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Feb
14

Editorial 627


Missy Layfield - Editor

Time to Speak Up

Residents and visitors have been suggesting way to improve Estero Blvd for decades. Turn lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks have all been discussed, analyzed and debated.

How many times have you heard, "What they should do is…”

Islanders talk to each other, to Town staff and officials. They write letters to us.

For years it seemed as though we were calling into the wind for all the good it did us. The Estero Boulevard project seemed like another one of those problems that we’d talk about forever with nothing ever being done about it.

Until now.

Through the efforts of our Town Council and staff working with Lee County, the project has reached the design phase and Islanders are asked to weigh in on the prioritization of which segments of the road should be addressed first, as well as what should be done with each segment.

There are options and both Lee County and the Town of Fort Myers Beach are asking for your input.

It’s time to show up and state your case to the people who can make a difference-Lee County Department of Transportation.

You’ll see in a front-page story today that Islanders are invited to attend an important workshop on Thursday, February 28th from 4:30-6:30pm at St. Peter Lutheran to discuss Estero Boulevard design proposals.

Planners have put in a lot of work analyzing the right-of-way available and the needs of the different segments of Estero.

While we might wish for a road with 3 lanes, plus bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road for the entire length of Estero, with right-of-ways ranging from 50 feet to 80 feet, that doesn’t seem possible.

But don’t take my word for it. This is your opportunity to dive into the information that has been prepared so that you understand the challenges and opportunities yourself.

All of the information is available on the Town’s website fortmyersbeachfl.gov Read it and come prepared to discuss the options.

Progress

Work is being done this week on revamping some existing crosswalks and installing new ones. Signs and lights will follow.

The County has heard Islanders’ pleas for quick action to make Estero Boulevard safer for all of us. Whether the planned work is enough to turn the tide of dangerous pedestrian accidents remains to be seen.

One important tool in this effort is the education of visitors on our traffic issues. New visitors arrive daily on our Island, so the need to educate is an ongoing challenge. It’s not always someone else’s job to educate visitors.

It may be yours.

Do you have a rental home or condo on the beach?

Take the time to prepare and share information with your guests about crosswalks and pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Do you have a business on the beach?

Consider how you might encourage your customers to be more alert and careful on our roads. We want to be known as a fun place, but we need to be a safe place also.

Let’s get our visitors attention in a positive way!

Estero Crawl -- Island Style

While we’re on the subject of Estero Boulevard, let me mention that with season here and traffic gridlock a part of each day, it’s time to talk about how Islanders handle traffic-Island style.

We have traffic. Oh boy, do we have traffic. Cars, bikes, motorcycles, scooters, runners, walkers-we have it all and lots of it.

Each day, it seems everyone wants to be on the road at the same time. So we all do the Estero crawl.

This is not your basic urban snarl; this is traffic, island style. And we Islanders handle it a bit differently than our urban cousins do.

So for newcomers, here are a few tips on how we handle traffic – Island Style.

When traffic slows to a crawl, we roll down our windows, open the sunroof and let the warm breezes blow through the car. It’s pretty hard to be stressed with the Gulf breeze ruffling your hair.

Islanders actively watch for pedestrians and cyclists on the road. Islanders know how vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists are. We stop for people in crosswalks and often for those trying to cross between crosswalks.We’re not going anywhere fast anyway.

Islanders also avoid traffic by riding their bikes or walking as much as possible.

While we’re inching our way down Estero, Islanders let cars make left turns or let them into the line of cars. Again, not going anywhere fast.

When you are the recipient of any of this Island hospitality, give a wave in thanks –it’s the Island thing to do.

Islanders also know that some of those pedestrians walking along, oh-so-close to the traffic lanes may not be entirely sober. Expect the unexpected.

Whether you are on the island for vacation or business, you’re invited to give our Island Style a try.

Relax. Slow down. Enjoy your days here Island Style!

Missy Layfield