Thursday, October 30, 2014

NPR Diane Rhem Show: Sharing the road--adapting to a new culture of cycling

In case you missed the show this morning on the radio, here's a link (Click here to listen to the show).  National biking advocates did a great job of being part of this 30 minute interview with Diane Rhem to respond to the new national report this week that highlighted the increasing number of bicyclist fatalities.  See the links below for responses for advocates to the GHSA report.  Great work by our national partners!
Thursday, Oct 30 2014--NPR Diane Rhem Show

Sharing The Road: Adapting To A New Culture Of Cycling
According to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, there has been a 16 percent increase in bikers killed in motor vehicle crashes in recent years. This comes after years of steady decline. But many groups say these numbers are misleading, and a more important takeaway is the rising use of bikes in urban areas, with cities like New York and Washington, D.C. putting millions into bike infrastructure projects. But all parties agree: there is much to be done to safely incorporate cyclists onto our roadways, from adding bike lanes with physical protective barriers to stricter enforcement of traffic laws across the board. We take a look at sharing the road with bikes.

Gil Penalosa inspires SWFL officials and advocates at FTPA conference

 Tuesday was an inspiring day for complete streets advocates in SWFL.  Check out the short TED video of Gil Penalosa and you, too, will be inspired.
Jenn Hagen and Diana Giraldo with Gil

 On Oct. 28th about two dozen SWFL officials and advocates attended Gil Penalosa's inspiring keynote address at the statewide Florida Public Transportation Association annual conference in Naples.   In attendance was Bonita Springs Mayor, Ben Nelson; Bonita Springs City Councilwoman Janet Martin; and Fort Myers City Council member Forrest Banks. 
Gil spends time with advocates after meeting
Transportation and sustainability staff from both Bonita Springs and Collier County were there, along with the Lee and Collier County transit directors, Collier County MPO Director, four representatives from BikeWalkLee, and several people working on the Streets Alive event coming to the City of Fort Myers on Nov. 2nd. 

In addition, FDOT District 1 Secretary, Billy Hattaway was there along with a full contingent of FDOT staff who are working on complete streets and transportation transformation in District 1.  Not only did he inspire us with his speech, he spent 30 minutes after the presentation talking to a team of us about some of our specific issues, which was very helpful.

Jenn Hagen (Bonita), Billy Hattaway, and Councilwoman Martin

 Project for Public Places describes Gil Peñalosa as "the world’s most passionate and well-traveled promoter of Streets as Places—putting people before cars in some of the most important public spaces in cities worldwide.  As Executive Director of 8-80 Cities, Gil now travels the world, working on the front lines of change, and collaborating with leading Placemaking advocates, practitioners and politicians to build a collective movement to transform cities around people. His story, his experience and his message are a central thread to how cities need to change in this century."  See our earlier blog for more background.

Gil was introduced by FDOT District 1 Secretary, Billy Hattaway, who hailed his efforts and the importance of his ideas for Florida.  Gil's presentation, with lots of photos and stories, electrified the audience who gave him a standing ovation.   

There were several 'take away' messages for us:

  •       The question is, how would you like your community to be?

  •       These are political issues.
  •        Elected officials need to understand that change doesn't happen by consensus...they have to listen to the people, but they were elected to make decisions and to lead.

  •    What we need are champions for change...champions don't take no for an answer--they look for ways around the obstacles and barriers.  He described how NYC's Transportation Director, Janette Sadik-Khan, was a champion for change.
  • He argued for lower speeds on our streets and for a network of separated cycling facilities.

  •   He focused on two topics--sustainable mobility and public spaces....the goal is to create vibrant cities.
Mayor Nelson and Councilman Banks with FDOT officials
  •     The most important public policy of economic significance for individual households is to make it possible to downsize from two to one car.  Right now $1 of every $4 of household income is spent on transportation mobility!

