GOODWILL DEVELOPMENT ON NORTH TAMIAMI TRAIL
In our announcement from December 9, we mentioned that the developer of the Goodwill, at US 41/Mecca, had said that they were trying to put a bus stop there but that we had not seen it in their plan. We promised to follow up on it. We did, and got the good news that a SCAT stop is in the plan. See the correspondence below. Please note that this doesn’t mean that the bus stop will definitely happen. But, it is a step in that direction.
From: Jim Bridges
Subject: Re: Goodwill, sidewalks, SCAT stop
Date: December 13, 2011 9:00:48 PM EST
To: Mike Lasche
Mike, most definitely, the bus stop is part of our plan! Thanks again for your support!
Sent from my iPhone
On Dec 13, 2011, at 8:56 PM, Mike Lasche wrote:
Thanks for holding the public meeting on December 9. I think that was a good move.
I have yet to do any research on the City’s landscape buffer requirement so I don’t have any questions about sidewalks at this time. My sense of it is that you are correct, that given the space requirements of the building, the expense of such options as cutting a corner of it off, the need for width for car travel lanes, the requirement of at least a 5′ landscape buffer, and the existing requirement of only a 5′ sidewalk, that y’all have done the best you could.
I did have one staircase question. When we talked on the telephone about a month ago, you mentioned that negotiations for a bus stop were proceeding well. However, at the public meeting, I don’t recall hearing about a bus stop. Is that still in the works?
METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION BOARD MEETING: VENICE BYPASS
On December 12, 2011, the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Board met. The Board is composed of 3 County Commissioners from both Sarasota and Manatee Counties, 2 City Commissioners from the City of Sarasota, and one representative from Bradenton, other area municipalities and agencies in the area.
The highlight of this meeting was the discussion of a recent report on the proposed 6-laning of the Venice Bypass. This project was proposed over 20 years ago, back when many lanes were popular. Since then, we have learned facts that 6 lane roadways are far more dangerous for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians than 4-lane roads. We have also come to believe that 6-lane roads are neighborhood destroyers. Also, that you can’t build your way out of congestion.
All of the previous facts about many-lane roads may have filtered in slowly but one major fact prevented the Venice Bypass 6-laning from happening yet…….sost. For just 1.2 miles of the Bypass, roughly half of it, the proposed cost of 6-laning was $54 million!
Still, the project proposal lumbered on and looked like it would be finally approved in December 2010. Then, local roundabout advocate Rod Warner authored a guest editorial in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that called for a much cheaper approach to make this corridor more efficient. Warner proposed that the bypass remain at four lanes but that its major signalized intersections be replaced with roundabouts. Roundabouts are generally known to be 50% more efficient at intersections. And, the cost of the roundabouts for the Venice Bypass was in the $20 million range.
Warner’s proposal caused quite a stir at the MPO. In a rare contested vote, the MPO Board voted 8 to 5 not to cancel the project. But, it did request a new study, conducted by an outside expert, to re-examine the FDOT proposal for 6-laning. The MPO hired Renaissance Planning’s Dan Hardy, a consultant who had no previous local experience, and therefore thought to be objective, to perform what was known as the “Peer Review.” Hardy’s report was released around November 30. It supported FDOT’s call for 6-laning the Venice Bypass. MPO Board action on the report was placed on the MPO Board’s December 12 agenda despite the protests of several who felt that they had not been given adequate time to examine and analyze the report.
BPA Director Lasché attended the December 12 meeting without the intent of speaking about the report, as he too had not had time to review it. However, a quick read through it revealed several flaws and Lasché testified.
Lasche presented three main points.
1) The peer review appeared to compare the wrong things. On page 14, in an analysis of intersection delay, it compared a 6-lane signalized Venice Bypass to a 6-laned Venice Bypass with 3-lane roundabouts. But, the comparison under discussion was a 6-lane signalized corridor versus a 4-lane corridor with 2-lane roundabouts. The peer review’s analysis may be irrelevant.
2) On page 24, in a section on pedestrian safety, it did the same thing, comparing a 6-lane, signalized corridor with a 6-lane corridor with 3-lane roundabouts. But, this odd comparison led to a serious misimpression. Hardy pointed out that a 6 lane corridor would actually have 9 lanes at intersections, where left turn lanes would be present. Thus, a pedestrian would be crossing 9 lanes of traffic, roughly 115’. The only advantage the pedestrian might have is that his crossing would be protected by signalization requiring cross traffic to stop. Hardy then compared this to crossing at a 3 lane roundabout where the pedestrian would cross 3 lanes, roughly 40’, then reach a pedestrian island, then cross another 3 lanes to reach the other side, all without the signal that roundabouts lack. Hardy then reached the conclusion that crossing 9 lanes, 115’, with the signal, was safer than making two 40’ crossings, across slow traffic entering/leaving roundabouts, with no signal. This is a fair, if debatable, conclusion. But, again, this is not the relevant comparison. Hardy should have compared a 6-lane, signalized crossing to a 2-lane roundabout crossing, unsignalized. That is the relevant comparison under discussion. In a 2-lane roundabout, the pedestrian only has to cross 28’ of traffic, instead of the 40’ of 3-lanes that Hardy discussed, for some unknown reason. If the relevant comparison is used, the roundabout crossing becomes much more attractive, as pedestrians cross two-lane roundabouts frequently in the area.
3) On page 25, Hardy offered a different comparison, concluding that the average adult cyclist would be better off with a 4-lane signalized intersection than in a 2-lane roundabout, unsignalized. The crash evidence, from local roundabouts such as Clearwater, suggests, instead, that roundabouts are much safer. Logically, roundabouts would appear safer because the cyclist no longer has to worry about red-light running, motorists turning left across his path, head-on collisions, right-turn collisions, u-turn collisions, T-boning, or any high-speed collisions. Personal experience of cyclists reveals great comfort in the slow-speed roundabouts where bicycles move as fast as cars. And, even if cyclists fear the complexities of roundabouts, they can always use the sidewalk crossing areas.
