Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Enlisting HART To Help Protect Bicyclists

When a HART bus driver (pictured above) nearly hit me on Rowlett Park Drive last week and then told me to bike on the sidewalk when I confronted him about the incident, let's just say he picked the wrong bicyclist to try and blow off.

I filed a complaint with HART as soon as I got home. The incident is in HART's files as "Transaction 23317."

Yes, my putting on the record of nearly being struck by a HART bus is described as a "Transaction."

Bureaucratic euphemisms aside, I spoke today with HART's customer service director, Sylvie Castillo, who advised me that the agency looked into the matter and confirmed my report -- that the bus driver did indeed violate the 3-foot minimum buffer law and was counseled about the matter.

I was told HART drivers will be instructed to give bicyclists the required three feet of buffer space when passing a bicyclist.

I appreciated the customer service director's follow-up conversation.

But I still plan to speak at HART's Board meeting on Monday at 8:30 AM about the incident and advise the agency that as a response HART wiould be required to post signs on its bus exteriors to tell motorists to give bicyclists the requited three feet when passing and to share the road.

The bus driver's response of telling me to bike on the sidewalk is part of a bicycle culture in Tampa, where bicyclists are marginalized and intimidated by car drivers who don't understand that they are required under law to share the road, meaning passing a bicyclist by a margin of space of at least three feet.

I plan on enlisting HART Monday to help spread the word to the local Tampa-area citizenry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

SWFBUD Requests More Funding In Long-Range Transportation Plan

WMNF radio had some excellent coverage of SWFBUD participating in the
MPO 2035 Transportation Plan hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

SWFBUD's message: Bicycle and pedestrian improvements deserve more funding under the MPO long-range plan.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I Hope A Bike Rack Grows At Wal-Mart

When you're a bicycle advocate, you have to be resourceful -- like using the name and phone number of the Wal-Mart manager on your Wal-Mart receipt to contact her and request a bicycle rack in front of the store.

That's exactly what I did Wednesday afternoon when I went to Wal-Mart today on Dale Mabry near I-275 and noticed no bike rack and at least five bikes locked to trees and sign posts on islands in the parking lot.

What a mess.

So I called the Wal-Mart store manager, a woman named Debbie because her name and phone number was right on my receipt.

I asked her to please install a bike rack.

And she said she would include a new bike rack when the store is remodeled in February.

Let's hope Debbie the Wal-Mart manager was not BSing me.

Tampa-area MPO Board Takes Notice Of Bike Lanes

On Wednesday night, I represented SWFBUD at the MPO2035 Long Range Transportation Plan hearing at the county center in downtown Tampa. The Plan was approved by the MPO Board, a collection of county commissioners, city council members and transportation officials to make decisions about transportation planning.

No surprise the 2035 was approved.

But what was a major surprise was when MPO Board members Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder (interested in running for county commission), County Commissioner Rose Ferlita (interested in running for Tampa mayor) and County Commissioner Mark Sharpe (you know he's going to run for something) talked about a bike lane.

I know, who knew three politicos were so interested in a bike lane?

But the bike lane issue surfaced at the hearing when local South County activist Mariella Smith did a terrific job explaining how the proposed bike lanes under the 2035 Plan were centered around the Tampa area and that bike lanes were lacking on Shell Point Road and 19th Avenue in south county.

Dingdfelder, Ferlita and Sharpe all voiced concerns about making sure the bike lane would be striped under the plan.

For the record, I told the MPO Board that the tiny slice of the proposed money pie for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure was too small compared to the money spent on light rail and cars under the proposed plan. The MPO spent a lot of time working on this 2035 Plan, and MPO staffers Beth Alden and Gena Torres who are Seminole Heights residents do support bicycling and pedestrian improvements.

But if the Tampa Bay area is going to move up from being near the bottom of the barrel in the U.S. in terms of bicycle and ped safety, our region needs a Marshall Plan-like overhaul of our bicycle and ped infrastructure and needs the city of Tampa Transportation Dept. to do more than build more than bike lanes on TWO roads (Manhattan Avenue and 40th Street) in the six years that I have lived in Tampa.