·         He outlined five key ingredients for moving from talking to doing:
1.       develop a sense of urgency (building more roads to solve congestion is like pouring more gasoline on the fire)
2.       political will
3.       leadership
4.       "doers"
5.       public engagement

  •          He urged local officials to start by looking at what can be done this year...what is low cost, low risk, and high visibility.
    Trinity Scott (Collier transit) and Carmen Monroy (FDOT)

  •   He urged us to build alliances--transportation, planning, public health, schools, private sector...again bringing it back to the message:  creating a vibrant community is a political issue.

Although his 45 minute speech is not available on video, here's a 14 minute speech he gave on TED, which gives you a good flavor of his message and his energy. 

Report by Darla Letourneau

BikeWalkLee: Get your bike ready for fall

As the days start to cool, the biking scene locally begins to heat up. Not only are there more rides on the calendar, there are more cyclists on the paths or roadways and more people looking to get back into a meaningful relationship with their two-wheeled friends.

However, if it's been a while since you took the bike out for a spin, there are a couple of things you should do first to ensure that ride is more fun than infuriating.

First and foremost, make sure your bike is ready to roll. That means checking the air pressure in the tires (too low and you're inviting a flat – plus you'll be working too hard because of additional resistance) and the lube on the chain (and elsewhere). Nothing wrecks a ride faster than a breakdown on the road or path far from home.

In fact, unless you're handy with a wrench and well versed in the mechanics of your bicycle, this would be a good time to visit your local bike shop for a tune-up – or make their acquaintance if you don't have a local shop to rely upon.

• Experienced bike mechanics know what to look for to keep you rolling rather than stuck by the side of the road, with the preemptive protocols and eye for looming problems that we mere mortals rarely possess.

• They can also show you the quick and simple steps you should take before every ride to keep things pedaling smoothly — and get you the right materials to tackle your own daily or weekly maintenance easily.

• Visiting your local bike shop is also a way to support the local bike community — which is often centered around shops – as well as to check out new gear, find out about rides and clubs, and much more.

There are plenty of good shops locally, populated with fine upstanding cyclists, skilled wrenchers and all-around good people. Pick one that's convenient to the way you ride (meaning nearby if possible), or be prepared to haul your bike to them (which isn't a bad idea in general).

If you're new to the pathways, or looking to trade in your current model for something different, a bike shop can be a major asset. Not only will you have people who can describe the differences and details in a variety of models, but you have the ability to try them out for yourself – and probably have someone who can fit you to your bike and get you ready to roll out the door more quickly and more comfortably. If you're purchasing a new bike, remember that they are assembled where they're sold – so having a qualified mechanic do the work instead of big-box store employees who likely have little skill and experience makes a world of difference.

Cooler weather also warrants a few other reminders:
• As the days get shorter, so does the time you can ride — unless you throw in the necessary lights to let you keep rolling beyond dawn to dusk. When it comes to illumination, more is almost always better – both to help you see and make sure you're seen. At a minimum, you need a strong headlight and tail light (one that flashes is more visible), and putting additional lights on both you and your cycle is wise.

Again, a bike shop will have an array of choices that are designed just for this purpose, so you can see what works best for you. Even if you don't plan to ride after dark, having lights helps protect you if you get caught out too late… and many bicyclists use tail lights all the time to help others to see them on the road.

• Similarly, good bike clothing is even more critical then it's cooler and/or darker. Something you can throw on to keep warm is a good idea if the weather is right on the edge (but at least your chances of rain aren't as high as in summer). Make sure that something is bright or reflective, the better to see you in the more angled light of winter. Layers are a must, so you can add and subtract as needed to stay in your comfort zone.

• Finally, more riders mean more chances for problems – and more need for courtesy and calm when riding on paths crowded with other cyclists and pedestrians. Know your rules of the road and pathway, and obey them diligently (while you hope your fellow riders do the same). Be patient with your fellow roadway users (both two-wheeled and four), and ride to arrive safe. Bicycling is meant to be fun, not fatal – so we ALL need to act that way.

