The Florida Department of Transportation held a public workshop today to collect public input for their 50-year plan, “Horizon 2060: a new era for transportation in florida.” I try to attend every meeting like this that I can, always wearing my bicycle pin, to ensure that bicycling is considered by those directing policy. What impressed me today was the number of fellow friends of the bicycle- men and women, younger and older – all speaking up for livability and increased implementation of bicycling and walking facilities. As we’ve said before, this is truly our time.
For those of you who did not attend the meeting, there are still many opportunities to share your input with the program manager, Huiwei Shen, and steering committee (the “30 statewide partners representing all the modes” responsible for drafting the final plan for public review).
I asked Kathleen Neill, Director of the Office of Policy Planning at FDOT, if that statement meant that bicyclists were represented. She said that we were represented through local representatives, but not as a single group so as not to give priority to one group over another. She went on to explain, by way of example, that Publix is not on the steering committee but they were represented through unions of freight truck drivers… it was a little unclear to me so she graciously guided me to the Steering Committee Advisory Group on Community Livability, Environmental Stewardship and Mobility. You can be sure that I will be following up with them tomorrow.
The Steering Committee is looking for guidance on 8 key questions:
- What transportation strategies would help Florida’s economy be globally competitive over the next 50 years?
- What transportation strategies would help Florida’s communities be better places to live, work and play?
- What forms of transportation do we need more of in the future? Does Florida need new or different types of transportation for moving people and freight and what would these be?
- How do we maximize the use of existing transportation facilities such as roadways and rail lines before developing new ones?
- What can we do to improve transportation safety in Florida?
- How do we address our future transportation needs, while at the same time ensuring the environment in protected and preserved?
- How can regional transportation planning and coordination be improved in this area of the state?
- Is more funding need to meet Florida’s transportation needs? If so, what source(s) of revenue should be considered?
A lot to consider – so we were separated into 3 groups to discuss and process and record ideas. Some of the interesting ones that came up included eliminating right turn on red, taxing suburban residents, increasing wayfinding signage at transit stations so people felt more comfortable coming and going from them on foot, effecting stronger requirements for the implementation of bike/ped infrastructure. The people in attendance represented a pretty interesting mix of planners, engineers, activists, public health advocates, bicyclists, transit users and students, too.
Not so good news: People tended to comment on things outside of FDOT’s jurisdiction or to simply lament the agency’s many… issues, which took away from the time available to discuss real opportunities to insert effective ideas into the plan.
Good news: People were overwhelmingly pro-transit, pro-livability, pro-active transportation. We are not alone!
The challenge now is to keep the pressure and continue to send in comments that address the questions above in a pro-bicycling way. You can do a lot by simply posting a few ideas here. Don’t think that your comments won’t be indexed and added to a list of support for whatever you have in mind. It can take just a minute or so and have a lasting impact.