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Thursday, October 23, 2014

BikeWalkLee Thanks Founding Member Bert Hamilton



BPAC Chair, Bert Hamilton (far right)
The BikeWalkLee Steering Group bids a fond farewell to Bert Hamilton, CEO of Harvey Software, Inc., who is moving to North Carolina.  Bert was one of the founding steering group members back in 2008 and his company has been one of our supporter organizations from the beginning.    

 Not only did Bert help launch BikeWalkLee, he hosted our monthly meetings in his office, hosted our website site, chaired the County's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee for several years, and led the county's "3 feet please" campaign.  Through Bert's leadership, the County government agreed to put "3 Feet Please" stickers on government vehicles, LeeTran public buses, and Lee County Sheriff cars.  If you see those "3 Feet Please" road signs scattered around the county, you can thank Bert.  

 Bert is a lifelong serious cyclist who bikes to work and for exercise, which gave him invaluable insights into the condition of Lee County roads and how roads should be improved to be safer for cyclists.  

 As the Chair of BPAC, he played a hands-on role in the design of biking facilities on the Metro Extension project, among many others.  Bert also generously provided "3 Feet Please" t-shirts to volunteers who worked at BikeWalkLee's 2012 JetBlue Grand Opening bike valet event, and at the first Captiva-Tri event in 2012.

On behalf of the entire BikeWalkLee network, we say "thank you, Bert!" 

Report by Darla Letourneau

FL Dept. of Health Commends FDOT for Complete Streets Policy

Thanks to the FL Department of Health for its press release applauding the FDOT new Complete Streets Policy.  As the subheading says,   "Complete Streets Promote Good Health."

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         
Communications Office
October 23, 2014                                                                                     Contact (850) 245-4111

Florida Department of Health Commends the
Florida Department of Transportation for Complete Streets Policy
Complete Streets Promote Good Health 
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Health applauds the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for promoting active lifestyles through the new Complete Streets Policy.  Complete Streets requires streets to be planned, designed and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of the mode of transportation. 

FDOT's implementation of the Complete Streets Policy aligns with the Department's Healthiest Weight Florida initiative to increase opportunities for physical activity. The new developments will promote healthier living through access to safer walkways, transit and bicycle lanes.

"I congratulate the Florida Department of Transportation for putting in place the Complete Streets Policy that supports more active living across communities in Florida,” says State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "Safer walkways and bicycle lanes encourage Floridians and visitors to build healthy activities into their daily lives.” 

FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, "The Florida Department of Transportation is committed to building complete streets, ensuring our roadways are safe for all road users. We must make our roads more conducive to walking and biking in support of a healthier Florida.”

It is the goal of FDOT to implement a policy that promotes safety, quality of life and economic development in Florida. Through the Complete Streets Policy, FDOT is guiding transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way system to enable safe access for all citizens.

FDOT has begun the implementation of the Complete Streets Policy and expects it to take approximately one year to complete. FDOT will coordinate with local governments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, transportation agencies and the public to provide Complete Streets on the State Highway System and the Strategic Intermodal System. 

The Department of Health works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. During 2014, the Department is recognizing 125 years of public health in Florida with educational opportunities and events. Please visit www.FLHealth125.gov for more information.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook.  For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.floridahealth.gov.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

U.S. Department of Transportation announces major street safety initiative

It's exciting to see USDOT Secretary Foxx's major new initiative to enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety, which adds national support for the FDOT bike/ped safety initiative already underway.
Check out the USDOT Action Plan: Safer People, Safer Streets, Sept. 2014

As reported in the October National Complete Streets Coalition Newsletter, USDOT announced a major street safety initiative on Sept. 10th. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called it "the most innovative, forward-leaning" initiative "ever", the department will be working toward safer places and safer policies for people on foot and bike, just as they do for people in cars, trucks, and airplanes. The initiative is heavy on changing the way we design our streets—the most important factor for improved safety—from start to finish. With new, research-based design guidance, partnerships with local, state, and national transportation staff and public interest groups, and a focus on interconnected networks, we expect big results.  Click here for the USDOT Action Plan: Safer People, Safer Streets, Sept. 2014

