memorial Health System; Linda Shelley,
Fowler White Boggs attorney and former
state planning chief; Tom Scott, Lee County
School Board chair; and economist Henry

Reconnecting Lee County was founded in
the depths of the economic bust here, on
the inspired notion that this is actually a
good time to think about alternatives to the
kind of growth that has stalled, leaving us
littered with the economic wreckage of
foreclosures and failed businesses.

The post-boom era will need to be a time
of smarter thinking and smarter growth,
including revitalization of traditional
centers, development of walkable
communities and expansion of mass transit
— although those are only some of the

Friday is a good time to get involved in your


• What: Free symposium: Lee County in the Year
• When: Friday, Feb. 11
• Registration: 8 a.m.
• Programs: 8:30 a.m.-4:45p.m.
• Where: Harborside Event Center, downtown Fort

Naples officials consider "complete streets" approach on US 41 downtown

News-Press: Officials look into U.S. 41 shift

Denes Husty III

Feb. 9, 2011

City and county officials
agreed to work together Wednesday to
eliminate what is called “the Berlin Wall in
Naples” — otherwise known as U.S. 41.

The bustling, six-lane highway traveled by
40,000 to 50,000 vehicles a day
effectively divides Naples into west and
east zones, said Naples Councilwoman
Margaret Sulik.

Council members and county
commissioners at a joint meeting will now
have their staffs study the possibility of
relocating U.S. 41 to the parallel
Goodlette-Frank Road, Sulik said.

What is now U.S. 41 — also known as Ninth
Street — would revert to a local route that
would create a business district friendlier
to pedestrians and motorists
, Sulik said.
Two lanes could be eliminated to provide
parking for easier access to businesses,
she said.

Currently, trying to walk across the road at
what is known as the Four Corners — the
intersection where U.S. 41 North, U.S. 41
East, Ninth Street South and Fifth Avenue
South meet — “is like playing chicken,”
Sulik said.

“I think it’s worth looking into. More parking
would be perfect. There is no parking
here,” said Patty Kirk, owner of Captain
Kirk’s Stone Crabs Inc. in the Fifth Avenue
shopping district.

No specific timeline has been set on the
project, but both council members and
commissioners hope to have detailed
reports ready to present by the summer.
Additional turn lanes would be needed for
through traffic, and signs would be posted
to turn Goodlette-Frank Road into U.S. 41
from Golden Gate Parkway south to U.S. 41
East, Sulik said.

“It’s a need that has to be addressed for
pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles. A lot of
county residents don’t go to the downtown
area because of the traffic,” said local
resident Michelle Avola, who represents a
coalition of some 3,000 city and county
residents who support the plan.

Other options include better signs directing
traffic destined for Miami or Marco Island
to use alternate routes and pedestrian
overpasses above U.S. 41, officials said.
They said state and federal governments
would have the final say on whether U.S. 41
is moved.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BikeWalkLee Recognized

Letourneau among trio of finalists for 2010 Citizen of the Year Award
Island Reporter

by Jeff Lysiak
February 9, 2011

Last Thursday afternoon, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners announced the three finalists in the running for the 2010 Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year Award. They included Darla Letourneau of Sanibel, Deborah Sebastian of Lehigh Acres and B.J. Gerald of Alva.

Letourneau, who helped launch BikeWalkLee, is a community activist who took part in the Complete Streets Implementation Working Group, an active public participant in Community Sustainability Advisory Committee as well as the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

"It's nice to be singled out, but this is really a group effort," said Letourneau after hearing of her finalist status. "Everybody brings their own talents and strengths to the group — whether they're our environmentalists, Smart Growth planners, health and safety advocates, bike clubs and businesses. The cyclists are the most organized; they kind of speak on behalf of all walkers and bicyclists who share the same paths.

As noted in their mission statement, BikeWalkLee seeks to work with local governments, officials and staff to help create a culture of planning that works to complete Lee County's streets so that all users of our transportation networks are considered on the front end of any project or improvement. This effort includes attending and testifying at public meetings to raise awareness of complete streets, analyzing data and legislation to make the case for necessary enhancements and dangerous infrastructure gaps and helping to identify options and opportunities that would enhance Lee County's evolution into a model complete streets community.

Letourneau, a former committee chair for the Sanibel Bicycle Club, has been active with a number of community-focused organizations since moving to the island in 2000. She is a past president of Zonta's Sanibel-Captiva chapter, has been an advocate for the Southwest Florida Addiction Services (SWFAS), a docent for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and a member of the City of Sanibel's Stewardship Committee.

