Tuesday, April 28, 2009

SWFBUD Attends Bike Commuter Meeting At HOK Office in Tampa Today

SWFBUD visited the HOK architectural firm's offices in downtown Tampa at lunchtime to meet several HOK employees who bike to work and who want to see what can be done to improve the bicycling scene in and around the downtown Tampa area so that more bike-commuters can reach downtown.

I, along with some other bicycle folks such as regulars Karen Kress and Jim Shirk and a couple of city staffers, met with several HOK workers and others to discuss bike commuting. We talked about making out streets complete for not only cars but also for bicyclists and pedestrians, too, and getting bike lanes on roads identified under the bike lane master plan.

And I'd love to see Platt Street with a bike lane -- something that Mayor Pam Iorio promised last year at a Seminole Heights Bicycle Club and never came through with.

I also met Sandy Ballestra, building manager of the Tampa City Center where HOK has its offices on the 18th floor. She showed me some terrific inside bicycle storage space that bike commuters can use inside the Tampa City Center.

SWFBUD says job well done to Sandy for creating indoor bicycle storage space for bike commuters.

Monday, April 27, 2009

SWFBUD Urges Florida To Deal With Nation-Leading Bicyclist Fatality Rate

MEDIA RELEASE: SWFBUD calls for state, county and city governments to offer safety plans to decrease bicyclist fatalities; Florida number one in the U.S. again for number of bicyclist fatalities and bicyclist fatality rate for 2007, according to federal report.

-- A Tampa Bay coalition of retail bicycle stores called SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers) is requesting governments at all levels in Florida launch a campaign to fight the bicyclist fatality rate that is number one in the country again.

Florida had 119 bicyclists killed in 2007 -- the most in the country, according to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Second was California with 109 bicyclist fatalities in 2007 even though California has twice the population of Florida.

The total number of bicyclists killed in the country was 698 in 2007. Florida had 28 percent of all the bicyclist fatalities in the U.S. in '07.

Florida also had 6.52 bicyclists killed per million population -- about three times the national average of 2.31 in 2007.

Second and third behind Florida in bicyclist fatality rates were Louisiana at 5.12 and South Carolina at 4.54 per million.

Texas, another warm weather state with more residents than Florida, had 48 bicyclist deaths in 2007 -- or a bicyclist fatality rate of 2.01, less than a third of Florida, according to the federal data.

"We need governments at all levels to encourage bicycling and also to design streets and roads that are safe for both bicyclists and cars to share," said Alan Snel, director of SWFBUD, a coalition of eight retail bicycle stores and one lawyer in the Tampa Bay region committed to growing bicycling in the area.

"It's unacceptable that Florida continues to lead the nation year after year in not only the number of bicyclists killed but also the bicyclist fatality rate. Our bicyclist fatality rate is three times the national average and our governments need to do a better job at providing roads that safely accommodate bicyclists as much as they do cars."

Bicyclists accounted for 13 percent of all nonoccupant traffic fatalities in 2007 and the 698 bicyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of the 41,049 traffic fatalities nationwide during 2007.

"The fact is thousands and thousands of Floridians ride their bicycles every day and we need to do everything we can as a state to make sure their rides are not perilous," Snel said.

SWFBUD was formed in 2007 to grow bicycling in the Tampa Bay area as a heathy lifetsyle and an effective mode of transportation. SWFBUD puts on the annual Bicycle Bash by the Bay bike festival and was awarded the retail bicycle advocacy award by the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, the trade publication that covers the bicycle industry in the U.S.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

SWFBUD Says, Thanks Chip

SWFBUD puts on the 2009 Bicycle Bash by the Bay festival to grow bicycling in the Tampa Bay area and one of the generous contributors to the success of the bike festival is velo-lover Chip Haynes, who puts together bicycles as a passion and creates the Bicycle Bash flier every year.

Here's Chip from today's Ciclovia event in downtown Clearwater holding the 2009 flier for this year's event.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

SWFBUD Pumps Up The Pedal Power At Today's Eco-Event In Downtown Tampa

This afternoon I talked SWFBUD and bicycling at the Eco-lution event in downtown Tampa, handing out fliers for the Bicycle Bash by the Bay and chatting bicycling with anyone who stopped by the SWFBUD table. It was a pleasant event, kind of a dressed-up Earth Day event where the people who showed up already shared the green view on life.