USDOT Secy Foxx at Lee MPO TIGER announcement 9/13
Below is the USDOT press release:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces New Initiative to Enhance Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

DOT 81-14
PITTSBURGH – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced a new initiative to reduce the growing number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities through a comprehensive approach that addresses infrastructure safety, education, vehicle safety and data collection.  The 18-month campaign will begin with road safety assessments conducted by U.S. Department of Transportation field offices in every state, and will produce multiple resources to help communities build streets that are safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation. Secretary Foxx made the announcement at the Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference, the largest gathering of, transportation engineers, city planners and professional bicycle-pedestrian safety advocates and practitioners in the country.
“Safety is our highest priority and that commitment is the same regardless of which form of transportation people choose, including walking and biking,” Secretary Foxx said.  “This initiative is aimed at reversing the recent rise in deaths and injuries among the growing number of Americans who bicycle or walk to work, to reach public transportation and to other important destinations.” 
Injuries and fatalities of pedestrian and people bicycling have steadily increased since 2009, at a rate higher than motor vehicle fatalities.  From 2011 to 2012, pedestrian deaths rose 6 percent and bicyclist fatalities went up almost 7 percent. 
The new pedestrian and bicycle safety initiative will promote design improvements to ensure safe and efficient routes for pedestrians and bicycles, promote behavioral safety, and provide education to help individuals make safer travel choices. The initiative will also encourage vehicle safety by drawing on current crash avoidance technologies to alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists and pedestrians.
The initiative will begin when the Department’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) field offices survey routes for pedestrians and cyclists with local transportation officials and stakeholders to understand where and why gaps exist in the non-motorized transportation network and strategize on ways to close them.  Gaps are areas where the risk of a crash increases due to the lack of sidewalks or other safe infrastructure. The Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will participate in assessments to gain understanding of non-motorized crashes involving truck and trains. 
Among the many resources the Department will provide will be a guide to creating “road diets,” in which roadways with lower traffic volumes are redesigned to add space for bicycle riders and pedestrians.  Studies show that road diets reduce all traffic crashes by an average of 29 percent, and when used on rural highways that pass through small towns, they can reduce crashes by almost half – 47 percent.  Additional resources will help practitioners incorporate small safety improvements into many road projects, address “last mile” safety for people taking buses and trains, and make it easier for jurisdictions to count and plan for people traveling by foot and bicycle. 
The Department will work with local officials, advocacy groups, and safety organizations to help champion the use of the new resources by practitioners, law enforcement, and safety organizations.  It also will convene meetings with practitioners and researchers about practices and policies that have been barriers to creating safer streets for non-motorized users.
The initiative will also focus on improving pedestrian and bicycle routes that provide access to bus stops and train stations.  Research has shown that lower income communities have disproportionately higher rates of pedestrian deaths, as well as less safe pedestrian infrastructure, despite higher reliance on non-motorized modes and public transportation.

