POB 3746 Sarasota, FL 34230 941-544-7788
February 19, 2012
To Whom It May Concern:
Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates recommends that the reconstruction of Myrtle Street, from US 301 to Old Bradenton Road, include sidewalks on both sides of the road, bicycle lanes, and lighting.
We are aware that this project is not on the current five year plan. However, we are also aware that recent meetings have favored option 1(b) among the options presented by Sarasota County, an option which provides only one sidewalk, no bicycle lanes, and no lighting.
We support sidewalks on both sides of the road, bicycle lanes, and lighting for the following reasons:
Safety: Particular Location, Demographics
1) Booker High School, located within this segment, attracts many pedestrians and cyclists.
2) Robert Taylor Community Center, attracts many pedestrians and cyclists.
3) Booker Middle School, though outside this segment, attracts pedestrians and cyclists who need to use this segment of Myrtle Street.
4) US 301 has recently been rebuilt with bike lanes and sidewalks. Pedestrians and cyclists from our neighborhoods will wish to access US 301 from this segment of Myrtle St.
5) Myrtle Street itself has bicycle lanes from Bay Shore Road across US 41 to Old Bradenton Road and from US 301 to Tuttle. Also, a bridge near the Robert Taylor Community Center was recently rebuilt with sidewalks on both sides and bicycle lanes. Regarding the bridge, it would not be a wise use of the public’s money, nor would it be safe, to build quick transitions from one sidewalk/no bicycle lanes to two sidewalks/bicycle lanes back to one sidewalk/no bicycle lanes. Nor, on the proposed segment to be reconstructed, is it a good use of public dollars, or safe, to not provide bike lanes when the rest of the road provides bike lanes leading into it.
6) Tuttle Avenue, on east end of Myrtle, includes bike lanes and is a major north-south connector for cyclists. As Myrtle provides a connection from the west to Tuttle, it should also provide bike lanes throughout that connection.
7) Old Bradenton Road is slated to be rebuilt with a roundabout at Myrtle, with bike lanes and sidewalks throughout its length. As this segment of Myrtle connects to that, it should have similar facilities.
8) Orange Avenue, in the vicinity of Booker High School, includes bike lanes and sidewalks.
9) The demographics of this area include many college students and younger families, thus being relatively heavy with cyclists and pedestrians.
10) There are residential areas on the north side of Myrtle, thus producing pedestrian activity on both north and south sides of Myrtle.
Safety: Motorists, Mass Transit, Emergency Vehicles
11) Bicycle lanes and sidewalks provide additional safe space for bus stops.
12) Lighting, specifically the lack thereof, is a problem in this area. Major events, such as football games or cultural performances, have suffered from attendees being unable to find their way safely on Myrtle St. And, obviously, lighting has obvious safety advantages for all traffic.
13) Bike lanes/paved shoulders reduce run-off-the-road crashes by 49% (FHWA, 1987), head on crashes 15-75%, sideswipe crashes by 15-41%, and fixed object crashes by 29-49% (FDOT, 2005).
14) Bike lanes provide increased safety for motorists who will not need to leave the lane to overtake cyclists.
15) Bike lanes provide increased space for disabled or emergency vehicles to leave the travel lanes.
16) Emergency vehicle access is improved as motorists have more room to pull off the road when bike lanes are present.
17) Motor vehicles, especially trucks, have greater maneuverability, visibility, and safety due to larger turning radii when bike lanes are present. This is especially pertinent to Myrtle Street. Those of us who drive Myrtle have to frequently stop for large tractor-trailers attempting to maneuver into the industrial businesses to the north.
18) Pavement life is increased due to structural support given to the pavement edge when bicycle lanes are present, reducing the raveling effect caused by heavy trucks, not only saving maintenance funds but increasing safety.
Safety: Bicyclists/Pedestrians, General
19) An FDOT study of 2005 found that providing bike lanes/paved shoulders reduced motor vehicle/pedestrian crashes by 71%.
20) Pedestrian safety is improved not only by sidewalks but by the buffer space provided by bike lanes between sidewalks and traffic. Also, pedestrian safety benefits from bike lanes when cyclists ride in bike lanes instead of the sidewalk.
21) Myrtle St. is a collector and thus should have bike lanes, as per FDOT’s Green Book and Plans Preparation Manual, and FHWA recommendations.
1) The City of Sarasota has identified the Newtown area as a priority for economic redevelopment. Thus, Myrtle St., which runs along the north end of Newtown, should not be reconstructed “on the cheap.” Sidewalks, bike lanes, and lighting on Myrtle will not only facilitate traffic in this area but make the corridor itself more commercially attractive to all future types of development. In the past, the City has tried to encourage more diverse commercial activities in this corridor.
2) Myrtle is the major link, besides University Parkway, from US 301 to the North Trail. Thus, it is important that it be as convenient and safe as possible for motorists and all road users.
3) A Walmart, opening in late 2012, is planned for Myrtle and US 41.
4) The City of Sarasota has identified the Myrtle/US 41 area as a major economic redevelopment node for the future.
Thank you for your consideration of our recommendation.
Suzanne Atwell, Mayor, City of Sarasota
Terry Turner, Vice-Mayor, City of Sarasota
Paul Caragiulo, Commissioner, City of Sarasota
Willie Shaw, Commissioner, City of Sarasota
Shannon Snyder, Commissioner, City of Sarasota
Christine Robinson, Chairman, Sarasota County Commission
Carolyn Mason, Vice Chairman, Sarasota County Commission
Joe Barbetta, Sarasota County Commissioner
Nora Patterson, Sarasota County Commissioner
Jon Thaxton, Sarasota County Commissioner