Saturday, September 29, 2012

Group working for a bike-friendly Cape Coral

BikeWalkLee is excited about the new group, called Cape Coral Bike Ped, that is working to provide a connected biking and walking network in the Cape.  Kudos to the citizens who have come together in a public-private partnership in support of our common goal of completing Lee County's streets.
Posted: Sep 28, 2012 
CAPE CORAL - Bike lanes and sidewalks scatter Cape Coral's streets. Unfortunately, one group says, they don't always connect. They're working to change that and they want the city's support.

The new group says sometimes you'll see sidewalks – sometimes you won't. Sometimes you'll see bike paths – sometimes you won't.

For them, the million dollar question is how do you fix the issue when this city can't even find money to resurface roads?

Friday afternoon, we spoke with one woman who says the key is a public-private partnership launched by a new group called Cape Coral Bike Ped.

The group will ask city leaders for their support in a goal to connect important bicycle and pedestrian paths throughout Southwest Florida's biggest city.

They've already identified a route which would go around the entire city.

Group members say they want to see the city partner with civic groups, businesses, and citizens to find the money to mark the roads, add lanes or sidewalks if necessary and to get the word out!

"You'll see many routes that we're suggesting are on secondary roads. Inside of taking people on Pine Island Road, we'll take them on adjacent roads," said Carolyn Comant, with Cape Coral Bike Ped.

Group leaders say they also see this project as a way to bring in tourism dollars for the city.
The city council will decide whether to throw their support behind the idea on Monday. They're involvement won't be financial, but will would have support - like using the city's sign department.

Cape Coral Councilman Kevin McGrail said he believes Cape Coral can draw bicyclists in from other Southwest Florida cities and hopes businesses will get involved.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bike clinic for Lee County homeless scheduled for World Homeless Day Oct. 10, 2012

    Kudos to the community organizations, including Fort Myers Schwinn, a BikeWalkLee supporter organization, for joining forces to provide a bike safety and maintenance clinic for Lee County homeless on October 10th. 
Local agencies and business are partnering on a new educational clinic
 for area homeless citizens that will kick-off on Oct. 10, 2012, 2:00 pm, World Homeless Day.   Future educational clinics will occur quarterly

 Fort Myers Schwinn, Lee County EMS, Community Cooperative Ministries,
 Inc., The Lee County Homeless Coalition, Rotary South and BB&T-OTC
 have joined forces to launch quarterly bike clinics to educate and provide homeless citizens information about bike safety and maintenance.

 The clinic will be held at CCMI’s Everyday CafĂ© located off of Martin
 Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Dunbar. Homeless residents will learn about
 pedestrian and bike safety including rules of the road, how to change
 flat tires, brakes, maintenance tips and more.

 The class is open to 80 participants but the first 50 to register and
 attend the 45-minute clinic will receive a complimentary water bottle,
 travel size sunscreen and a bike tube voucher. Eligibility to receive
 the bike tube voucher will require proof that the bicycle is used for
 employment, education or other “self-help” advancement.

 World Homeless Day, held on the 10th day of October annually, draws
 attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provides
 opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to
 homelessness. Millions of people around the world are expected to mark
 World Homeless Day in many varied ways and change the lives of
 homeless people in their local community.

 According the Lee County Homeless Coalition, on any given day there
 are an estimated 2,800 persons without a place to call home in Lee County.

 Participants must register in advance as space is limited. To register
 for the clinic, please contact Jo Ellen Keller, 332-7687, ext. 116

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Update on Oritz Avenue: Community efforts in support of safe and walkable neighborhood

As reported in the April 6, 2012 BikeWalkLee blog, Ortiz Avenue is a topic of ongoing discussion in Lee County and in the Palm Beach /Tice Community Plan.  This is an update on the effort to ensure that the street's northernmost section is safe, walkable, and enhances economic opportunities in the neighborhood.  It has been the position of BikeWalkLee and several members of the planning panel that a 2-lane section with a turn lane and strategically placed crossing medians would most effectively accomplish these goals.