The Urban Charette and its "Agents of Change" put on the Eco-Lution event. The Urban Charette is mostly architects, planners, designers and generally hip greenies who feel Tampa can do a better job at building a more efficient city of more interesting, better-designed buildings that would improve our quality of life.

That's where bicycling comes in. Any great city is a bicycle-friendly city that has multiple ways to get around besides a car.

I was hoping for a little more people to attend the event today, but overall it was a nice-looking event.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

SWFBUD Tells Tampa To Think Green (With Bicycling)

This morning the Tampa City Council held a workshop that included discussion on stimulus money of $32 million that apparently is coming the city's way and green jobs. So more than a dozen folks in the Tampa community came out to urge the city to spend the money on environmental jobs that would make Tampa a more "green" place to live.

Several city council members seemed annoyed that city staff didn't seem to know the exact process of getting and spending the money, with the chief city employee on the subject explaining she would get back to the council.

I spoke before the Council on behalf of SWFBUD, urging the city of Tampa to create green jobs and spend money on green projects such as widening roads to make them available to cyclists and pedestrians not just cars; and integrating bicycling into all aspects of city infrastrcuture such as secure bike areas in downtown areas and workplaces.

Bicycling is just one part of the green movement and SWFBUD urges Tampa Bay area governments to think holistically about blending bicycling into their infrastructure systems.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bicycle Retailer Magazine and Trek Bicycle Corp.Give National Advocacy Awards to SWFBUD in 2009

Here is a picture of Megan Tompkins, editor of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong Coalition, with Alan Snel, who received a BRAINy award on behalf of SWFBUD for retail store bicycle advocacy last week.

The Bicycle Bash by the Bay is one reason why SWFBUD won this national honor. Now in its fourth year, the Bicycle Bash by the Bay is known nationwide and is seen as a model for other communities to emulate.

* * *

In August. SWFBUD also won a national bicycle advocacy award from Trek Bicycle Corp. when Trek President John Burke recognized the Trek dealers in SWFBUD for SWFBUD's advocacy work in keeping Hillsborough County's parks open seven days a week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SWFBUD Hits Sea Otter For A Day Of Bicycle Culture

This morning it's cloudy to start but I suspect it will burn off when bicycle fans from across California and the country descend on the big hills outside Monterey for the Sea Otter Classic.

I will be in and out at the Just Ride Bicycles tent, manned by SWFBUD member David Luppino and Tammy of SWFBUD member store Suncoast Trailside Bicycles. Stop by and say hi. I have talked to many vendors at Sea Otter about attending the Bicycle Bash by the Bay, www.bicyclebash.com. It's Oct. 11 and I hope these company reps can make it to the Bicycle Bash, which is put on annually by SWFBUD.

I plan to test ride some bicycles in the morning and hopefully my legs and lungs will be up to pedaling some bikes in the hilly terrain that includes some rather daunting steep climbs for a guy used to cycling the flats of Flatwooods county park and Morris Bridge Road. It's basically Sugarloaf Mountain Road climbs all around here.

The bicycle culture is amazing here and at Sea Otter bicyclists ride bikes alongside pedestrians who stroll the many dirt aisles of the exhibitor rows. There are literally hundreds of vendors and commercial tents, including all the big names of the bicycle industry.

I'll be sharing photos when I return to Tampa Bay early Monday morning.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Gala Night At The BRAINy Awards Ceremony

Monterey, Calif. -- The good news about bicycling is that there are people in the industry such as bike shop owners, suppliers and distributors who are doing wonderful work to advocate for better bicycling conditions in this country.

It was an honor to see those folks honored last night when Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN), the magazine that covers the bicycle industry, handed out "BRAINy" awards to these incredible people.

That's why I was awfully humbled to receive the retail bike store advocacy BRAINy on behalf of SWFBUD last night.

It's a tribute to the eight bike stores and one lawyer who make up SWFBUD. They need to be mentioned here: University Bicycle Center, Chainwheel Drive, Oliver's Cycle Sports, Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, Bicycle Outfitters, Suncoast Trailside Bicycles, Trek Bicycle Store, Just Ride Bicycles and Tampa lawyer Thomas Singletary.

