Monday, August 29, 2011

Cyclists Celebrate Hickory Boulevard Shoulder Completion

30 cyclists participated in the “Bike Ride to Celebrate the Completion of the Hickory Blvd Shoulders” on Sunday morning, August 28th.  Most of the riders, including a contingent of riders from the Bonita Bay Bicycle Club, rode north from the starting point at Lover’s Key State Park to the first turnaround at Bowditch Point.  They then continued south two miles on Little Hickory Island where the road resurfacing and addition of shoulders has been recently completed by LeeDOT.  A final turnaround at Bonita Beach took the riders back to the starting point for a total of 27 miles.

The ride was the vision of the BikeWalkLee steering committee to invite the general public as well as our civic leaders, the public, LeeDOT staff, engineers and planners, anyone else responsible to participate in a bike ride to experience the difference that a project like this makes.  The road on Little Hickory Island had been a two-lane road, forcing bike riders to ride in the traffic lanes – now with the addition of the shoulders this is a much safer place to ride a bike.  Traffic also flows with little restriction.  The end result is a win-win for both modes of travel.
The Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club assisted with the route details and ride leadership.  Their regular ride scheduled in Cape Coral was re-directed to this location for the day.  Several of the participants had not ridden on the beaches for quite some time and found the Hickory Blvd. shoulders and resurfacing in the Ft. Myers Beach areas to be a welcome addition, improving the ride experience and safety substantially.  The recently completed north end of Estero Blvd from the Times Square area to Bowditch Point was also enjoyed by the cyclists. That renovation includes sidewalks, continuous drains, marked bicycle lanes, paver crosswalks and a resurfaced roadway.

Kudos to LeeDOT who did a great job planning and executing the Hickory Shoulders Project.  BikeWalkLee, the Caloosa Riders, and the Bonita Bay Bicycle Club in particular are most appreciative of their efforts and of the support of the County Commissioners and the Bonita Springs City Council that made this project possible.

---Written by BWL contributor Steve Rodgers

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hickory Boulevard Shoulders Celebratory Ride -- Sunday, August 28

Join BWL and the Caloosa Riders in celebrating the completion of the Hickory Blvd. shoulder project. The 25-mile ride begins at 8am on Sunday, August 28th at the boat ramp on the east side of Estero Blvd. across from Lover's Key State Park.

Click here to view the full News-Press article. Excerpt below.

Bicyclists will celebrate the completion of the Hickory Boulevard shoulders with a Sunday ride through Bonita Beach.
Officials at BikeWalkLee said they were pleased with the project and thanked the Board of County Commissioners and the city of Bonita Springs for making the road safer for pedestrians.
To celebrate the completion, BikeWalkLee is inviting cyclists to join the Caloosa Riders on a 25-mile bike ride beginning at 8 a.m., Sunday.
The ride includes the entire length of Estero and Hickory boulevards using Bowditch Point and Bonita Beach as turnaround points.
Approximately four miles of the route will be on the new shoulders that were added on Little Hickory Island.
The bike ride will begin at the boat ramp area across from the entrance to Lovers Key State Park.
Riders should expect a 10 to 15 mph pace and riders of all skill levels are welcome.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own food and water because the ride is not an event or race.
If you have any questions, call Steve Rodgers at 839-7926.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cape Coral Bus Stop Safety

The second informational meeting on re-location of school bus stops was held last Saturday, August 20, at Northwest Regional Library in Cape Coral. Parents with specific concerns met individually with Lee School District Transportation Director Robert Morgan. The meeting was moderated by Councilman Kevin McGrail who's involvement began some months ago in response to safety issues raised by parents who emailed him. School District Superintendent Joseph Burke attended the meeting and emphasized that safety of students is the number one goal and efforts will continue to make sure that bus stops can be safely accessed by students.

McGrail and School District staff and others are working with the Lee County Electric Cooperative to find ways to add streetlights to the approximately 400 of 800 bus stops in Cape Coral that currently are not adequately lighted. The District's goal is to create a system of semi-permanent bus stops in safe locations where students will board their bus. The practice of buses traveling deep into neighborhood streets to provide "at-the-door" service began when there were many fewer students, but it was never required by District policy. Last year there were over 1900 school bus stops in Cape Coral. This increased the time students spent on the bus and added substantial costs to operate the system. At the start of this school year McGrail said the number of bus stops is about 875.


Steve Chupack

Cape Coral Representative


Monday, August 22, 2011

Check out BikeWalkLee's Facebook Page

If you haven't "friended" BikeWalkLee on Facebook, you should check it out. (All you need is a Facebook account and then type in BikeWalkLee and it will take you to our FB page). While almost all the blog entries are linked on our Facebook Page, there are MANY items on Facebook that are not found on our blog. The blog is focused on "our voice", while our Facebook page covers what's going on in the bigger picture.

Every day we post 2-4 entries, linking you to the news of the day--local, state and national--that impacts transportation policies--from complete streets, to transit, sustainable communities, and bike/ped issues. Our readers also post entries and comment on our entries.

