A bicycle czar for Sarasota County went to work Monday, presumably on two wheels.
"What I like about Sarasota County is the weather is great for sustainable transportation," said Patrick Lui, who was appointed bicycle and pedestrian coordinator by Administrator Tom Harmer. "You're dealing with this issue every day in this area."
County commissioners green-lighted the position to help bicyclists and pedestrians get around more safely and effectively. Lui was the sustainable transportation coordinator and parks planner in Richmond Hill, Ontario, a town of roughly 200,000.
"Patrick's role is an extension of our goal of promoting quality of life," Harmer said. "It will allow us to have a person focusing on 'complete streets' that are safe for pedestrians, motorists and transit riders and that connect the areas where people live, work and play."
A framework to boost safety along the county's 230 miles of bike trails and 2,300 miles of walkways was endorsed at a commissioners meeting in Venice in October 2013. A 46-page report showed 1,756 bike and pedestrian crashes in Sarasota County from 2007 to 2013. Tamiami Trail (312 crashes), Bee Ridge Road (117) and Washington Boulevard (100) were the riskiest roadways, according to the report.
Lui has a master's degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His responsibilities will include collaborating with neighborhood groups and promoting safety through social media.
Lui said he envisions a sustainable transportation network, including links with parks, greenways and trails, that encourages everyday cycling and walking.
"My hope is other municipalities and communities will look up to us and want to replicate what we're doing," Lui said.