Wednesday, April 28, 2010

SWFBUD Responds to Tampa Mayor's Decision to Kill Bike Lanes on Euclid Avenue

Dear Mayor Pam Iorio,

At today's Livable Roadways Committee meeting, I saw your letter to Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena regarding your decision to kill the staff-proposed bicycle lanes on Euclid Avenue and I must say your decision is very disappointing and out of touch with national bicycle and pedestrian policy declared last month by U.S. Secretary of Transportaion Ray LaHood. As you know, the city of Tampa has been deemed one of the most dangerous cities for bicyclists and pedestrians in the country in national reports and national media stories so I would think that you would want to invest in infrastructure to reverse that trend.

I don't understand how killing bike lanes on a road that serves as an bicyclist alternative to biking on Gandy is part of your plan to make Tampa more bicycle-friendly. Only a few weeks ago I praised the city plan for bike lanes on Euclid Avenue in a bicycle column I wrote for the Tampa Tribune not thinking that you would actually kill the idea.

Mayors of cities of all sizes across the country have embraced bicycle lanes as part of a practical strategy to allow bicyclists to safely pedal from place to place and as a way to relieve vehicular traffic on congested roadways. But your decision to value parking of residents on a transportation public right-of-way over the safety of bicyclists shows that you have a blind spot in your policy-making. Once news gets around the country that the mayor of Tampa believes the parking convenience of people visiting homes for book club meetings (an actual example cited by a Euclid resident, according your city's transportation dept.) is more important than the safety of bicyclists, the city will receive yet another black eye for being a dangerous and unfriendly place for bicyclists

The city's alternative of "sharrows" on Euclid are appropriate for bicycle-savvy cities such as Seattle where local drivers and bicycles are educated about sharing the road together. But we're not there here in Tampa, where motorists believe they own the road and harass bicyclists who have a legal right to bike in the traffic lane. Will the city be engaging in an education program for vehicular drivers to inform them that they must be courteous to bicyclists on roads with sharrows?

For a person who supports light rail, your bicycle policy is very disappointing and baffling. Both light rail and bicycling are forms of transportation that get people out of cars and get people around the city. The city of Tampa does not even have a bicycle plan -- which is why so few roads in Tampa have bicycle lanes. I understand that your transportation manager, Jean Dorzback, planned to make Euclid Avenue as a prime example of "complete streets" policy, which is sweeping the country. You'll have to explain to me how cutting bike lanes from a street makes it "complete."

I had higher expectations for your support of bicycling in Tampa. Your decision is very disappointing and is opposed by bicyclists and others in Tampa.


Alan Snel
Director of SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers
9 bicycle retailers growing bicycling in Tampa Bay

Iorio responds:

Alan, we have a difference of opinion on this. As mayor I have to take all factors into consideration and I believe this is a good compromise.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SWFBUD Holds 2 Bike Rides to Support Bicycling

FRIDAY, APRIL 30, 5 PM, Leaves from Seminole Heights Garden Center, 5800 Central Ave.
Easy two-mile bike ride to Ella's restaurant on Nebraska Avenue for County Commission candidate Linda Saul-Sena, who will be issuing bicycle seat campaign tags at Ella's. Saul-Sena is a big supporter of bicycling.

THURSDAY, MAY 13, 4:45 PM Also leaves from Garden Center.
Six-mile bike ride to All People's Life Center, 6105 East Sligh Ave., for 6 PM transit tax hearing to tell the county commissioners that bicycling is an essential part of any transportation and transit plan.,0,11142078411148179151&fb=1&hq=all+people's+life+center&hnear=tampa&gl=us&daddr=6105+East+Sligh+Avenue,+Tampa,+FL+33617-9102&geocode=16518673385821040416,28.008854,-82.386525&ei=alrXS_z6DJTQ8wSzlbCrBw&sa=X&oi=local_result&ct=directions-to&resnum=1&ved=0CAkQngIwAA

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SWFBUD at Earth Day Event at Lowry Park, Tampa

Stop by the SWFBUD/SHBC table Sunday when I will be manning the tent at the Earth Day event. The Tampa chapter of the Sierra Club is putting on the Earth Day event from 11 AM o 4 PM at Lowry Park on North Blvd, near the Sligh Avenue intersection at the zoo.

Friday, April 23, 2010

SWFBUD Learns Tampa To Drop Bike Lanes On Euclid Ave.

SWFBUD has learned the city of Tampa is breaking its commitment to stripe bike lanes on Euclid Avenue as part of re-paving the road. Seems some residents are upset that they are losing parking on the road and won't have space for friends who come over for book club meetings (that's an actual example).

Well, the city of Tampa, always looking to accommodate the convenience of book club meeting participants over the safety of bicyclists, has reneged on its initial plan to stripe bike lanes.

Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena found out about this and wrote a letter to Mayor Pam Iorio, Council Chairman Tom Scott and council members and Transportation Planning Director Jean Dorzback:

"Yesterday I became aware that the City Administration removed a proposed bicycle lane planned for Euclid Avenue. This is contrary to what was conveyed to City Council by the Administration at a recent public meeting.

"Also, yesterday my deputy campaign manager was hit by a car while riding her bicycle home from the office. Fortunately, she suffered only minor injuries, but her bicycle was destroyed.

"Our community must improve our behavior to make bicycle-riding a safe mode of transportation. We must educate motorists to respect the rights of bicyclists to share the road and we must create a network of bicycle lanes to allow bicyclists safe routes community-wide.

