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Friday, May 29, 2015

Important FDOT Transportation Plan Regional Workshop in Fort Myers June 23rd

  
Every 5 years FDOT holds regional forums around the state to hear from local citizens, staff, and officials about long-term transportation needs in Florida. In the past, SWFL has been overlooked when these regional workshops have been planned. No more! FDOT heard the request from local officials that they wanted for one of the workshops to be held in SWFL. So here's your chance to be heard: Tuesday, June 23rd at the new LeeTran office, 3401 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers. The visioning workshop will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m.


Location of new LeeTran office
Here's your chance to share your vision for better biking and walking facilities, a statewide network of trails, the need to make the roads safer for all users, the need for a robust transit system, for rail to come to SWFL, the need for interchange improvements on the interstate, such as I-75...and the list of possibilities goes on and on. Please take advantage of this opportunity to share your thoughts about Florida's transportation system.

Additional information about the upcoming visioning workshop in Ft. Myers on June 23, 2015.

The Florida Transportation Plan (FTP) is the state’s long range transportation plan for all of Florida and establishes the policy framework for allocating the state and federal transportation funds which flow through FDOT’s 5-year Work Program. The FTP also identifies the roles and responsibilities of all partners for implementing this plan. The SIS comprises the state’s largest and most strategic transportation facilities, including major air, space, water, rail and highway system. SIS facilities are the primary means for moving people and freight between Florida’s diverse regions as well as between Florida and other states and nations. The SIS Plan sets policies to guide decisions about which facilities are designated, where future SIS investments should occur, and how to set priorities among these investments.

A steering committee comprised of representatives from FDOT, state agencies, Federal partners, regional and local governments, modal partners, transportation industry, military and defense partners, citizen groups, community and environmental partners, and business and economic development groups has been meeting since January 2015. Four advisory groups have been established and are currently meeting: Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, Innovation and Economic Development, Quality of Life and Quality Places, and Strategic Intermodal System.

Participants at the regional workshop on June 23rd may be asked to comment on the results of advisory groups, potential goal areas, or any array of transportation planning topics. The upcoming workshop will consist of a half hour of welcome and presentations, followed by three interactive breakout sessions and then adjournment. For the break outs, participants will rotate between three topic areas and be able to comment all issues.

You may also visit the Florida Transportation Website at http://www.floridatransportationplan.com for more information.

If you have any questions feel free to contact D'Juan Harris at 239-225-1976 or Sarah.Catala@dot.state.fl.us; 239-225-1981.













Thursday, May 28, 2015

BWL Column: Rise in fatalities concern for all Lee County road users

Today's BWL column looks at the spike in traffic fatalities on Lee County roads this year and the implications for people walking and biking.

BikeWalkLee Column in "Go Coastal" section of News-Press--May 28, 2015 

http://www.news-press.com/story/life/outdoors/2015/05/27/rise-fatalities-concern-lee-county-road-users/28012639/

Should bikers and walkers who use Lee County roads care about a sudden spike in traffic crashes and resulting deaths?

Absolutely, because anything that impacts any road user ultimately affects every road user.
Let’s say the reason for the rise in crashes and deaths is poor road conditions — roads that are overused, under-maintained or poorly designed. Cyclists and pedestrians will also suffer from deteriorating conditions, from rundown roads and from a higher risk for those conditions to spawn crashes that could include people walking or cycling on or alongside the road.

The same logic applies if the reason for the spike in fatalities is due to a failure of equipment — vehicles malfunctioning in ways that result in collisions and possible injuries. People walking or cycling nearby could be collateral damage just the same.

If the real reason for the risk rise is driver error — say, inattention, impairment or imprudent speed — cyclists and pedestrians sharing those roadways are even more at risk. If bad drivers are causing more accidents that result in more traffic deaths, bikers and walkers surely stand no chance if they become part of such a pile-up.

This year-to-date spike in traffic fatalities may just be an anomaly, the result of more traffic bringing more problems. (The fact that the highest fatality year on record — 2007 — was also the last economic boom year before the recession reined in traffic, offers an interesting correlation.) Nonetheless, those who worry about the safety of our roadways would be wise to watch this trend closely, particularly to ascertain what’s really causing the calamities.

If it’s bad roads, an infrastructure investment may be in order — particularly in complete street designs, which make roads safer for all users by building in enough space for every user to move safely, whatever the method.

If it’s bad drivers, then more enforcement and education may be necessary — to catch bad drivers before they cause harm and to remind good drivers to pay better attention to the task at hand (which is to drive safely, and nothing else).

