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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BWL's Ann Pierce receives Lee County Injury Prevention Volunteer of the Year Award

Kudos to Ann Pierce on her much deserved award!  Thanks to the Injury Prevention Coalition for recognizing those in our community that have worked tirelessly to make it a safer community.



At the Injury Prevention Coalition award event on Dec. 16th, BikeWalkLee's Ann Pierce was named the 2014 Lee County Injury Prevention Citizen Volunteer of the Year.  IPC's program had the following citation for Ann's award:
Ann Pierce presented with award by ICP's Chair Syndi Bultman

Ann Pierce has been one of the driving forces behind BikeWalkLee since its inception in 2008. Ann's research on everything from Complete Streets to cyclovias has resulted in both becoming realities here in Southwest Florida. The expertise she's gained from book and internet research is greatly enhanced by her relentless first-person interviews and visits to locations that have implemented many of the concepts BikeWalkLee is working towards. Serving on various boards and committees over the years - a thankless task - confirms Ann's commitment to the cause.

Ann also works exhaustively on the local level, seeking to improve quality of life and safety in her own back yard (i.e the City of Fort Myers), an undertaking that is often times more time consuming and frustrating than her big-pictures efforts.

For all her hard work and the expertise she provides to our community and its governments - all at no charge - Ann Pierce's IPC's Citizen Volunteer of the Year award is long overdue.
Ann's BWL teammates, Darla and Dan


IPC also honored others in the community that have contributed to the IPC mission of fostering a safe community to live, play, and work.  Two of the award winners have made important contributions to bike/ped safety issues and complete streets.  First, Waterman Broadcasting was named the Media Partner of the Year, citing their coverage of bike/ped crashes and for advising the community about how to prevent injuries resulting from distracted driving, unsafe bicycling and walking practices, incomplete streets and sidewalks, among other things.

Bob from Waterman Media accepting Media Partner of Year

 Second, Dr. Judith Hartner received the IPC Lifetime Achievement Award for her 20-years of effort as the Department of Health Director and founder of the Injury Prevention Coalition.  She has been a long-time advocate for bike/ped safety and a champion for complete streets.
Dr. Hartner with two previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners

Lee Co. Sheriff's Youth Activities League Partner of Year


Report and photos by Darla Letourneau

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dec. 15th: Upcoming running/biking/tri events

It's Monday morning again and time to sign-up for one of the many upcoming events....have you signed up yet for the Jan. 17-18th Tour de Cape (both running and biking events!)?

Upcoming events
Running/walking:
2014 Tour de Cape

 Sunday, Dec. 20: Knights of Charity 10K (3dracinginc.com), in the Three Oaks neighborhood. Registration 6:30 a.m., race begins 7:30 a.m. 

Saturday, Jan. 10: Seahawk Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral. Registration 7 a.m., race 8 a.m.
 
·         Sunday, Jan. 11: 12th annual River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva. Half marathon and relay 8 a.m., 5K fun run 8:15 a.m. (www.rrrtrail.com)

·         Saturday, Jan. 17: Tour De Cape 5K Run/walk, is designed for advanced and novice runners. Check in begins at 6:30 a.m. Race time is 8 a.m. Starts at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (tourdecape.net)

·         Saturday, Jan. 24: Cypress Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers. Registration 7:30 a.m., race 8:30 a.m. (3dracinginc.com).
Riders from across Florida were at 2014 Everybody Rides!

Cycling and other events:

·         Sunday, Jan. 18: Tour De Cape. Routes from 15, 30, 60, and 100 mile courses in the west and north sections of Cape Coral. The event provides a continental breakfast, lunch, on route rest stations with snacks and beverages, SAG vehicles, Police support, and route maps. All rides start from Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (http://tourdecape.net).