After all the testimony, which included the voices of many 6-lane supporters, the MPO Board voted 10-5, to table evaluation of the Peer Review until its January meeting.
Of course, a more thorough review of the Peer Review needs to be done. BPA and others are planning to read the report thoroughly, examine its assumptions and conclusions, and present findings at the MPO meeting in January.
PROPOSED GOODWILL CENTER, US 41/MECCA STREET
On December 9, 2011, Goodwill Industries and Jim Bridges, the developer of a proposed Goodwill Center at US 41/Mecca Street, held a public meeting to discuss the proposed development. BPA had an interest in this because BPA had proposed wide sidewalks at the new development but Jim Bridges had emailed BPA to say that, although he would have liked to include wide sidewalks, the sites shape and local zoning codes had left only room for a 5’ sidewalk. A 2010 document, Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context-Sensitive Approach“ co-authored by the Congress for New Urbanism and the Institute of Transportation Engineers, calls for 15’ sidewalks on an urban boulevard such as the North Trail.
Indeed, it appears that numerous issues make a wide sidewalk difficult for this site. The site is not rectangular, thus leading to some places where the building is close to the highway. In addition, Bridges said that the City has a requirement for a 10’ landscape buffer, between the sidewalk and the building. With this requirement, and the existing City Code requirement of only a 5’ sidewalk, the plans only called for a 5’ sidewalk, as a wider sidewalk would appear to require downsizing the building or cutting a corner off the building. In fact, the developer even got the landscape buffer reduced to 5’ for a good portion along the trail because space was so tight.
In our view, some of this could be solved by a better code, one which might allow for replacing the landscape buffer with a wider sidewalk when space is tight. And, that new code may be on the way. The North Trail Redevelopment Partnership is proposing a new code for the North Trail which requires wider sidewalks.
BPA also asked Bridges to provide a SCAT bus stop at this site and we have been assured by Bridges that it was in the works. However, at the public meeting, no mention was made of a SCAT stop. BPA will look into this further.
ALDERMAN STREET TRAIL
On December 6, 2011, BPA staff discussed the plans for the Alderman Street Trail with Bill Nichols, the project director for it.
This project has a long history. Way back in the late 1980’s, City Planner Jay Brady pointed out that the unused Alderman St. right-of-way would make a good off-road bicycle/pedestrian trail. At that time, the Spokespeople, a group of citizens who would later found Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates, proposed that the City develop it.
As the Spokespeople locally disbanded in 1989, the idea lay dormant until 2007 when BPA began presenting the idea to City Commissioners and staff. Pointing out that the City had just invested millions in building Payne Park, that the future Legacy Trail would come through Payne Park, and that the Alderman Street trail would connect downtown cyclists and walkers to both, BPA presented plans.
The concept was simple and frugal. Cyclists and pedestrians would share lightly traveled roads with cars on Alderman Street, from Palm Avenue to Hudson Bayou, Brother Geenen Way. from Osprey Avenue to Lafayette Court, Lafayette Court from Brother Geenen Way to Oak Street, and Oak Street from Lafayette Court across US 301 to the entrance to Payne Park near the Presbyterian Church. On these parts, no construction was required. Only signage was needed.
New construction would be required in only three places. First, a pedestrian/bicycle bridge would have to be built across Hudson Bayou where the bayou cut across Alderman Street. Second, on the east side of the bayou, a multi-use path would have to be built to connect the bridge to Osprey Avenue. Finally, a small sidewalk would have to be built to connect Brother Geenen Way across a ditch to Lafayette Court.
As luck would have it, the City was considering a project to cover a ditch that ran along Brother Geenen way and the Alderman Street Trail was proposed as part of that project. Also, the City already had plans for a kayak launch on Alderman Street, on the east side of the bayou, and that amenity became part of the plan too.
After much discussion with local stakeholders, the Alderman Street Multi-Use Recreational Trail, as the City calls it, has evolved. Plans call for signage, a pedestrian bridge, a multi-use path from Hudson Bayou to Osprey Avenue, and a sidewalk connection across the ditch at the south end of Lafayette Court, all as originally envisioned by BPA. But, the latest plans include much more. There will also be sidewalk cut-throughs at Columbia Court, Madison Court, and Ohio Street. Plus, on the east side of Osprey, the Trail will not run down Brother Geenen Way. Instead, it will run on top of the old ditch, which will be filled in. And this part of the Trail will be separated from Brother Geenen by a short fence. On the west side of Osprey, the trail from Osprey to Hudson Bayou will run along the south side of the Alderman Street and will include a vegetation buffer on the south side, to shield the trail from future commercial development to the south. There will be a kayak launch with a long ramp on the east side of Hudson Bayou, south of the trail. The trail will be lit with 20 lights, designed to project their light straight down without lighting up the neighborhood. Parking on Brother Geenen will be increased by 18 spaces, thus helping the nearby Senior Friendship Center. At the trail’s intersection with Osprey Avenue, cyclists and pedestrians will cross Osprey Avenue on the south side of Alderman Street/Brother Geenen Way. At this intersection, trail users will cross Brother Geenen way on the east side of Osprey. Many of these features were included at the request of the Laurel Park neighborhood, which raised concerns about light, noise, and preservation of vegetation.
Construction of the entire project is expected to begin in mid to late 2012. We would like to thank past City staff member Susan Montgomery, current City Engineer Alex Davis-Shaw, and City Commissioner Terry Turner for their critical help with this project.
