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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Police train to patrol Cape Coral streets by bicycle

The Cape Coral Police Department is launching a bike patrol program as part of a collaboration with the City of Cape Coral, Cape Coral Bike-Ped, BikeWalkLee, and the Lee MPO to improve bike/ped safety in Lee County.  As one of the officers pointed out, "If people see the police on bikes I would hope motorists would be more cautious."  Kudos to the Cape Coral Police!
 News-Press, Nov. 28, 2014 by Cristela Guerra

BWL Column: Newly connected trails offer rare view of island

This week's BWL column, written by Tom Sharbaugh, shares a new hidden gem of a walking/biking trail on Sanibel Island. Thanks, Tom for the article and photos! [Note: most photos below did not appear in printed article due to space constraints.] Do you have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you'd like to share with others?  Tell us about it at info@bikewalklee.org, and we can feature it in an upcoming column.


BikeWalkLee Column in "Go Coastal" Section of News-Press, Nov. 27, 2014 , By Tom Sharbaugh


Sanibel has many features people are drawn to, including its Gulf beaches, the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, Shell Museum, Historical Museum and Village, shops, restaurants and a popular shared-use path that can take you to all of those destinations.

But just across the Sanibel Causeway, near the entrance to the island, is a hidden gem you have probably never seen.

Together, two newly connected trails offer a serene escape from the crowds and a rare view of the island as it used to be. They take trail users through various habitats including tropical hardwood forest, pine flatwoods, wetland forest and open water habitats that are home to many types of wildlife — and they provide a glimpse of one of Sanibel’s earliest homesteads.
 
 Starting from the Causeway, the first component of the adventure is Pond Apple Trail, which begins at the parking lot for the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, on the left-hand side of Causeway Boulevard just after coming onto the island. This trail traverses a 40-acre wildlife preserve operated by the city of Sanibel.

Set out on this meandering trail and you’ll quickly leave the noise of civilization behind. Cut through an area of thick vegetation, this section of trail will make you think you’ve been transported to the rain forest.

Along the way, keep your eyes open for wildlife. The preserve is known as home to bald eagles, wood storks, alligators, river otters and bobcats. After 0.75 miles, the trail emerges from the forest and circles a complex of large ponds, where a variety of birds often feed. Herons, egrets, anhinga and cormorants are frequent visitors.

On the far side of the ponds, the Pond Apple Trail connects with the new Shipley Trail, opened in March by the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation as part of its new Bailey Homestead Preserve. Connecting the two trails is the Starr D. Thomas Boardwalk, a beautiful raised walkway with railings which zig-zags its way through an area of wetlands.
Bailey Homestead

At the end of the boardwalk the Shipley Trail continues, meandering through an area of tall trees and deep shade and passing by the Bailey Homestead, a charming old-Florida style house that was once home to the Bailey family who were among Sanibel’s earliest settlers. The Bailey home was recently restored by SCCF. Near the home, the trail passes a restoration of the family’s windmill and the remains of the original windmill. The homestead grounds will soon be the new home of SCCF’s Native Plant Nursery.

The Shipley Trail terminates at Roadside Park, which is located on the north side of Periwinkle Way just west of Donax Street, about three-quarters of a mile west of the intersection of Causeway Boulevard and Periwinkle Way. The length of the two combined trails from the Chamber of Commerce parking lot to the Roadside Park parking lot is 1¼ miles, so plan to double that for a round trip. The trails are open year-round for hiking and biking during daylight hours.