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

·         Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 10-11: HITS Triathlon Series, Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. Open, sprint Olympic half and full. (www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com)

League of American Bicyclists visiting Lee County in January to provide assistance as part of Bicycle Friendly Community program

Lee County continues in the national spotlight, with LAB official coming to Lee County communities next month to bring bicycle-friendly expertise directly to the local level. Kudos to Trek for providing funds for this important LAB national initiative.


BikeWalkLee is excited that Lee County has been selected as one of the 100 communities that the League of American Bicyclists will be visiting in 2015, as part of its new initiative to bring bicycle-friendly expertise directly to the local level, thanks to the support of Trek and Trek dealers.  Click here for the LAB letter about their upcoming visit to southern Florida.

The goal of the visit is to help Lee County (and cities within Lee County) become more bicycle friendly and ultimately become recognized as a "Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC)."  Steve Clark, the League's new Bicycle Friendly Community Specialist, hired in 2013 for this initiative, has been a long-time bicycle advocate, a League Certified Instructor and trainer of instructors, and was the bicycle coordinator in Boulder, CO for many years--one of the most bicycle-friendly communities in the country. To read more about Steve, check out LAB's article.


Steve Clark will be coming to Lee County for a full week, from Jan. 12-17, and is the process of setting up a series of visits to be hosted by city/county staff.  The basic format for these visits is for Steve to request each city/county jurisdiction he's visiting to invite the participants (approximately 12 people--mix of citizens, staff and policy makers) for a half-day event that includes a short (5-7 mile) bike ride for the participants and a debriefing session.  While Steve's itinerary is still being worked out, he plans to set up these visits with a Lee MPO team, Sanibel (Lee County's only BFC), Fort Myers, Cape Coral, and possibly Bonita Springs and Estero.

Steve Clark
Steve is in touch with BikeWalkLee about his visit and we'll keep you informed as his plans are firmed up.  This is an exciting opportunity for Lee County (and its cities) to get some hands-on technical assessment of its bicycling infrastructure and to learn about best practices from other communities, with the goal of making Lee County more bicycle friendly.

Report by Darla Letourneau

Cape Coral to Pine Island shared use path project feasibility study funded by FDOT

Every year in June the MPO submits its transportation projects funding request to FDOT for consideration as part of the update of their 5-year workplan.  Then in December of every year FDOT decides what of the request will be funded, adding the new 5th year projects.  This year's FDOT workplan was pretty disappointing for Lee County overall (more on that in a later post); however, there was one definite bright spot--approval of the feasibility study for a shared use path to connect Cape Coral and Pine Island.

Last spring LeeDOT submitted an application to the Lee MPO for a feasibility study for a shared use path connecting Pine Island to Cape Coral.  This project was one of two regional projects approved jointly by the Lee and Collier County MPOs to compete for funding from an FDOT District-wide fund called "Transportation Enhancement Projects".  On June 20th, the Lee MPO Board recommended funding of this project as part of its request to FDOT. FDOT has now released its workplan decisions, and they approved the Lee MPO request. This means that FDOT's 5-year funding plan for Lee County has programmed $1.1 million for the study in FY 2019-20. [Note: While this is good news, we were disappointed to learn that rather than additional funds from a district-wide "pot", the funds came out of the amount of funds already set-aside for Lee MPO bike/ped projects.]
It's important to keep in mind that this is the very first step in a long process--the study itself doesn't start for 5 years, but that's just how long the planning horizon is for transportation projects. The feasibility study will determine what type of facility should be used (multi-path, etc.) and will deal with challenges such as right-of-way issues and wetland mitigation.  Public meetings will be held during this study process to hear from affected communities.  Once the study is completed, hopefully in 2020-21, then there's design and construction work to be planned and funded.
 There was strong community support for this project from Pine Island, Matlacha, and Cape Coral residents, as well as BikeWalkLee and the Cape Coral Bike-Ped group. The application was also supported by both the County's bike/ped advisory committee (BPAC) and the MPO's bike/ped committee (BPCC).  Take the time to thank the Lee MPO Board and FDOT for approving this project, and LeeDOT staff (Andy Getch) for submitting the grant application and BPAC and BPCC members for endorsing the application.  Citizens also have an opportunity to speak at the Dec. 19th MPO Board meeting (9 a.m. in Cape Coral City Council Chambers) when the Board will hear a presentation of the overall workplan by FDOT and will vote on adoption of the FDOT 5-year workplan.

