Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bike Walk Lee: Five ways to get ready for fall ride

BikeWalkLee's column in News-Press "Go Coastal" Section, October 31, 2013
This week's BWL column has 5 tips for getting ready for your fall ride, along with the list of upcoming running/walking and biking events.

Fall is the perfect time to get your bike in shape to ride.
Fall is the perfect time to get your bike in shape to ride. / Getty Images/thinkstock
Summer heat kept you off the bike paths? Just returning to your winter digs from your Northern abode and ready to hit the bike trails? If you haven’t been on your bike in a while, here are five things to do before you take that first fall ride:
Get your bike in shape. If it hasn’t been on the road in a while, it’s a good idea to make certain it checks out mechanically – tires, chain, brakes, etc. Any local bike shop will tune you up quickly and reasonably, with the parts and know-how to make it easy and done right. If you’re mechanically inclined (and have the tools you need to do it), you can do your own wrenching. Either way, investing in a little pre-ride repair beats getting stranded out on the road.

Get yourself in shape. Even if you’re physically active, biking uses muscles that other forms of fitness may not engage. If it’s been a sedentary summer, consider taking it slow when you get back in the saddle … if you want to stay on the road and out of the doctor’s office. It’s better to ride yourself back to fitness than to back away from riding because of pain or injury. (If you’re coming back from a really long bike break, think about getting cleared by your doctor before pushing those pedals — or undertaking any strenuous activity.)

Get your gear into shape. Just because things worked OK the last time you rode doesn’t mean they’re still safe or comfortable. If your helmet is more than 5 years old, manufacturers suggest you replace; if it’s cracked or brittle, that suggestion becomes a requirement if you want it to protect you. (And if you don’t have a helmet … well, that’s another discussion.) The same goes for the other parts of your riding ensemble – even if that ensemble tends toward shorts and T-shirts. Clothing that rubs or chafes or snags or binds or doesn’t cover the body part in question very well may need to be upgraded or discarded if you want a safe and comfortable ride.

Remind yourself about the rules of the road. Whether you’re interacting with other bicyclists, pedestrians or motor vehicles, there are certain steps you can (or must) take to stay safe. Some are the law (like riding with traffic and obeying signs and signals if you’re on the road), some are just common sense (like no headphones, warning pedestrians when you are approaching them to pass and making you can see and be seen while biking).

Check out the road (or path) when you map out your ride. There may be new routes nearby for you to try that weren’t there last year (or which were improved since you last rode them). There may be new construction that’s making an old-favorite one you should avoid for a little while. Or there simply be some changes in a familiar ride that you should be aware of before you ride up on them. Planning is not only safer, it allow you to keep things interesting and to keep challenging you to pedal just a little further.

Last, but not least: Remember why riding your bike in Southwest Florida is fun! Ride to the beach and enjoy that you can park almost on the sand while everyone else has to trudge across a parking lot. Ride to run your errands, and leave your car in the garage rather than idling in snarled traffic. Ride to lunch or dinner (if you have lights, of course), and enjoy that you’re burning up some calories on your way to take some more in.

Upcoming events

• Sunday, Nov 10: Fort Myers Beach Marathon/Half Marathon (
• Monday, Nov. 11: Veterans Day 5K, Midpoint Bridge (
• Thursday, Nov. 28, Turkey Trot 5K, Cape Coral Hospital (
• Saturday, Dec. 7: River Run 10K, downtown Fort Myers (
• Sunday, Dec. 8: Everyone Runs, JetBlue Park. 5K and half marathon (
• Sunday, Jan. 5: River Roots and Ruts half marathon and 5K fun run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva (
• Sunday, March 2: Hooters Half Marathon, Fort Myers (
Cycling & other events:
• Sunday, Nov. 10: Streets Alive!, downtown Fort Myers River District (
• Sunday, Nov. 10: River Ride, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva (
• Sunday, Nov. 29: Turkey Leg Century Ride, Publix at Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress at Daniels Parkway ( (Note: A self-supported ride)
• Sunday, Dec. 8: Everyone Rides, JetBlue Park. 15-, 30-, 62- and 100-mile rides (
• Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 18-19, Tour de Cape, Cape Harbour Resort, Cape Coral (
• Sunday, March 16: Royal Palm Classic, organized by the Caloosa Riders, details to come (

— BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users. Information at

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Moser Column: Back-to-back fun at Streets Alive! and Midpoint Madness

Dan Moser
Florida Weekly, Oct. 30, 2013
This week Dan's column highlights two important upcoming events: Streets Alive (11/10) and Midpoint Madness (11/11).  The advocacy update focuses on troubling trends of increased bike and pedestrian injuries and fatalities and the higher level of legal responsibility for drivers to avoid collisions with anyone.