* * *

Mariella Smith summarized the meeting and sent out a notice about the MPO meeting:

Although we didn't get our bikeways added to the 2035 Transportation Plan's list of funded projects, we did make progress at tonight's final hearing of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) board.

Thanks to all of you who sent in comments and e-mails, some of our elected officials got the message loud and clear tonight -- that South County citizens want to see our community connected with greenways, trails and bikeways. The issue is now on the radar of our transportation planners and decision-makers, and they are promising to find some other way of funding these amenities, which we have spent years planning for.

I spoke about the need for SAFE bikeways down here, and showed their own map of funded bikeways on the ELMO, pointing out that there are LOTS of little purple lines indicating bikeways being funded all through Tampa, downtown, north Tampa and Brandon, but NOT ONE south of Bloomingdale. (They do plan to fund the Sun Coast Trail, one of our 2 major paved trails [shown as a dashed green line], but NONE of the connecting bikeways like they plan to fund in the rest of the county [shown as solid purple lines]. Our connecting bikeways are on their "needs" list, but not on their list of "funded projects.")

Joe Smith spent a good part of his allotted 3 minutes speaking in support of Greenways & Bikeways for South County, too, highlighting our area's history of planning for these corridors as part of our goal of promoting ecotourism. Alan Snel (cycling advocate supreme) spoke in support of more funding for bikeways throughout the county. Thank you, Joe & Alan!

John Dingfelder really went to bat for us! (He's a member of the MPO Board, a Tampa City Councilman, and a candidate for County Commission.) He reiterated the point I made that MANY bikeways were being funded everywhere else, but NONE in South County, and he asked the board to look again at that map of funded bikeways. When county staff said they couldn't fund any bikeways in South County because so many other roads elsewhere were higher on the priority list, given their criteria of population & accidents etc., Dingfelder argued that the criteria needs to include some consideration of equity. He said as it stands, they're treating all of south county like we don't ride bikes.

John Dingfelder acknowledged the years we have spent working on community plans that include these trails, and he pressed hard for staff to revisit the issue within the next 6 months, and find some other sources of funding. Transportation staff began tonight thinking of ways this could be done -- possibly in conjunction with resurfacing projects. County Commissioner Mark Sharpe also voiced support for bikeways in general, and Commissioner Rose Ferlita indicated a willingness to work on this in the future with us.

Thanks to all of us pulling together, we made our county leaders & planners aware of the need for viable, connecting greenways & bikeways; particularly in South Hillsborough; and specifically the bikeways looping east-west along Shell Point Rd. & 19th Ave. -- connecting Ruskin, Sun City Center, 4 schools, 2 libraries, 2 parks, the Suncoast Greenway and the bus/transit station. They now know that this IS important to us, and they are listening, and trying to find ways to turn these "needs" into funded projects.

Thanks for all your help!
Mariella Smith

Potential Funding Source To Make Tampa's Streets Safer For Bicyclists?

A busy few days on the SWFBUD front. Today I sent a letter to the city of Tampa about a potential funding source to make the city's streets safer for bicyclists:

I contacted the city of Tampa about a potential funding source to improve bicycle safety in the strests of Tampa. I hope the city's Transportation staffers look into this. This letter was sent today:

Dear Mayor Iorio, Steve Daignault, Irv Lee, John Marsh, Tony Rodriguez, Shannon Edge and the city of Tampa Transportation Division,

A common response I receive from the city of Tampa government about improving bicycle infrastructure is that the city has no money to improve city roads and streets for bicyclist safety.

In response to that, I am sending you what I hope is a potential funding source. It does require someone from the city government to apply for the money and I hope the city would be willing to explore that option.

As you know, Tampa has a national and local reputation for being a city that's unsafe for bicyclists and I hope this potential funding source could provide money to stripe bike lanes and widen roads so that bicyclists can safely pedal the streets of Tampa. I hope we can work together to change Tampa's reputation as a place that's not hospitable to bicyclists.

Here is the pdf:

I appreciate your time and help.