Below are links to two BikeWalkLee blog stories from June on this issue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Moser Column: Unnecessary, man-made risks remain a problem for cyclists

Dan's column this week shines a spotlight on the dangerous railroad tracks that recently caused a serious crash with multiple cyclists.  He also gives kudos to Cape Coral police for their new bike patrol focused on traffic education/enforcement and community relations.

Dan Moser's Outdoors Column: Florida Weekly, Dec. 10, 2014

Dan Moser
Being physically active is something many Southwest Floridians strive for and try to make a routine part of our lifestyle. Of course, anything we do in an attempt to stay healthy — or, for that matter, simply go about our daily business — has some degree of risk, whether it be muscle and body part overuse, dehydration, or exposure to things that can do harm, among others. Both of the former risks are usually easily managed. But the latter is a bit trickier because the hazard we’re exposed to may be out of our control.
For instance, running on a treadmill may involve the aforementioned risk of overuse as well as bad form that creates ongoing problems. Trail running adds to it the potential to trip and fall and has other risks inherent to traversing uneven and varying surfaces. But road and sidepath running and walking brings not only the trip hazard but risks involved with traffic interaction, including motor vehicles, bicycles and other pedestrians. For those who remain acutely aware of their surroundings this isn't usually a major problem. However, when normal risk is compounded by the lack of a safe place to run or walk, or by hazards created by construction or poor design and left in that condition, or illegally ms parked vehicles with no enforcement occurring, it’s a problem. The same risk analogy is true for cycling on a stationary bike versus on trails, roads and pathways.
Road work, which frequently involves disruption of bike/ped accommodations, can only be described as a chronic problem when it comes to non-motorists being put at unnecessary and enhanced risk. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act requires safe access for pedestrians during roadway construction projects of any magnitude, it's rare that such access is provided or proper maintenance of bike/ped traffic that directs users to a safe alternative is actually put in place. 
How our government allows contractors to get away with this illegal oversight — and pay them to provide non-existing access or proper MOT, no less — is beyond understanding. Perhaps one day someone will make a legal issue of not only failing to provide required access, but for taking tax dollars without delivering the services in the contract. Those who approve and pay the contractors are just as guilty as those taking it.
Another man-made hazard that takes its toll on bicyclists and sometimes motorcyclists is skewed railroad tracks. Lee County has a number of these, including a set on Alico Road that recently caused a serious crash among cyclists traversing them. Any at-grade track that deviates from a 90-degree angle is a problem, but those on Alico have a very serious deviation and were pointed out as a potential hazard well before the widening and bike lanes were completed. One-way Evans Avenue, near downtown Fort Myers, is another highway that has skewed tracks with a bike lane and, like Alico, no risk-reducing mitigation has been put in place.
To reduce risk at these locations, adequate warning, additional space for cyclists to maneuver to 90 degrees, and track flangeway-fillers are inexpensive and effective treatments that could and should be put in place, especially on multi-lane highways where bike lanes are present. As I mentioned, the unnecessary risk was specifically pointed out in public meetings and on the record well before work was done. Any professional traffic engineer should know better than to allow this situation to have been built and to remain in place.
Advocacy update
An example of something good coming from tragedy: The Cape Coral Police Department has instituted a bike patrol. After a young cyclist was killed in the early morning hours while riding to school, the city of Cape Coral got serious about eliminating such tragedies. One of its approaches is to train officers for a bike patrol. But rather than the usual “crime-prevention” patrol, where officers have little interest in being cycling role models or dealing with traffic matters, CCPD’s bike patrol will be taking a different approach. Traffic education/enforcement and community relations will be the focus, with mounted officers practicing what they preach, in terms of proper bicycle operation. But they need some help fundingwise, so if you’re interested, contact Justin Klein at justin_ klein@trekbikesflorida.com or 673-8628. You can also visit BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee. blogspot.com) to learn more about this and other bike/ped matters.
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.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Collier County advocates, lawmakers, and staff work to make roads safer for cyclistss

