Sunday, January 31, 2016

FGCU Infrastructure Study of Estero lays foundation for creation of walkable/bikeable community

An important first step was taken by the Village of Estero towards the goal of making it a walkable/bikeable community, with the recently completed FGCU Infrastructure Inventory. Kudos to the FGCU team of professors and students, and thanks to BWL's Estero representative for reporting on the progress in Estero. As Doug says, more Estero residents need to speak up in support of a walkable and bikeable future: "We need you to get involved and lend your voice, your energy, your passion, and your connections." To get involved in the next steps, there will be public workshops in the Spring about the recommendations in this report. We'll let you know as soon as those workshops are scheduled. 

The Village of Estero is barely a year old and there are some exciting things happening, especially if you are a bicyclist or a pedestrian. You may have heard last October, the Village Council signed an agreement with FGCU to perform an assessment of the condition of our roads, bike lanes, sidewalks and median landscaping by the end of January 2016. FGCU presented their findings to the Village Council at a Workshop on January 20th and proceeded to knock it out of the park. 

Link to Report
The FGCU team was led by faculty member Dr. Margaret Banyan (who focuses on smart growth, public transportation, and community issues in Southwest Florida) and Dr. Claude Villiers (who has an extensive background in civil engineering, materials and construction). They were joined by a team of seven civil engineering, public administration, and political science students. The Team logged many miles around Estero working on this project.
FGCU Team Leaders: Dr. Villiers and Dr. Banyan
At the January 20th presentation, Dr. V (as he is called), went into a detail analysis on how each of the road’s conditions were analyzed. He went on to state that the roads in Estero are in pretty good condition with only 12% requiring immediate attention. One of those roads is Estero Parkway. The report stated that there was “severe raveling throughout the entire road.” It also noted that, the “pavement appears to be very thin and is not flush with curbing (~1 inch)…and that immediate attention is recommended.” The Team provided pictures and took videos to demonstrate the conditions.
Estero Parkway has severe raveling
Next up was the review of our bike lanes and sidewalks or lack thereof. Dr. Banyan led that discussion. Again, no surprise that Estero Parkway is lacking in biking and walking facilities. The recommendation is “new 10’ Shared Use Path – Asphalt and Buffered and Marked Bike Lanes” on both sides would improve connectivity, usage, safety and access. Another area of concern in Estero is River Ranch Road which requires new sidewalks to repair gaps to protect those that walk to and from the high school. These findings are certainly no surprise to anyone that drives, bikes or walks in Estero.

The final report included a “heat map” using data provided by Walk Score. This data highlighted the areas that have the closest proximity of amenities in the Village. These maps are a good tool to measure the Estero baseline of walkability and to help to prioritize infrastructure improvements. 

Sidewalk "heat map" shows highest Walk Score at Coconut Pointe
 Estero has a lot of work to do. Thankfully, the Village Council had the vision to reach out to FGCU to perform this assessment. Based on discussion at the meeting between the Council, Dr. Banyan, and Dr. Villiers, it sounds as if the Village Council is very pleased with the results.

As stated in the News-Press article Three Worst Estero Roads" Identified published on January 23rd, Councilman Jim Boesch called the involvement of the university terrific,” and expressed hope that FCGU will remain involved with the Village in the future. The article went on to say "It provides a baseline assessment of our infrastructure of roads and sidewalks and landscaping throughout the entire village,” said Village Manager Steven Sarkozy. The Village and Lee County are due to negotiate an agreement to settle what roads will remain with county government and which will become property of Estero. It does add to the understanding of what the conditions are, it will influence whether we take property back that is not well-maintained,” Sarkozy said. For Sarkozy, the question is one for Estero’s elected officials. The village council will ultimately decide,” Sarkozy said. To read the entire article, click here.
Bike "heat map" shows need for additional biking facilities
The next steps
The Village Council has estimated that they will have a surplus of approximately $5M at the end September (FY 15/16). In addition to putting some money in Reserves, the Council has always had a vision to develop a 5 year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to put some money back into Estero on things that the community is interested in. Now that we know what needs to be corrected and in what timeframe, it will be up to the Village of Estero Council and the County BoCC to work together and agree on a solution. 

