Sierrans Engage Statewide as Florida DOT Finally Addresses Crisis
|Bicyclists ride to join Hands Across |
the Sand @ St. Pete Beach 8/4/12.
photo by Alan Snel
Everyone needs safer streets, not just those who now walk and ride their bikes on our dangerous streets. And not just those who would walk or ride their bike more often were our streets safer, but also children with asthma and seniors with COPD and cardiac disease who now suffer from Florida's unhealthy levels of ozone generated by our excessive vehicular traffic. When Floridians feel safe walking or riding a bike, instead of driving, everyone who breathes the air benefits. Everyone gets a little healthier, not just those who are getting some exercise by walking or riding their bike instead of driving."
The Sierra Club is concerned that the new transportation bill, MAP 21 that Congress passed on June 30, for the first time gives governors control of half of funds for critical safe walking and bicycling improvements (the other half still being controlled by local Metropolitan Planning Organizations). Governors and their Departments of Transportation now have the ability to choose to opt out of using these funds for their intended purpose. “Clearly, many average Floridians care deeply about making our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. We applaud FDOT for finally addressing this grave situation, but urge the Department to recognize the level of public concern and fully engage citizens from the beginning of the process in an open and transparent manner that ensures that the safety of all who use our streets remains a high priority,” said Jacksonville transportation activist Linda Bremer.
Alan Snel, director of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, attended Monday morning’s session in Tampa and states: “It was good to see Florida DOT District 7 (Tampa Bay area) Secretary Don Skelton acknowledge at the start of the bike-ped discussion that there is a problem of too many bicyclists and pedestrians being hit by cars and that his agency needs to take steps to address this issue."
"We need a fundamental new cultural shift in Tampa Bay to educate motorists that bicyclists and pedestrians are co-users of our right-of-ways that we call streets and roads and that they need to change their behaviors about sharing the road with vulnerable users such as bicyclists and pedestrians. Getting people on bicycles is good policy. It decreases dependence on constantly widening roads and building new parking lots, has proven to be effective transportation for urban areas and is part of a healthy lifestyle.”
In its letter to Secretary Prasad, Sierra Club stated its support for the full implementation of the NHTSA report recommendations, and urged him to adopt the following policies:
“FDOT must incorporate and analyze pedestrian and bicycle crash data in setting measurable goals and strategies to immediately reduce deaths on various problem roads and intersections throughout the state.”
“FDOT should take a leadership role in providing training and education for other agencies such as law enforcement, transit agencies, media, as well as community organizations whose members include at-risk pedestrian and bicyclists such as churches, AARP, and school and college programs."
“FDOT must immediately adopt an inclusive program such as Complete Streets and remove all exceptions and exemptions to road construction that protects bicyclists and pedestrians.”
“Legislation must be sponsored to require pedestrian and bicycle safety to be incorporated in every driver licensing and education program especially on-line licensing through the use of enhanced graphics, videos and illustrated scenarios.”
“We are asking you as Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation to help remove Florida from this disgraceful condition and create a state which is welcoming and safe for bicycle and pedestrian road use by making pedestrian and bicycle safety a greater priority in our state.”
FDOT's stakeholder roundtables were held August 6-10 in Tampa, Bartow, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Deland and Jacksonville.
St.Petersburg - 727-824-8813, ext. 303