Sunday, December 18, 2011

News-Press: Sidewalk studies go full steam ahead

Today's article focuses on studies underway in Collier County about walkability in various North Naples neighborhoods, and quotes the Naples Pathways Coalition's Michele Avola about the importance of walkability. The article also mentions Lee County conditions and quotes Dan Moser of BikeWalkLee.
News-Press, Dec. 18, 2011

A North Naples community that local
officials say is in need of mobility
improvements will be examined this spring
as Collier County reaches the halfway point
in a six-area walkable communities study.

A Metropolitan Planning Organization-
commissioned study of Naples Park will
look at elements such as lighting, benches
and routes to and from bus stops,
businesses and other key destinations,
principal planner Lorraine Lantz said.

The study follows an examination of Naples
Manor that was completed in 2010 as well
as an Immokalee report the MPO adopted
last week.

The studies, scheduled in order of need,
could bring more funding for street
improvements, Lantz said. Golden Gate
City, Naples and Marco Island will follow
Naples Park, with a goal of completing two
studies per year.

The Immokalee report found 63 percent of
the community’s 73 miles of public streets
have no sidewalks.

The area received an overall “C” grade for
categories that included continuity of bike
lanes and sidewalks to visual appeal and
crosswalks. Naples Manor earned a “D”
overall with only a portion of one of its 31
streets containing sidewalks on both sides.

The Naples Manor study was completed
in-house, while the county paid Naples-
based RWA Consulting almost $18,000 for
work on the Immokalee report, with some
data compiled in-house, county
spokeswoman Connie Deane said. The
remaining four studies will use consultants
and each should cost between $40,000
and $50,000.

The Naples Park study is scheduled nine
years after Coral Gables-based Dover,
Kohl & Partners presented a plan for
Naples Park — which was developed in the
1950s and lies west of U.S. 41 — that the
county did not adopt.

The plan suggested pedestrian and bicycle
connections, elements such as
roundabouts, connections to commercial
areas such as those on Vanderbilt Beach
Road and U.S. 41, and sidewalks on all

Sidewalks run along main thoroughfares in
the 3,000-home community, but not on the
majority of roads.

“There are a ton of kids there. So many of
them are walking in the street,” said
Michelle Avola, executive director for the
Naples Pathways Coalition.

Walkable communities, Avola said, can help
relieve traffic congestion as seniors age

and in a country where about 50 percent of
trips are three miles or less, according to a
2008 National Household Transportation

“The solution to our traffic nightmare is not
adding more lanes,” Avola said. “It’s
providing resources for pedestrians and
cyclists as well. Get some people out of
their cars safely.”

Cyclist Maria Hoyt bikes through Naples
Park along Vanderbilt Drive, south of B
luebill Avenue to Vanderbilt Beach Road.
Although Hoyt said vehicles travel fairly
slow, she tries to avoid the road when

“It is very dangerous,” she said of
Vanderbilt Drive, which the NPC included
on a list of priority improvements it has
submitted to the county. “There is no bike
lane and the roadway is very narrow.”

The nearby entrance area for Mercato also
lacks accessibility, said Avola and Stacy
, healthy communities coordinator for
the Collier County Health Department.

“Mercato has done a pretty good job, but
that’s just inside Mercato,” Revay said.
“There’s no sidewalk that extends into the

Naples earns an overall walkability score of
46 out of 100 from Walk Score, a national
website that promotes walkable cities. Fort
Myers’ score is 43. Scores under 50 are
considered car-dependent communities.

With a score of 11, Lehigh Acres ranks as
the third least walkable community in the
state, after The Acreage in Palm Beach
County and Poinciana, straddling Osceola
and Polk counties. Miami Beach ranks No.
1 with a score of 75.

Lehigh’s major roadways are not very
pedestrian or cyclist-friendly, said Dan
Moser, a founding member of BikeWalkLee.
College Parkway and Cypress Lake Drive in
south Fort Myers also are in need of

Overall, Collier and Lee — which in 2009
adopted the National Complete Streets
Coalition’s roadway standards — are
similar in terms of accessibility, Moser said.

“Both places have pockets of pretty good
access,” he said. “Other parts of the
counties are lacking.”


  1. Great to see focus on walkability in Collier County. Maybe Lee County should consider walkability studies.

  2. I noticed in todays paper that the "walkable study" of southwest Florida shows North Fort Myers as the second worst and one of the worst in all of Florida. What does it take to get some action to connect the walk ways in the north end of Lee County. Route 41 is one of the most dangerous to walk and bike because of the speed of auto traffic. I talked to a biker a week or two ago and he told me that he was arrested for riding a bike on the wrong side of the road (Rt. 41). He opted to go to court and won his case pleading that he did not feel safe ridind on that little narrow strip out side the white line with traffic blowing by at 60 mph. He preferred to ride against the traffic where he could at least see a careless or sleepy driver veering too close and thereby run off into the side ditch. This is a bad and dangerous place to ride but we have no choice up here. Some entity, agency, or department has just spent tens of thousands of dollars beautifying the mediun by planting thousands of trees, shrubs, and flowers all the way to the north County line. On the other hand, we still have numerous and significant unconnected areas of walkways and bike paths. This needs somebodies urgent attention. Please keep this in mind in the your interests and support.

    Robert L Goettemoeller
    Resident, Lake Fairways Country Club


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