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 www.BikeWalkLee.org.


Ready to ride or run?
Run: Become part of the oldest running group around, by taking part in the Fort Myers Track Club Membership 5K on Saturday, June 6. Participation makes you a member for the next year, and the camaraderie will keep you coming back — for example, to their Summer Fun Runs which kick off June 11 and alternate between Thursday and Tuesdays every other week throughout the summer. Check out www.fortmyerstrackclub.com for details.

Ride: Support women and bikes at Women’s Ride Day on Sunday with 15-, 30- and 45-mile rides beginning at 8 a.m. Starts from Go Girl Cycling, 9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.

Both: Summer tris are getting under way… so grab your gear for the Naples Fitness Challenge on June 7, or time your training to get ready for upcoming events in Englewood (July 18), Captiva (Sept. 13) or Marco Island (Oct. 5).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lee MPO new website for 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan


The Lee MPO recently launched its new website for the 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) to provide the public with an opportunity to keep informed and to participate in the process. Check out the "Frequently asked questions" page for background information.  There's also a form online that allows you to share a project idea or suggestion for a transportation.  Bookmark this page to keep up to date on opportunities to attend public meetings and workshops, and participate in surveys to share your thoughts and add your voice to the discussion.

Introduction on website:
The Lee County 2040 Transportation Plan is the 25-year vision of how to meet our community’s transportation needs and expectations through 2040. The plan will incorporate all types of travel including driving, biking, walking, public transportation, and freight movement. To identify the projects that will best serve Lee County, the MPO needs a clear understanding of how people and goods move around the county now and how they expect to move in the future. Your ideas and opinions are critical to create a successful plan. Public meetings, workshops, and surveys will give you an opportunity to share your thoughts and add your voice to the discussion of transportation needs in the community.
Please stay in touch with us throughout the LRTP’s development and make your voice heard.


 Website link
FAQ link 

For more background on what's at stake in the 2040 Transportation Plan:

BikeWalkLee Blog May 4, 2015:Time to participate in development of Lee County's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)


The Lee MPO's 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) process is underway and it's time for citizens to participate.  Below is an overview of the process, along with a resource document prepared by BikeWalkLee.

TIGER Grant project scheduled for July 5

News-Press reporter Craig Handel attended last night's TIGER pre-construction open house and wrote this report.

News-Press, May 27, 2015

BY CRAIG HANDEL, chandel@news-press.com 

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/2015/05/26/tiger-grant-project-scheduled-july/27992325/


Work is scheduled to begin July 5 on the first stage of the Complete Streets Initiative.
The first areas worked on will be U.S. 41 and Constitution Boulevard, as well as Lee Road. Sidewalks along the south side will be installed. That area was chosen first so it can be completed before San Carlos Elementary students return to school, Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization staff director Don Scott said.

The MPO played host to a pre-construction open house for the initiative at the Estero Community Park Recreation Center on Tuesday night. Project representatives were available to answer questions and review the display boards exhibited.

In the next 18 months, Scott said the project will connect three major areas: the Tour de Parks Loop, which includes areas around Daniels Parkway and Colonial Boulevard; the University Loop around FGCU; and the Bi-County Connector, which will link Lee and Collier counties. Together, the three segments form a system for walking, bicycling and transit use. A total of 11 new LeeTran bus shelters will be built.

5/26 Open House (photo by DLetourneau)
These pathways, paved shoulders and sidewalks will connect commercial, residential, education and recreation facilities that will provide commuters, tourists and others the freedom to move safer.
This project is funded by a $10.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant awarded to Lee County by the United States Department of Transportation in 2013.

With the project projected at $9.8 million, there may be $600,000 available to work on an additional element.

“We’re filling in gaps,” Scott said. “Most people will notice there’s major streets on Daniels and Colonial not having facilities for stretches.”
MPO's Don Scott explains a segment to Deborah Chesna. (Photo by DLetourneau)

While he has no data, Scott said more people are riding bicycles. After the project is completed, he said there will be four years of studies to get counts on bicycle-pedestrian use.

Bonita Springs resident Fred Forbes said he’s for bike paths and separating bicyclists from motorists. “It appears they’ve achieved that,” he said.

Naples’ Deborah Chesna said she’s for infrastructure that gets people moving.
“There’s a lot of pathways that continue to go on,” Chesna said. “I’m for anything that gets us off roads and for families to ride so we can give them options.”