Alan Snel
Director of SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, nine Tampa area bicycle stores and two lawyers committed to bicycle advocacy
Home of the award-winning Bicycle Bash, Tampa Bay's Bicycle Festival

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bicycle Bash Video

This will be your most enjoyable two minutes of the day. Check out this terrific Bicycle Bash video.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

SWFBUD Talks With Police About Bicycle Laws With Help From The Florida Bicycle Association

This morning, SWFBUD met with George Martin, Florida Bicycle Asociations's bicycle laws director, and three members of the Tampa Police Department to discuss bicyclists' rights to be in the traffic lane under certain circumstances and to see if we can start a public campaign to better educate drivers and bicyclists about sharing the road together.

Tampa's new police chief, Jane Castor, a veteran bicyclist, made a cameo during the meeting to say hi and check in, mentioning Tampa's "unfriendly streets" for bicyclists. The new chief responded to my email promptly about this issue two weeks ago.

SWFBUD's goal was to offer George's services to help educate Tampa police about bicycle laws and to kick-start a public awareness camapaign about bicyclists and drivers sharing the narrow roads and streets in the Tampa area.

This meeting stemmed from a case connected to bicyclist Bradley Marcel, who was cited by a Tampa officer for not being close to the right edge of a road in Tampa even though he had the right to be in the lane because the traffic lane was too narrow and sub-standard in width.

That's right folks -- bicyclists are supposed to be as close to the right side of the road as practable, but there are circumstances under the law that permit cyclists to take the lane such as to avoid debris, preparing to make a left turn and when a lane is too narrow.

My goal was not to argue Bradley's case before the trio of Tampa police members but to use it as a learning experience and a point of departure to educate officers about a bicyclist's right to be in the lane.

Enter George Martin, a long-time bicyclist and Florida Bicycle Association's bicycle laws director who advises police around Florida about bike laws. George offered his services to the Tampa police and he was well-received.

I want to thank John Bennett, Assistant Chief of Police for Operations; Ed Croissant, who teaches Tampa police officers about cycling; and Sgt. Carl Giguere, who spent an hour listening to our concerns and appeared willing to accept George's offer of providing education modules to improve the understanding of bicycle laws.

George is working on launching a bicycle laws training program for police and hopes to have a two-hour web-based program ready by the end of next year and the education modules ready to go in a few months. George's big goal is to take his bike education program for police national down the road.

Asst. Chief Bennett agreed to refresh a legal bulletin for police officers about a bicyclist's right to be in the lane under certain circumstances; add the Web site to the Tampa police Web site; add a PDF showing bike routes in Tampa; target schools to educate kids about bicycling and look into getting training from the education modules. He also said police would consider using electronic message boards to advise drivers about sharing roads with bicyclists.

Here, George talks with Asst. Chief Bennett, Croissant, and Sgt. Giguere.

After discussing bicycle laws with the Tampa Police, George and I took a short ride to SWFBUD member store Streetfit 360 on Gandy Avenue to talk bicycling issues with Streetfit 360 owners Jana and Andy Clark.

Then at lunchtime, I enjoyed listening to George discuss the topic of bicycle laws with an ad-hoc group of interested downtown Tampa bicyclists at a brown-bag lunch at the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

George talks about bicycle laws with the downtown Tampa bicycle committee today. That's Jim Shirk listening to George.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2009 -- An Incredible Year For SWFBUD; The Year In Review

In 2009, SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers) came of age, forging political alliances in the Tampa Bay area and winning national awards for its bicycle advocacy work in the Tampa Bay market.

SWFBUD was already known as the organizer of the popular and award-winning Bicycle Bash by the Bay -- Tampa Bay's annual bicycle festival. In fact, SWFBUD won an Event of the Year Award from the Florida Bicycle Association in 2007 for the Bicycle Bash.

But in 2009, SWFBUD became an advocacy force as SWFBUD Director Alan Snel lobbied local government boards and commissions to improve infrastructure for bicyclists; organized a bike ride to a Hillsborough County Commission budget hearing to help keep county parks open seven days a week and created key political alliances with local elected officials such as Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe and Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena to increase the profile of cycling in the Tampa Bay area.