Streets Alive!, a new and locally unique event happening in the downtown Fort Myers River District, takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10. It promises to be a day of fun that will keep participants busy with many choices to be physically active, but at one’s own level of comfort. Besides traversing the motor vehicle-free streets on a bike, skating, skateboarding, walking, running, or any other human powered method, there will be five activity areas with a variety of things to engage in, from hop-scotch to boot camp training to disc (Frisbee) golf, all free of charge.

Along with the wide array of physical activities there will be a number of healthy food and beverages being given out as samples, as well as others that can be purchased, including fare from the many excellent downtown restaurants that will be open for the event. There’s way too much happening at Streets Alive! to mention it all here, so you’ll have to visit and to get all the details. Coming by bike is the best bet, but for those who drive, free parking is available. Bicycle route suggestions and parking locations can be found on those websites as well.
The Cycle-Party Trolley Cruises Gables Bike Day, an event similar to our upcoming Streets Alive!

The very next day, Monday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day, so that means the YMCA’s well-established Midpoint Madness 5K moves back to the evening, taking runners and walkers across a bridge that is usually open only to those on wheels. This year will be the first “glow run” themed event, and participants are encouraged to wear their best glow-wear to help light up the bridge and the after-party at Royal Palm Square Shopping Center at the foot of the bridge. Besides the usual age group award categories there’ll be ones for military veterans. You’ll find all the details at and

 Advocacy update
Pedestrian and bicycle crashes resulting in serious injuries and fatalities have spiked recently, a phenomenon that continues to haunt Southwest Florida. And while reports provided to the media by law enforcement investigators routinely place the blame on the victim, the legal responsibility of motorists to avoid colliding with anything or anybody, regardless of circumstances, seems to be lost on all of us, including investigators. Obviously, as vulnerable road users we should do everything we can to stay safe, including following the law (which, by the way, doesn’t require the use of crosswalk to get across a street). But even more important — due to the fact that motor vehicles are essentially loaded and aimed weapons — is that there’s an even higher level of legal responsibility for us as drivers.

Below are excerpts that I use in my presentation to court-ordered high-risk drivers. They are the essence of three laws confirming that fact that seem to be overlooked by motorists and law enforcement alike when it comes to driving behavior, especially as it relates to protecting vulnerable road users. Take these legal requirements seriously when driving and pass them along to your friends and family, including those in law enforcement.

¦ “Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” (FSS 316.1925)
¦ “Speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person… regardless of posted speed.” (FSS 316.185)
¦ “...exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.” (FSS 316.130)

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and program director for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He may be contacted at or 334- 6417.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Want to ride your bike to downtown Fort Myers for November 10th Streets Alive?

Not familiar with how to ride your bike to downtown Fort Myers?  Here are some suggested routes for biking to the Nov. 10th Streets Alive event.

If you want to ride your bike to the River District/downtown Fort Myers Streets Alive event on November 10th, here are some suggested routes.  Note that these routes may not be appropriate for inexperienced cyclists or those with young children in tow.  Also, most routes have sidewalks that can be used as an alternative to riding on the road.  Below are links to six suggested routes from various starting points.  The distances range from 4 to 10 miles roundtrip.  Hope to see you there!

In addition to these routes, if you're not an experienced cyclist, you may want to try to route that Andy Getch used on the Oct. 13th bike audit ride .  He took his team in the general direction of the McGregor corridor, riding wherever possible on-road on quieter parallel low volume local streets. The route took riders south on Deleon Avenue to Colonial Boulevard  for a rest stop at the Walgreens parking lot on Colonial Boulevard and Sommerset Drive. The return ride coursed back along Sommerset Drive, connecting to the sidewalk on McGregor Boulevard, around the golf course to reconnect to Cortez Avenue with a return to Centennial Park. Most of these neighborhoods are well connected with many other options and connections to McGregor Boulevard and US 41. 