Darla Letourneau, a member of BikeWalkLee, said this project should make it somewhat safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians. However, she said the areas that will be worked on still need improvements at intersections and in areas to help get neighborhoods connected. She said she has received an email from a citizen who doesn’t feel this is a complete street because of issues like these.

“This isn’t the end of it,” Letourneau said. “We now need to come back into the local jurisdictions and maximize use of the facilities.

“This is one piece of the puzzle. Nothing by itself reduces safety. There also has to be enforcement, education, other connections. Frankly, I’m concerned about the intersections because that’s where most of the crashes are.”
Staff and Contractor TIGER Team

Projected timeline for start of Complete Streets Initiative

July: Constitution Boulevard (U.S. 41 to Constitution Circle): Sidewalk along south side; Lee Road (Sanibel Boulevard to Alico Road): Sidewalk along south side
October: Corkscrew Road (Woodlands to Ben Hill Griffin Parkway): Paved shoulders, both sides
November: Daniels Parkway (Six Mile Cypress to I-75): Pathway along south side; Colonial Boulevard (East of Winkler Street to Veronica Shoemaker Road): Pathway along north side
December: Sanibel Boulevard (Iris Road to Lee Road): Sidewalk along south side
January: FGCU (South entrance road): Pathway along south side
February: Daniels Parkway (Treeline Avenue to Red Sox Stadium): Pathway along south side.

What is a Tiger Grant?
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, provides a unique opportunity for the Department of Transportation to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives. Since 2009, Congress has dedicated more than $4.1 billion for six rounds to fund projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or a metropolitan area.

Dan Moser Column: Pain before gain on Fort Myers Beach

Dan's column this week  reviews the history of the Estero Blvd. Improvement project on Fort Myers Beach, which is set to begin construction later this year.  His advocacy corner criticizes FGCU for its lack of bike/ped-friendliness, as the TIGER project gets underway.
It’s going to get much worse before it gets a whole lot better. That may not seem like a good thing but it’s actually great news for residents and visitors of Fort Myers Beach now that work has begun to make the long-awaited improvements to Estero Boulevard. According to project managers, it may take up to 10 years to complete this massive undertaking, which includes utility work, stormwater management, and sorely needed bicycle, pedestrian and transit upgrades — all on the one and only through road on the island.
Even before the community became a municipality in 1995 it was obvious that Estero Boulevard needed to be fixed, especially for the many people walking and riding bikes. To that end, one of the first orders of business the newly formed Town of Fort Myers Beach undertook was to formally lay out its wishes for this county road that serves as the main arterial. Experts were brought in, including renowned planner Dan Burden, to help craft the plan for a walkable community, and the resulting product was formally adopted into the town’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a guiding document required by the state of Florida. Seeing it finally begin to come to fruition — even knowing all the pain the work will bring — is something I and others were starting to think would never happen.

A good part of Estero Boulevard will include all these features.
A good part of Estero Boulevard will include all these features.
Of course there are those who think that because more motor vehicle lanes aren’t being added that this is not really a fix. But there’s no practical or affordable way additional right-of-way could be purchased, so there’s always going to be bottlenecks at either end of Estero Island at the bridges, even if more cars could be accommodated on the roads. So the design that will become reality is the best option for residents, visitors and businesses. I hope those who continue to believe more motor vehicle travel lanes is the answer will eventually accept this Complete Streets project as the real solution.
Advocacy update
Work on projects funded by the TIGER grant — the $10 million award to improve our bike/ped environment — has begun on roads and sidepaths from Colonial Boulevard south to the Collier County line. One notable change that strays from the formally agreed upon project list comes from FGCU. The university’s unexpected backtrack comes with an even bigger surprise. It is nixing the main entrance bike access improvements that would finally bring it closer to the standard of the roads it connects to by claiming “environmental concerns” and “future plans for the entrance.” The bigger surprise is that the “future plans” are already happening: it is somehow creating an elaborate entrance instead, something the university never mentioned as the TIGER plan moved forward, all the way to final design and as recently as a TIGER stakeholder meeting just a few weeks ago.

Since the inception of FGCU, it has resisted making access to the campus bike/ped-friendly, even though both the university and Lee County included bike lanes and sidepaths on the campus’s internal road and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, respectively. When it first opened, the campus’s main entrance initially lacked even one non-motorized access feature. No bike lanes, bike path or even a sidewalk. After a lot of pressure was put on, FGCU added a pedestrian-scaled sidepath (i.e., sidewalk) on one side of the four-lane entrance road that it considered adequate to accommodate all non-motorized traffic. The north entrance, created a few years after the other, is no better, having only a sidepath on one side.