SWFBUD's efforts paid off and drew national attention and recognition.

In April, SWFBUD won the prestigious Retailer Advocacy Award from the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) magazine, the trade publication that covers the bicycle industry in the U.S. Here, Alan Snel receives the BRAINy award from Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong and BRAIN Editor Megan Tompkins.

And then this summer, the Trek Bicycle Corp. gave its Advocacy Leadership Award to SWFBUD for working with Hillsborough County officials to keep the parks open seven days a week after the proposed budget called for closing the parks two days a week. Trek President John Burke poses with members of the Trek stores in SWFBUD.

Here are some of the SWFBUD store owners with mountain bike building legend Gary Fisher after SWFBUD won the award.

* * *

SWFBUD became political and Alan Snel was showing up at Tampa City Council meetings and Hillsborough and Pinellas County Commission meetings and TBARTA meetings and just about any public forum to sound the call for improved and better infrastructure for bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area.

Alan appeared before the TBARTA board to advise them to make sure that bicycles are part of a future light rail plan. Here is Alan with former TBARTA Board Chairman Shelton Quarles.

Alan also appeared before the Hillsborough County Commission numerous times to implore the commission to connect the Upper Tampa Bay Trail with the Suncoast Trail and to keep the county's parks open seven days a week.

SWFBUD organized a bike ride to a Hillsborough County Commission budget hearing this summer to save the county's parks.

Once at the meeting, SWFBUD spoke loud for parks for bicyclists. Here, SWFBUD member Brian Eckman, owner of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, spoke to the commission.

SWFBUD's appearance led to a meeting with Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who asked SWFBUD for ways to improve bicycling in the Tampa area. Snel came up with a 10-point bicycle improvement plan that ran the Tampa Tribune and that he presented to the county's MPO board.

SWFBUD arranged a meeting with Florida Bicycle Association Bike Laws Director George Martin to discuss bicycle laws with the Tampa Police after a bicyclist was cited in Tampa for biking in a road that was sub-standard in width,

SWFBUD is also lobbying the city of Tampa to improve its reputation as a hostile place for bicyclists. Alan is lobbying Mayor Pam Iorio and other officials in city government to install more bike lanes. He plans to work with City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena to enhance bike-commuting in the city.

SWFBUD appeared before local organizations to spread the word of improving bicycling. Here, Alan speaks at an Open Mic Night held by the Urban Charrette in Tampa.

* * *

Then, there is SWFBUD's signature event -- the Bicycle Bash by the Bay.

We drew more than 3,000 people of all bicycle backgrounds to North Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg to celebrate bicycling. It was a hot day, but a great setting for SWFBUD's Bicycle Bash.

The Bicycle Bash drew bicyclists of all ages.

And Alan gave out SWFBUDDy Awards to people who made Tampa Bay a bicycle-friendly area.

The SWFBUDDy winners.

SWFBUD plans to keep the pressure on in December as Alan is appearing before several local government boards and plans to work with Saul-Sena to improve bicycling in Tampa.

Monday, November 23, 2009

SWFBUD Visits Pinellas County's MPO Bicycle Advisory Committee Today

This morning I represented SWFBUD in front of the Pinellas County MPO's Bicycle advisory Committee to explain that SWFBUD is working to love the Bicycle Bash festival event from downtown St. Petersburg to Flatwoods County Park in Hillsborough County in 2010.

The day is set for Nov. 10.

SWFBUD has enjoyed working with the coty of St. Petersburg to hold the Bicycle bash the past three years, but now we are looking to grow and expand the event by having live multiple bicycle events and activitoes going on while we also have a thriving exhibitor village.

County Commissioner Mark Sharpe of Hillsborough County made a bid on behalf of the county to host the Bicycle Bash.

We will call our 2010 event the "Bicycle Bash Classic" and Hillsborough County will be a co-sponsor.

Other features include:

-- The event will be FREE as usual, but attendees will have to pay the county's $2 parking charge for its regional parks at remote park lots about 2 miles away, then will take a shuttle to Flatwoods. Or they can bike in. I hope they take the bike.