To read more about riding to Streets Alive, check out the Oct. 17th BWL blog: "Downtown Fort Myers Bike Audit demonstrates you can bike to Nov. 10th Streets Alive!"

Hope to see you on November 10th!

New Florida law means that public can now comment at BoCC Management and Planning Meetings

We learned last week that the new Florida law about public comment at government meetings means that the public now has the opportunity to speak at BoCC Management and Planning (M and P) meetings (which occur the first Monday (1:30-3:30 p.m.) of each month), where topics are discussed in depth by commissioners in a workshop format.  BikeWalkLee is looking forward to this new opportunity to participate in the process and sent the following letter to commissioners asking them to consider allowing the public to comment at the beginning of discussion of each agenda item topic rather than taking all public comment at the beginning of the meeting.  What do you think about the proposal?  

Note two important topics on upcoming M and P agendas that the public can now participate in:
Nov. 4th--Transportation 5-year CIP planning process
Dec. 2nd--Sustainability Plan

From: Darla Letourneau []
Sent: Sunday, October 20, 2013 7:44 AM
To: Cecil Pendergrass (; 'Frank Mann ('; 'John Manning'; Larry Kiker (; 'Tammy Hall ('
Cc: Roger Desjarlais (
Subject: public comment at county commission meetings

County Commissioners,
We were pleased to learn last week that the new Florida law requiring that the public be given an opportunity to speak at all government meetings means that there will now be an opportunity for the public to comment at County Management and Planning ( M & P) meetings.  Since these are the meetings where there is more of an in-depth conversation among the commissioners about a specific issue, it's important that the public have an opportunity to share its perspective and views at this stage in the deliberations instead of only being able to speak when the Board is getting ready to vote on the topic.

In structuring how this public comment opportunity will be implemented, we would suggest that the public be allowed to speak at the beginning of the consideration of each item on the agenda rather than having all public comment at the beginning of the meeting.  This is especially important for M & P meetings, where there is a more in-depth conversation on each topic.  This approach is used effectively by most municipalities, by most county committees, as well as the MPO Board and its committees.  BikeWalkLee is an active participant in many of these deliberations throughout the county and there is a marked difference in the two approaches in terms of citizen engagement and feeling like public input is truly being considered by our elected officials rather than just a pro forma legal requirement.

We look forward to this new opportunity to participate in M & P meetings, and appreciate your consideration of our suggestion.


Darla Letourneau
Steering Group
a coalition working to complete the streets in Lee County
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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Horizon 2035 Comp Plan revised elements review by committees continues

As reported in our  September blog post, the final phase of the Comp Plan (Horizon 2035) update process is underway...moving us forward towards the goal of revising Lee County's growth management plans to bring the vision of a Livable Lee to reality.  Revisions to the first three elements, based on comments from county committees and the public, were reviewed by the LPA and CSAC at their September/October meetings, with the next three elements to be considered at October/November meetings.

Over the past two years, the county staff and its committees have been working through the elements of the Comp Plan Horizon 2035 update, following the vision adopted in the County's 2011 Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR).  This new vision of Lee County in 2035 - an economically and environmentally desirable place to live, work and visit - was crafted through an extensive community planning effort that included over 40 public workshops. The Comp Plan update process is revising Lee County’s growth management plans to bring that vision of a Livable Lee to reality. 
In June, the Local Planning Agency (LPA) completed its first round review of all the Comp Plan elements, and the Community Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) completed its review in May. The Horizon Council also reviewed the plan with staff over the past four months.  Over the past four months, county planning staff also conducted 43 public workshops to discuss the key changes in the Comp Plan that are being proposed.  Finally, the County's online Town Hall tool (New Horizon 2035) provided another opportunity for citizens to comment and provide their input.

Over the summer, the staff started the process of revising the elements to address these comments.  In July we shared with you the schedule and process for the next and final phase.  
Final committee review of elements
 At the September 23rd LPA meeting, and the Oct. 16th CSAC meeting the first three revised Comp Plan amendment elements were reviewed:

The next three elements will be reviewed at the Oct. 28th LPA meeting and the Nov. 20th CSAC meeting:
1.  Intergovernmental Coordination
2.  Economic
3.  Housing

 Given the Thanksgiving holiday, the November LPA meeting has been changed to Dec. 4th.
 BikeWalkLee focus:
Integration of land use and transportation planning is key to complete streets and complete communities, so these two elements will continue to be a major focus of BikeWalkLee's attention. These revised elements are scheduled for review in December or January.

