Bike and Pedestrian Committee to Host Forum

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Wheel It Out!

The Town of Fort Myers Beach Bicycle & Pedestrian Project Advisory Committee will host its final two meetings in Council Chambers in Town Hall on Wednesday, April 26. Town Council appointed the Public Advisory Committee of roughly 30 people from all walks of life, as well as Town staff, and they will assemble from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The Committee will then host an Open House later that day in the same location for the public to address their priorities and safety concerns from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The Jacobs Engineering Group will assemble the final material and present it in the near future to Town Council that has final plan determination.

Project manager Ned Baier of The Jacobs Group explained the Bike & Pedestrian Committee is “something the Town wanted to do in conjunction with its bike and walking improvements, to coordinate a master plan for the entire island.” The committee’s primary purpose is to pursue safety opportunities in conjunction with available funding to formulate the Town’s master plan, “and since it is the first one, that is a real milestone,” Ned says. “We will provide you with information and statistics, hear your opinions, and answer questions to formulate the best-possible outcome.”

Ned explains “it would be almost impossible for the Town to seek grant dollars without a master plan. When you shop for money, it is the first thing an agency will want to review; if you don’t have one you don’t get the money and it is that simple. It is also a living document you upgrade over time with changing priorities.”

In setting objectives, Ned explained, “We really won’t concentrate on Estero Boulevard, as its upgrade is a long-time coming, but on a community-wide process that includes bike safety, education and enforcement. We will consider existing conditions, crash statistics, design criteria and best practices. The final goal is to prioritize projects as short-term versus long-term fixes, and create not a wish list but a vision.”

His colleague Brad Davis said, “The State places increased emphasis on safety for walkers and bikers because Florida leads the nation in pedestrian deaths. The Cape Coral/Fort Myers metro area is the most dangerous in the country, and that includes Fort Myers Beach; that ranking literally hits home and highlights the need for safety improvements. Roughly 50% of the Fort Myers Beach population is at an age where they either cannot drive or are changing their travel behaviors to drive less, so the focus is to help people get around without getting behind the wheel.”

“I encourage all residents and visitors to go to Wikimap, to let us know what project works for you,” Ned says in conclusion. “This is ultimately your trail system master plan so let’s hear from you!” Everything is online on the Town and Metropolitan Planning Organization websites, and people can go to Wikimap to draw their suggestions at bit.ly/WikiBikePed.

Gary Mooney