If You Go
Trailheads:
East end (Pond Apple Trail): Starts at the parking lot for Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, 1159 Causeway Blvd.
West end (Shipley Trail): Starts at the parking lot for Roadside Park, located on the north side of Periwinkle Way just west of Donax Street and 0.75 mile west of Causeway Boulevard.
Parking: There is a limited number of parking spaces for trail users at the Chamber of Commerce parking lot, so trail users may want to start out from the west end of the Shipley Trail at Roadside Park where there is more parking.
Trail surface: Trail surface is a combination of crushed shell and hard-packed dirt. Surface is ideal for all mountain bikes and hybrids, but can also accommodate narrow tire road bikes. However, watch out for a few areas of loose sand where you’ll need to walk your bike.
Trail amenities: There are numerous benches and picnic tables along the way where trail users can stop to rest, enjoy the view or have a picnic. Please remember to remove any trash. There are no restrooms at Roadside Park or along the trails themselves. However, restrooms and water are available at the Chamber building during operating hours.
Food & beverage options: After traversing the trails, you can return to your start point via the shared-use path along Periwinkle Way. If so, you’ll pass by several popular places for food and beverage: Bennett’s Fresh Roast, The Lazy Flamingo and Dairy Queen.

— 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 BikeWalkLee.org.


Upcoming events

Running/walking:
Thursday: 35th annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Wellness Center 609 SE 13th Court, Cape Coral. 5K run/walk, 1-mile fun run and tot trot, starts at 7:30 a.m.; registration opens 6 a.m. Proceeds to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Saturday, Dec. 6: 36th annual River Run, 10K run and 2-mile walk, across bridges from downtown Fort Myers. Registration 6:30 a.m., run/walk 8 a.m. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Sunday, Dec. 7: Everybody Rides/Runs. Choose a family-friendly chip-timed 5K or half marathon. All finishers will get to run into JetBlue stadium and run right across home plate! 7 a.m. start time for the half marathon. 7:45 a.m. start time for the 5K. (everyonerides.org/)

Cycling and other events:
Friday: Black Friday Century. Fort Myers to Naples and back. Details at caloosariders.org
Sunday: Iron Joe Turkey Ride. Begins and ends at Naples Cyclery, Pavilion Shopping Center, Vanderbilt Beach Road and U.S. 41. Fully supported rides: 7:30 a.m. breakfast; 8 a.m. Metric Century (100 km); 9 a.m. 30 mile; 10 a.m. 14-mile family ride; 10 a.m. Beach Walk. (raceroster.com/events/2014/2892/9th-annual-iron-joe-turkey-ride)

Triathlons:
Sunday, Dec. 21: Christmas Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (active.com)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Moser Column: 'Tis the season to try to stay in shape

Just in time for the annual eating season, Dan invites us to keep our weight under control by participating in some upcoming runs and bike rides.  Happy Holidays!
 
Dan Moser
With Oktoberfest and Halloween behind us — the unofficial starting points of the annual eating season — a big trouble looms for many of us. It seems no matter how much we may try to walk, run, cycle or skate in an attempt to offset the extra calories we invariably add to our diets, it’s never enough to stave off extra pounds. But since most of us will at least try to keep our weight under control, I thought I’d pass along a number of local opportunities to be active in the weeks ahead. Here I offer some hope of reducing the guilt when giving into the many holiday temptations we’ll all be facing.
Now in its 35th year, Fort Myers Track Club’s Turkey Trot 5K (ftmyerstrackclub.com) is a Thanksgiving Day tradition that starts and finishes at Cape Coral Hospital. Last year, almost 2,000 runners and walkers completed the race. No matter what your pace, you’ll never be alone on the course. It’s over well before even the earliest dining times or football games kick-offs so it can be part of anyone’s holiday tradition. FGCU is also hosting its own Thanksgiving Day event: The Gobbler 5K (thegobbler5k.com). For those living in Naples, the Gulf Coast Runners have their ownTurkey Trot 5K (gcrunner.org) on Thanksgiving morning, staged from Cambier Pi Park.

