A recent News-Press article on pedestrian safety reported that Florida remains the most dangerous state for pedestrians and that Lee County is #11 of the top 100 US metropolitan statistical areas. This is an improvement from Lee’s previous position of #8, but for those coming to our county in search of the active life, walking and biking still presents a danger.
In 2000, the Lee Board of County Commissioners first established the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee comprised of Lee County citizens interested in promoting safety on our roadways and trails. Today, that advisory committee is changing before our eyes. A new iteration would do away with appointing at-large representatives from the user community and eliminate much of the committee’s input into planning for the future.
How To Improve Road Safety?
Increasing bike and pedestrian safety is a complex and tough challenge because there are so many factors – human, design, weather, etc. – at play. Recognizing that we have a mix of different types of roadways, traffic and speed limits, some of the specific actions that the county can undertake include:
- Increasing the number and visibility of crosswalks;
- Building crossing islands where feasible to allow both walkers and bikers a landing place in the median of streets;
- Increasing conventional bike lanes;
- Improving lighting at crosswalks and traffic signals;
- Updating research on heavily-trafficked pedestrian areas that are the result of all the new construction in the county;
- Adding raised medians to better regulate left turns and u-turns;
- Installing flashing beacons at mid-block pedestrian crosswalks as has already been done on McGregor Boulevard;
- Building parallel sidepaths to be shared by cyclists and walkers.
We urge the Lee County BOCC to create and maintain a world-class bicycling and walking community. Given the increasing numbers of walkers and bicyclists in our area, it is imperative to constantly look to improving conditions for walking and bicycling and also to set clear goals for the future.
To learn more:
- StreetsAlive of Southwest Florida https://www.streetsaliveswfl.org/
- Smart Growth America https://smartgrowthamerica.org/
- Federal Highway Administration Safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/
- Montgomery County, MD, Planning https://montgomeryplanning.org/planning/transportation/vision-zero/vision-zero-community-toolkit/