Also, I am hopeful that money will be put in next year’s budget to hire a consultant to help create the Village’s first Bike/Ped Master Plan. Our neighbors Bonita Springs and Cape Coral are each presently working on their Bike/Ped Master Plans with the help of consultants.  

How you can help? To make Estero a safer and more inviting village, we need many more Estero residents to speak up for a walkable and bikeable future. The Village Center is in the process of being planned. We need you to get involved and lend your voice, your energy, your passion, and your connections. The residents of Estero will have an opportunity to have their voices heard at public workshops later this Spring to help determine what is in the 5 year CIP. Stay tuned for dates and times. Until that time, I hope you will all join me and let the Village Council know that keeping bicyclists and pedestrians safe is a priority.

Just as everyone enjoys the vision that our leaders had and continue to support regarding the “look and feel” of Estero, I too, have a vision that the Village of Estero will be leaders in Lee County for safe multi-modal transportation. I am hopeful that one day the Village of Estero will be named a Bicycle Friendly Community, just like Sanibel and Cape Coral. Too often in Estero, we are all competing for the same space on our roads. Bicyclists and pedestrians are on the road with motor vehicles due to a lack of bike lanes and shared use paths. When you walk out the door, you should be able to make a choice as to your mode of transportation. Am I going to drive, bike or walk to my destination? When each of these modes of transportation has its own space, we are all safer. This is our chance to shape the future of the Village of Estero. I am excited, are you?
Doug Saxton
Many thanks to Dr. Banyan, Dr. V and the FGCU team for an eye-opening report. It’s time for visions to become reality.

Report by Doug Saxton, Estero Resident and BikeWalkLee Estero Representative

Village of Estero post 2/1/16:  FGCU submits final report of infrastructure inventory

FGCU Study: Estero Infrastructure Inventory (prepared for Village of Estero), Jan. 29, 2016

FGCU PowerPoint presentation on Inventory study to Estero Village Council, Jan. 20, 2016

NBC-2 News 1/28/16: Potholes, cracks in Estero roads need 'immediate attention'

News-Press 1/23/16: Three worst Estero roads identified

BikeWalkLee  related blog posts:
Jan. 6, 2016:Invite to Jan. 12th Estero Village Center workshop

July 13, 2015: Estero citizens press for bike/ped facilities on Estero Parkway 
February 7, 2012: Estero: Roadside revisions begin

March 8, 2011:Commissioners back Downtown Estero--mixed use project

February 16, 2012:NBC-2 News: STEM students contribute to street safety [Estero H.S.]

March 20, 2014: ULI Forum, All Eyes on Estero, at FGCU last week points to ways to make Estero walkable/healthy community

December 21, 2010:Estero planning groups' priorities include safer bike paths

November 17, 2010: Estero river district plan includes complete streets features 

Feb. 1st: Upcoming walking/running and biking events

The weather is going supposed to be nicer next weekend, so plan to participate in a group run or's fun!And don't forget to sign up for the great Royal Palm Classic ride on March 13th.

Upcoming events
News-Press: 2015 Edison Festival of Lights 5K

·        Saturday, Feb. 6: 5th annual Strides for Education 5K, to benefit Take Stock in Children. 7 a.m. at Florida Southwest State College in Fort Myers (
·        Saturday, Feb. 13: Rotary’s Run for the Rose Garden 5K. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Rotary Park, Cape Coral. (
·        Saturday, Feb. 13: Gold Medal 5K. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Artis Naples, to benefit Gulf Coast Runners Youth Development Fund. (
·        Sunday, Feb. 14: Paradise Coast Marathon, Half and 5K. Starts and ends at Florida Sports Park, Naples. (
·        Saturday, Feb. 20: Edison Festival of Light 5K, downtown Fort Myers. Starts at 5:45 p.m. with thousands of spectators to cheer you on. (
·        Saturday, Feb. 27: Swamp Stomp 5K, to benefit the Caloosa Humane Society. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Grandeur Oaks Town Center, LaBelle. (
·        Saturday, Feb 27: TALC Scholarship Fund Run 5K. Benefits go to scholarships to local high school seniors. Rotary Park, Cape Coral. (
·        Sunday, Feb. 28: Naples Coconut 5K. Benefits a number of youth groups. Starts at 7:30 a.m. at Lowdermilk Park, Naples. (
·        Sunday, March 6: Hooters Half Marathon and 2-Person Relay. Starts and finishes at Hooters in Fort Myers. Benefits Barbara’s Friend and Moffitt Cancer Center. 7 a.m. start. (
·        Thursday, March 17: St. Patrick’s Day 5K Fun Run. Starts at 6:15 p.m. from Rip Tide Brewing Company in Naples (
·        Saturday, March 19: Pelican Pride 5K Run/Walk. Supports Pelican Elementary (which is also where it starts and finishes) 7:30 start. (
·        Saturday, March 26: Eggs and Ears 5K and Fun Run. Starts at 8 a.m. at Lakes Park, Fort Myers. (

