Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Finally, a plan to get us where we need to be
May 18, 2011
Almost a year-and a-half in the making, a countywide bicycle and pedestrian master plan is finally complete. The Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization commissioned development of the plan so that each of the county’s jurisdictions could be working off the same page in terms of bike/ped projects. This is important because many of our roads and trails actually cut across or run through various jurisdictions. For example, Del Prado Boulevard is a Lee County road, yet it is entirely within the city of Cape Coral. And U.S. 41 is a Florida Department of Transportation highway that runs through two cities and unincorporated Lee County. Likewise, Yarbrough Park (formally known as Ten Mile Canal Linear Park) is mostly within Lee County but its northern end is in Fort Myers and will eventually extend all the way to the Caloosahatchee River, all within the city.
Three demonstration projects are included in the larger plan and will be among the first to be implemented. Two of the three consist of only way-finding features, thus should be easy to complete since they only require signage and a few minor infrastructure tweaks, otherwise they’re ready to go.
Lee Tour de Parks is a loop that includes Lakes Park, Calusa Nature Center, Yarbrough Park, North Colonial Linear Park, Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, Lee County Sports Complex (Twins and Miracle stadium) and even the new Red Sox facility off Daniels Parkway.
University Loop takes cyclist on roads with bike lanes and side paths that are in the vicinity of FGCU in South Fort Myers and Estero. Both will have consistent signage and markings that will help users navigate each.
The third is a bit more ambitious but will greatly improve access for cyclists and pedestrians in an area that’s currently difficult for us. Called Winkler/Jefferson Complete Streets in the plan because these two existing “complete streets” are almost directly across U.S. 41 from each other, it’s an example of “you can’t get there from here.” There’s an opportunity to utilize the publicly owned right of way running along the south side of the Winkler Canal by turning it into a greenway trail, potentially connecting U.S. 41 directly to McGregor Boulevard, or at least making it easier to get to Jefferson Avenue once you’re west of U.S. 41.
A big “thank you” is in order to all those who made this plan a reality: MPO staff; the consultant team, led by RWA consulting; Project Advisory Committee members; Florida Department of Transportation; and the numerous volunteers who provided input and did field work, including members of Caloosa Riders Bike Club and BikeWalkLee.
Click here to view the plan.
Many of us who consider ourselves part of the local cycling, running, triathlon and health and wellness community are mourning the loss of one of our own. Although I didn’t personally know Tracey Kleinpell, the woman killed while cycling over the Sanibel Causeway with her husband, her death has resulted in a number of inquiries to BikeWalkLee asking how they could help prevent such tragedies in the future. Perhaps Tracey’s death will lead to even more focus on making our community a better place for cyclists and pedestrians, including enforcement efforts. In this case, I’m hoping the Florida Highway Patrol will make the right decision when determining charges against the motorist who killed Tracey, thereby allowing the rest of the justice process to take its course. By doing so, FHP will also send the message that the consequences of killing someone with a motor vehicle when the driver should have been able to avoid the crash will result in more than just a relatively small fine and points on a driver’s license. It shouldn’t take a DUI to impose significant consequences for those whose unsafe driving puts others at risk, especially those most vulnerable. My condolences to Tracey’s family and friends.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and- CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 334- 6417.
Run on the Green 5K, Monday, Memorial Day, May 30, Eastwood Golf Course.
For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club and 3-D Runners. For Naples/Collier running info, it’s the Gulf Coast Runners. Charlotte County running information is here. Walkers can visit here.
Cycling: Ride of Silence, Wednesday, May 18, beginning at 7 p.m. from Centennial Park.
Visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club at , Florida Mudcutters; Naples Pathways Coalition ; and Naples Velo for more information on local bicycling activities, including weekly rides. The Florida Bicycle Association is your source for statewide happenings.