FRUITVILLE ROAD REPAVING
On December 6, 2011, BPA staff met with Bill Nichols, the City of Sarasota’s project director for the Fruitville Road repaving.
The meeting yielded good news . The plans call for Fruitville Road to be repaved with a 4’ bike lane. Currently, its bike lane is only 3’, which does not meet state or national standards.
Fruitville Road got a 3’ bike lane through a circuitous route. Way back in the late 1980’s when Fruitville Road, between US 41 and US 301, was known as Third Street, the road was widened and connected to Fruitville Road. At that time, it was built with a 10’ left turn lane, inside travel lanes of 11’, and the curb lanes were built at 14’. 14’ curb lanes are known as wide curb lanes and they offer numerous advantages such as ease of turning for cars and trucks, as well as enough width for cars and bicycles to share the lane comfortably. However, sometime in the 1990’s, someone decided that Fruitville Road needed a bike lane. Since they didn’t want to reduce the outside travel lane down to 10’, they wouldn’t take 4’ out of the 14’ curb lane for a bike lane. Instead, they took only a substandard three feet, leaving the outside travel lane at 11’.
This created problems later on when downtown business advocates hit on the idea of removing the 3’ bike lanes completely and using the space to widen sidewalks. After all, they reasoned, the bike lanes should go because they are substandard anyway. In 2007, this led to a major controversy. During that discussion, BPA entered by pointing out that, contrary to what downtown business advocates and even some bike advocates were saying, it wasn’t an either-or situation. There were ways to have bike lanes and wide sidewalks, if one was willing to use advanced bicycle facilities (gutter lanes) or be flexible on median widths. However all this discussion went for naught. This proposal died when the City realized the high cost of removing the bike lanes, moving the curbs and drainage underneath, and rebuilding the sidewalks.
The current plans for Fruitville Road call for a 10’ left turn lane, four 10.5 travel lanes, and 4’ bike lanes. The project is expected to cost around $776,000 and should be completed by mid-March.
RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN, ADMINISTRATION AND STUDENT GOVERNMENT, CALL FOR A BIKE LANE ON NORTH TAMIAMI TRAIL, SUPPORT 10/10/4
The Ringling College of Art and Design sits on the North Tamiami Trail, at the 2700 block. On December 6, their student government convened and formally approved the signing of a letter calling for 10/10/4 on the North Trail. The 10/10/4 plan calls for simple restriping of US 41 to provide a bike lane. With no reconstruction required, and as US 41 is periodically repainted anyway, 10/10/4 can be implemented at a negligible cost.
After a presentation by BPA Director Mike Lasché, and discussion, the student government voted unanimously in favor of their President, Ted Weber, signing a letter recommending that 10/10/4 be implemented. Ted Weber signed the letter immediately upon the vote. The same letter had also previously been signed by the President of the Ringling College of Art and Design, Dr. Larry Thompson. The letter will be sent to the Secretary of FDOT District One as US 41 is an FDOT road.
With this letter, 10/10/4 now has the support of the USF administration, the New College administration and student government, and the Ringling College administration and student government, as well as several other local groups.
BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN ADVOCATES MEETING
Dear friends of sustainable transportation,
You are invited to a Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates membership meeting this Wednesday, November 30, at 7 p.m. We have a guest speaker, Devin Frechette, a New College student, who will discuss her impending thesis on bicycle transportation.
The meeting will be held at the home of Dick Jackson. The address is 5354 Cork Oak St., Sarasota FL 34232. To get there, go east on Bahia Vista, go south on Honore, then take a left on Cork Oak St.
There is much to discuss, including the new bike lanes being designed for US 41 between 10th and 14th Streets, plans for bike lanes elsewhere on US 41, state legislative efforts, and recent shifts in local government.
We hope to see you there.
10/10/4 DISCUSSED AT RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
On November 29, 2011, BPA Executive Director Mike Lasché met with the Ringling College of Art and Design Student Government Association to discuss their support for 10/10/4, BPA’s plan to put a bicycle lane on US 41, for free. 10/10/4 will not only be good for cyclists, some of whom have died on US 41 for lack of one, but will be good for motorists by reducing peak speeds yet maintaining or increasing traffic flow, thereby reducing frequency and severity of crashes. Research shows that for each foot of lane width reduced, car speeds go down by 3 mph. But, research also shows that narrower lanes don’t reduce traffic volume because the reduction of overall speeds is accompanied by smoother traffic flow. It will be great for pedestrians because they will have 4’ more of safety when they first cross the roadway and they will only have to cross 20’ of motor vehicle traffic instead of 24. It will be good for businesses along the Trail because the outside turning lane will now encompass 14’, thus making for larger, easier turning radii into business driveways. Also, the 4’ bike lane will provide 4’ more space between sidewalks in front of businesses and passing traffic. There are other advantages too but perhaps the best one is that 10/10/4 involves no new construction. It is just paint, which FDOT has to do every few years anyway. Thus, it is virtually free.
MAIN STREET IMPROVEMENT PROJECT, CITY OF SARASOTA
On November 14, the Main Street Improvement Project presented the findings of its consultants. Some of the key recommendations were for wider sidewalks, with flat curbs so that they physically blended into the street so that special events could have more space, shade canopies, lots of brick paving, bulbouts, and more crosswalks.
BPA MEETS WITH NEW COLLEGE COUNCIL OF GREEN AFFAIRS ON 10/10/4
On November 14, BPA Director Lasché met with the New College’s Council of Green Affairs (CGA). The CGA was very happy to hear about 10/10/4 and signaled, in their unique acknowledgement style of snapping fingers, their support.