·        Friday, Feb. 5: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. Greet the New Year and join a family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix (beginning at 6:45 p.m. for a 7:15 p.m. roll-out) at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (
A Fort Myers Critical Mass Friday evening ride
·        Friday, Feb. 26: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather beginning at 6:45 p.m. for a 7:15 roll-out for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended.
·        Saturday, Feb. 28: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
·        Sunday, March 13: 18th annual Royal Palm Classic. Join the Caloosa Riders for an early Saint Patrick’s Day riding of the green! Starting from Fort Myers Brewing Company, 12811 Commerce Lakes Drive, Fort Myers, at 8 a.m. Ride distances of 15, 40, 62 and 80 miles. Full rest stops and SAG support included. (
·        Sunday, March 13: Annual Everglades Ride: 16 or 62 miles if you stay on the pavement, 27 miles if you don’t (options to adjust distance with all choices).Started from McLeod Park in Everglades City, benefits Friends of River of Grass Greenway and Friends of Fakahatchee. (
·        Saturday, April 2: Pedal and Play in Paradise, offering ride distances of 62, 30, 15 and a mystery ride (all supported), plus free events Friday afternoon if yu register for the Saturday ridge. It al starts in historic Punta Gorda. (

·        None scheduled locally, check or for events statewide.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bonita Springs City Council takes action in support of complete streets/livable communities

At the Jan. 20th Bonita City Council meeting, they approved three items that demonstrate that real progress is being made in implementing the Council's vision for downtown redevelopment, as well as implementing complete streets and a multi-modal approach in its transportation planning. All these projects underway (downtown redevelopment, traffic study with multi-modal/complete streets focus, bike/ped master plan development, and the Bonita Beach Rd. visioning study) are aimed at making Bonita Springs a place that people want to live, work, and play. Not only will Bonita benefits from these projects, they are serving as a model for others in SWFL. Kudos to the Bonita Springs City Council and staff for their vision and leadership.

Downtown Redevelopment Project
The construction is well underway on the reconstruction of Old 41 Rd. in downtown Bonita, and last week the Council approved the first big project to move into the Old 41 Rd. corridor as part of the city's efforts to revitalize the area. The Council unanimously approved zoning changes for The Mosaic @ The Preserve at Oak Creek, a mixed use housing project complex to be located on Old 41 Rd. and Dean St.  The two major buildings will occupy the site, one an apartment house (272 units), the other a mixed use building and residential and commercial space.  Construction is scheduled to start later this year.   

See these newspaper articles for more information:
The Traffic Study

Also on the 1/20/16 agenda was a presentation of the Traffic Study by McMahon and Associates, the firm tasked by the City in June 2015 to update the City's 2008 Traffic Master Plan, with an emphasis on opportunities for multi-modal and complete streets network improvements.  The report includes an inventory of all road, bike/ped facilities, along with a prioritization of projects and cost estimates.  The report also shows ways to expand the grid network as a way to address the Bonita Beach Rd. congestion problem.

The report will now serve as a resource as the Council develops its 5-year CIP and other strategic planning.
Below are links to the PowerPoint presentation and the full report:
Bike/Ped Master Plan
Also on the agenda was a proposed scope of work for expanding the McMahon Associates Traffic Study contract to add a new task--the development of a city-wide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. According to the scope, the City's overall objective is "to provide for connectivity across their available network, link the system to pedestrian and bicycle trip generators, provide links to parks, schools, etc., and be safe for these proposed multi-modes of transportation.  The City has been planning for a number of years to be a destination, and also address its diverse community of year-around residents, as well as the seasonal population."