— 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: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at
· Saturday, Nov. 1: 7th annual Race the Roof 15K run, 5K run, 5K walk and tot trot. Verandah Community, 11571 Verandah Blvd., Fort Myers. All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity, Lee and Hendry Counties. Race starts at 7:30 a.m. (

· Sunday, Nov. 9: Kids Helping Kids 5K and Fort Myers Marathon/Half Marathon. Based in downtown Fort Myers with three different courses to cover 5K, 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles. 5K benefits Kids Helping Kids Festival in Centennial Park and the Golisano Children's Hospital. Details and pricing at or

· Tuesday, Nov. 11: Veteran's Day 5K Run across the Midpoint Bridge. Proceeds to benefit YMCA Youth programs. Race starts at 7 p.m. Registration: Before Nov. 1 veterans an youth $15, adults $20; Nov. 1-10 veterans and youth $20, adults $25. (

· Thursday, Nov. 27: 35th annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Wellness Center 609 SE 13th Ct. Cape Coral. 5K run/walk, 1-mile fun run and tot trot, starts at 7:30 a.m.; registration opens 6 a.m. Proceeds to benefit Golisano Children's Hospital. (

· Saturday, Dec. 6: 36th annual River Run, 10K run and 2-mile walk, across bridges from downtown Fort Myers (

· Sunday, Dec. 7: Everybody Rides/Runs. A family-friendly, non-competitive multi-distance bike ride. Choose from routes of 15, 30, 62 or 100 miles. 7:30 a.m. start time for the 62 and 100 milers. 9:30 a.m. start time for the 15 and 30 milers. Choose a family-friendly chip-timed 5K or half marathon. All finishers will get to run into JetBlue stadium and run right across home plate! 7 a.m. start time for the half marathon. 7:45 a.m. start time for the 5K. (

· Sunday, Jan. 11: 12th annual River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva. Half marathon and relay 8 a.m., 5K Fun Run 8:15 a.m. (

· Saturday, Jan. 17: Tour De Cape 5K Run/walk, is designed for advanced and novice runners. Check in begins at 6:30 a.m. Race time is 8 a.m. Starts at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (

Cycling and other events
· Sunday, Nov. 2: Streets Alive returns to downtown Fort Myers 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Activities for the entire family focused on active and healthy lifestyles. Details at
· Sunday, Nov. 9: Caloosahatchee River Ride 2014. 15-, 30-, 40- and 62-mile rides starting from Caloosahatchee Regional Park, 19130 North River Road, Alva. Staggered starts at 8 a.m. Register in advance or day of. (

· Saturday, Nov. 15: Bicycle Bully Busters, Trek Bicycle Store of Estero, 8001 Plaza del Lago Drive #101, Estero. Get on your bike, make a stand against bullying and raise awareness about safe cycling in SWFL at this fun family event. 40-mile ride starts at 7 a.m.; 25-mile ride starts at 7:30 a.m.; 10-mile fun ride begins at 8 a.m. (

· Friday, Nov. 29: Black Friday Century. Fort Myers to Naples and back. Details at

· Sunday, Nov. 30: Iron Joe Turkey Ride. Begins and ends at Naples Cyclery, Pavilion Shopping Center, Vanderbilt Beach Road and U.S. 41. Fully supported rides: 7:30 a.m. breakfast; 8 a.m. Metric Century (100 km); 9 a.m. 30 Mile; 10 a.m. 14 Mile Family Ride; 10 a.m. Beach Walk. (

· Sunday, Dec. 7: Everybody Rides/Runs. A family-friendly, non-competitive multi-distance bike ride. Choose from routes of 15, 30, 62 or 100 miles. 7:30 a.m. start time for the 62 and 100 milers. 9:30 a.m. start time for the 15 and 30 milers. Choose a family-friendly chip timed 5K or half marathon. All finishers will get to run into JetBlue stadium and run right across home plate! 7 a.m. start time for the half marathon. 7:45 a.m. start time for the 5K. (