SARASOTA COUNTY MANAGER CANDIDATES APPEAR AT LOCAL MEETING
On November 14, the candidates for County Manager were presented at a Meet and Greet at the Robarts Fairgrounds. The candidates were vying for the position vacated by the now-disgraced former County Manager, Jim Ley, who led the County into a procurement scandal. Jim Ley, whose 14 years of tenure had led him to be widely regarded as a too-powerful “6th Commissioner”, too powerful among and too independent of the elected Board of County Commissioners. Ley was also well known for his policies of “vindictive retribution” against anyone who disagreed with his policies. This was experienced in the bike/ped community when the County Commissioners instructed him to hire a full-time bicycle/pedestrian coordinator on June 15, 2006. Ley ignored the directive of the Commissioners and no full-time coordinator was hired. Then, in 2009, Ley was instructed to investigate the success of St. Petersburg, which reduced their overall pedestrian crashes by over 50% and simultaneously received over $30 million in federal funding while only spending $1.2 million of their own money, thus “doing well while doing good.” The commitment of St. Pete to these policies led them to actually making their bicycle/pedestrian program overwhelmingly “revenue positive” and providing an insanely good deal for their taxpayers. But, again, Ley ignored the directive of the County Commissioners and got away with it. While all of this was going on, Ley led efforts to eliminate the County’s bike/ped advisory county, then to limit its meetings, and to restrict is scope of activities. Also, during this time, county staff became increasingly uncooperative with requests for information and cooperation with the bike/ped advisory committee.
Among the four candidates, two stood out for being the most likely to listen to citizens and to have an open mind……in short, to not be like Ley. The candidates were Randall Reid and Jim BakerUltimately, the County Commission picked Randall Reid, who hails from the uber-bike-friendly Alachua County. We look forward to working with Randall in the future.
PALM AVENUE PARKING GARAGE, SECURE BICYCLE PARKING
On November 10, BPA’s Lasché met with Marlon Brown, Deputy City Manager for the City of Sarasota. Problems with the new Palm Avenue Parking Garage’s long-term bicycle parking were explained, such as the ease of theft of bicycles from it, how it does not meet City Code, and how the entry to it should be magnetic stripe instead of a simple 4-digit combination. The problem with a simple combination is that once it is released to one person, it is potentially released to the entire bicycle thief community. A thief, armed with the combination and a mask, could simply enter the long-term area and steal a slew of bikes with anonymity, even if the bicycle area is on video. However, with a magnetic stripe card, the card would be in physical possession of only one person at a time, a person whose name would be registered with the City. And, the ability of the magnetic card to allow entry could be turned off at any time, say for instance if a person fails to re-register themselves as authorized for entry. And, even if the card falls into the wrong hands, its use is automatically recorded, thus linking the card’s owner to the time of any theft, thus making a suspect out of the card’s owner and aiding any investigation. Because this is known by any card’s owner, this would deter them lending the card out to the wrong people. For these reasons and more, such as the low-cost of administration, magnetic stripe card keys are all the rage at motels around the country………and…….are the method that the City plans to use for automobiles at the Palm Avenue garage. In our opinion, if it makes sense for cars, which are less vulnerable to theft than bikes, then it is not only fair but particularly makes sense to use them for bicycles.
BPA APPEARS AT THE SARASOTA-MANATEE BICYCLE CLUB
On November 9, BPA Director Lasché spoke to the Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club (SMBC). Topics discussed included current projects such as 10/10/4, state legislation, our youtube video on the Palm Avenue Parking Garage, Florida Walks and Bikes, the proposed bike lanes from 10th to 14th on US 41 and past efforts to get bike lanes on Fruitville Rd. and Bahia Vista St., work on the Bus Rapid Transit and Alderman Trails, work to extend the Legacy Trail, the 3.5 year effort to get a bike parking amendment in the City of Sarasota, Safety City, and fighting for a bike/ped coordinator for Sarasota County.
Also discussed were some item from the past, lifted from a New College thesis by Lasché in 1985, Bicycle Policy of Sarasota.
The first item was that the SMBC started off as an activist organization, with the purpose of protecting the rights of cyclists to the roads. A corollary to this was that many bicycling organizations, including the League of American Bicyclists, started out that way.
The second item was that Sarasota County’s first bike/ped advisory committee, formed in 1974, failed because its membership was too broad and didn’t understand cycling. The Committee had too many members who simply didn’t understand good bicycle policy and ideas for good bicycle policy went right past them. Within a year, the Committee, unable to agree, disbanded. This is a lesson that area policy-makers have yet to learn. The same problem afflicted Sarasota County’s Bicycle/Pedestrian/Trails Advisory Committee, which may have recently been merged into another committee, partly due to its irrelevance due to its lack of bicycle policy expertise. The same problem also afflicted the recent bike/ped advisory committee of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization which assembled a broad membership but unfortunately, a membership with no real knowledge or commitment to bicycle/pedestrian issues. In that committee too, advocates for bicycle/pedestrian issues found themselves talking past staff from various municipalities who were content with the status quo.
The third item was that the original motive for the formation of the SMBC, to allow cyclists to use the road even when bike paths were provided on the side, was met when Florida state law was changed 9 years later. The message we should get from this is that “We can Win.” We have right and reason on our side and it just takes perseverance and follow-through.
On November 6, the Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club (SMBC) held its annual CycleFest. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful event. Cyclists had some great routes and some great rest stops. It began and ended in downtown Lakewood Ranch with rides of 15, 35, 62 and 100 miles. Congratulations to SMBC for a ride well done!