-- The event will be the base for the Cure on Wheels charity bike ride.

-- The Tampa Bay Sports Commission will help market and promote the Bicycle Bash Classic statewide.

-- SWFBUD is looking to showcase all types of cycling at Flatwoods and market Tampa Bay as a great place to cycle.

More details to follow. SWFBUD hopes to reach a final agreement with Hillsborough County in December and have a press conference with the county and other partners in January.

It was great to see Laura Hallam, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, at the Pinellas Bicycle Advisory Commission. Laura gave a legislative update on FBA's bicycle agenda.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SWFBUD Urges Tampa Police Chief Castor To Advise Officers On When It's OK For Bicyclists To Be In The Lane

I recently received an email from a bicyclist who was cited by Tampa police for not bicycling to the far right edge of a roadway. While law requires bicyclists to bike to the far right as "practicable," there are several circumstances under which a bicyclist can bike in the lane and not at the edge.

One of which is when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side. That happens a lot in Tampa, where lanes are sub-standard in width and less than 14 feet wide.

In response, I sent this email to new Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor in hopes SWFBUD can help educate Tampa police and the motoring public about a bicyclist's right to be in the lane under certain circumstances.

* * *

Dear Chief Castor,

I hope your new assignment is working out well for you. Congratulations on being named police chief.

As director of SWFBUD, I am writing to forward you an email I received from a bicyclist who was cited by a Tampa police officer who apparently believed that bicyclists must stay as close as possible to the far right edge or curb of a roadway -- even in the event of road lanes that are sub-standard in width.

However, Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide cites 316.2065 that explains several situations under which bicyclists do not have to ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge, including "when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side." The guide goes on to say: "A cyclist should maintain at least two feet of clearance from a curb or pavement edge. Since the mininum clearance for passing a bicyclist is three feet and the total width of larger motor vehicles is commonly eight feet or more, a lane with less than 14 feet of usable width is usually too narrow for motor traffic to pass."

In this bicyclist's case in the forwarded email, it's clear that his lane was too narrow, and, thus, he had a right to be in the lane to assure his safety.

My purpose of this email is not to argue his case but to use this example as an opportunity for Tampa city police to be advised on the laws for bicyclists on roads and traffic lanes in Tampa, many of which are sub-standard and less than 14 feet in width.

I know you're an experienced cyclist and are aware of the hazards of cycling too close to the right edge of a roadway. And I'm also sure you're aware of the laws for bicyclists regarding their position in the roadway as stated in the Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide.

I am respectfully asking you to please advise your law enforcement staff regarding the rights of bicyclists to be in roadways and the circumstances under which they do not have to ride as close to the roadway's right edge. As you know, many of the roads in Tampa are sub-standard in width and I believe as a veteran bicyclist that the safest place to be is not straddling the roadway's right edge but to be in the lane.

I am requesting that we can meet and discuss the issue so that your police staff and the public can be better informed about this issue.

In addition, the Florida Bicycle Association has staff who can help guide police on bicycle laws. On Nov. 14 in Clermont, I was lucky to hear a presentation by the Florida Bicycle Association that included George Martin, FBA's bicycle laws program director. I am sure Mr. Martin would be responsive to a request to help educate police officers regarding the rights of bicyclists in the roadways. His contact information is and 904-392-1193.

Thank you for your time.


Alan Snel
Director of nationally-recognized SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers
Nine Tampa Bay bicycle stores and two lawyers united behind bicycle advocacy

Home of the Bicycle Bash by the Bay festival

For the record, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor responded within an hour to my email request and said, in part: "I will look into this issue. I agree that officers need to be made aware of bicycle laws. Our streets are unfriendly enough to cyclists without the added burden."

Monday, November 9, 2009

SWFBUD Lobbies To Include Bicycling as Part of a Regional Transportation Plan

During the last year, I have lobbied for SWFBUD before local Hillsborough County planning and transportation agencies to include bicycling as part of any transportation plan.

Today on the cover of the free daily tbt* you saw a "Share the Road" sign along with a bus and a train as part of a "2035 Vision Transportation Plan" being proposed by the Tampa/Hillsborough County MPO (Metropolitan Trainiong Organization).

