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Naples leaders addressing pedestrian, biker safety with new master plan

The goal is to improve city streets and sidewalks
Posted at 4:40 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 16:40:49-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Naples city leaders and the community have been discussing way to make the street safer for people on bikes and on foot.

At a public meeting at the River Park Community Center on Thursday, residents from neighborhoods all over the city gave input on the new Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.

The goal of the plan is safety, which was on everyone’s mind after two pedestrian were seriously injured within the past 24 hours.

“Safety is the goal, not only here but throughout the city,” said George Dondanville, president of the Sun Terrace Association.

Dondanville is the president of the Sun Terrace Association, one of 18 neighborhood associations that city leaders asked for input into the plan.

“We can’t make everyone happy, but we want to try to make sure we’re going in the right direction with these projects and what the community wants,” said Alison Bickett, a traffic engineer for Naples and project manager for the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Thursday’s meeting was scheduled ahead of time, but it comes a day after the Florida Highway Patrol said a 12-year-old boy was struck by a van in the Falls of Portofino neighborhood of North Naples on Wednesday.

FHP also said a 32-year-old man was hit by a car while crossing the street in Immokalee early Thursday morning.

Those incident happened outside of city limits, but one biker we talked to said the streets aren’t safe in Naples.

“I’m afraid every day I go out,” seasonal resident Peggy Kelley said. “It’s nerve-racking with the traffic and distracted drivers.”

Kelley said she nearly watched a walker get hit by a car while she was on a bike ride recently.

“The car was going so fast,” Kelley said. “He was just trying to worm in between us. It was a little unnerving. It was very unnerving.”

Dondanville said it’s not just about bikers — he wants to see more safety precautions for pedestrians, too. Especially since more people have come to town and the sidewalks are more crowded.

“If you’ve got two moms baby strollers coming at each other, they’re in deep trouble,” Dondanville said. “Somebody’s gotta go in the grass. Wider sidewalks will always help, that’s key. And it’s safety too.”

The purpose of this meeting here tonight is for the residents to rank the projects they’d like to see done in their neighborhood. In the coming weeks, a finalized Bike and Pedestrian plan will be presented to the Naples city council for a vote.