Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another Successful BikeWalkLee Bike Audit

BWL conducted another successful "bike audit" last weekend.  Thanks to Dan and Ann's work, these rides are evolving into a more formal audit process to assess conditions on our biking and walking facilities and this article provides an excellent example of what officials, staff, committee members, and advocates can learn from experiencing the facilities first hand. Stay tuned for information about upcoming BWL bike audits and plan to participate.  Again, a big "thank you" to Dan and Ann for organizing these excellent informational bike rides and bike audits!
On Saturday May 24, Dan Moser of BikeWalkLee led another in our series of informative bike audits. Participating again was Carmen Monroy, FDOT’s Southwest Area Office Director. Over the past year well over 130 other people have also participated in these rides. Started primarily as a fun, educational mean of imparting important bike/ped information to those who serve in public government and on advisory boards, they are evolving into a more formal audit process to assess riding conditions throughout Lee County. 

Early Saturday morning about 10 people left the Calusa Nature Center and rode west along the generally well maintained N. Colonial Linear Trail in Fort Myers.  This is one of the nicer riding facilities in Fort Myers, quiet and shaded, wending along the southern portion of Eastwood Golf Course and the banks of the N. Colonial Canal.  The Trail begins at the Nature Center, leads to the very family friendly Trailhead Park and onward to Metro, where it currently ends. Sadly, the abrupt end at Metro makes it quite short, but gives a taste of what the City of Fort Myers could build upon to create greater appeal for residents and many thousands of cycling-enthused tourists. 

A first point of concern was this too-short, unmarked bollard and the charming wooden bridge, in need of replacement,which has seen better days.
N. Colonial Trail bollard

 Farther along, a serious problem in the making that can be corrected with fast action, is the newly installed landscaping at the intersection with Alderman’s Walk Blvd. A well-meaning designer perhaps sought to highlight the trail crossing with these grouping of small trees.  However, as is so often the case, the design was developed without any real thought to the actual needs of pedestrians or cyclists. The low, full evergreen canopies of these trees will quickly grow to block views of oncoming vehicular, pedestrian or bicycle traffic in both directions.

No doubt, this landscape architect would benefit from participation in these types bike audits to become better informed of the details that can protect lives.
New plantings at intersection of N. Colonial Trail and Alderman's Walk Blvd.

The next intersection at Veronica Shoemaker Blvd is one that we hope will receive attention and soon be brought to safer standards. The trail pavement crossings are very well marked, but outdated signs indicating “Yield” instead of “Stop” for someone is in the crosswalk and the very high vehicle speeds on this straight-away pose a serious risk to those crossing at this unsignaled intersection. With the entrance to the neighborhood Trailhead Park only 20’ away, it is reasonable to expect families and children to be crossing here and one should err on the side of safety with intersection upgrades.
High speed intersection of N. Colonial Trail and Veronica Shoemaker

Confusing end of trail at Metro
 Trail’s end at Metro left us wondering just what to do next. There is no clear direction of where to go to safely ride. The group made its way through the construction, south on Metro until we could pick up a well-marked bike lane just south of Winkler, taking us across Colonial, from where we headed west on a short stretch of Colonial - at times both accommodating and treacherous - and with sigh of relief,  to John Yarborough Linear Trail.

Without a doubt the safest and most well thought out intersection design could be found where the trail crosses Providence Park Blvd.  This developer-made intersection design features “Stop” signs instead of “Yield” even though traffic speeds are quite slow. 

The surrounding landscape is open and low and where trees have been used they are away from the trail head itself with canopies that have been limbed up for clear visibility beneath. Raised, textured material clearly marks the crossing, while a series of signs warn motorists of the trail crossing ahead. And the trail itself is indicated with a large, attractive sign. The painted stop bars, forward of the actual crossing could stand a brightening of paint.  But overall this intersection gets an A+, and should serve as a model for future developments in both Fort Myers and Lee County.
The very safe intersection of N. Colonial Trail and Providence Park Blvd.
Report by Ann Pierce, photos by Guy Hackett

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