So, join the conversation!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bike Ride 8/28 to Celebrate the Completion of Hickory Blvd Shoulders!

The Hickory Blvd. shoulders project is now complete & ready to ride! LeeDOT did a great job of planning and executing this project and BikeWalkLee is most appreciative of their efforts and of the support of the County Commissioners and the Bonita Springs City Council that made this project possible. To celebrate this success, you are invited to join the Caloosa Riders on a 25 mile bike ride on Sunday, August 28th, starting at 8 a.m.

We’ll ride the entire length of Estero Blvd and Hickory Blvd using Bowditch Point and Bonita Beach as turnaround points. Approximately 4 miles of that route will be on the new shoulders that were added on Little Hickory Island. We’ll start Sunday, 8am sharp, from the Boat Ramp area that is on the East side of Estero Blvd across from the entrance to Lover’s Key State Park. Anticipate 10 to 15 mph pace – riders of all skill levels are welcome. This is certainly not a race; it’s not an event; and it is unsupported (bring your own food and water as there are no facilities at the start and finish location). This is an opportunity to experience the completion of another Lee County DOT project to help make our roads safer for all users.

Thanks to the Caloosa Riders for pulling this celebration ride together. If you have any questions, contact Steve Rodgers on 239-839-7926.
Hope to see you there!

Thoughts in response to FDOT Secretary Prasad's statement on bike/ped facilities

Yesterday's Sun Sentinel (Orlando) paper carried a story about Florida's ranking as the most dangerous place for pedestrians, as a follow-on to the NYT story on Monday, based on the May 2011 Dangerous by Design report by Transportation for America.

At the end of this article there's an intriguing statement by FDOT Secretary Prasad. As you may recall, Secretary Prasad alarmed bike/ped advocates back in March when he testified before Congress that it might not make sense to build sidewalks and bike trails if money is tight. Click here to see BikeWalkLee's written testimony to Congress in response to Secretary Prasad's statement. According to the Sun Sentinel article, Prasad told Sun Sentinel in June that "DOT should not have pre-established goals when it comes to pedestrian improvements. "We need to make sure it's needs driven rather than a fixed amount of money or a percentage of the program spent on landscaping or sidewalks where they might not make sense," Prasad said.

My reaction on reading this...was YES, let's make funding needs-based! With 22% of all traffic fatalities in Florida being pedestrians and bicyclists, on a needs basis, that means that 22% of Florida's funding for roadway safety should be directed to making the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists! National, state, and local advocates, including BikeWalkLee, have long advocated for a "fair share" of safety funds. Currently, Florida probably spends between 1-5% (depending on how you measure it)of its safety funds on bike/ped safety improvements. So, if FDOT is serious about a needs-based approach, maybe we'll see increases in bike/ped funding. I for one will be watching FDOT very closely! What are your thoughts?

Darla Letourneau

Look for "3 feet--it's the law" stickers on county government vehicles!

As a result of action by Lee County's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), the Sheriff's Department put these stickers on 50 of their vehicles today. Thank you Sheriff Scott!

Discussions are ongoing with Lee County administration, LeeTran, and the School District to request that they put these stickers on their vehicles as well.

A special thanks to Bert Hamilton, chair of BPAC, for initiating this effort.
Let us know if you spot these stickers around town.

City of Sanibel donotes bikes to Redlands Christian Migrants Association

Kudos to the City of Sanibel and the Sanibel Bicycle Club for an innovative idea that other local jurisdictions might want to consider--donating their surplus bikes to needy adults, such as migrant workers, who can use the bikes for much-needed transportation. There are several organizations in the area that will take used bikes and distribute them to the needy. Below is the article that appeared in last month's Island Reporter.

City donates bikes to Redlands Christian Migrants Association
July 18, 2011

On July 15, the Sanibel Bicycle Club oversaw the transfer of donated surplus bikes from the City of Sanibel to a representative from the Redlands Christian Migrants Association (RCMA). These bikes will go to benefit migrant workers in Central Florida.

Patti Sousa, representing the Sanibel Bicycle Club, explained that the organization has done this for the past three years.

"The bikes go to migrant workers who can’t afford transportation otherwise," said Sousa. "We’ll be making another delivery in February or early March, or even in the fall if we can get enough bikes.”

City Manager Judie Zimomra said of the partnership, this is “a classic example of how items can be reused and diverted from the waste stream.”

Sousa went on to say that, at times, people are lined up waiting for the delivery of the bikes and they go quickly.

"(The RCMA) are very well organized and easy to work with," she added. "If for some reason they can’t give all the bikes away, they’ll be given to another non-profit for distribution to those who need them."

Interested in helping plan a walk to school event in Lee County in October?

If anyone is interested in being involved in creating a walk to school event in October, please contact Diane at the Lee County Department of Health.

The planning meeting is set for Monday, August 31st at 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. in the MEDSTAR Conference Room at 2390 N. Airport Rd., Fort Myers 33906. Below is the tentative agenda (as provided by Brian Raimondo at the Lee MPO):
1. Brainstorm ideas and select
2. Identify potential school sites
3. Identify potential partners
4. Select next meeting date and deliverables

Please contact Diane soon if you’re interested in attending this meeting and helping to plan the event.