There are plenty of events in the coming weeks to help you work off the extra holiday calories. 
COURTESY PHOTO There are plenty of events in the coming weeks to help you work off the extra holiday calories. COURTE Yet another Thanksgiving morning race happens in Naples: the Gobble Gobble 4- Miler (gobblegobblefourmiler.com) will take place from Venetian Village. With all these opportunities to run or walk before the eating begins there’s little excuse to preemptively burn-off turkey and pumpkin pie calories.
For those looking for a cycling event, the Iron Joe Turkey Ride (naplespathways.org) happens on the Sunday after the holiday, Nov. 30, from the Pavilion Shopping Center in Naples. That’s also a good opportunity to get ready for Cape Coral’s Tour de Cape (tourdecape.net), one of our area’s most popular rides, with distances from 15 to 100 miles. Takes place on Sunday, Jan. 17.
The following weekend begins with the 36th annual River Run 10K & 2-Mile Fun Run/Walk(ftmyerstrackclub.com) on Saturday, Dec. 6. Fort Myers’ oldest race stages from Centennial Park and crosses both bridges. The next day, on Sunday, Dec. 7, you can choose to ride up to 100-miles or run either a half marathon or 5K at Everyone Rides / Everyone Runs (everyonerides.org). JetBlue Park is the location of the start and finish lines as well as an expo. The running courses and shorter distance cycling options wind through the Gateway community.
For anyone over 50, the Florida Senior Games (flasports.com) state championships and national qualifiers takes place again this year in Lee County (a testament to the work done by Lee County Parks & Rec Department as well as its partners in attracting and keeping the state championships here). Besides the cycling, running, race walking and track and field events there are more than 20 other activities taking place. The River Run 10K is a Senior Games championship event that doesn’t require participants to pre-qualify. That’s also the case for the Senior Games 5K run and race-walk, which takes place on Saturday, Dec. 13, at Rotary Park in south Cape Coral. Track and field events, which are being held at South Fort Myers High School on Dec. 13 and 14, require pre-qualification from a local Senior Games venue (except for international visitors). Like track and field, the cycling events that take place in Cape Coral require pre-qualification (again, except for international visitors) with the time trials being on Tuesday, Dec. 9 and road races on Thursday, Dec. 11. Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com) is handling registration and race management for both the 10K and 5K but all other event are being handled by the Florida Sports Foundation (www.flasports.com).
Wait, there’s still more in 2014! Sunday, Dec. 14, is the date of The Best Damn Race  (capecoralbestdamnrace.com), a newcomer to our area with options of a 5K, half- and full marathon. All begin and end at Cape Harbor. And the final local race of the year is Knights of Charity 10K(3dracinginc.com), which happens on Saturday, Dec. 20, in the Three Oaks neighborhood. Remember too, that training for Lee County’s signature trail race, the River, Roots & Ruts Half-Marathon and 5K (rrrtrail.com), which takes place at Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Alva on Sunday, Jan. 11, should be undertaken during the holiday eating season, which should help weight management efforts.
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 at bikepedmoser@gmail.com and 334- 6417.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nov. 24th: Upcoming running/walking/biking/tri events

The weather is perfect for a morning group run or ride, so check out the events coming up in our area.  It's time to sign-up for the Dec. 7th Everybody Rides/Runs event!



Running/walking:
 
Thursday, Nov. 27: 35th annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Wellness Center 609 SE 13th Court, Cape Coral. 5K run/walk, 1-mile fun run and tot trot, starts at 7:30 a.m.; registration opens 6 a.m. Proceeds to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital. (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Saturday, Dec. 6: 36th annual River Run, 10K run and 2-mile walk, across bridges from downtown Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Sunday, Dec. 7: Everybody Rides/Runs. Choose a family-friendly chip-timed 5K or half marathon. All finishers will get to run into JetBlue stadium and run right across home plate! 7 a.m. start time for the half marathon. 7:45 a.m. start time for the 5K. (everyonerides.org/)