A few years ago bicycling was seen as a gringe activity in Tampa but slowly we're becoming a political player on the local landscape.

Keep telling your local officials that you want more bicycle infrastructure in the Tampa Bay area because communities that embrace bicycling in all its forms flourish economically.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BRAINy Award To Be On Display At SWFBUD Stores During The Next 9 Months

The national BRAINy Award -- given this year to SWFBUD for our bicycle store alliance's bicycle advocacy work in Tampa Bay -- will be on display at SWFBUD's nine stores through the next nine months.

Be on the lookout for the BRAINy Award, which is given by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News -- the trade publication that covers the bicycle business. Here is the BRAINy Award schedule:

November -- Bicycle Outfitters
December -- Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium
January -- Chainwheel Drive
February -- Just Ride Bicycles
March -- Oliver's Cycle Sports
April -- StreetFit 360
May -- Suncoast Trailside Bicycles
June -- Trek Bicycle Store
July -- University Bicycle Center

The award will be accompanied by the following framed message:

"You’re shopping at a “SWFBUD” member bicycle store. SWFBUD stands for South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers – an alliance of Tampa Bay bike shops committed to bicycle advocacy, lobbying local governments for improved bicycle infrastructure and putting on the annual Bicycle Bash event to celebrate bicycling.

"SWFBUD’s bicycle advocacy work has garnered national recognition. In 2009, the magazine that covers the bicycle industry – Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN) – gave a prestigious BRAINY award to SWFBUD for its advocacy work.

"Rest assured that this store has your back when it comes to bicycle advocacy and supporting the rights of bicyclists in the Tampa Bay region. Find out more about SWFBUD at or contact SWFBUD Director Alan Snel at"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SWFBUD Has a New 11th Member

I'm happy and proud to announce that we have a new member of SWFBUD.

Street Fit 360, a retail bicycle dealer on Gandy Blvd. in Tampa, has joined SWFBUD. SWFBUD now has 11 members, including nine retail bicycle stores.

I met Jana and Andy Clark, owners of Street Fit 360, after I represented SWFBUD at public meetings this summer regarding the fate of the Friendship TrailBridge.

They are true bicycle advocates and Jana and Andy support SWFBUD's efforts to make the Tampa Bay area a more bicycle-friendly market. They look forward to working on bicycle issues to grow bicycling in this area.

Check out their store's web sites at and

Tampa Government Believes Bicycle Safety Features Such as Bike Lanes Are "Non-Essential"

SWFBUD supported the Tampa Downtown Partnership's request that bike lanes be striped as part of the installataion of utility lines on Cass and Tyler streets in downtown Tampa because Cass and Tyler are on the city's master plan for lanes.

Here's why the city of Tampa government did not stripe bike lanes on Cass and Tyler streets in downtown Tampa -- even though Cass and Tyler are on the city's master plan for bike lanes -- as part of the recent UCAP utility road project.

Notice how the city of Tampa government believes safety facilities such as bike lanes are "non-essential." (Reason 3 below).

Mr. Snel,

Thank you for your interest in the development of bike lanes along Tyler and Cass streets in downtown Tampa. The City, the Tampa Downtown Partnership (TDP) and the UCAP team met several times to discuss the possibility of creating the bike lanes as desired by the TDP. Unfortunately, the City will not be able to establish the bike lanes as requested. The reasons for this decision are as follows:

1) The pipeline alignment in the roadways moved between the south to the north side of the street, meaning that the restoration would also change lanes. As a result, there would not be an area of consistent restoration to tie in the bike lanes.

2) Timing for the respective projects was not conducive to linking the projects together.

3) Economic conditions make it very challenging for the City to undertake any "non-essential" projects at this time.

The City, the TDP and the UCAP team remain committed to work together on projects such as this and will continue to look for opportunities to do so in the future. Please let me know if you have any additional questions.


Wendy Nero
Vice President

4350 W. Cypress Street
Suite 600
Tampa, FL 33607

Friday, October 16, 2009

"What Can I Do?"