Diane L Holm
Public Information Officer
Lee County Health Department
3920 Michigan Avenue
Fort Myers, FL 33916
desk (239) 332-9561
mobile (850) 519-5728

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NYT: On Wide Florida Roads, Running for Dear Life

Today's New York Times again highlights the dangers on Florida roadways for pedestrians due to our wide roads, suburban sprawl, and car-obsessed culture. The article is based on the Transportation for America report issued in May. Although it focuses on Orlando, high pedestrian fatalities rates also apply to Lee County and throughout Florida.


ORLANDO, Fla. — As any pedestrian in Florida knows, walking in this car-obsessed state can be as tranquil as golfing in a lightning storm. Sidewalks are viewed as perks, not necessities. Crosswalks are disliked and dishonored. And many drivers maniacally speed up when they see someone crossing the street.

Then there are the long, ever widening arterial roads — those major thoroughfares lined with strip malls built to move cars in and out of sprawling suburbs.

It is no wonder that four Florida metropolitan areas, led by the Orlando region, ranked as the most dangerous places to walk in the country, according to a recent survey by Transportation for America, a nonprofit safety advocacy organization.

“So much of Florida has been built up so quickly in that era of the automobile-oriented design; it’s this sort of the boomer phenomenon,” said David Goldberg, communications director for the organization. “The tendency there has been to build the big wide arterials; you have these long superblocks and you can get up to a good speed.”

The Orlando-Kissimmee region was first out of 52 in the rankings of most dangerous pedestrian regions, with more than 550 pedestrians killed from 2000 to 2009. This translates to an annual fatality rate of 3 per 100,000 people. Second was Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, followed by Jacksonville and Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach.

Researchers used 10 years of pedestrian fatality data and census figures to make their calculations relative to the amount of walking in a given area. Using that scale, New York City-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, home to the highest number of people who walk to work, is considered one of the safest cities for pedestrians. Anyone walking across Queens Boulevard may beg to differ.

Most of the metropolitan areas that fared poorly in the survey were in the South and Southwest, although California’s Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario section was fifth on the danger index.

Hispanic and black residents — people who are the least likely to own cars — suffered the highest pedestrian fatality rates, according to the report, published in late May and titled “Dangerous by Design.” Bus riders are particularly vulnerable, mostly because bus stops are often between intersections on long, wide roads and are far from stoplights. People race across to get to the other side, rather than walk (in steamy weather or after a long day’s work) a quarter- or half-mile to a stoplight.

Click here to continue reading the article.

Here's the coverage in Orlando paper on 8/16/11.

Here's a local story about Naples that ran on WINK News on 8/17/11.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Race to Remember 5 K honors cyclist killed on bridge

Come out on Saturday morning, August 6th, to run or walk in honor of Tracey Kleinpell, the cyclist who was killed on the Sanibel bridge on May 7th.

For details, read the News-Press article:

Well known among Southwest Florida fitness buffs, Tracey Kleinpell taught fitness classes, was an avid runner, rode her bike for miles and volunteered at fitness-related fundraisers.

On Saturday, family and friends will gather at the inaugural Race for Trace 5K and Kiddie K to remember the Fort Myers woman, who died May 7, and raise funds for causes close to her heart.

Race time is 7 a.m. for walkers, runners and strollers. Cost is $30 before Saturday and $40 the day of the race. Register online.

The 5K route, a new course, begins at Sanibel Beach Place and will be southbound straightaway toward the beach on John Morris Road - with one turnaround - and a sprint to the finish. Click here to continue reading the story.

The need for dedicated bike/ped funding: why eligibility is not enough

As we reported last month, Representative John Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, recently introduced an outline of his proposed transportation bill. The proposal eliminates all dedicated funding for bicycling and walking – programs such as transportation enhancements, recreational trails and safe routes to schools program – and maintains “eligibility” for these activities only if states choose to spend their funds on these kinds of activities and these meet [undetermined] performance measures and are in the national interest.

The League of American Bicyclists and America Bikes has written an excellent white paper that makes the case for dedicated bicycle and pedestrian funding in the federal transportation bill. This white paper outlines eight key arguments for why dedicate funding for bicycling and walking is essential and "Eligibility Isn't Enough." All the evidence of the past 20 years and beyond suggests that mere eligibility is insufficient.

I encourage you to click here to read this excellent paper:"Why Eligibility Isn’t Enough.” Thanks, Darren, for your great work!

Attend public meetings on plans for streetlights at school bus stops in Cape Coral

Today's News-Press included an article, "Lee County revamps school bus routes,"
which highlights a plan to make the school bus stops safer by increasing number with streetlights from 30% to 80%. Thanks to Cape Coral Councilman McGrail, Lee County School Board Chairman Armstrong, School District officials and others who have developed this plan.

To learn more, attend the informational meetings scheduled by McGrail: Saturday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m., Cape Coral Library off Mohawk Parkway; Saturday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m., Northwest Regional Library off Chiquita Blvd.