Collier County advocates, elected officials, and County and MPO staff are focused on what can be done to make the roadways safer for cyclists.  Kudos to the Naples Pathways Coalition, one of BikeWalkLee's supporter organizations, for its leadership.  Bike/ped safety is a region-wide problem in SWFL and BikeWalkLee is partnering with the Naples Pathways Coalition and others to bring more awareness and action to this serious problem.    

Naples Daily News, Dec. 9, 2014:  Editorial: Collier citizens, lawmaker on the road to making it safer for bicyclists

Credit goes to Collier County volunteers and government leaders as they work in tandem to make roads safer for bicyclists.

As community leaders look for ways to make Collier County a healthier place to live through eating and exercise habits, bicycle safety is highly important complementary work.

News consumers in Southwest Florida in recent weeks have read and heard the tragic story of Griffin Shallow, a cyclist seriously injured when struck by a car in November while riding on Vanderbilt Beach Road. They've read and heard about Austin Dukette, 15, a cyclist who died in Cape Coral in August after he was struck by a Lee County sheriff's deputy.

And last week, the Collier County legislative delegation heard about a Naples attorney's struggle to recover after sustaining 25 broken bones in a cycling accident.

That's the human side of the numbers. A Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization report in 2013, summarizing data from 2008-12, showed there were about 620 bicycle-related crashes in that span compared with some 500 involving pedestrians. A guest commentary published on these pages last week by a representative of the nonprofit Naples Pathways Coalition stated there are 64,000 cyclists in Collier County and more than 350 crashes occurred between cyclists and vehicles in the past 3 ½ years. A Cycling Accident Prevention Committee report on the issue is expected to be completed in early 2015.

Thanks to these dedicated citizen volunteers, working in concert with government staff and elected leaders in Collier County, an initiative is in the works. Collier County commissioners considered the problem so pressing, they made it second on their list of priorities for the Legislature to address in 2015.

State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, is doing so. She is working on proposed state legislation aimed at better protecting cyclists.

Some possibilities discussed with Collier County's state lawmakers include requiring bicycle safety law questions in driver license tests and making awareness part of driver education courses. Other suggestions are modifying right turn on red laws to allow bicycles to clear first and bolstering penalties in a law requiring drivers to keep a 3-foot buffer from a cyclist.

Didn't know about that last one? Collier County government staff lists it atop its tips to make roads safer for bicyclists, noting that since 2006, Florida law has required motorists to give bicyclists 3 feet of space when passing.

Based on the Cycling Accident Prevention Committee numbers, a cyclist could be in range anywhere in Collier. According to the MPO report, if you think Immokalee or Golden Gate is the most likely place for a cyclist to have a collision with a vehicle, think again. Among the top 20 locations for collisions, most were in North Naples and East Naples.

Thankfully, volunteers and government leaders from Collier County are figuring out a path toward making the roads safer for cyclists and drivers to co-exist. 

Guest commentary: Cars and cyclists safely sharing the road
Naples Daily News, Dec. 5, 2014
Don Rupprecht (Naples Pathways Coalition)
At 11 p.m. on Nov. 21, a motorist hit a cyclist, Griffin Shallow, from behind on Vanderbilt Beach Road, seriously injuring him.

After checking to see if Shallow was dead, the motorist drove away, leaving the injured cyclist in the middle of the road like roadkill. This hideous post-accident behavior of the motorist is not typical in bicycle-automobile crashes.