THE NEW FRUITVILLE ROAD, FROM US 301 TO US 41, WILL INCLUDE 4′ BICYCLE LANES
On November 3, we got some great and unexpected news. Jan Thornburg, of the City of Sarasota, let us know that the soon-to-be-repaved Fruitville Road, from US 41 to US 301, will be striped with 4’ bike lanes. Currently, they are just 3’, which does not meet design standards. Followup conversations with Jan and City Engineer Alex Davis-Shaw, revealed that the motor vehicle travel lanes are likely to be widths of 10.5 apiece. Thus, on either side of the median, the configuration should be 10.5/10.5/4
The history of Fruitville Road offers a glimpse into the evolution of bike policy in the area. Back in the late 80’s, when it was known as Third St., the road was widened from 2 lanes to 4 lanes and a median. On either side of the median, there were two lanes in an 11’/14’ configuration. At that time, and today, FDOT specifies a 14’ wide curb lane as good policy, partly because it allows room for cars and bicycles to co-exist well in the same lane.
Then, sometime in the 1990’s, staff in the City decided that it would be better to, instead of having a 14’ wide curb lane, divide it into an 11’ motor vehicle lane and a 3’ bicycle lane. This was done despite the fact that a 3’ bike lane was sub-standard width and did not meet state and national specifications for adequate width.
This led to problems in 2007 when downtown business activists asked the City to eliminate the bike lane and use its three feet of space to widen the sidewalk by three feet. One of the justifications for this effort was that the bike lane was “substandard anyway.” This was vigorously opposed by BPA which provided drawings showing the City how it could expand the sidewalks and keep the bike lanes through use of facilities such as 4’ gutter pans, narrowing travel lanes, or using part of the median. In addition, BPA criticized the notion of some City planners that cyclists would move three blocks away, to 6th St, to move east and west. If motorists won’t do it, why would cyclists? Eventually, the City dropped plans for rebuilding Fruitville Road, partially due to opposition and partly due to financial concerns.
Now, this part of Fruitville Road is scheduled to have a 4’ bike lane. Hallelujah! This means that cyclists will have a continuous 4’ bike lane, running east-west, from US 41 all the way past I-75. Thank you, City of Sarasota!
BPA TESTIFIES IN TALLAHASSEE BEFORE THE SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
On November 1, BPA Executive Director Mike Lasché was in Tallahassee to lobby for Senate Bills 334 and 390, before the Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg. For both bills, Lasché registered to speak before the Committee, if needed as a technical resource, but when it was clear that the Senators sponsoring the bills had secured the Committee’s support, Lasché avoided unnecessary testimony by stating, “We waive in support.”
SB 334, sponsored by Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, would accomplish an enlightened action and allow cyclists the same privilege as motorists. If a cyclist is caught riding at night without adequate lights, the cyclist would be able to avoid paying a fine if they appeared in court with proof of having installed the lights. It is hoped that this will reduce crashes from nighttime bike/car crashes by giving cyclists an economic incentive to install lights.
SB 390, sponsored by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, includes the same language as SB 334. It also includes two other revisions of state law. One would revise the much-reviled “mandatory lane law” which unnecessarily restricts cyclists from leaving the bike lane, even when safety dictates it. With Bogdanoff’s bill, cyclists would be allowed to leave the bike lane if a potential conflict existed. SB 390 also repeals a rarely-enforced law requiring cyclists to keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
Both bills passed the Transportation Committee and were referred to the Budget Committee.
BPA PRODUCES YOUTUBE VIDEO ON THE PALM AVENUE PAKING GARAGE’S DEFICIENCIES IN SECURE BICYCLE PARKING
On October 28, thanks to the efforts of Nic Manting-Brewer, an accomplished video editor and expert with Final Cut Pro, BPA completed videos about the deficiencies in the long term parking stall of the Palm Avenue Parking Garage. This videos will be used to support the case for improving these facilities. The video contrasts the security of the bicycle parking at the Palm Avenue Garage with the security of other garages.
Special thanks go to the star of the video and the Cameraman. Nate Culver, a trained actor from Booker High School’s Visual and Performance Arts program, is the Bicycle Thief. The camera work was done by fellow Booker VPA alumnus, Michael Belval.
All three of these fellows, Nic, Nate, and Michael, donated their time to the videos and we are grateful to them.
On October 28, BPA staff contacted Jim Bridges, the developer of the new Goodwill store on US 41, near Mecca Drive. BPA asked him if he would be providing a bus stop and wide sidewalks at the development. Though Bridges claimed that a combination of state and local regulations, on what he called a “difficult site”, precluded wide sidewalks, he was very optimistic that a bus stop would be included. He mentioned extensive negotiations with SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) that indicated a bus stop was coming.
BPA is working for bus stops and wide sidewalks so that pedestrians, and sidewalk cyclists, can effectively travel.
BPA MEETS WITH RINGLING COLLEGE STUDENT GOVERNMENT
On October 27, BPA met with Ted Weber-Gola, President of the Ringling College of Art and Design (RCAD) Student Government Association. Items discussed included a bike lane, through 10/10/4, on US 41 and a “bike center” on the Ringling campus. A bike center would provide secure bike parking, bike repair, lockers, and showers, all meant to allow Ringling students and staff to easily substitute bikes for cars. In turn, this would allow RCAD to avoid devoting valuable space to parking lots.
On October 19, 2011, BPA’s Mike Lasché met with Van Jasmin at Big E’s Coffeehouse. Van is a Ringling College student, the editor of the e-zine ZigZag, the creator of vanjazmin.com, a promoter of local events, and the only Ringling student I have ever seen attend the meetings of the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership. Items discussed were 10/10/4, a bike center for Ringling College, and an effort to organize local students into a civic force.
BILLY HATTAWAY APPOINTED SECRETARY OF FDOT, DISTRICT ONE
On October 17, FDOT District One, which includes Sarasota and Manatee Counties, appointed a new Secretary. He is Billy Hattaway, a man with extensive experience in Florida transportation. Billy was the State Highway Engineer, the top engineer, for FDOT in the 1990’s. After that, he became FDOT’s Director of Design.