Cycling and other events:
Start of the Nov. 15th Bicycle Bully Buster ride


Friday, Nov. 29: Black Friday Century. Fort Myers to Naples and back. Details at caloosariders.org
Sunday, Nov. 30: Iron Joe Turkey Ride. Begins and ends at Naples Cyclery, Pavilion Shopping Center, Vanderbilt Beach Road and U.S. 41. Fully supported rides: 7:30 a.m. breakfast; 8 a.m. Metric Century (100 km); 9 a.m. 30 mile; 10 a.m. 14-mile family ride; 10 a.m. Beach Walk. (www.raceroster.com/events/2014/2892/9th-annual-iron-joe-turkey-ride)

Triathlons:

Sunday, Dec. 21: Christmas Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon (run/bike/run), Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. (www.active.com)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bike/ped issues focus of MPO Board discussion at Nov. 21st meeting


A common theme at the Nov. 21st Lee MPO Board meeting was bike/ped, with an emphasis on safety and complete streets.  Below is a report from the various actions and discussions on Friday:


  1. Presentation of Florida Bicycle Association Citizen Bike Advocate of the Year Award to BikeWalkLee RepresentativeClick here for FBA press release
    In accepting the award Darla Letourneau stated, "While I'm honored by this statewide award, this recognition belongs to the whole amazing BikeWalkLee steering group team."  She thanked the MPO Board (along with the MPO staff and its committees) for its ongoing leadership and strong support of  expanding and improving the county's bike/ped infrastructure; for focusing on the safety of all road users; and promoting a balanced multi-modal transportation system.  "Much work lies ahead, but it's good to recognize the progress we've collectively made in the past few years," Letourneau said.
Ann Pierce spoke during public comment and said, "Darla challenges all of us to embrace both accurate detail and broader views, to move beyond entrenched processes, siloed thinking and favored facts, to act always in pursuit of better governance and the long term well-being of the citizens of Lee County.  This work is offered to those with the wisdom to pick it up and use it." 
  
2.  MPO Board approved TIGER Design/Build team for Complete Streets Initiative

 Finally, the TIGER grant awarded in September 2013, is moving forward to implementation, with the major "design-build" contract being approved at Friday's Board meeting.  The award is being made to Owen Ames Kimball (OAK), with Hole Montes on the design team.  The smaller Construction Engineering Inspection (CEI) services contract was awarded to the Atkins group earlier this summer.  MPO staff will now negotiate the contract with OAK.  Construction will begin in 2016.  To read more details about this grant, click here and about the RFPs.


3.  Cape Coral Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan Scope of Work Approved

Last year's FDOT work plan included funds for the City of Cape Coral to develop a bike/ped master plan, consistent with the MPO's countywide bicycle pedestrian master plan adopted in 2011.  Building on the recently completed 90-mile bicycle routes system, the project will develop an inventory of needed bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Cape Coral that will help guide the implementation of those facilities. Click here to read the scope of work.  The RFP process to select a consultant team should get underway in January.

3.  Bike/Ped Injuries/Fatalities Update
MPO Staff Director Don Scott provided his monthly update to the Board on bike/ped injuries and fatalities in Lee County.  In 2014 to date, there have been 25 bike and ped fatalities--8 cyclists and 17 pedestrians.  The 8 cyclist fatalities is the highest it's been since 2005.  Don highlighted the problems with lack of sidewalks for school kids within the 2 mile walking zone.  Even if a project gets on the list for funding, actual construction is usually 5 years out, which is not an acceptable answer to concerned parents. 
Councilman Leonardo asked staff to analyze the crash data by month to see if there is a correlation between season and non-season in terms of frequency of crashes.  Commissioner Mann expressed his concern about the high bike fatalities numbers and asked staff to review the patterns of crashes for causes so that policymakers can take appropriate action.  Commissioner Leonardo stated that we need to get local law enforcement more involved.  He recounted a case of a couple using a path on Treeline Blvd. that were hit riding a tandem by an SUV driver (with cellphone in hand) coming out of a driveway who didn't look.  