But it does highlight a serious issue in Collier County about conflicting usage of the roads that needs to be corrected and will require the cooperation and efforts of everyone living in and visiting our community.

We are encouraged by the action of Florida state troopers in seeking a felony warrant for the arrest of the motorist who hit Shallow. This case appears to be on point for the application of the Aaron Cohen Act, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott this year.

It increases the penalties for motorists who leave the scene of an accident where injury or death occurs.

The vulnerable road user (cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians) provisions of Florida law should also apply in this case. If the motorist is determined to be guilty of violating the Aaron Cohen Act, we are hopeful that the court will apply the sentencing provisions of the act as intended by those who drafted the law.

The Cycling Accident Prevention Committee (CAPC) of the Naples Pathways Coalition (NPC) is currently finalizing a study of cycling accidents in Collier County and hopes to issue a report in January 2015.

Approximately 64,000 cyclists occupy the roads of Collier County for sport, exercise and to commute to work. For more than 12 percent of the population, a bicycle is their only method of transportation. In the past 3½ years, there have been more than 350 bicycle-automobile crashes and 61 percent of these crashes resulted in injuries to the cyclist, some very serious.

These are very conservative numbers, because the Collier Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) estimates that 40 percent of bicycle-automobile crashes are not reported.

As a vacation and winter-home community, Collier County and Naples need to commit to taking the necessary action to make this community safe for cyclists. There has to be a change in the planning and design of the roads and the behavior by both cyclists and motorists.

Research has confirmed that there is a tremendous need for education of both motorists and cyclists concerning how to share the road.

Everyone needs to know the law. Motorists need to be attentive and cautious and cyclists need to be predictable and defensive. Through cooperation and respect, we can make Collier County a prime example of a safe, bicycle-friendly community in the sun.

Based on MPO forecasts, there will be more than 100,000 cyclists on Collier County roads in 10 to 15 years. The CAPC of the NPC is working to make Collier County a safe environment for those cyclists.

Check our website in January for the details of a cyclist safety action plan.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Dec. 8th: Upcoming running/biking/tri events



It's Monday morning again and time to sign-up for one of the many upcoming events.
Upcoming events
Start of 2014 Everybody Rides ride
Running/walking:

 Sunday, Dec. 14: Best Damn Race marathon/half marathon/5K. All races start at Cape Harbour. (http://capecoral.bestdamnrace.com) 

 Sunday, Dec. 20: Knights of Charity 10K (3dracinginc.com), in the Three Oaks neighborhood. Registration 6:30 a.m., race begins 7:30 a.m. 

Saturday, Jan. 10: Seahawk Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Jim Jeffers Park in Cape Coral. Registration 7 a.m., race 8 a.m.
 
·         Sunday, Jan. 11: 12th annual River, Roots & Ruts Trail Run, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva. Half marathon and relay 8 a.m., 5K fun run 8:15 a.m. (www.rrrtrail.com)

·         Saturday, Jan. 17: Tour De Cape 5K Run/walk, is designed for advanced and novice runners. Check in begins at 6:30 a.m. Race time is 8 a.m. Starts at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (tourdecape.net)

·         Saturday, Jan. 24: Cypress Sprint for Music 5K (3dracinginc.com), Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers. Registration 7:30 a.m., race 8:30 a.m. (3dracinginc.com).
Riders from across Florida were at 2014 Everybody Rides!

Cycling and other events:

·         Sunday, Jan. 18: Tour De Cape. Routes from 15, 30, 60, and 100 mile courses in the west and north sections of Cape Coral. The event provides a continental breakfast, lunch, on route rest stations with snacks and beverages, SAG vehicles, Police support, and route maps. All rides start from Cape Harbour in Cape Coral. (http://tourdecape.net).

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

·         Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 10-11: HITS Triathlon Series, Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples. Open, sprint Olympic half and full. (www.HitsTriathlonSeries.com)