"I feel like I'm still working," said Letourneau, a former federal employee in Washington, D.C. "I've kept my skills up and learned how the process works. It's important to make contributions to your community and help make a difference."

According to Booch DeMarchi, Lee County Special Events Coordinator, the award was created in 1991 to honor Burton, a long-time Sanibel Island resident and "government watchdog." She spent many years serving as a voice of the people to the Lee County Commission, as well as playing an active role in Sanibel politics. She died in an automobile accident in 1991.

The selection criteria for the award includes a "positive attitude, knowledge of the objectives and activities of Lee County government, a demonstrated interest in community/county government partnerships and promotion of harmony between the community and county government," he reported.

Click here to continue reading the article.

The 20th Annual Paulette Burton Citizen of the Year Award will be presented to the winner by the Lee County Commissioners at their Board Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 9:30 a.m. in the Commission Chambers at 2120 Main Street in Fort Myers.

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Get ready for Hooters-to-Hooters & Royal Palm Classic


What if they held a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and everyone who started the race finished, including those who never thought they’d run or even walk that distance? That’s what happened three years ago when the inaugural Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon made its debut. Based on what the Fort Myers Track Club’s start/finish-line technology indicated, and from my recollection as someone who worked the event as a roving course marshal (on my bike), every single one of the 700-plus participants who crossed the start line on Cleveland Avenue near Hooters also made their way to the finish line in Hooters’ parking lot. Granted, some of those who walked much of it were very tardy (to say the least), but they completed the entire distance nonetheless. To this day, I remain totally impressed with the 100 percent completion rate, a feat that’s rare in any distance race, not only a half-marathon.

The Hooters-to-Hooters half marathon is known as much for the footwork as the excellent post-run party. Another fact I feel is worth sharing is that the Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon raised more than $50,000 in its two-year history, money that benefited Moffitt Cancer Center and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year’s proceeds will be divided between Moffitt and Barbara’s Friends for the Southwest Florida Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund. Organizers expect to reach the 1,000 participant mark this year, a goal, which if met, will undoubtedly raise significant money for the two organizations. As an added benefit, Hooters is one of the best sponsoring hosts I’ve come across. They treat runners, volunteers and spectators who are there with runners to a top-notch post-run party.

In an unfortunate schedule conflict again this year, the same day and time Hooters is being run, the Royal Palm Classic bike rides take place starting at Buckingham Park. The Caloosa Riders are always there to assist with foot races, and some of those who cycle also run, so having the two stellar events like these clash doesn’t help either club or those who participate and benefit. Hopefully this won’t be the case again next year.

The Royal Palm Classic features distances for everyone, from an easy, no-rider-left-behind 15 miler to a 100 mile century that takes riders to LaBelle. As a runner and a cyclist, you’ve got a difficult decision to make. Whatever you decide, it’ll be a good choice.

Coming even sooner than both of the above events is our area’s premier 5K, a race that attracts some of the best runners in the country and even in the world. The annual Edison Festival of Lights 5K takes place immediately prior to the parade and on the same route as the floats and marching bands. Unlike the parade, which begins at Fort Myers High School, the race starts in downtown Fort Myers beginning at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19. The post-race festivities make the Edison Fest 5K a must do event for residents and visitors alike.

Finally, don’t forget to register and train for the Fight for Air Climb on Saturday, March 30, at High Point Place on the river in downtown Fort Myers.

Advocacy update

Two very important bike advocacy events are coming up, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Tallahassee. First up is the annual National Bike Summit, organized and hosted by the League of American Bicyclists. Held from March 8 - 11, the National Bike Summit is a major undertaking for LAB, but vital to the national interests of cyclists. Similar in its importance to Floridians — including part-timers — is the Florida Bicycle Association’s Florida Bike Summit, being held on Thursday, March 24. I’ll be attending both and will surely have plenty to relate, especially considering that the general atmosphere at both levels isn’t especially bike/ped-friendly (the Obama administration not included in my assessment).

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 can be contacted at or 334- 6417

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Naples Daily News: Lee commissioners approve Hickory Boulevard widening project on Bonita Beach


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BONITA SPRINGS — Cyclists and pedestrians this summer should be able to cruise Hickory Boulevard with more ease and less fear of cars.

