Monday, August 4, 2014

Want a safer ride in Fort Myers?

The City of Fort Myers is in the process of renovating the Edison Golf Course and BikeWalkLee is urging the Fort Myers City Council to incorporate plans for a multi-use path as part of these renovations. (See our July 1st letter).  Now is the time for the City Council to act to change the renovation plans and they need to hear from YOU.  Below is a "call to action" by Ann Pierce.  If you live, work, visit, or recreate in Fort Myers, here's your chance to advocate for safer biking and walking in the City.

By Ann Pierce (BikeWalkLee Steering group member and member of City of Fort Myers' Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Board)

The City is resisting calls to accommodate cyclists around the massive obstacle presented by the Edison golf course.

Tell Council to give cyclist a break, specifically with wider multi-use paths around the golf course. 

The course is in the middle of renovation, but they totally neglected to consider safe accommodations around what is also a massive obstacle for thousands of pedestrians and cyclists.

The course fully occupies all of the land between US 41 and McGregor, forcing cyclists to either share narrow sidewalks with pedestrians or take to particularly dangerous segments of roadway. This shouldn’t be the most dangerous part of your ride through town. 

Two Boards (City’s Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Board and BikeWalkLee) have already recommended that enough Right-of-Way (ROW) space for a 10’wide (the minimum safe standard) multi-use pathway be dedicated now - during the renovation.  Final paving beyond the standard 5 feet can come later when funds are available.  Commitment of the space will make the City more competitive for grants from numerous sources to complete these pathways. 

Changing renovation plans now may not be easy with little extra room, but it is both possible and necessary. With the growing interest in walking and cycling, the greater knowledge of minimum safety expectations and standards – making these changes is the only responsible official position to take. It is certainly is within the government’s scope of core services to ensure provision for safe facilities for all citizens employing various mode of legal transport. I’m not so sure about the responsibility to provide golfing pleasure.

 Passage around the golf course is a chronically unsafe condition and Council members were elected to solve just these kinds of thorny problems.

Don’t be put off by various responses below:
1.      Cyclists will get hit by golf balls.  I’d rather take my chances on that than being hit by a car, besides there are many versions of netting and tall landscaping.
2.      There is no funding to make these wide paths. We are only asking for clear ROW set-aside now. Funding for final paving can then be pursued later.
3.      “The US 41 side is controlled by the state, we can’t do anything about that side.”  Representatives from FDOT told me just this week “We’re waiting for the City’s call and are always ready to use any opportunity to make the sidewalks safer for everyone.”

The City is planning to move a short segment of sidewalk along McGregor, from south of Olmeda to the restaurant parking lot, inward to a safer location. However it will remain the same narrow width with no other ROW designated. This is insufficient action.

So... here we are now. 

The oversight has been made clear, the dangers and liabilities inherent in ‘inviting’ cyclists to share a new but narrow walk with pedestrians in the era of ubiquitous earbuds are known to all and both alternative roadways remain as overtly dangerous as ever. 

The City Council can act to change this now, but...only if they hear from you!

Please contact the City Council and City Manager to request that ROW be clearly designated now, during renovation, with planned future completion of at least 10 foot wide multi-use pathways around both sides of this golf course. 

Councilman Mike Flanders -                           
Councilman Forrest Banks -   
Councilwoman Teresa Watkins-Brown -       
Councilwoman Christine Matthews -
Councilman Johnny Streets -
Councilman Tom Leonardo - 
City Manager William Mitchell -     
Mayor  Randy Henderson  -           

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