Moser Column: Key cycling rule of the road: Go with the flow

This week's Dan Moser column sets the record straight on wrong-way riding, an update on requested McGregor Blvd. improvements, and the Nov. 2nd Streets Alive, including its bike safety rodeo for kids.
Dan Moser
Being election season, we’re all too familiar with statements put forth as fact that are really distortions of the truth, half-truths, or sometimes outright lies. How we allow this to be acceptable and without consequences to those who make claims they know aren’t accurate or ethical is hard to understand, although it is clearly the case in our country. 
Even commercial advertisers have some degree of truthfulness to uphold lest they must deal with regulators or the civil legal system. Unfortunately, those who spout opinion as fact regarding subjects they know little about or merely want others to see things their way, regardless of established truth, sometimes fall into the same category as political candidates. That is, they are not held responsible for the outcome of their misinformation.
In the advocacy world, whether it be workers’ rights, animal abuse, improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, or any other cause people get involved in, there’s bound to be many examples of statements made that are sometimes totally wrong. Often it’s due to a lack of adequate knowledge of the subject, but that’s not always the case. One such non-fact that frequently rears its head in the bike/ped realm is that bicyclists who ride with the flow of traffic are senseless or suicidal. For those of us who are out in the community and classroom making the case for adherence to traffic laws and safety rules for all road users, having to deal with this dangerous and outdated position is frustrating and creates unnecessary confusion. It’s one thing if a person wants to break the law and operate in a dangerous fashion individually, but another if that person deems the law is wrong and insists others should operate in a way that puts them at risk – and that’s at odds with factual data.

Enhanced “Share The Road” Sign in Naples Enhanced “Share The Road” Sign in NaplesBottom line: All credible professional organizations and programs, from the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ite.org) to the American Bicyclist Education Association (abea.bike), to name just two, confirm that bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles when using the roadway. One of the basic premises of being a legitimate part of vehicular traffic means riding with the flow as dictated by design. It also means not being relegated to the gutter merely because of size and speed.
It would be nice to put this matter to rest once and for all so advocates don’t have to spend time on something that’s clearly settled and instead concentrate on other aspects of making our roads and pathways safer and more accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. But until those who can’t be bothered with fact and data decide to espouse their opinion in public forums, we’ll have to continue rebutting their misguided message.
Advocacy update — McGregor, Part 2:
Following up on ways to improve McGregor Blvd., the segment south of Colonial and north of College is a two-lane road that has similar features as the city’s portion, except that there is less opportunity for motorists to pass by using a middle turn lane and the speed limit is above 35 mph. The speed limit means sharrows aren’t an option unless Florida Department of Transportation were to reduce it by 5-10 mph. Alternatively, “Share the Road” signs with the three-foot passing law attached could be posted. On the four-lane segments south of College Parkway to Iona, there’s room to reconfigure the space to add bike lanes, something FDOT verbally agreed to years ago. Currently, the inside lane is 12 feet and outside “shared-use lane” is 14 feet; upon resurfacing they would create two 11-foot lanes and add a 4-foot bike lane in the same space. If these options are something you’d like to see, please let FDOT know by contacting Debbie Tower at FDOT’s Southwest Area Office (debbie.tower@dot. state.fl.us or 225-1900). And, as usual, you can learn more about this and other Complete Streets matters at bikewalklee.blogspot.com.
Streets Alive! update
Plan to spend a couple of hours or the whole day sampling the many activities when Streets Alive! returns to Fort Myers River District from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, (streetsalivelee.org). Among the fun activities for kids will be a bike clinic/rodeo being conducted by the school district, using the bikes, helmets, and other equipment they use in schools. So, even if you don’t come by bike, the kids will be able to learn bike riding skills and have a blast doing so. FDOT will be working with them and will provide reflective items and other useful articles for both kids and adults. Streets Alive! is a free event.
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 or 334- 6417.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct. 21st: Help BikeWalkLee receive free radio spots--Participate in WGCU's "Your Community" radio pledge drive

Want to help BikeWalkLee promote bike/ped safety? encourage more residents to bike. walk, and take transit? promote an upcoming BikeWalkLee or Streets Alive event?  Call in during BWL's 1-2 p.m. on Tues. Oct. 21st WGCU pledge hour and help us receive free radio spots. Or go online anytime this week and select our organization (listed as Streets Alive and BikeWalkLee). Help spread the word to your colleagues, family, and friends!

