Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dan Moser column: be the eyes of public works for safer sidewalks and pathways

When you are running, walking or cycling, you may encounter a blocked sidewalk (garbage cans), low hanging tree branch or a pothole in the right of way. In this week's Dan Moser column in Florida Weekly, suggestions on how get the issues resolved. Click here for one-pager with all who/what/when/how to report (keep this handy).

Every time we turn the faucet handle and water flows we should be thankful for our public works departments.

The same goes for having the ability to walk, ride our bikes, or drive our cars on safe facilities, even though (generally through no fault of the public works folks) motorists clearly have more for which to be thankful.

There’s no doubt that the women and men who maintain and operate our public infrastructure do a lot with limited financial resources. But because funds are so limited they can use our assistance by being their eyes and directing them to things needing to be addressed that they may overlook.

With summer and its frequent rain upon us we’re sure to deal with standing water and overgrown vegetation that creates problems for runners, walkers and cyclists.

In some cases, once the party responsible for addressing the concern is notified it’s quickly resolved.

A drainage plate and crumbling asphalt at the intersection of Linhart Avenue and Magnolia Street in Fort Myers is an example of public works problems that should be reported. 
A drainage plate and crumbling asphalt at the intersection of Linhart
Avenue and Magnolia Street in Fort Myers is an example of public works
problems that should be reported. DAN MOSER / FLORIDA WEEKLY
That might mean simply taking care of potential problems near your own property or asking a neighbor to trim his bushes or branches back from the sidewalk or pathway or to clean out his drainage ditch (or doing it for him if he is elderly of otherwise unable to do it himself).

If that’s not practical or sensible (in what seems to be an American trend, not everyone is cooperative or appreciates being asked to take responsibility for problems they are causing) reporting it to the jurisdiction in charge of the right of way is in order.

Along with landscaping overgrowth and standing water, potholes, uneven sidewalk segments, ADA violations or otherwise hazardous conditions are other problems to report.

Seeking relief when motor vehicles or other large objects block sidewalks may result in being referred to code enforcement or even law enforcement but it’s worth following up when the violation is chronic or creates a dangerous situation.

As well, poor design may be beyond what a general “request for action” may get resolved by the operations folks but it can serve to get the matter on the radar of those who need to address it as a capital project.

One thing that’s apparently underappreciated by our various political and executive staff leadership when budgeting for maintenance and operations is the savings realized when those aspects of our infrastructure are adequately funded.

Think of your own vehicles or home - deferring maintenance or necessary repairs ends up costing much more in the end and sometimes takes a piece of equipment or the facility completely out of service for much more time than routine maintenance would have.

Like any prevention program, “pay now or pay a lot more later” is a fact that cannot be ignored.

This BikeWalkLee page lists the problems to look for, and a county, state and city-by-city list of where to report the issue, either by calling or through the internet.

Problems to report include maintenance and operations issues that affect your safety and convenience, which could include a safety hazard in the road or on sidewalk, missing bike signage, potholes, request for debris pick-up, need for vegetation trimming, a crosswalk push button that isn’t working, a sidewalk in disrepair, a bike lane turn sensor that’s not working, a shared use path that needs to be repaved, etc.

Information to give to public works representatives includes a description of the problem, location (be specific, including a street address if possible), and photos illustrating the problem. Determine which jurisdiction it’s in (state, county or local road).

If you don’t know, start with Lee County and they can forward your request to the appropriate jurisdiction. ¦

- 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 and 334- 6417.

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.