· Sunday, Jan. 18: Tour De Cape. Routes from 15, 30, 60, and 100 mile courses in the west and north sections of Cape Coral. The event provides a continental breakfast, lunch, on route rest stations with snacks and beverages, SAG vehicles, Police support, and route maps. All rides start from Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (

· Sunday, Dec. 21: Christmas Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (

· Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 10-11: HITS Triathlon Series, Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. Open, sprint Olympic half and full (

Tell us about your ride
Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you'd like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

Lee Parks: Streets Alive in downtown Fort Myers

What's happening: Move…bike, walk and dance through the streets of downtown Fort Myers River District. Join in on the activities and move, for a healthy community. It's a great day for a family outing and all activities are free.

Where: Downtown Fort Myers, free parking in lots and garages. Portions of Hendry St., Main St., First St., Bay St. and Edwards Drive will be closed to motor vehicles.
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Cost: Free

What to expect: Streets Alive is an open streets event — offering fun, free physical activity in a safe open streets environment created by closing streets to motor vehicles. Dozens of activities will be led by professionals in addition to the length of the closed streets being open to walkers, bicyclists, skaters, runners, skate boarders, etc. Some of the activities include Zumba, jump rope, yoga, dance, and disc golf. Delicious and nutritious food and drinks will be sold by local vendors on the streets as well as inside downtown's many fine restaurants. This is a family event, so all ages are encouraged to join in on the fun!

History: Streets Alive was created to incorporate fun, fitness and food to promote healthier lifestyles by temporarily closing streets to motor vehicles and opening them for people to have fun and get active. This is the second annual Streets Alive event for Lee County.
Tips / Notes
• Bring your own water bottle to stay hydrated.
• Wear weather-appropriate stretch or loose fitting clothing that will allow you to move and comfortable shoes.
• Bring your bike, roller blades, skateboard, scooter or anything you enjoy using in outdoor play.
• Kids (and adults) encouraged to wear Halloween costumes.
• There will be activities offered for people with limited mobility, physical disabilities and those confined to a wheelchair.
• First aid assistance will be located at event headquarters — Lee County Administration East Building at Second and Hendry Streets.

Driving directions: From U.S. 41, turn right onto Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Turn left onto Monroe St. and find parking at any lot or parking garage.

About us: Lee County Parks & Recreation has over 230 positions, a $28 million budget and more than 31,500 acres of parks, preserves, facilities and other sites. The department oversees four recreation centers, 10 community centers, community parks, Conservation 20/20 lands, greenways, the Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail, four year-round pools, seven boat ramps, sports complexes including the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins spring training facilities, dog-friendly facilities and pristine Gulf-of-Mexico beach parks.
• Contact us at 533-7275 or

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Moser Column: What part of ‘Do Not Litter’ do we not understand?

Moser's column this week bemoans the litter on our Lee County streets and roadways.  Littering is one indicator of self-centered and anti-social behavior.  As Dan says, "When one only thinks of themselves and not others or the community as a whole, we end up with the kind of roadway mentality we have here." 
Dan Moser
While finishing up a run on Sanibel recently I had the pleasure of spotting a large palliated woodpecker and bald eagle cross flight paths as the sun set behind a mangrove background. What a sight! Other similarly beautiful scenes while on a bike ride along Ding Darling’s Wildlife Drive and the trails of Bowman’s Beach are among the many benefits that come with walking, running and cycling outdoors. Unfortunately, so is the reality of seeing all of the litter along our roads, paths, private property and waterways.
While places such as Sanibel are exceptions to the proliferation of litter in Southwest Florida, overall it appears that quite a few people are lazy, inconsiderate slobs with no respect for their own environment. It’s truly appalling — and sometimes disgusting, depending on what the discarded waste consists of — that we create this situation as well as tolerate it as a community. Even with organizations such as Keep Lee County Beautiful ( doing as much as it can to assist our public works departments, community-service workers, and citizen and business volunteers in keeping up with the sheer volume of trash that’s out there, we’re clearly losing the battle. All one needs to do is take a walk along our roads and waterways to confirm that fact.