When organizations work together through teamwork and collaboration, exceptional things happen.  This is one of the reasons Streets Alive of Lee County, Inc. and BikeWalkLee, along with 60 other nonprofit friends in the region, have partnered with WGCU Public Media for their October “Your Community” Radio Pledge Drive. 
If you’re unfamiliar, a couple times a year WGCU turns to the community to raise the necessary funds to keep public radio programming on the air.  These “pledge drives” are critical to WGCU’s operations and thousands of people from our region donate money.
Here’s the fun part! On Tuesday, Oct. 21st from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. BikeWalkLee's Dr. Cindy Banyai will be live on air on WGCU FM, raising funds for Southwest Florida’s award-winning public radio station.  In return, WGCU has offered to help us augment our marketing budget by awarding us with free radio promos that we can use to promote both Streets Alive and BikeWalkLee events and missions throughout the next year.
You can help us receive these free radio spots!
Just call in anytime during the pledge campaign (October 17-24) and make a pledge of $250 and (Streets Alive of Lee County, Inc. and BikeWalkLee will receive EIGHT radio spots!  Pledges of $500 earn us 16 spots; your $750 gift earns 24, and so forth.  Your gift will support our local treasure, WGCU Public Radio, and at the same time provide us with valuable marketing opportunities that we might otherwise not be able to afford. 
WGCU-FM can be found at 90.1 on the FM Dial (91.7 FM on Marco Island), is streamed live on WGCU.org, or can be accessed through the WGCU mobile app.  You can make your pledge of support by calling 1-800-533-9428 or by pledging online at WGCU.org.  Just make sure that you select as the nonprofit you’d like to support with free radio promos!  Tune in, make a pledge, and we'd love to thank you live on the air. 
Tied up on Oct. 21st? or just can't wait to participate?  Click here to make an online pledge.   Just scroll down and check the box:"Streets Alive Lee County, Inc. and BikeWalkLee". Thank you!

Streets Alive Lee County, Inc. and BikeWalkLee are honored to partner with the WGCU "Your Community" Pledge Drive.

Oct. 20th: Upcoming running/walking/biking/tri events

 It's Monday morning ..time to sign up for some great upcoming events.

Upcoming events
Running/walking:

Sat. Oct 25th:  LCEC Fall Fest 5K from Jeffers Park, Cape Coral (www.uw.lcec.net/5K.)

Saturday, Nov. 1: 7th annual Race the Roof 15K run, 5K run, 5K walk and tot trot. Verandah Community, 11571 Verandah Blvd., Fort Myers. All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity, Lee and Hendry Counties. Race starts at 7:30 a.m. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) 

 Sunday, Nov. 9: Kids Helping Kids 5K and Fort Myers Marathon/Half Marathon. Based in downtown Fort Myers with three different courses to cover 5K, 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles. 5K benefits Kids Helping Kids Festival in Centennial Park and the Golisano Children’s Hospital. Details and pricing at www.kidshelpingkidsswfl.com or www.fortmyersmarathon.com
Tuesday, Nov. 11: Veteran’s Day 5K Run across the Midpoint Bridge. Proceeds to benefit YMCA Youth programs. Race starts at 7 p.m. Registration: Before Nov. 1 veterans an youth $15, adults $20; Nov. 1-10veterans and youth $20, adults $25. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Thursday, Nov. 27: 35th Annual Turkey Trot, Cape Coral Wellness Center 609 SE 13th Ct. Cape Coral. 5 K 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. (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
Sat. Dec. 6th:  River Run includes a 10K run and 2-mile walk, across bridges from downtown Fort Myers (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)

Sun. Dec. 7th:  Everyone Runs 5K and Half Marathon (from JetBlue Park) (www.everyonerides.org)

Cycling and other events: 
  Sunday, Oct. 26: Fifth annual Tour de North Port. 15-, 35- and 65-mile rides that begin and end at the Imagine School, Upper Campus, 2757 Sycamore St., North Port. Full support, trick-or-treat rest stops. Breakfast and lunch offered. Starts at 7 a.m.; group discounts available. (http://peoplefortrees.com/tourevent1_14.php).