Billy is an advocate for transportation systems which accommodate all users. In 2003, he appeared in Sarasota with Dan Burden, as the co-presenter of a seminar on Walkable Communities.
We welcome Billy to SW Florida and look forward to working with him.
MAIN STREET IMPROVEMENT WORKSHOP FOR DOWNTOWN SARASOTA
On October 10, 2011, 10/10, the City of Sarasota conducted a Main Street Improvement Workshop. Over a hundred citizens convened for a “brainstorming” session on how to improve Main Street with among other goals, how to make it more walkable. Many ideas were suggested from citizens, including wider sidewalks, bulbouts, crosswalks, shade, and bike lanes.
SENATOR ELLYN BOGDANOFF TO SPONSOR SB 390, LANGUAGE TO REPEAL MANDATORY LANE LAW, ALLOW CYCLISTS TO INSTALL INSTEAD OF PAY FINE FOR CITATIONS OF NO LIGHTS
On October 9, Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff announced that she will sponsor SB 390, a bill that will fix the state’s “mandatory lane law”, allow cyclists who are ticketed for not using lights to avoid paying a fine by showing proof of light installation, and will clean up rarely-enforced bicycle legislation. See the blog post of 11/1/11 for more detail.
BIKE FLORIDA PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES A SINGLE FOCUS ON BICYCLE EDUCATION
On October 4, 2011, BPA’s Lasché spoke with Leigh Matusick, President of Bike Florida. Matusick emphasized that Bike Florida specializes in providing bicycle education materials, with no interest in statewide advocacy or legislation.
BPA MEETS WITH SARASOTA CITY COMMISSIONER PAUL CARAGIULO
On September 28, BPA’s Lasché met with City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo. They discussed 10/10/4 and the need for SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) to work with the City on changing bus routes and providing bus stops at new developments in the city.
CONSULTANTS PRESENT OPTIONS ON 10TH AND 14TH STREET ROUNDABOUTS, US 41 RECONSTRUCTION IN BETWEEN
September 22, 2011 was a great day for Sarasota cycling. FDOT staff and consultants presented their recommendations at Van Wezel Hall regarding the project to provide roundabouts on US 41 at 10th and 14th Streets, and to reconstruct US 41 in between the roundabouts. All three of the consultants’ plans show bike lanes. The roadway configurations differ, among other things, in the continuity of the median and the width of the median and sidewalks. In some cases, the continuous medians prevent left turns thus requiring cars to use the roundabouts for a U-turn, then a right turn, in order to turn left. BPA sees this a good thing, as the continuous median prevents, at some intersections, left turns and cars crossing US 41, both of which can be risky maneuvers. The least cost options provide the narrowest corridor while the higher cost ones provide wider medians and wider sidewalks.
All three options are in the range of $20 million. One interesting perspective to draw from this is derived from the fact that when the cost of the roundabouts, by themselves, were estimated, it was around $2.5 million apiece, for a total of $5 million. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the cost of reconstructing four blocks of US 41 between them is the difference between $20 million and $5 million, roughly $15 million, or roughly $4 million per block. This is significant because any proposals for US 41 which require reconstruction must justify their cost. If US 41 was rebuilt from 14th Street north to the Manatee County line, a distance of 43 blocks, the cost would presumably reach over $160 million.
PEDESTRIAN ABUSE, CITY OF SARASOTA, NORTH TRAIL……SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD IGNORES PEDESTRIAN NEEDS
On September 21, 2011, BPA took pictures of a glaring example of pedestrian abuse in the City of Sarasota. Pictures show a 4’ sidewalk, with concrete utility poles in the middle of them, thus leaving a space of approximately 1’ on the sidewalk to walk around them.
Could his have been avoided? Most certainly. Apparently, it happened because the Sarasota County School Board built a parking lot nearby. A wrinkle in the law allows the School Board to build by its own rules and to disregard City Zoning Code. So, the Zoning Code calls for construction to be set back from the property line, which is said to be 4’ away from the curb. This would mean, for other developers, that the fence would have to be 14’ from the curb. But, since the School Board could ignore the zoning code, it did and it built its fence only 8.5’ away from the curb. The School Board should be ashamed of itself for doing its part to create a miserable sidewalk on Sarasota’s North Trail. (Use photos)
BPA FILMS SIMULATED BICYCLE THEFTS IN PALM AVENUE PARKING GARAGE
On September 20, 2011, BPA volunteers Mike Lasché, Nate Culver, and Michael Belval filmed simulated thefts from Sarasota’s recently built Palm Avenue Parking Garage.
Despite an ordinance in the City of Sarasota that calls for anenclosure, in order to provide long-term bicycle parking, in all public and private garages, the designers and the city officials who approved the design of the $14 million Palm Avenue Parking Garage installed a fence that doesn’t enclose. In fact, the fence they installed is so short (54’) that it can be leapt over in one bound. BPA filmed thefts, which included walking up to the fence, jumping over it, cutting the lock with bolt cutters, placing the bolt cutters and bicycle on the outside of the fence, jumping back over the fence, hiding the bolt cutters, and riding away on the stolen bicycle, all happening in 52 seconds or less.
The long-term bicycle parking stall is allegedly monitored by video cameras of the Police Department. Yet, the BPA film crew was there for over an hour, committing 6 or 7 thefts, hopping the fence, cutting chains, removing bicycles from the stall, and no law enforcement personnel arrived. And, due to the nature of the garage, no witnesses called law enforcement.
The film will be edited and presented for use in helping the City improve its parking garage so that it meets its own code.