Are you a sociopath? If you tossed this litter on the roadside by the Burroughs Home or left this green bag of construction waste on the sidewalk, columnist Dan Moser thinks you might be. 
DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY Are you a sociopath? If you tossed this litter on the roadside by the Burroughs Home or left this green bag of construction waste on the sidewalk, columnist Dan Moser thinks you might be. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLYAs I wrote in a prior column, I believe those who can toss trash out their window, from fast-food waste to cigarette butts, and everything between, are sociopaths, a disorder which appears to be all too common in American society. Littering, in my opinion, is but one indicator of self-centered, anti-social behavior that allows those afflicted to consciously — or perhaps subconsciously — perform such an act. And based on the sheer volume out there, to do so on a routine basis. Obviously, those with personality disorders of this kind aren’t exactly model citizens, with littering likely being the least of their anti-social tendencies.
The problem of littering can also be looked at as one of poor management of streets and neighborhoods. Similar to illegal parking or placement of other large items that obstruct sidewalks in a way that adversely affects others, the presence of litter routinely left in place is an indicator of a government’s inability and unwillingness to maintain control of its public space. Although the prevention of littering isn’t as easily dealt with as illegal parking, which is clearly visible and simple to fix, allowing trash to pile up has a “broken window syndrome” effect on a community. That is, if police don’t enforce sidewalk parking laws and public works departments don’t remove litter, the problem escalates to the point where it becomes acceptable. This, in my opinion, can lead to much more serious problems.
Another thing about littering that may relate to other negative behavior is how those who do so treat fellow road users, particularly the relationship between motorists and vulnerable road users, although it can also apply to cyclists’ and pedestrians’ behavior. When one only thinks of themselves and not others or the community as a whole, we end up with the kind of roadway mentality we have here. When a driver won’t stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk or becomes enraged when having to follow a slower moving cyclist to the point where they lay on the horn and pass recklessly while screaming out the window, this, to me, has the same anti-social indicators as using the great outdoors as one’s personal garbage can. The same can hold true for cyclists and pedestrians who ignore traffic laws and even common sense because they only think of their own need to get from point A to point B, ignoring rules and responsibilities that go along with being part of traffic, which has implied and legislated rules that make it work.
Streets Alive! update
One final pitch to get everyone out to Streets Alive! ( running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2. The event kicks off with the People’s Parade. It starts on the block of Hendry Street between Main and Second streets. All attendees are welcome in the parade, whether on foot, bike, skates or wheelchair. There’ll also be a tricked-out bike display area as part of the offerings that day. Other examples of activities offered include a mini-running clinic put on by the Fort Myers Track Club, tennis with the Lee County Community Tennis Association and sailing with Edison Sailing Center. So bring friends and family to Sunday’s Streets Alive!, a fun and free event.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.
— Dan Moser is a long- time bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at or 334- 6417.

Monday, October 27, 2014

'Blue Zone' initiative launched in Collier County

BikeWalkLee is excited about the cutting-edge "Blue Zones" project coming to Collier County and South Lee.  This is a major long-term initiative that uses scientific research to help communities boost their well-being.  Blue Zone projects have been successfully implemented in 13 communities across the country and in every instance, it's proven to improve the well-being of participating communities. A key focus of these projects is permanent change in the environment, i.e., the built environment--roads, sidewalks, biking facilities, parks, buildings, etc. It's also a model community-wide collaboration with a broad spectrum of  partners and community groups.