 Sunday, Nov. 2: Streets Alive returns to downtown Fort Myers 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Activities for the entire family focused on active and healthy lifestyles. Details at www.streetsalivelee.org.
Sunday, Nov. 9: Caloosahatchee River Ride 2014. 15-, 30-, 40- and 62-mile rides starting from Caloosahatchee Regional Park, 19130 North River Road, Alva. Staggered starts at 8 a.m. Register in advance or day of. (http://crca.caloosahatchee.org/events/?event=calendar&mon=11&details=1&id=350). 

Saturday, Nov. 15: Bicycle Bully Busters, Trek Bicycle Store Of Estero, 8001 Plaza del Lago Drive #101, Estero. Get on your bike, make a stand against bullying and raise awareness about safe cycling in SWFL at this fun family event. 40-mile ride starts at 7 a.m.; 25-mile ride starts at 7:30 a.m.; 10-mile fun ride begins at 8 a.m. (www.caloosariders.org)
Sat/Sun, Nov. 15-16: Horrible Hundred (horriblehundred.net; 11/15-16) is celebrating its 35th anniversary and will include its usual impressive expo, a bike club leadership workshop, and plenty of challenging hills (century ride participants will climb over 4,000 feet over the course of their ride, with Sugarloaf being the highest and hardest climb). In prior years over 2,000 cyclists took part in the 100-, 70- and 35-mile rides. 

Sunday, Dec. 7th: Everyone Rides--from JetBlue Park (www.everyonerides.org)

Sunday, January 18th: Tour de Cape takes off from Cape Harbor (tourdecape.net).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bonita Springs City Council adopts Complete Streets Policy

BikeWalkLee is thrilled to see the City of Bonita Springs join the complete streets movement!  Congratulations to the City Council that unanimously and enthusiastically adopted the complete streets resolution!  Be sure to say "thank you" to the Council members and staff! 

As we've reported over the past few months (see links below), Bonita Springs is moving in exciting directions in support of a complete streets and livable communities vision.  At the Oct. 15th meeting, the City Council unanimously and enthusiastically adopted a complete streets policy resolution and directed staff to begin implementation of the policy by incorporating it in the city's comp plan, ordinances, local development codes (LDCs), and other policies and procedures.   (Click here for Council agenda package, p. 5-8.) 
Public Comment
Several members of the public spoke in support of the complete streets resolution.  

BikeWalkLee's Darla Letourneau urged support and applauded the Council's many recent actions in support of complete streets and livable communities.  She highlighted the downtown redevelopment project, which clearly demonstrates that the Council, staff, and its consultants "get it" and are integrating the concepts in a visionary way in this specific project. Letourneau reviewed the history of Lee County's participation in the complete streets movement: when Lee County first adopted complete streets policies in 2009, there were only 3 other communities in Florida and 100 in communities across the country.  Fast forward to 2014 and there are now over 600 communities nationwide and 32 in Florida.  With the recent FDOT complete streets policy announcement, Florida is poised to see many more communities join the movement.

Letourneau outlined why the complete streets approach is so successful.  It's based on some simple ideas:
  • streets should be safe for people of all ages and abilities, whether they are walking, driving, bicycling, or taking the bus;
  • It's based on a belief that the streets of our cities and towns are an important part of the livability of our communities;
  • Complete streets are safer streets--and that's really important in FL and Lee County because bike/ped fatalities are highest in country;
  • It's about improving bike/ped connectivity, which encourages use of alternative transportation; and
  • It provides a path to multi-modal transportation system. 
She encouraged the Council to quickly move forward to integrate the complete streets approach into the city's policy framework-- from its comp plan, to ordinances, LDCs, procedures and practices.

Sarah Baker, with the Lee County Department of Health and a member of Bonita Springs' Bike/Ped Advisory Committee (and BikeWalkLee's Bonita rep), spoke about the importance of complete streets in fostering healthy lifestyles, which is an important tool in addressing the county's obesity problems.

