Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dan Moser Column: Honoring locals who are making a difference

Dan's column this week reports on this year's Injury Prevention Coalition award winners.  Please be sure to thank them for all they're doing to make our community safer for pedestrians and cyclists. He also reports on a recent visit by Dan Burden as part of the Blue Zones project.
Florida Weekly, Outdoors section, December 16, 2015

For those of us who enjoy walking, running, skating and cycling outdoors it’s easy to take for granted the fact that there are others out there working to make it possible to do so. While it should be a given that there’s a safe environment for such basic and beneficial endeavors, the disturbing fact that we live in one of the most dangerous places in the country to be a pedestrian and cyclist means that’s not always the case. But thanks to certain individuals and organizations committed to changing things for the better progress is being made that will allow us to feel safe when using our public rights-of-way.

Each year the Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition recognizes those who make a significant impact in the area of reducing preventable injury and death. Among IPC’s 2015 awardees making a difference specifically for pedestrians and bicyclists are an individual, two organizations, a government program and a media team (for the complete list of awardees, visit Following are those being honored by IPC at its December holiday luncheon:

Steve Chupack, the Citizen Volunteer of the Year, came onto the scene a few years back when he showed up at a BikeWalkLee gathering. A recreational cyclist who lives in Cape Coral, Steve has a passion for safety. He’s engaged and encouraged schools, elected officials, and law enforcement agencies to take action, primarily in the form of education and awareness. Beyond that, Steve is an active member of both BikeWalkLee and Cape Coral Bike-Ped, thus is involved in helping improve the overall environment for cyclists and pedestrians throughout Lee County.

Cape Coral Bike-Ped is IPC’s Organization of the Year. This group of citizen-advocates, city staff members and individuals and businesses from the private sector are the driving force behind Cape Coral being designated as a Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists this year. And while the work that allowed this important achievement to happen didn’t all take place in one year it has been a relatively short time since CC B-P came together to spearhead the effort that resulted in 90 miles of bike routes being identified and marked throughout the city, and, more importantly, convince the city’s leadership (including business leaders) to commit to making their community bike/ped-friendly.

News- Press reporters and editors who are behind the ongoing “Share the Road” campaign are IPC’s Media Partner of the Year. Janine Zeitlan, Laura Ruane and Melanie Payne are the core of the team that brings to the public’s attention the impact of poor road design and road users’ sometimes dangerous behaviors. Their critical data analysis along with relating each victims’ personal stories has resulted in increased public awareness, something that’s an important aspect of IPC’s efforts to make these crashes, injuries, and fatalities less common.

IPC’s Partner of the Year is Lee County EMS. As has been the case since IPC’s inception more than two decades ago, EMS has provided access to grants that allow coalition member organizations to enhance their injury prevention efforts. Examples from this year that relate to outdoor activities include funds to purchase bike lights for distribute in the community and life preservers for loan at public boat launches. Keeping people out of ambulances is, of course, EMS’s ultimate goal, and one that IPC embraces as much as they do.

PACE EH, a program of the Florida Department of Health in Lee County, is IPC’s Program/Outreach Effort of the Year. PACE EH stands for Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health. It is a collaborative effort that brings together residents, local governments and other stakeholders from at-risk neighborhoods to identify and address environmental health issues that are important to the community, including walking and bicycling conditions. The communities involved include Pine Manor, Charleston Park and Tice. Among the initiatives is a health impact assessment to determine public transit ridership and access to safe physical activity, among other elements. The work being done will ultimately lead to improved transportation and non-motorized connectivity plans and actions.

Separate from but complimentary to IPC’s work a national initiative is taking place in Collier County and the south end of Lee County. The Blue Zone project is described by organizers as “a community well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to environment, policy and social networks.” Recently a show-and-tell bike ride was conducted in order for the implementation team to become familiar with some of the infrastructure that serves the village of Estero and city of Bonita Springs. It was a productive outing that included Blue Zone team member Dan Burden, Florida’s first bike/ ped coordinator and world-renowned expert on walkability and bikability. No matter how many times I’ve had the opportunity to hear from or work with Dan, I always come away with both knowledge and inspiration. More about the Blue Zone initiative is sure to follow in upcoming columns. And, as usual, you’ll find much more on this by visiting BikeWalkLee’s blog at

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 and 334- 6417.

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