Please shop at those bike stores because those bicycle shops are committed to bicycle advocacy in the Tampa Bay region -- and they were honored nationally for that commitment last night. Know that some of your dollars that are spent at those stores are going to help put on the Bicycle Bash by the Bay festival and lobby local governments and agencies to improve bicycle conditions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SWFBUD Attends Leadership Conference In Monterey, Calif.

Monterey, Calif. -- Some of the biggest bicycle advocacy leaders in the country have gathered here in this oceanside community to talk bicycle advocacy leadership -- just part of the Sea Otter Bicycle Classic that is set for this weekend.

I am happy to get an invitation to this conference, respresenting SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers.

I'm here for SWFBUD because we are receiving a national award for our retail advocacy work in the Tampa Bay area from Bicycle Retailer, the national magazine that covers the bicycle industry.

I'm lucky to be here and I hope to pick up some vital tips and advice on advancing and growing bicycling in the Tampa Bay area.

I will be sticking around after the bicycle leadership conference to catch the Sea Otter Classic, a terrific bicycle festival that draws upwards to 20,000 folks. There are bike races and also great vendors and a terrific bicycle scene and culture. I hope to also pick up a few tips to hopefully enhance the Bicycle Bash by the Bay, which is set for Oct. 11 in St. Petersburg this year.

David Luppino, owner of the new Just Ride Bicycles in Fish Hawk and former CBE owner and Oliver's part owner, is in town and it will be fun to hook up with David here at Sea Otter. With David is Tammy, who works for SWFBUD store Suncoast Trailside Bicycles. David also used to own part of STB.

The leadership conference begins in earnest on Thursday and stay tuned for updates throughout the day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

SWFBUD Wins National Bicycle Advocacy Award

It's not the most sexy job around -- and God knows it doesn't pay much -- but I take pride in representing the eight retail bicycle stores and one lawyer who comprise SWFBUD. When I go to public meetings to champion bicyclist' causes in the Tampa Bay area, sometimes I feel like I'm out there on a limb because local politicos still need to understand the beauty and benefits of bicycling.

But the reward is when I see a new bicyclist out there pedaling for the first time on the road or a cyclist riding her first organized century ride.

That's why it was also pleasant validation today when I was informed that SWFBUD has won a national retail bicycle advocacy award called the BRAINY given by the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN), the national bicycle trade publication that covers the bicycle industry in this country.

Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, which works with Bicycle Retailer on national bicycle issues, called me today to tell me that national bicycle leaders at Bikes Belong and BRAIN have been following SWFBUD and our work to promote and grow bicycling in the Tampa Bay area.

Tim said usually an individual retail bike store wins the award.

But SWFBUD's advocacy work at local government meetings and staging the Bicycle Bash by the Bay -- and pulling together bike stores to work for the common goal of growing bicycling in our market -- was so impressive that SWFBUD deserved to win the BRAINY.

I will be flying to Monterey, Calif. Wednesday to receive the award on behalf of SWFBUD at a Thursday award ceremony as part of the Sea Otter Classic bicycle festival.

I want to thank the bike shops for being part of national award-winning SWFBUD. They should feel proud that SWFBUD's work is being honored nationally and that we're on the national bicycle radar. The bike shops in SWFBUD are: Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, Oliver's Cycle Sports, Chainwheel Drive, Bicycle Outfitters, Suncoast Trailside Bicycles, The Trek Bicycle Store in Tampa and Clearwater, University Bicycle Center and Just Ride Bicycles. Tampa lawyer Thomas Singletary is also a SWFBUD member.

Tim said SWFBUD can be a national model for other metro areas -- an idea I plan to pursue.

Safe and happy pedaling everyone.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ciclovia In Clearwater Set For April 26

Just a reminder: The Ciclovia Event in Clearwater that was washed out by rain on March 1 is rescheduled for Sunday April 26. SWFBUD will be there and stop by our table.

Tampa PD Assistant Chief Advises Gandy Bridge Is Open And Legal For Bicyclists

Tampa Assistant Police Chief Jane Castor, who is a bicycle rider herself, called me Thursday to inform me that she has sent out a memo to TPD officers advising them that the Gandy Bridge is open and accessible for bicycle riders.