SWFBUD represents the voices of bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area and people ask me all the time, "What can I do to help" the bicyclist cause in Tampa?

As you know, Tampa has one of the worst reputations in the country for being unfriendly to bicyclists and pedestrians.

People want change.

But how do you get it?

Well, first you have to let the city of Tampa government hear your voice.

The city has a nice Web site to log on to for the purpose of documenting problems.

It's the customer service center form and you can get it here.

I submitted this today.

Feel free to send in yours.

"Dear Tampa,

"The city's master plan for trails indicates bike lanes on Cass and Tyler streets in downtown Tampa.

"There is a utility project to install new utility lines on Cass and Tyler, yet I have learned the city will not stripe bike lanes on Cass and Tyler when those roads are repaved.

"Why is the city not complying with its own trails master plan and failing to put in bike lanes on Cass and Tyler when you repave those roads?

"As you know, independent reports cite Tampa as one of the most bicycle-unfriendly cities in the country and installing bike lanes on streets that are specifically designated for bike lanes under master plans would help Tampa shake this most negative reputation.

"I look forward to your response."

HOK Blog Post on SWFBUD's Bicycle Bash from Oct. 11

Nico Stearley, an architect at HOK architects in Tampa, participated in the 2009 Bicycle Bash by the Bay, Presented by Cure on Wheels, and did a nice blog post for HOK.

You can read Nico's post here.

Nico and her comrade at HOK, Anna Vasquez, are both bicycle commuters who have drafted an urban greenway proposal that would run underneath the current Selmon Crosstown Highway and serve as a trail in the shadow of the expressway.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bicycle Lovers Share Their Favorite Photos From SWFBUD's Bicycle Bash by the Bay

I didn't get around the Bicycle Bash by the Bay festival as much as I had hoped on Sunday, so it was only after looking at photographs taken by other folks did I realize how truly diverse the bicyclists were who attended the BBbtB.

It's one of the things I'm proud about, regarding the Bicycle Bash by the Bay. That it's a true cross-section of roadies, mountain bikers, cruisers, fixed-gears, recumbents, trikes and even tall bikes with ages ranging from 1-90.

SWFBUD is proud to hold the Bicycle Bash by the Bay every year. And besides the photos I took that are available on the previous post, I wanted to share with you highlights of other photo displays taken by other folks.

Bridget took a boatload of photos, and I tried the best I could to pick the best of the best of her photos when I posted them on my Bicycle Stories blog. Here was my favorite of Bridget's photos.

Then, there's Jack Sweeney, the famed Ghost Rider, who posted a terrific series of photos on his Web site.

And Ken Sturrock, another Seminole Heights Bicycle Club member and a member of the Hillsborough Bicycle-Ped Advisory Committee, sent me his photos, including some great environmental shots of the Bicycle Bash setting in downtown St. Petersburg.

One of Ken's nice shots.

If you have Bicycle Bash by the Bay photographs you'd like to share, send them to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

SWFBUD's Bicycle Bash A Big Hit Today In Downtown St. Pete

Today's Bicycle Bash by the Bay was all about celebrating bicycling in Tampa Bay.

SWFBUD puts on the Bicycle Bash by the Bay -- Tampa Bay's bicycle festival -- to shine a light on cycling,

But when I spoke to people at the Bash today at North Straub Park, I said it's important to have fun with bicycles but at the end of the day we were there to speak out politically about gaining a bigger bite of the infrastructure pie for bicyclists.

So we had great fun with terrific exhibitors but we also included a SWFBUDdy Award program to recognize the pro-bicycle work of political leaders. The fact the cities and counties that flourish are the ones that embrace bicycling and build roads and trails designed to be hospitable for bicyclist

When you shop at a SWFBUD bicycle store, you're suppoting bicycle advocacy in the Tampa. And SWFBUD makes a difference. Besides putting on the Bicycle Bash by the Bay, we worked with Commissioner Mark Sharpe to keep the county's parks open seven days a week. Adam Beland of Bicycle Outfitters is emblematic of the SWFBUD bike shop owner who cares about cycling and getting people on bikes.