"I will request our Transportation Department to appear and report on May 20 under Staff Reports on how we will address these safety needs and why the commitment to bicycle safety on Euclid Avenue is being broken."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

SWFBUD At The Market To Grow Bicycling

Good to see so many bicyclists at the Seminole Heights ourdoor market today. I was there manning a table for SWFBUD and the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club.

I also wanted to pass along this story about an owner of one of the SWFBUD stores attending the National Bike Summit last month.

The Tampa Tribune did a nice story on Randy Myhre, owner of Oliver's Cycle Sports in new Tampa, attending the National Bike Summit and SWFBUD's role in bike advocacy and growing bicycling in the Tampa Bay area.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

SWFBUD Visits Tallahassee For Today's Florida Bike Summit

I had no idea Janet Cruz was such a big fan of bicycling.

But the new Florida state representative who represents West Tampa and Seminole Heights told me and my bicycle comrade Jim Shirk today that she backs the Florida Bicycle Association's legislative agenda.

And Rep. Cruz, a Democrat who won a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Rep. Mike Scionti, said she was even nice to a bicyclist the other day. She said she waited for an oncoming driver in the opposite lane to go by until she safely passed a bicyclist even though drivers behind her were honking their horns.

Cruz also wrote the Bicycle Bash on her celandar and said she'll try and come Nov. 7 to the bicycle festival. We then took the constituent-meets-the-elected-official photo.

Just a little slice of today's visit to Tallahassee for the Florida Bike Summit, where bike advocates from around Florida visited their local state representatives and senators to do some gentle lobbying for pro-bike legislation and policies.

We're lobbying for a Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law because distracted drivers lead to fatal accidents. We also want Florida to spend more money on traffic safety for bike/ped programs because 21 percent of Florida's traffic fatalities are bicyclists and peds, but less than 2 percent is funded for bike and ped programs. We want high-speed and commuter rail legislation to include accommodating bicyclists by funding secure bike parking and lockers at train stations and allowing bikes on trains. We also oppose the efforts to eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails and want to re-establish the Florida Bicycle/Pedestrian Council.

It was great to see Rep. Cruz and aides for Senators Crist, Justice, Storms and Joyner to push the bicycle agenda.

And great thanks to Jim Shirk, a great bicycle friend who donates his time to making Tampa Bay a better place to ride a bicycle.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Off To Tally For The Florida Bicycle Summit Thursday

I'll be representing SWFBUD Thursday at the Florida Bike Summit and lobbying Rep. Janet Cruz of House District 58 and Sen. Joyner of Senate District 18 to get behind bicycling in Florida.

I'll be heading north to Tallahassee Thursday with Tampa's all-world bicycle event volunteer and bike advocate Jim Shirk.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Florida Bike Summit Pushes For Pro-Bicycle Initiatives

The 2nd Annual Florida Bike Summit is Thursday, Apr 8, at the Florida Capitol Courtyard from 10:00 am - 2:00 pm. The Florida Bicycle Association is coordinating the lobbying efforts and the Summit 2010 Agenda. I am a FBA member and will be there on behalf of SWFBUD to push the following proposals:

SB 448/HB 41, Use of Wireless Communications Devices While Driving

Creates the “Florida Ban on Texting While Driving Law.” Prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle while using a wireless communication device for certain purposes. Provides for points to be assessed against a driver’s license for the unlawful use of a wireless communication device resulting in a crash, etc.

General Bill by Transportation and Senator Detert; Co-Sponsor Senator Dockery

General Bill by Roads, Bridges & Ports Policy Committee and Representatives Holder, Garcia, Chestnut, Thurston, Long & Mayfield; Co-Sponsors Brandenburg; Brise’; Carroll; Glorioso; Gonzalez; Heller; Homan; Hooper, Jenne; Kiar; Legg; McBurney; Nehr; Pafford; Porth; Radar; Rehwinkel Vasilinda; Roberson; Y; Schwartz; Steinberg; Williams, A

SB 1918/HB 875, Traffic Offenses

Provides criminal penalties for a person who commits a moving violation that causes serious injury or causes or contributes to the death of a person operating or riding in a motor vehicle, a motorcycle, a bicycle, or operating as a pedestrian. Requires court to impose certain penalties for such actions.

General Bill by Senator Aronberg

General Bill by Roads, Bridges & Ports Policy Committee and Representative Evers

Re-establish the Florida Bicycle/Pedestrian Council.

Opposition to efforts to eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails

Like last year, OGT was circled for elimination by the Florida Senate. However due to the enormous and coordinated grassroots support that was demonstrated by us last year, the threat for the most part was quickly dropped. OGT is no longer targeted for elimination and all but two of the cut positions have been restored.

Please take a moment to thank our legislative Champions - Senators Aronberg, Lawson and Baker as well as to our important House friends - Representatives Robaina and Cannon.

Amending high-speed and commuter rail legislation to include accommodations/green alternatives for the intermodal links of walking and bicycling, i.e. secure bicycle parking and lockers for pedestrians at train stations, rails with trails, and allowing bikes on trains.

Fair Share Funding: Ensuring that a higher proportion of federal funding for traffic safety in Florida is spent on bicycle/pedestrian programs. 21% of Florida’s traffic fatalities are bicycle and pedestrian. Currently, less than 2% is funded for bicycle and pedestrian programs.