Dr. Margaret Banyan (FGCU professor and BWL steering group member) spoke about the economic value of complete streets.  Research shows that complete streets increase the livability of a community and add value economically.  She cited several studies that demonstrated the increase in business activity and private property values from investments in bike/ped/transit facilities.

Beth Brainard, the Executive Director of the Naples Pathways Coalition spoke in support and talked about the importance of connecting Lee and Collier Counties and about the potential for attracting more residents and visitors if we provide safe and accessible biking and walking facilities.

Tessa LeSage, the Director of Social Innovation and Sustainability with the SWFL Community Foundation talked about the importance of complete streets and sustainability policies and programs to be competitive for grants.  Bonita Springs' sustainability strategy and complete streets policy positions the city to be recognized nationally as a sustainable city that will give it a leg up in competing for businesses, workers, and residents, as well as for grants. 

 Staff Presentations
There were two presentations by staff.  First, John DePalma, the transportation consultant to the Public Works Department, spoke about multi-modalism and complete streets, highlighting the guiding principles of both, the challenges faced, and how Bonita could address those challenges.

Jenn Duffala Hagen with Bonita's Community Development staff presented an in-depth power point about complete streets, and identified the following benefits for Bonita Springs:
  • It's consistent with the city's adopted sustainability strategy;
  • It supports the Florida Green City designation that the city is pursuing;
  • It supports the city's comp plan transportation element;
  • It has many economic benefits--from lowering transportation costs for residents, stimulating stimulates and diversifying the local economy, to improving property values
  • It provides transportation choices and encourages more active transportation;
  • It has many social benefits--from improving safety and providing access, fostering strong communities, attracting new residents and young professionals, and promoting an active lifestyle;
  • It has many environmental benefits--from reducing emissions, reducing heat island effect, to contributing to a more comfortable and visually interesting environment through greenscaping.


Council Discussion
Council members spoke in support of the resolution, thanked the staff and public for their presentations and comments, and focused on the next steps of implementation and the connection between the complete streets policy and the many other initiatives the city has undertaken--from the downtown redevelopment project, to the Bonita Beach Rd. visioning project, to the traffic study, and encouraged staff to go beyond the currently approved venders list of consultants to recruit companies with experience in these various programs and new approaches.  The Council unanimously adopted the complete streets resolution and directed staff to begin the process of integrating it into the city's policy framework, including the comp plan, ordinances, LDCs, etc.


Mobility Fee Discussion
As requested by the Council at its Aug. 6th meeting, the staff presented its study of mobility fees as a potential replacement for road impact fees.  The staff's PowerPoint ( see Agenda Item H, p. 9-19.) provided a comparative analysis of the two types of fee systems and how they operate and the benefits of each.  The staff had analyzed the mobility fee systems of several Florida communities and focused on the City of Kissimmee experience as the most applicable to Bonita Springs.  

The consensus of the Council was that the first step was for the city to conduct the various connectivity and transportation studies underway, incorporate complete streets into the policy framework, look at what needed to be changed in the vision and comp plan, all of which may result in a radically different CIP.  Once that revised CIP is developed and they know the costs, then they can come back to the issue of the best tools for financing those costs--whether it's road impact fees, mobility fees, special assessments or some hybrid combination.  They agreed that they would need to consult a mobility fee expert to provide more in-depth advice.  In the meantime, staff is exploring the possibility of expanding the uses of road impact fees to include bike/ped facilities by analyzing capacity on the basis of trips, not just vehicle capacity.
  

BikeWalkLee congratulates the City of Bonita Springs for its adoption of a complete streets policy and looks forward to working with the City on its many innovative initiatives.

Past BikeWalkLee Blogs on Bonita developments:
BikeWalkLee Blog: Aug. 26, 2014:  BikeWalkLee calls for comprehensive transportation planning at Aug. 22nd MPO Board meeting (which includes the US 41 and Bonita Beach Rd. flyover issue and Background on Bonita Springs developments)

Report by Darla Letourneau