We had a good talk and I hope bicyclists will no longer be stopped by Tampa police officers on the Gandy Bridge.

Please let me know if you or anyone you know is stopped.

Assistant Chief Castor likes to bike the San Antonio area and supports the local Police Unity Tour.

SWFBUD Mentioned In Tampa Tribune Story On Growth Of Local Bicycle Stores

Business writer Ted Jackovics of the Tampa Tribune did a cool story on the growth of retail bicycle stores in the Tampa Bay region.

Nice mention of SWFBUD here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

SWFBUD Advises Tampa To Not Stop Bicyclists From Crossing The Gandy Bridge

I want to share a letter I wwrote today informing the city of Tampa to please instruct its police officers to not stop bicyclists from crossing the Gandy Bridge. Tim Butts, president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, has informed me that Tampa police have stopped cyclists on at least two occasions.

Dear Mayor Iorio, Mr. Daignault, Mr. Lee, Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Edge,

I want to bring to your attention that several officers of the city of Tampa Police Department have stopped road cyclists from crossing the Gandy Bridge even though the state Department of Transportation says it is LEGAL to cross the Gandy Bridge by bicycle. While I personally have not been stopped by a Tampa police officer when I biked across the Gandy Bridge, the president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club has informed me that Tampa officers have stopped bicyclists on two occasions. As you know, the Friendship Trail has been closed and it's imperative that the Gandy Bridge be open for road bicyclists because now it's the only link between Tampa and St. Petersburg for cyclists.

Local DOT Secretary Donald Skelton also informed me via email that he instructed DOT staff to install "Share the Road" signs on both sides of the Gandy Bridge so that drivers would be aware that bicyclists might be on the bridge. Those signs are now up. Keep in mind bicyclists use the wide shoulders to cross the Gandy Bridge and do not interfere with motorized traffic.

I am requesting you to please remind the city of Tampa police department that it is LEGAL to cross the Gandy Bridge by bicycle. Below I have attached the email from Tim Butts, president of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club.

Thank you for your time.

Alan Snel

Director of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers (SWFBUD)

Yes, once at the end of January a City of Tampa Police officer stopped us as we (4 of us) were heading back into Tampa returning from the Saturday morning club ride. He was polite and professional and listed to our discussion (that it was legal to cycle on the bridge) and ultimately agreed that he was not sure riding on the bridge was illegal (or legal). The next week I communicated with the City of Tampa Attorney ’s Office about that issue. Kirby Rainsberger – of the COT Attorney’s Office - agreed that cycling on the Bridge was legal and that would be communicated to all police officers. Subsequently, Lori Snively, FDOT D7 Cycling Coordinator, wrote an e-mail restating that and indicating that information would be provided to all area law enforcement (COT Police, Pinellas County Sheriff, FHP, etc.) Problem solved.

However, a few weeks ago (I believe it was the afternoon of the March 21st) a buddy of mine was stopped west-bound on the bridge just east of the hump by a COT Police Officer who was not polite (per my friend, I was not there) and who threatened to arrest – not just ticket - the cyclists if he did not return to Tampa by riding (illegally) east-bound on the west-bound bridge. I again communicated that to the COT Attorneys Office who said they would circulate that information to all police officers, particularly traffic enforcement. Problem solved - maybe.

I am interested to know if others have been stopped. I can understand – somewhat – if a few officers did not “get the memo”, but if this is a common occurrence than that needs to be addressed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rachel Vanslyke To Sing At 2009 Bicycle Bash by the Bay On Oct. 11

The Bicycle Bash by the Bay -- put on by SWFBUD -- is happy to announce that long-distance bicyclist and singer Rachel Vanslyke plans to appear at the 2009 BBbtB on Oct. 11 and do a performance. I met Rachel a year ago in Dundee, Polk County on US 27 while she was trying to fix a flat tire on her rear wheel. Rachel was biking 4,000 miles from Miami to Montreal and performing at small venues along the way.

Rachel has a folksy singing style and travelled by bike to her performances last year, keeping her guitar in a trailer that she hauled via bicycle.