 Councilman Denham asked if there was data on the increased number of cyclists and pedestrians using the county bike/ped facilities.  Don replied that the county didn't have baseline data but that it was one of the projects that would be undertaken with the TIGER grant.  Don said that Sanibel is one of the communities that actually has usage data and tracks the increases.

During public comment, BWL's Ann Pierce said, "Sadly, however, here in Lee County, we are again on track for a record deadly year, despite advocacy, despite increased awareness, despite stepped-up enforcement. And while each of these influences can be improved upon, much of the problem lies in dangerous design. It is embedded in concrete and asphalt. "Dangerous by Design", the name of the infamous report which brought this situation to everyone’s attention, is more than just a catchy title, it is our reality here in Southwest Florida."  "To quote Gil Penalosa of the “8 to 80” program and keynote speaker at last month’s statewide Transit Summit, 'We must develop a sense of urgency and strong political will to make the needed changes', Pierce said.  "Every transportation decision not matter how routine must be made with a new prioritization and we must all be bold, courageous and wise in actively confronting this massive problem, and to fully integrate transportation planning into every economic and land use decision."  

Related media stories on bike/ped safety:
As a follow-up to the MPO Board discussion on bike/ped safety, BWL sent MPO Board members the statement of principles that were adopted at least week's Vision Zero for Cities Symposium, suggesting that these principles should guide Lee County's bike/ped safety efforts.

WINK News report re: bike/ped safety at today's MPO Board meeting, with interviews with MPO Director Don Scott and BWL's Ann Pierce.

See for yourself have made the situation is for kids trying to walk to school--this WINK story from Cape Coral.


BikeWalkLee "Shout-outs"
BWL's Darla Letourneau offered congratulations and thanks for several items:
  • Congratulations to the Sanibel City Council, staff, and Sanibel Bicycle Club for being elevated to  "Silver" Bicycle Friendly Community status by the League of American Bicyclists, with the national announcement on Tuesday. Sanibel is now one of only four Florida communities to have achieved this high status.  Click here for our blog story on the award.
  • Congratulations to FDOT District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway on being named one of nine outstanding public official in the nation by Governing Magazine for his efforts to make Florida a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists.  (see our blog story)  Several Board members spoke about Billy's accomplishments and Commissioner Mann made a motion to send a letter to Billy from the Board with a "huge 'that-a-boy' and congratulations.  The motion was unanimously adopted.
    •   Thank you to Mayor Henderson and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen for their participation in the Nov. 15th Bicycle Bully Busters ride to raise awareness about bike safety.
  • Congratulations to the Bonita Springs City Council and Staff for their adoption of a complete streets policy on Oct. 15th.


  • Congratulations to the Estero community on becoming an incorporated city on Nov. 4th.  Estero will soon be taking a seat on the MPO Board as its newest member.

    LeeTran Ridership Declines Continue

    LeeTran's Wayne Gaither reported that in October, ridership (compared to ridership in October 2013) dropped by 3.29%.  While the service cuts were restored October 1, it should be noted that in comparing Oct. 2014 to Oct. 2013, Oct. 2013 was prior to the imposition of the 2013-14 cuts, which started in Nov. 2013, so a truer picture of the situation should be clearer next month.  As BikeWalkLee commented when the cuts were imposed, any reduction in services has longer term impact on the transit system as riders lose confidence in the reliability of this mode of transportation.  It may take aggressive marketing efforts as well as some time for the ridership to get back on a upward trend again.  Commissioner Mann noted that the increased fares kick in Jan. 1st, which could also affect ridership numbers.  Commissioners Leonardo suggested that LeeTran look at various routes to see where service has dropped.

     Report by Darla Letourneau

    Statement of principles from Vision Zero for Cities Symposium should guide Lee Co. bike/ped safety efforts

    As Lee County strives to address the challenge of eliminating preventable traffic injuries and deaths, the statement of principles drafted this week at the Vision Zero for Cities Symposium are ones that should guide our efforts.