Lee County Commissioners at Tuesday’s board meeting agreed 5-0 to pave new four-foot shoulders on both sides of the road that leads from Bonita Springs to Fort Myers Beach.

The project has met with support and opposition with both sides citing safety as their reason, but advocates are convinced the new design will lead to a safer experience for everyone.

“Adding shoulders is really a positive thing,” said Paul Wingard, the transportation department’s interim director.

The $500,000 project from Bonita Beach Road to Broadway Channel Bridge is set to begin this Spring, after the tourist season, and take about a month to complete.

The shoulders were added as part of a repaving project.

Wingard tried to quell fears of residents, such as Jack Meeker of Estero whose residential community, The Brooks, owns a private beach club on Hickory Boulevard.

Some have said that cars will use the extra pavement to maneuver around slow traffic or cars that have stopped to turn across oncoming traffic.

“I think widening this road is going to lead to more accidents and greater speed,” said Meeker, who visits the beach several times a week.

But Wingard contended that the opposite has been found in studies nationally with the number of accidents decreasing when shoulders are added.

Cars have more room to recover if something goes wrong, Wingard said, and pedestrians have a smooth, safe place to walk instead of the current gravel and grass property lines that run just inches from cars and trucks driving 35 mph.

The speed will not change nor will the lane widths except where they are made uniform.

For some, the shoulders are an obvious safety improvement.

A woman staying in Dennis Calabresa’s home several years ago was killed walking back from a restaurant and he told Bonita Springs City Council in August that things could have been different.

“She’d have had a better chance if she did have a space she could walk on,” Calabresa said.

Right now, pedestrian traffic has one sidewalk several feet off the east side of Hickory Boulevard and mainly gravel and grass on either side of the road.

Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson said the initial concern of some, not all, residents had been eased when county staff outlined the project’s plans at a City Council meeting in January.

“I think that allowed the residents to understand what it really entailed,” Nelson said. “This was something that wasn’t going to ruin the community. It wasn’t going to cause the problem they thought it was.”

He said there may still be some concerns, such as handling decorative brick driveways that may be in the path of the new shoulders, that will have to be addressed as the project moves forward.

For Dan Moser, a cycling advocate and member of the Florida Bicycle Association, the current sidewalk path is not suitable for all types of cycling enthusiasts and he’s glad to see the new plans move ahead. While the shoulders won’t be dedicated bike paths, they are a good start.

“Just getting that extra asphalt on there and giving the bicyclists a place to go will serve everybody, not just the cyclists but the motorists who won’t have to figure out how to deal with them,” Moser said. “A lot of people are not good at that.”

Commissioner Ray Judah, is not just concerned about the safety of motorists, but also cyclists, pedestrians and the residents who have to stand within inches of 35 mph traffic to get their mail.

“Instead of getting whacked, they at least have some margin of buffer,” Judah said of the benefits the shoulders may bring.

Darla Letourneau, a policy adviser for Bike Walk Lee, a coalition of residents that promote alternate transportation in government planning, applauded the process by which the shoulders were being added — as part of a resurfacing project.

“This was the moment to consider making other (improvements),” Letourneau said. She also was encouraged that cyclists will have greater connectivity throughout Lee County. “This is a major gap between Bonita Springs and Fort Myers Beach and it needs to be connected.”

BikeWalk Note: Thanks to everyone who participated in this successful effort in support of LeeDOT's proposed Hickory Blvd. shoulders project!

News-Press Commentary: Local leaders, community gather to plot Lee County's future

News-Press 2/8/11, by
MerriBeth Farnham

On Friday, Feb. 11, local leaders and
future leaders will have a chance to interact
with an impressive group of experts who
will be offering their predictions of how Lee
County will look in the year 2035.

At an informational symposium they will
share their ideas on actions, which, if taken
now, will make our future one that entices
our children and their children to make Lee
County home.

The free symposium, Lee County in the
Year 2035, at Harborside Event Center, is
the third in a series of workshops hosted
by the law firm Fowler White Boggs in
connection with our volunteer group,
Reconnecting Lee County.

Fowler White Boggs has been gracious to
not only host our meetings and financially
support all three of these events, we are
especially grateful for the law firm’s vision,
resources, and its highly recognized
expertise in land use.

When our volunteer think-tank group,
Reconnecting Lee County formed, it was
because we saw a toppled economy,
record-breaking foreclosure rates and the
results of decades of suburban sprawl.