Geoff Lanier, owner of Suncoast Trailside Bicycles, is also another SWFBUD shop owner who had a terrific booth today -- he had different photos and bicycles showing the various categories of cycling.

Now that's a fat tire.

Rachel VanSlyke sang her heart out. Only a year and a half ago I met Rachel in the Polk County city if Dundee on US 27 in a shopping plaza. Rachel was biking from Miami to Montreal playing gigs along the way and had a flat tire. I helped you fix her tire, then biked 10 or 12 miles north on US 27 with her.

It was wonderful that Rachel could come from her home in South Carolina to sing at the Bicycle Bash by the Bay.

The Seminole Heights Bicycle Club, fresh off its command performance in a story that ran in Bicycling Magazine, offered Rachel the club tent when she sang at 2 pm for her second set.

Polo, anyone?

That's a good-looking tri right there.

I was honored today to hand out SWFBUDdy Awards to Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, St. Petersburg City Council Chairman Jeff Fanner, Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena and crossing guard Denise Rigali.

SWFBUD was especially happy to recognize the work of Denise Rigali, an everyday person like you or me who bought 12 bikes for kids.

Cheryl Stacks, the city of St. Petersburg's bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, won a nice award from the Florida Bicycle Association.

It's not every day kids ride a bicycle, hop off the bicycle and start doing dance routines on a dance floor. But you saw that at the Bicycle Bash by the Bay, where the 4-H Bicycle Brigade led by Gina Hunter pictuired here danced up a storm.

We had the sidecar cyclist.

Check out the kiddo pedaling the bike on the rollers to make a smoothie.

This little fella was cycling a pushcart made for pizza.

I'm always amazed that an hour after the Bicycle Bash closes the park returns to its former quiet self.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tune In At 4 PM To 1010-AM For Bicycle Bash Chat On The Radio

I'll be cycling the Bicycle Bash by the Bay billboard trailer this afternoon to downtown Tampa to talk about Sunday's Bicycle Bash with radio sportscaster JP Peterson. I'll be on JP's radio sports show at 4 PM to chat with JP about the Bicycle Bash. The show is remote from Splitsville in Channelside.

JP's radio show is on 1010-AM.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Speaking Out For Bicyclists

Thank you Urban Charrette for inviting me to speak Wednesday night at Bamboozle Cafe about what we can do together to improve bicycling in the Tampa Bay area. As you can tell, if my legs are not in motion my arms will be.

No. 1 piece of advice: Let's get political.

For too long, bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area -- and specifically Tampa -- have been politically shy about asking for what I believe is a fair share of the infrastructure pie for bicyclists.

Bicycling is a legitimate, if not preferred, form of transportation around the world, and many cities in this country routinely include bicycling in its transportation plans.

Such cities include big cities like New York and Chicago -- and smaller cities, too, such as Davis, Calif. and Boulder, Co. They all have terrific bicycle plans.

But not the city of Tampa. Mayor Pam Iorio is a pleasant woman and likable politician who given us more lip service than actual infrastructure such as bike lanes on roads and off-road bike trails.

Let your voice be heard at city council meetings and tell the mayor you want a city that's safer for bicyclists.

See you at the 2009 Bicycle Bash by the Bay festival on Oct. 11.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rolling The Bicycle Bash Billboard To St. Petersburg

I promote the Bicycle Bash by the Bay by all means -- including advertising the bicycle festival via the famed Bicycle Bash rolling billboard. This morning I biked from Tampa to St. Pete to promote the Oct. 11 bicycle festival and enjoyed bumping into some old bike pals and spreading the word to the folks in downtown St. Pete today. A tip of the helmet to my bicycle pal Ellen Pierson of the Police Unity Tour, who snapped some photos while I cyclked the Bash-board.

Matt, owner of Tour de Pizza, off 4th Street has a Pizza Diet and keeps in shape by cycling. Matt supports bicycling and is the Bicycle Bash by the Bay.

The famed Boston Bill enjoys posing next to the Bicycle bash billboard in downtown St. Pete today. Boston Bill lost his foot to MRSA but keeps on cycling.