Ortiz Avenue runs north/south between SR 80 and SR 82 approximately one mile west of I-75.  The street is significant for its bike/ped potential as it is identified as part of the County's Primary Bike/Ped Network in the MPO Bike/Ped Master Plan.  Previously, Lee DOT planned Ortiz to be widened from a two lane road to a four lane with a median and turns lanes and the speed raised to 45 MPH.  This decision was, in part, based on modeling that that showed an increase in automobile trips. 

At the September 25, 2012 meeting of the Palm Beach / Tice Planning Panel Lee DOT gave a presentation on their thoughts regarding how they might re-think this section to comply with the Lee County Complete Streets Resolution.  They noted that there are several policies currently under revision in Lee County that might inspire a new analysis regarding the street design and number of lanes.  This includes revisions to level of service standards in the Lee Plan and the Lee County MPO's update t the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan.

Dr. Margaret Banyan and Paul Moreno, panel members, gave a follow up presentation, which focused on four key strategies to ensure that the street is designed within the appropriate context of the neighborhood.  These were as follows:
·                    Accept congestion at certain times of day / week: If there is congestion in future out years, this    will likely occur only during peak periods of the day. 
·                   Encourage more walking, biking, and transit trips to take traffic off of Ortiz.
·                   Investigate additional network options to distribute traffic.
·                   Do all three!
Increasing the road / street network has several advantages of reducing automobile trips to get from one destination to another, distributing traffic such that wider roads are not needed, (especially in the case of Ortiz) increasing property values in industrial areas and neighborhoods by increasing access, and finally isolating truck from residential automobile traffic. 

We appreciate Lee DOT's continued efforts to work with the community to reduce the number of travel lanes and speed as a way to make Ortiz Avenue's northern section a walkable, economically viable, and safe street.

Report by Dr. Margaret Banyan

The Economist: Don’t Expect Driving Rates to Rise Again

An article in The Economist magazine (highlighted in article below) is yet another influential voice in highlighting the new reality--driving rates are down and aren't expected to rise again.  As the article notes, smart governments need  "to revolutionize their transportation policies to accommodate greater transportation options in the future." As Lee County updates its Comp Plan and the MPO prepares to update its long-range transportation plan, it is important to reflect this new reality in our plans for the future.  

This whole “peak car” may be more than just a sustainability nut’s fantasy. We’ve seen time after time that young people are souring on car culture and finding other ways to get around and connect with friends. We know that the suburban sprawl that fueled the rise of the automobile is in decline. And now The Economist – no treehugging lefty publication – is listing off reason after reason why the trend of declining driving — “peak car,” they call it — is here to stay.

Graphic: The Economist
First, let’s be clear: Driving rates are plateauing and even dropping in developed countries, or what The Economist bluntly calls “the rich world.” Developing countries are a few decades behind and are just entering a car acquisition stage. According to a study conducted earlier this year, 20 developed countries show a “saturating trend” on driving. The results are the same for all three measures of saturation: total distance driven, distance per driver and total trips made. “After decades when each individual was on average travelling farther every year, growth per person has slowed distinctly, and in many cases stopped altogether,” the article states.

Is it just the recession? High unemployment? Stubborn gas prices? The Economist, like many analysts before, says the trend goes deeper than those temporary factors. Here’s why:

Generational shift. The generation that went cruising around town in tail-finned Chevys is in retirement now. More American retirees have drivers licenses than ever before – and “more than 90 percent of people aged 60-64 can drive, a larger share than for any other cohort,” the article states. “New generations of drivers will replace old ones rather than add to the total number.” Older people tend to drive shorter distances than younger ones.
Graphic: The Economist

 Meanwhile, throughout the developed world, young people are less eager to start driving and they’re getting their licenses later. Studies show that people who learn to drive later in life continue to drive less. Gordon Stokes of Oxford University found that people in Britain who learn in their late 20s drive 30 percent less than those who learn a decade earlier.

Geography. The growing preference for urban living, fueled in part by a desire to walk more and drive less, also reduces VMT. In wealthy countries, car use is still stable or increasing in rural areas, but that’s not where the future is. “The OECD, a rich-country think-tank, expects that by 2050, 86 percent of the rich world’s population will live in urban areas, up from 77 percent in 2010.” Nature magazine recently mapped the urbanization trend, noting, “The United Nations predicts that cities will absorb all of the world’s population growth — of around 2.3 billion people — in the next four decades.” [emphasis mine]
The preference to go car-free in cities has been on the rise since long before the recession or $4.00 gas prices. Better public transit and new car-sharing services like Zipcar help make this a viable preference.