We could do nothing in the short run to
reverse the economic downturn, but we
saw an opportunity to help ourselves at the
local level by investigating alternative ways
to promote sustainable growth.

We asked ourselves, our elected and
appointed local government leaders,
experts, both local and from afar and from
a variety of professions, whether we were
heading in the right direction or whether we
could do better if we redirected our growth
patterns towards a revitalization of our
traditional urban centers.

For the past two years, RLC has reached
out to these experts and leaders, looking
to them for practical ideas and solutions
which our community could embrace. To
our delight, we found that many of our
elected and private sector leaders were
asking for answers to the same questions.

The Feb. 11 symposium is the culmination
of three such events hosted by Fowler
White Boggs, bringing together the best
and brightest in the fields of health,
economics, transportation and land use
planning to discuss how Lee County could,
on its own, enhance the quality of life of its
existing citizens while attracting “good
growth” that will make our community
healthier and our economy more

The experts all agree that a bright,
sustainable and well-balanced community
is one which will include walkable
neighborhoods located near effective

Imagine strolling a block or two from home
to a light rail or bus rapid transit station
that carries you to within a couple of blocks
from work, school, your doctor, shopping
and entertainment.

This vision is one which is either in study or
in development in many cities across the
world today. Those places will be our
economic competitors in the future.

At the symposium, high school honor
students from throughout Lee County will
join recognized leaders, including (just to
name a few):

• Jim Nathan, President of the Lee
Memorial Health System

• Linda Shelly, Fowler White Boggs attorney
and former DCA Secretary.

• Tom Scott, Lee County School Board

• Renowned Economist Henry Fishkind.

Why should this matter to the person who
needs a job now?

It matters greatly because today's choices
will significantly impact the way we live,
move and act in the future.

Challenging times call for innovative
solutions and they also tend to bring
leaders to the forefront.

I, for one, am excited at Lee County's
prospects for the future.

I invite you to attend the symposium Lee
County in the Year 2035 on Friday and get

News-Press Editorial: Editorial: Mall must back new bus stop

News-Press Editorial: 2/8/11

Edison Mall is no longer the single shopping
colossus of Lee County, but the shopping
center remains a vital retail destination.

It is also the geographical center of
LeeTran's bus operations, according to the
agency's marketing manager, where the U.
S. 41 and Colonial Boulevard arteries
intersect, with 174 daily stops.

That's why it is so important that the mall
and its tenants sign off on a long-delayed
plan to build a transfer station at the mall,
a project that could lose a $1 million state
grant - half the cost - if it's delayed much

In 2007, LeeTran and the mall agreed to
have a secure, covered eight-bus station at
the county's busiest stop, in the mall's back
parking lot, where a temporary station
stands today. That's better than having
buses stop behind J.C. Penney's, as they
did in the old days, with buses stacking up
and passengers clogging the sidewalks and
store entrances, but it is nowhere near the
first-rate shelter needed at this central
stop, and promised in 2007.

Then, the job was supposed to take 18
months to complete, but still-unexplained
delays on the mall's end of things has
bogged the project down and jeopardized
its funding.

Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson wrote
last week urging the mall to approve the
project by this week, saying, "The tenants
of the mall all have to be in agreement,
and from what I understand, that's been an
arduous process. ... But ultimately, this
station is important because it creates a
safer environment, it will be well-lighted
and secure, have restrooms and be
sheltered from inclement weather."

Mall manager Robert Edelen declined to be
interviewed, but said in an e-mail,
"Although this process is taking more time
than anticipated, we remain committed to
all parties involved." He would not say what
caused the delay.

There is a danger now that the stop might
never be built if the state grant expires
Dec. 31. That would be a serious setback
for bus passengers from all over the

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sign up for the Naples Pathways Coalition Ride/Walk on 2/27

Sign up for the 7th Annual CAN / NPC Ride and Walk on Sunday 2/27
Choose from a 10, 25, 62 or 100 mile ride,
or a 2 mile walk through Naples.

Meet us at Gulfview Middle School for breakfast,
bring your friends for a fun ride or walk,
and enjoy a great lunch when you return!

Register online.

This event will benefit Cancer Alliance of Naples to improve the quality of life of local individuals and families affected by cancer, by providing financial assistance in the way of rent, utilities, food & gas.

And will benefit the Naples Pathways Coalition to work for an integrated transportation network of sidewalks, bike lanes and multi-use pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, & individuals in wheelchairs.