SARASOTA COUNTY CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT MEET
On September 13, 2011, BPA’s Lasché attended a meeting of the Sarasota Citizens for Responsible Government, where he discussed the attempt by technical staff of the MPO to “fix” the election of the MPO’s bike/ped advisory committee, how the election was illegitimate, how Lasché was confronted when he pointed out that the election was illegitimate, and how the group attempting to fix the election then went on to claim that Lasché had initiated a confrontation. Members of SCRG responded with their own stories of how Sarasota County staff were known for an attitude of intolerance to people who dissented with their views and were known to demand “deference” from the public.
ROBERT TAYLOR COMMUNITY CENTER HAS GRAND OPENING
On September 5, the brand new Robert Taylor Community Center held an open house. This is a $10 million, City of Sarasota, public facility featuring meeting rooms, auditorium, exercise facilities, pools, and recreation, located at the corner of Myrtle and US 41. The City of Sarasota is to be commended for a job well done.
EMAILS RELATED TO CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF BPA STAFF SHOW PUBLIC AGENCY ATTEMPT TO FIX COMMITTEE ELECTIONS OUTSIDE OF SUNSHINE
On August 30, BPA staff analyzed emails from County and MPO staff which were related to the character assassination attempt on Mike Lasché, stemming from when he was confronted on January 10, 2011, after he pointed out that an MPO bike/ped advisory election of chairman was improper. In the emails, it is discovered that MPO staff member Jim Van Pelt was attempting to fix the results of the election for Chairman. Van Pelt sent emails to only the members of the committee who were technical staff, urging them to select one of their own and elect only a technical staff person to be chair. Van Pelt did not send this email to the entire committee, the rest of which were citizens and members of the public.
After the election was actually held, on January 10, 2011, BPA’s Lasché, unaware of the attempt by Van Pelt and others to fix the election, went to Van Pelt and pointed out that the election of the Chairperson was improper because she had been nominated by someone who wasn’t even on the Committee. At that point, the newly elected Chairman confronted Lasché on other matters, claiming that he was factually wrong on other points. Lasché defended himself and pointed out that he wasn’t wrong and cited the evidence to prove it. The next day, Van Pelt suggested to the newly elected Chair that she “had been confronted” and began collecting statements against Lasché. Statements were then collected from the newly elected Chair, the newly elected vice-Chair, the one who had improperly nominated the new Chair, and even Van Pelt.
It is important to note that while the collected statements are at great variance with each other, the two statements with the most credibility back up Lasché’s assertion that he was confronted and, that in fact, the only person he approached was Van Pelt, with the news that the election was improper.
BPA VOLUNTEER SETS UP FACEBOOK, WORDPRESS, AND TWITTER ACCOUNT FOR BPA
On August 19, Colleen McGue, a BPA volunteer set up a Facebook, WordPress, and Twitter account for BPA. Thanks, Colleen.
NORTH TRAIL REDEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP MEETING
On August 11, the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership held a general meeting. A BPA report on traffic calming noted that the proposed new ordinance for the North Trail, the North Trail Overlay District (NTOD) had language requiring wider sidewalks than existing zoning, that FDOT staff were actively resisting putting in a crosswalk at Waldemere/US 41 because the “excessive” pedestrian traffic would delay motorists, that bike lanes were going to be in the plans for the reconstruction of US 41 from 10th to 14th Streets, and that the NTRP Redevelopment Committee had voted, 10-0, to recommend that the proposed Walmart, at Myrtle and US 41, include a bus shelter.
BPA MEETS WITH SARASOTA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
On July 19, BPA’s Lasché met with Wendy Hopkins, Vice-President of the Community Foundation of Sarasota. Hopkins advised BPA, that if it wished to grow and receive foundational support, to become a 501c3 organization, to develop a mission statement, to develop a Board, and to develop bylaws. Hopkins also expressed approval for the creation of a new statewide advocacy group, Florida Walks and Bikes.
VACATION OF S. PALM AVENUE
On July 18, 2011, BPA members Jack Wagner and Mike Lasché attended the City Commission meeting with the intent of speaking against the vacation of S. Palm Avenue to Selby Gardens, on the grounds that the street was a valuable and expensive resource that shouldn’t be given away and that the public land at the south end of Palm Avenue could be used as a kayak launching point if public access to it, through S. Palm Avenue was preserved. However, as no other advocates for kayaking or preservation of city property showed up, it became clear that any opposition to the vacation of S. Palm Avenue to Selby Gardens would be futile. Lasché and Wagner decided not to publicly oppose the vacation.
BPA SPEAKS TO CITY OF SARASOTA PLANNING BOARD ON WALMART, WIDE SIDEWALKS AND BUS STOP
On July 14, BPA’s Lasché spoke to the City of Sarasota Planning Board regarding the need for a bus stop with a shelter, and wide sidewalks, as part of the new Walmart, to be located at Myrtle and US 41. Unexpectedly, a majority of the Planning Board agreed that this would be a good idea. Planning Board members Susan Chapman, Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, and Chris Gallagher all agreed that these amenities should be there. However, they also pointed out that existing City codes and procedures do not allow them to require these amenities as part of approving the development.
Chris Gallagher referenced the need to change the code along the North Trail and to establish a public fund to pay for quasi-public amenities in developments.
COMMISSIONER TERRY TURNER ANNOUNCES THAT BIKE LANES WILL BE INCLUDED IN FUTURE US 41, FROM 10TH TO 14TH STREETS
On July 12, 2011, BPA received a stunning email from City Commissioner Terry Turner in which Turner relayed an email from Marlon Brown, Deputy City Manager, confirming that the plans for the reconstruction of US 41, from 10th to 14th Street, expected to be built in 2016, included bike lanes. The plans also include roundabouts at 10th and 14th Streets. This news is especially significant because bike lanes exist on US 41, from the Manatee County line north, two miles, to Bowlee’s Creek. With bike lanes from 10th to 14th, there will be a stretch of US 41, from 14th Street to the Manatee County line, which will have bike lanes on both ends. This will provide greater justification for the provision of bicycle lanes, particularly as this stretch of road includes New College and Ringling College of Art and Design.