    Wrap up: Vision Zero for Cities


    Image courtesy of Andrew Hinderaker. 


    T.A. Issues Vision Zero for Cities Symposium Statement of Principles

    Participants Collectively Drafted 10-Point Document Following Expert Panels

    November 19, 2014
    Brian Zumhagen 646-873-6008
    On November 14, 2014, more than 300 urban leaders, policymakers and authorities on traffic enforcement, engineering and public health met with advocates in New York City at the first-ever Vision Zero for Cities Symposium. The event brought together representatives from around the nation and the world for expert panels, interactive workshops and breakout sessions focused on strategies for eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The day's conversations culminated in a collectively drafted Vision Zero statement of principles intended to guide implementation. The principles are as follows:
    1. Acknowledge the Vast Scale of Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries
    Recognize the power of crash survivors and the families of people killed and seriously injured in traffic, and the widespread scale of traffic violence.
    2. Focus Messaging to Promote a Culture of Traffic Safety
    Communicate with singular focus on the behaviors that kill and injure the most people.
    3. Promote Accountability
    Ensure that the justice system holds individuals accountable for killing and injuring others in traffic.
    4. Institutionalize Collaboration
    Promote collaboration across various levels of government and between government officials and the public. Incorporate communities into traffic safety decision-making.
    5. Protect the Most Vulnerable
    Prioritize the most vulnerable street users with the goal of creating a culture where everyone knows to think twice and exercise due care.
    6. Employ Data-Driven Enforcement
    Employ data-driven and automated enforcement at every opportunity.
    7. Design Forgiving Streets
    Design streets in such a way that mistakes made by street users are less likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities.
    8. Fund Safety
    Prioritize safety in funding decisions.
    9. Track Progress
    Create time-bound goals to track progress toward Vision Zero and regularly re-evaluate strategy.
    10. Empower Professional Drivers
    Empower professional drivers to lead by example and imbue them with the understanding that their livelihood depends on safe driving.
    The principles can be viewed on the Transportation Alternatives website at http://transalt.org/vzcswrapup
    - See more at: http://transalt.org/news/releases/7797#sthash.sDB67f0u.dpuf

    Collectively Drafted Statement of Principles
    On November 14, 2014, more than 300 urban leaders, policymakers and authorities on traffic enforcement, engineering and public health met with advocates in New York City at the first-ever Vision Zero for Cities Symposium. The event brought together representatives from around the nation and the world for expert panels, interactive workshops and breakout sessions focused on strategies for eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The day's conversations culminated in a collectively drafted Vision Zero statement of principles intended to guide implementation. The principles are as follows:

    1. Acknowledge the Vast Scale of Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries
    Recognize the power of crash survivors and the families of people killed and seriously injured in traffic, and the widespread scale of traffic violence.

    2. Focus Messaging to Promote a Culture of Traffic Safety
    Communicate with singular focus on the behaviors that kill and injure the most people.

    3. Promote Accountability
    Ensure that the justice system holds individuals accountable for killing and injuring others in traffic.

    4. Institutionalize Collaboration
    Promote collaboration across various levels of government and between government officials and the public. Incorporate communities into traffic safety decision-making.

    5. Protect the Most Vulnerable
    Prioritize the most vulnerable street users with the goal of creating a culture where everyone knows to think twice and exercise due care.

    6. Employ Data-Driven Enforcement
    Employ data-driven and automated enforcement at every opportunity.

    7. Design Forgiving Streets
    Design streets in such a way that mistakes made by street users are less likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities.

    8. Fund Safety
    Prioritize safety in funding decisions.

    9. Track Progress
    Create time-bound goals to track progress toward Vision Zero and regularly re-evaluate strategy.

    10. Empower Professional Drivers
    Empower professional drivers to lead by example and imbue them with the understanding that their livelihood depends on safe driving. 

    The principles can be viewed on the Transportation Alternatives website at http://transalt.org/vzcswrapup