Thursday, March 19, 2015

City of Bonita Springs first in SWFL to join USDOT Secretary's "Mayors Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets"

Congratulations to the Bonita Springs City Council.  At their March 18th meeting they unanimously agreed to join USDOT Secretary Foxx's national "Mayors Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets" initiative...the first city in SWFL to step up take the Challenge to take actions to improve safety for people walking and biking. This local-based major bike/ped safety initiative takes a complete streets-approach and provides further support for the FDOT bike/ped safety and complete streets initiative and the related Lee County efforts, and re-enforces what we heard in January during the Bicycle-Friendly Communities expert visit.
BWL's Dec. 2014 Complete Streets Champion of Year award to Bonita

Kudos to Councilwoman Janet Martin for bringing this initiative forward and to Bonita's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee that voted unanimously on Monday to recommend that the city participate in this Challenge. With the media spotlight this month on bike safety issues in SWFL, it's great to see the Bonita elected officials take action.
Bonita's actions were highlighted as part of a larger story in the News-Press 3/19/15 (see box:Bonita Springs takes on 'Mayor's Challenge')

Carmen Monroy, Darla Letourneau and Jenn Hagen

Report from March 18th Bonita Springs City Council Meeting
At the City Council's March 18th meeting, Council considered the recommendation from the City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (unanimously adopted at their 3/16 meeting) for the City to join the Mayors Challenge.  The Council's liaison to the Committee, Councilwoman Janet Martin, brought the proposal to the Council and staff recommended adoption. 

 At the meeting, Councilwoman Martin asked BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau, FDOT District 1's Carmen Monroy, and Bonita city community development planner Jenn Hagen to speak about this initiative.  

BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau gave an overview of the initiative, and talked about the importance for Florida communities to be part of this national focus on making our roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians, given that Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for these vulnerable users and SWFL is one of the most dangerous areas within Florida.  

Letourneau stated that this is an opportunity for Bonita Springs to package all the positive things they're already doing (implementation of your complete streets resolution, design of the  downtown redevelopment project, the Bonita Beach Road visioning, implementation of recommendations from the LAB Steve Clark visit in Jan., and participation in the Blue Zones initiative). It's also a way for Bonita to implement the MPO 2013 Bike Ped Safety Action Plan that jurisdictions have committed to undertake. She urged the Bonita mayor and council members to use their bully pulpit to raise awareness about bike/ped safety and highlight the importance of making Bonita and all Lee County jurisdictions a safer place for people biking and walking.  

Bonita's Jenn Hagen emphasized that many of the seven challenge activities are ones that Bonita Springs already has underway or planned as part of its complete streets policy and its implementation.  She stated  that there is a great deal of flexibility for cities to craft this initiative to focus on areas which need the most attention in their community.   She also highlighted the benefits to Bonita from the Challenges' opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer exchanges and to receive technical assistance from USDOT.

FDOT's Carmen Monroy emphasized the importance of this initiative to District 1 Secretary Hattaway and the statewide bike/ped safety initiative.  She stated that Bonita is the first city in District 1 to accept the Challenge and she thanked the Council for their leadership.

BikeWalkLee and FDOT are working with officials in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, and we are hopeful that they will soon join the Challenge.

Background on the Mayors Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets
Secretary Foxx challenged mayors and local elected officials to take significant action to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities over the next year.  See Mayors' Challenge Executive Summary. 
Here's what Mayors or top elected local officials are challenged to do:
  • ·         Issue a public statement about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety
  • ·         Form a local action team to advance safety and accessibility goals
  • ·         Take local action through the Seven Challenge activities:

Report by Darla Letourneau

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