FLORIDA WALKS AND BIKES IS INCORPORATED
On June 14, 2011, a new statewide organization began taking shape. Florida Walks and Bikes was registered as a corporation and work began on obtaining the necessary domain names.
5C TRAIL DISCUSSED
On May 26, 2011, a meeting was held to discuss the 5C Trail, a proposed trail that would link Crosley Mansion with New College and on south to the Caples Mansion. The trail is called the 5C Trail because it would link Caples, Ca D’Zan, Cook Hall, College Hall, and the Crosley Mansion, 5 historical Sarasota mansions. The trail would also provide bike/ped access between USF and New College. And, if it were extended to the north end of Crosley Mansion, it would link to Long Bay Boulevard, an already existing bike-friendly road which runs along the bay in Bradenton.
The meeting was significant because Crosley personnel provided a map of a proposed route through the Crosley property. Also, a number of citizens from the Uplands, the neighborhood south of Crosley, appeared in apparent opposition to a trail which would create any bike/ped traffic from outside their neighborhood.
SIDEWALK GUIDELINES OF ITE AND CNU PRESENTED TO NORTH TRAIL REDEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP
On May 18, BPA’s Lasché presented the sidewalk guidelines of the Congress for New Urbanism and the Institute of Transportation Engineers to the North Trail Redevelopment Partnership Redevelopment Committee. The standards are published in the 2010 document, “Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context-Sensitive Approach.”
The guidelines call for a sidewalk, on a general urban boulevard, which is the classification for the North Trail, to be 15’ in width. This 15’ is divided into three parts, a 5’ zone for street furniture (hydrants, benches, trash cans, signs, trees) by the curb, an 8’ pedestrian throughway zone to allow couples of pedestrians to simultaneously pass, and 2’ of frontage zone (an area for opening doors, or traffic to congregate at store entrances).
BPA, NEW COLLEGE BIKE SHOP MEET TO DISCUSS FUNDRAISING RIDE
On May 13, Mike Lasché, Niko Segal-Wright, and Emily Meyer met to discuss a fundraising bicycle ride for BPA and the New College Bicycle Shop. Issues discussed included the route, insurance, volunteer needs, and special events.
BPA PRESENTS 2011 FLORIDA LEGISLATURE REPORT
On May 10, 2011, BPA Director Lasché provided an update on the recently adjourned Florida Legislature. Senate Bill 1150, a committee bill by the Senate Transportation Committee, included language to amend the state’s mandatory lane law to allow bicyclists to leave the bike lane for potential traffic conflicts. It also allowed cyclists, who had been ticketed for failure to have lights at night, to avoid paying a fine by appearing in court with proof of light installation. Senate Bill 1180 passed both the Senate and the House but the House added amendments to it regarding red light cameras, thus sending it back to the Senate where it did not have enough time to be passed again. Senate Bill 1180, would have allowed FDOT to initiate a pilot program whereby cyclists could have access to certain limited access facility bridges. Like 1150, it passed both the Senate and the House, but after House amendments, was returned to the Senate and did not emerge again.
The full report may be seen at xxxxxxxxx.
BPA COMMENTS ON 10TH AND 14TH STREET ROUNDABOUTS ON US 41
On May 5, 2011, BPA sent comments to FDOT staff and consultants regarding the 10th and 14th Street Roundabout project on US 41. This project includes reconstruction of US 41 from 10th to 14th Street. BPA pointed out that FDOT’s Plans Preparation Manual requires that any reconstruction include bike lanes unless there are severely mitigating circumstances.
CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF BPA STAFF ANALYZED
On May 3, BPA’s Mike Lasché began a systematic analysis and response to a character assassination attempt upon him. MPO staff member Jim Van Pelt had attempted to fix the results of an MPO bike/ped advisory committee election, unbeknownst to Lasché and all the citizen members of the MPO committee.
Van Pelt, in communications to only the municipal engineers, planners, and other public staff on the committee, had called for the Chairmanship to be reserved for technical staff. In other emails, Van Pelt worked with County staffer Tom Maroney and City of Bradenton staff Claude Tankersley to further this goal. At the election itself, Sarasota County staffer Paula Wiggins was elected chair.
After the election itself, on January 10, 2011, in which Wiggins was elected Chairperson, Lasché realized that she had been improperly nominated by Maroney. As Maroney was not an official member of the committee, it was improper for him to make such a nomination. When Lasché approached Van Pelt to mention this, Wiggins left her conversation and confronted Lasché, claiming that he was wrong on two factual points. Lasché defended his points, citing sources, whereupon Wiggins became sarcastic. The next day, Van Pelt used this conversation to claim that Lasché had confronted Wiggins. Shortly thereafter, statements from Wiggins, Maroney, Tankersley, and Van Pelt made wildly varying claims that Lasché had, at least, been condescending to Wiggins.
Thereafter, Lasché wrote a guest editorial for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, published on February 24, 2011, criticizing Sarasota County, Paula Wiggins, and Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley for their neglect of bicycle/pedestrian policy. After that, in mid-March, Ley scheduled a presentation to the Board of County Commissioners, citing the alleged confrontation, to ask the Board to remove Lasché from the Sarasota County bike/ped advisory committee. Lasché was not notified of the scheduled presentation and thus was not there to defend himself against the allegations. Indeed, Lasché had no knowledge at all that anyone considered the January 10 conversation to be an “incident” of any sort.
After the Board of County Commisssioners took their action, Van Pelt and Maroney continued to collaborate on attempting to remove Lasché from the MPO bike/ped advisory committee as well.
After all this, Lasché began his own investigation of all of these actions.