Graphic: the Economist

Sprawl. The Economist article points out that “the car has become a victim of its own success.” For decades, auto-centric development sprawled outward from cities, as newly-built highways allowed people to commute to the city quickly. But the more people opted to get cars and move out to the hinterlands, the more crowded those highways became. Given that the maximum time people are willing to take on is generally unmovable at 30 minutes each way, the maximum distance you can live from your job increased with highway expansion and shrunk again with congestion. The Economist calls it a “sprawl wall.” It’s one of many reasons that more than half of U.S. cities are seeing more growth in the core than the periphery.

Result: Driverless Cars or Better Policies? The Economist takes stock of the growing desperation among automakers about the state of the U.S. market and concludes that they’re going to bet on driverless cars to take them into the future: “If buyers are less interested in driving, then cars will require less driving from them.” Driverless cars would bring a host of other factors to bear: They could cut congestion somewhat because they can travel closer together without safety concerns — though if people opt for driverless cars over mass transit they could dramatically increase congestion. And the article says driverless cars could “strain the already weakening link between driving and identity and the sense of driving as an expression of self and skill.”

But a far more meaningful outcome of this trend would be for smart governments to revolutionize their transportation policies to accommodate greater transportation options in the future. The Economist notes that “urban planning, in particular, has for half a century focused on cars.”

America built 64,000 kilometres (40,000 miles) of interstate highway to get the country moving after the second world war; since 1980 it has built more than 35,000 new lane-kilometres a year. If policymakers are confident that car use is waning they can focus on improving lives and infrastructure in areas already blighted by traffic rather than catering for future growth. That is already happening in London, where cars pay to enter the centre and ever more space is dedicated to buses and cycles. At Canary Wharf, a business district in east London, 100,000 jobs are supported by only 3,000 parking spaces.

By improving alternatives to driving, city authorities can try to lock in the benefits of declining car use. Cars take up more space per person than any other form of transport — one lane of a freeway can transport 2,500 people per hour by car, versus 5,000 in a bus and 50,000 in a train, reckon Peter Newman and Rob Salter of Curtin University in Australia.

The transportation bill that passed a few months ago in this country didn’t go nearly far enough in envisioning a future beyond car dependence and endless sprawl. That means the country is preparing for a future that isn’t expected to happen. The dip in driving isn’t a flash in the pan. Given the significant societal factors that have contributed to it, we should expect it to stick around for a while.

Invite to attend Oct. 5th: 5th Annual Sustainability Symposium

5th Annual Sustainability Symposium: Energy Alternatives for a Sustainable Development - October 5, 2012

Don't miss this year's symposium that will focus on Energy Alternatives for current and future development and redevelopment projects. Hear from Energy experts on their current in-use technology and future trends for an energy efficient, smarter tomorrow.


Wind & Solar Energy: David Bates, Manager, FPL Develop

Bio Fuels: Patrick Ahlm, Assistant Director, Government & Regulatory Affairs, Algenol Biofuels Inc.

Waste to Energy: Tom Mueller, Facilities Administrator, Covanta Energy Lee

Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: Rick Jablonski, Enterprise Account Executive, Bloom Energy

Ocean Wave Energy: Susan Skemp, Executive Director, Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Florida Atlantic University

Sustainability Awards Presentation
Awards presented by Theresa Artuso, RLA/ASLA, LEED AP, Vice President of Hole Montes, Inc. and The Hon. Ray Judah, Lee County Commissioner

Registration, Networking & Continental Breakfast @ 8:00 am
Program 8:30 – 11:45 am

Location: Miromar Design Center, 10800 Corkscrew Road, Estero, FL 33928
(Corner of I-75 & Corkscrew Rd. Exit)

Approved for 3.25 hours of AICP CEU Credits.
AIA & ASLA Credits Pending

For more information, call 800-321-5011 and mention 8118-1303.

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