The project includes a public workshop to be scheduled at the end of March, to receive public input and to reach user groups.  The City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board will be involved in this effort.
Thanks to the City Manager and staff for moving this project forward so quickly.  It's exciting to see several communities in Lee County busy working on developing bike/ped master plans--Cape Coral's plan is getting underway this month, and next year the plan for Fort Myers Beach will get underway, and we're hopeful that the Village of Estero will follow suit, based on the recent FGCU study for the Village of Estero, which recommended the creation of a bike/ped master plan.  
Previous BikeWalkLee-related blog posts on Bonita Springs 

Dan Moser Column: Active events depend on volunteers

Dan's column spotlights the important and often thankless job
 of the many volunteers that put on active events. Be sure to
 thank them next time you participate in an event...better yet, 
be one of the volunteers. Thank you!

Florida Weekly "Outdoors" section, 1/27/16

Talk about dedication and commitment — River, Roots & Ruts Half-Marathon and Tour de Cape, two of our local area’s most popular and volunteer-intensive events, highlighted the strong commitment of local volunteers. Both events took place recently, each happening a week apart but each also on a day after our area experienced wet and rough weather that made conditions for participants quite challenging. It was extremely difficult for volunteer organizers as well.

For RRR volunteers it meant climbing over downed vegetation and trudging through slippery clay trails — some completely submerged in water from the deluge the day and night before — to man their posts. Besides being race director Steve Brookman’s last as the organizer, it was also one of the messiest of his 13-year tenure. Less muddy but just as messy in its own way, Tour de Cape volunteers had to contend with unbelievably windy conditions following a night of thunderstorms that forced a late start to the rides. This severe weather happened less than a week after tornadoes struck the city, meaning many were a bit on edge. Bike riders who braved the gales were able to do so because of the support provided by volunteers who did whatever necessary to ensure rest stops and breakdown assistance services were available, a feat in itself considering the relentless winds. Organizers from both events are to be commended for how well they and their respective teams of staff and volunteers pulled things off under such conditions. On days like these it’s pretty easy to roll over and stay in bed, something participants can easily do — forfeiting only their entrance fee and maybe their pride (or perhaps risking razzing from others who did make it) — but organizers depend on their volunteers and most are committed and do indeed make it to ensure the event takes place, even under difficult circumstances.

The next time you take part in a running, walking or cycling event, thank the volunteers who make it happen. Better yet, pick one or two events a year to work rather than enter as a participant. You’ll get a much better understanding of how much work goes into them, be more forgiving when things aren’t quite perfect and come away knowing you did your part. Your efforts will be appreciated by the organizers and participants alike. Check out the list of upcoming events on this page for volunteer opportunities. Whether you’re wanting to take a break from competing or just wish to help out, your efforts will be welcome and appreciated.

Advocacy update 
Continuing on the theme of volunteerism, a Lee County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee citizen member recently brought to the committee’s attention a problem seldom even considered as such by the general public and transportation professionals alike: the routine carnage that takes place on our roads involving wildlife and domestic animals. Although we all too frequently read about Florida panthers being killed by vehicles on our roads, they represent only a very small number of the many other animals killed on a daily basis. Nationally, according to the Federal Highway Administration, “death by car represents a serious threat to 21 endangered or threatened species, including Key deer, bighorn sheep, ocelot, red wolves, desert tortoises, American crocodiles and Florida panthers. Nine panthers were killed by vehicles in 2011, 16 in 2012.” The final Florida panther death count from 2015 is 38 with 26 caused by motor vehicles. (Source:

Lee County BPAC member Ileana Sisson is asking that this issue be addressed by the committee that’s made up of community volunteers. In her letter to Lee DOT staff facilitators she states, “Roads are being built dividing sensitive and protected lands without thought to the animals and our natural habitat. I believe it’s time to make positive changes and to consider the impact of all roads on wildlife and the surrounding habitat and to adopt new road rules, laws and regulations that take nature into consideration as well.” She closes her request with, “I encourage everyone to view the video below and to think how future roads can be made safer for all pedestrians including our fellow earthlings and for DOT, engineers and County Commissioners to take action. Paradise is not paradise without nature.”

Visit BikeWalkLee’s blog at to track this matter and find out how you can help.

Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and pathways.

Upcoming Events:

Cycling and other events:
Dan Moser is a longtime bicycle/ pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him and 334- 6417.