Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Town of Fort Myers Beach makes pedestrian safety improvements



 As Lee County focuses on bike/ped safety this month, we wanted to highlight the progress made by the Town of Fort Myers Beach in making its streets safer for pedestrians, with the installation of new rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) at two crosswalks.  Thanks to the Town Council and its Public Safety Committee for its commitment to improving safety on Fort Myers Beach.
New crosswalk safety improvements have been made in 2 locations


The Fort Myers Beach (FMB) Town Council recognized the need to improve pedestrian safety as a result of fatalities on Estero Blvd. FMB created a safety task force which led to a permanent Advisory Committee established in 2012. 

Initially we were concerned with lighting, driver distractions, crosswalk improvements and safety awareness.
Improvements at Estero Beach and Tennis Club/Santini Plaza

 The initial goal was to get some quick wins to improve safety and begin testing some new ideas for FMB. Lighting was an initial concern as  it was difficult to see pedestrians at night. Doing a simple audit we determined that 19 streetlights were not working. FPL was notified and the lights where fixed. Streetlights are now audited each month by the PSC (public safety committee).
Pedestrian safety improvements include a RRFB beacon

Next we set a minimum goal for crosswalk lighting. All cross walks were reviewed. In some cases crosswalks were moved closer to streetlights and in some cases new poles where added and in some lights were added to existing poles. 

A safety awareness banner was designed and deployed across Estero Blvd in strategic locations for the 2013 season opening.

There were numerous street signs that were not needed. These where identified and removed to keep drivers focused and not distracted. The Town had previously passed new rules for commercial sign.

A significant improvement was made with the installation of 2 pedestrian refuge crosswalks. These crosswalks also incorporate RRFBs (rectangular rapid flashing beacons). One replaced and existing high volume crosswalk the other was a brand new crosswalk in an area with high density condos with a commercial center across the street. This was an experiment to test the effectiveness of these types of crosswalks.

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs)
A new safety brochure has recently been developed by the committee. The town council has provided funds to publish this brochures. We plan to distribute to visitors on the island and as a general education tool. 

Why the concern? As mentioned previously there has been fatalities but there are issues with the infrastructure on Estero Blvd. Most of the blvd only has sidewalks on one side of the street. Lighting is constrained by environmental regulations. Bike lanes are not available. During season traffic congestion is extreme. People are used to crossing the street randomly to get to the other side where there are sidewalks. Walking on the shoulder is difficult due to lighting, drop offs and standing water when it rains. During season people on concentrating on vacations and having a good time. 

The Public Safety Committee's focus continues to be on crosswalk improvements, lighting of Estero Blvd, traffic calming and safety awareness education.

Report by Bruce Butcher, BWL's FMB representative, and Chair of the Town of FMB Public Safety Committee







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