The TIGER grant project was supposed to add a multi-use path on the south side of the main entrance. Early in the TIGER process it balked at the bikes lanes, so the south side path was reluctantly approved as the only feature to be added. But much to the dismay of many who worked so hard on this project, and even though it would cost nothing, FGCU later decided that allowing even that was going to be difficult, supposedly because they would have trouble obtaining necessary environmental permits. That reason apparently was its own $1.5 million plan, which creates an entrance that completely ignores those on foot or bike. Oh, did I mention the university announced this grand entrance plan just days before a public meeting is scheduled to take input on its master plan update and never told the folks on the TIGER grant stakeholder committee about it at the earlier mentioned meeting? So much for transparency and serving as a model of sustainability. For more about this and many other important community matters, visit bikewalklee.blogspot.com.

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

Upcoming Events 
 Running/walking:
 FMTC Membership 5K, Saturday, June 6, Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
 Various summertime dates, FMTC Summer Fun Runs, (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
 Various summertime dates, 3D Racing Summer Series, (3dracinginc.com)
 Cycling and other events:
 SWFL Critical Mass, Friday, June 5, downtown Fort Myers (swflcriticalmass.wordpress.com)
 Wheels & Wings, Sunday, July 12, Punta Gorda (peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com)
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 bikepedmoser@gmail.com or 334- 6417.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 25th: Upcoming running/walking/biking/tri events

It's summertime and there are lots of running/biking/tri events happening!


Running/walking:

·         Saturday, June 6: Fort Myers Track Club 5K Membership Run, CenturyLink Sports Complex / Hammond Stadium, 14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers. By entering this race you will automatically become a Fort Myers Track Club member for the 2015-2016 year. This is a great way to start your racing season and be a part of the Fort Myers Track Club. This is also the annual general membership meeting, held immediately after the race. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)

·         Thursday, June 11: Fort Myers Track Club 2015 Summer Fun Run Series kicks off with a 2+/- mile run at 7 p.m. starting at Fort Myers Brewing Co., 12811 Commerce Lakes Drive. $4 members, $5 nonmembers (or $20/$25 for the entire six-run series). (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)

·         Saturday, June 20: Sugden Stride 5K, the first event in the Elite Events Summer 5K Series. Sugden Regional Park, Naples. (www.eliteevents.com)
·         Tuesday, June 23: Fort Myers Track Club 2015 Summer Fun Run Series kicks off with a 2+/- mile run at 7 p.m. starting at Run Florida, 13101 McGregor Blvd. $4 members, $5 nonmembers (or $20/$25 for the entire six-run series). (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)

Cycling and other events:

·         Sunday, May 31: Women’s Ride Day. 15-, 30- and 45-mile rides beginning at 8 a.m. Starts from Go Girl Cycling, 9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Unit 135, Fort Myers. Details on www.eventbrite.com
·         Friday, June 5: SWFL Critical Mass ride. Join a family fun 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 at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (www.SWFLCM.com)
·         Sunday, July 12: Wheels and Wings VI, Beef O'Bradys, 1105 Taylor Road Punta Gorda. Five different rides: 15 mile (Mystery Ride) 32-/50-/62-miles and a 40-mile Gravel Grinder. Food, fun and more. (www.active.com)
·         Sunday, July 26: Join the Caloosa Riders to ride 100km as part of the Rapha Women’s 100, a global event getting thousands of women around the world to ride 100km. Meet at Daniels Crossing Plaza and ride from Fort Myers to Captiva Island, in a nonsupported, self-contained no-drop ride. Please be able to ride 18-20 mph, and helmets are required. (www.caloosariders.org).
·          
Triathlons:

·         Sunday, June 7: Naples Fitness Challenge Triathlon, Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. (www.thefitnesschallengetriathlon.com)
·         Sunday, July 12: American Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (www.active.com)
·         Saturday, July 18: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon 2015. Englewood Beach, Shelter 3, 2100 N. Beach Road., Englewood (www.active.com)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lee County Bicyclist Fatalities: 2009-2015

For last night's Ride of Silence in Fort Myers, CRBC member Mike Swanson created a poster that lists the dates and locations of all the 29 bike fatalities in Lee County from 2009 to date.  Last night's Rides of Silence in Lee County were in honor of these fallen cyclists.