 BikeWalkLee's Margaret Banyan, Ann Pierce, and Darla Letourneau, along with representatives from the Naples Pathways Coalition, attended the Oct. 24th kick-off event, and will also participate in this week's community assessment process.  Click here to learn more about the Collier County project. Below is the Oct. 25th Naples Daily News article about the kick-off event, along with our photos from the event.

BWL'ers Darla, Ann, Margaret with Dan Burden

Naples Daily News, Oct. 25, 2014

NAPLES, Fla. - A 10-member team from the Blue Zones Project will spend the next two weeks in Southwest Florida assessing the community’s lifestyle environment to help local residents live healthier and have more fulfilling lives.
The NCH Healthcare System announced Friday the launch of a Blue Zone initiative for Collier and south Lee County, spearheaded by NCH president and chief executive officer, Dr. Allen Weiss. The Blue Zones Project is a Minneapolis-based organization that helps communities transform residents’ lives to be healthier, happier and more connected to one another.
“We can change our culture, we are poised to do it,” Weiss said Friday to 125 local leaders at a breakfast on the campus of the NCH Downtown Naples Hospital to announce the initiative.
The Blue Zones project was launched after National Geographic’s explorer Dan Buettner looked at communities worldwide where people live longer and wanted to know why. He found nine “power principles” that included communities where people are moving naturally in walkable neighborhoods, eat wisely, limit alcohol intake, have time to down shift for meditating or napping, put family first and belong in some way to a faith-based community.
Weiss has been advocating the merits of the Blue Zone lifestyle over the past year and has been nudging elected, civic and business leaders to get on board with it. NCH sees the project as a 10-year initiative.
Tony Buettner, vice president of product and business development for the project, presented Friday an overview of how the project came into being after his brother examined longevity in Sardinia, Italy and Okiniwa, Japan, where the focus is on friends, family and downshifting.
“People with higher well-being cost less and are more productive,” he said. “How do we raise well-being? It’s all about evidence-based choices.”
The Blue Zones group partnered with Healthways, a Nashville, Tennessee-based company that provides support to companies and government entities to make behavioral changes.
Albert Lea, Minnesota, was the first pilot Blue Zone project in the United States. The city added walkways and bike paths, and put healthier foods in schools and grocery stores, among numerous other changes.
The result, in terms of one measurement, has been a 49-percent decrease in city workers’ medical claims, Buettner said. More school children walk to school there and it is now safer for them to do so, he said.
The governor of Iowa in 2011 launched a statewide initiative for Iowa to be a Blue Zone. The city of Spencer was an early participant and now 58 percent of residents exercise regularly and 13 local companies have become Blue Zone worksites.
For a project to work, there must be a commitment to change among community policy-makers, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, work sites, the media, and philanthropic groups, he said.
During the assessment in Collier, Buettner said his team will be looking at each sector locally, in part to determine the challenges.
“Is there buy in? Do they want to do the work?” he said, adding that being a Blue Zone community takes hard work and engagement.
Community leaders left the kick-off event enthused. Some pointed out that the city of Naples, with its emphasis on walkable neighborhoods near downtown and bicycle paths, has a jump start.
 “If we start in the city and prove what we have done in the city, it may affect (others) in the county,” said Alan Ryker, who co-founded the Naples Pathways Coalition Inc. several years ago to promote bike paths and sidewalks. “I’m excited about the fact that we are thinking about it.”
Collier County manager Leo Ochs said the county can make policy decisions that help and some decisions, such as putting in bike paths and sidewalks, and promoting bicycling safety, dovetail into Blue Zone principles. The county has $250,000 a year budgeted for sidewalks and bike paths, according to county staff.
“Those are all compliment tie-ins to some of the concepts we heard,” he said.
Stephanie Vick, administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Collier said many groups have been working on various projects to promote better health for years. The Blue Zones project will provide a strong focus and collaboration, Vick said.
“The synergy of all of us working together is exciting,” she said.