Safe pathways for cyclists, walkers & runners
At a Bike/Pedestrian Safety Summit held in May, the county’s most pressing safety issues were identified and prioritized.
The two hour meeting, convened by Naples Pathways Coalition, was well attended and included a number of bike/ped citizen advocates from both Collier and Lee counties as well as the assistant Collier County manager, city and county Growth Management, Transportation, and Streets & Stormwater staff, directors of Collier and Lee MPOs, Collier County Sheriff’s Office liaison to NPC, members of the Collier County Pathways Advisory Committee, representatives from Blue Zones, head of the NAACP representing walkers, representatives from bicycle shops, and leaders of local cycling, triathlete, and running clubs.
Issues were divided into four areas of concern: legislation, infrastructure, education/awareness, and government responsibility/law enforcement. Ideas flew and fifty significant issues were identified, the most by far in the infrastructure category followed by education/awareness.
Issues raised that are already being addressed, like education of law enforcement officers regarding bicycle and pedestrian traffic laws, were noted, thanks to the participation of so many participants on the front line of bicycle/pedestrian safety and roadway planning and construction.
The summit participants agreed by consensus that the following were the most important priorities throughout Collier County and all municipalities.
Pass legislation that will make distracted driving, meaning driving while texting or talking on a hand held phone, a primary offense with stiff penalties. Some participants also wanted to include making the use of headphones illegal for walkers and runners, as it is already for motorists and bicyclists.
Pass the Passidomo Bill that protects vulnerable road users and includes stiffer penalties for motorists who do harm intentionally or unintentionally. This bill narrowly missed passage last year when it fell victim to the early shut down of the Florida Legislature.
To address the myriad issues that were raised in the infrastructure category, it is imperative that Collier County adopts a comprehensive, context-sensitive design system for roadways. This system is also known as Complete Streets, but county politicians are shying away from that terminology, even as they move toward incorporating parts of it into the Transportation Element of the Growth Management Plan. The braver Naples City Council adopted a Complete Streets planning policy last year. Complete Streets design is a priority of the Florida Department of Transportation, and before 2018 the design system will be a part of all state planning documents and guideline manuals for roadways.
Educating motorists, bicyclists, walkers, runners, and law enforcement about the traffic laws will solve most of the problems identified in this category. A close second is teaching roadway courtesy and common sense to the same people. (Much work to be done here.)
GOVERNMENT RESPONSIBILITY/LAW ENFORCEMENT
Address worsening incidents of road debris throughout the county with more frequent road cleaning; citizens taking the responsibility of reporting debris to the county’s Road Maintenance Dept. 24/7 hotline (239-252-8924); and enforcing the laws on the books that penalize vehicle operators that let debris fly and contractors who leave debris in the roadways near work sites.
One message that came across loud and clear from county and city staff who attended the summit was that significant infrastructure changes do not occur as a result of a mere request. If you want to affect change you have to be in on the planning process very early and make sure your suggestions get into the master planning documents so that they can be funded and implemented.
Additionally, some improvements that get into the plan cannot be funded because of lack of money.
That said, there are grants and money to be found for smaller projects, like adding a few signs or even adding sidewalks to an area.
The purpose of the summit was to inform the strategic planning of NPC, government entities, and organizations concerned with bike/ped safety. The good news is that many of the summit attendees are in a position to make things happen in Collier County, and they were all taking notes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a complete list of the bike/pedestrian safety issues identified at the summit, or if you have a pressing issue you would like added to the list.
NPC HOSTS BIKE/PED SAFETY SUMMIT
BECOME A MEMBER of NAPLES PATHWAYS COALITION and help us create a complete system of safe streets, sidewalks, and pathways throughout Collier County. There are several membership categories. . .
TAKE THE INITIATIVE TO REPORT ROAD DEBRIS . . .
Work with members of your community and make a difference
NAPLES PATHWAYS COALITION is a non-profit group of local citizens who work for safe, bike able/walkable communities in Collier County.
JUNE 8 GOLDEN GATE MASTER PLAN PUBLIC MEETING, 6:30pm, Golden Gate Community Center
ending JUNE 10 COLLIER COUNTY TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PLAN public comment period
JULY 11 NCP BOARD MEETING, 5:30 pm, call 239-777-7718 for details
AUG 8 NCP BOARD MEETING, 5:30 pm, call 239-777-7718 for details