 For background on BikeWalkLee's views, click below:
·        BWL comments to county Local Planning Agency on land use elements (4/5/13)
·        BikeWalkLee overview comments on 10/26/12 Draft Transportation Element (11/25/12)

Lee and Collier County MPO Boards interested in continuing LinC transit connection between Lee and Collier Counties

 At Friday's bi-annual joint meeting of the Lee and Collier County MPO Boards, officials discussed several issues of importance, including continuation of the LinC transit line between the two counties and the development of each county's 2040 LRTP.
At the Oct. 18th Joint Lee and Collier MPO Board meeting, there were several presentations on joint projects and issues of concern to both MPOs.  One of the issues that BikeWalkLee is tracking closely is the LinC transit line that connects Lee and Collier counties.  The LinC route runs from Immokalee Road east of US 41 in Collier County to the Coconut Point Mall in Lee County.  This route was initiated in October 2011 after several years of collaborative efforts between Lee, Collier, Bonita Springs, and FDOT.  The service was funded with an FDOT Service Development Grant, with matching funds from the 3 jurisdictions, with the intent of being picked up by the local jurisdictions when the 3-year grant period expires (Oct. 1, 2014).   

Both the joint Collier/Lee TAC and CAC committees discussed this issue in their meetings and reported to the joint board that they supported the continuation of the services and urged the staff and boards to work together to find the necessary funding to continue this line.

At the joint MPO meeting, Steve Myers of LeeTran presented a report, along with graphs and charts, showing that the LinC Route 600 is highly successful, with ridership above projected estimates and steady increases each year.  Between 2012 and 2013, ridership increased by 22%.  Since 2011, the ridership has gone from 6,000/month to 10,000/mo. 

Ann Pierce, representing BikeWalkLee, spoke about the importance of continuing this route.  Ann stated that one bus regularly and reliably delivers workers and shoppers from Collier County to the Coconut Point Mall and beyond; and the same - to the terminus at Creekside Business Park on Immokalee Rd. where among the many businesses located there, just two – Arthrex and North Naples Hospital - employ some 2,000 people.  Service such as this keeps innumerable autos off the roads - reducing congestion, surface wear and maintenance and accident frequency. It is also a significant measure in sustainable planning - a vital prerequisite to attracting national firms to this area.  It is also a bold, salient and effective link in forging a regional chain of collaboration and cooperation establishing coordination between Lee and Collier counties...something that is becoming ever more essential for success in the new, highly competitive universe of federal funding. 

Ann pointed out that all federal agencies are seeking to maximize the impacts of every grant and funding dollar, and targeting especially those areas that have shown the commitment, the political maturity and the sustained initiative to move beyond jurisdictional boundaries in the service of a larger vision.

With Board support, the staff is planning to begin the reviews and analyses of the route necessary to continuing its benefits to both Lee and Collier counties and will bring the issue back to the joint Lee/Collier MPO Board meeting in March for action.

2040 LRTP:
The MPO staff of both Lee and Collier made presentations to the joint board about their respective plans for developing the 2040 LRTP.  Lee MPO's Executive Director outlined the extensive efforts underway in Lee, working closely with the MPO Board's Executive Committee, to develop its 2040 plan.  Don discussed the Peer Exchanges that the Lee Board have held, with plans to steal some good ideas from other communities.  He also outlined the importance of the land use scenarios currently under development, the need for plans that are realistic in terms of available revenues; new approaches to public engagement, and the need to update some of the elements of the plan, such as bike/ped, transit, and freight.

Darla Letourneau, representing BikeWalkLee, spoke about the importance of the efforts underway in Lee County to  do a major overhaul of the process and content of our 2040 plan.  At the end of 2035 LRTP process the Lee Board set in motion studies and changes to move us in new direction, including land use scenarios, a rail feasibility study, a focus on fix it first vs. new capacity, new public engagement approaches, etc.   

Letourneau thanked the Board and staff for their efforts and also emphasized the importance of the lessons learned from other communities through the series of "Peer Exchanges".  Letourneau stated that the financial realities are very clear and the plans can't be business as usual because there is little money and the MPOs need to develop plans that live within available resources.