Saturday, July 31, 2010

SWFBUD Demands Public-Awareness Campaign To Protect Bicyclists

Sixteen months before a 27-year-old Tampa General Hospital intern turned left with her SUV at a south Tampa intersection on July 29 and mortally wounded a 75-year-old bicyclist who was pedaling through the crosswalk, SWFBUD sounded the alarm about bicyclist fatalities in Tampa Bay and Florida.

Federal stats showed Florida had the most bicyclist fatalies in the U.S. in 2007 and bicyclists are killed at such a high rate in Florida that their deaths on the roads usually mean only a few paragraphs in the local newspaper.

SWFBUD asked everyone from Tampa city officials to transportation planners to launch a public awareness campaign to alert drivers of motorized vehicles that bicycles are vehicles and that cars, trucks and buses need to pass bicyclists by a space of at least three feet in compliance with state law.

But this 75-year-old bicyclist killed in the early morning in late July was no ordinary bike rider. LeRoy Collins was a retired Navy admiral who was the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs and the son of a former Florida governor.

He was the also the dad of my Seminole Heights bicycle friend, Ed Collins.

A few years ago I told Gena Torres, who works as a local MPO transportation planner in Hillsborough County, that the public will only pay attention to bicyclist deaths when someone who is prominent dies on a bicycle.

Which is why a local newspaper published a story on bicycling safety this week when ordinarily they run a short brief story when a bicyclist dies.

Even before Mr. Collins tragically lost his life while riding a bicycle, SWFBUD had recently partnered with local police agencies and the HART public bus service to display signs advising motorists to pass cyclists with a berth of at least three feet and respect a bicyclist's right to be on the road.

Apparently. a hospital intern by the name of Margaux Manuel hasn't seen those bike-safety messages.

She turned left with her SUV at an intersection at Brorein Street and South Hyde Park Avenue and T-boned Mr. Collins.

As a result, another Florida bicyclist was dead.

* * *

Tampa might be a big city, but it's also small enough that everyone seems to be connected to each other.

So small, in fact, that Mr. Collins' son, Ed, was formely married to a woman who was friends with the driver of the vehicle that killed his dad.

I spoke with Ed Friday afternoon and I can assure you that Ed does not want vengeance against Ms. Manuel the driver.

But Ed does want justice.

Which is why Ed told me that he could not understand why Tampa police did not cite Ms. Manuel for driving a vehicle that struck his dad.

Police did report that the driver was making a left turn when her vehicle struck the bicyclist.

When I read that I thought to myself that surely police would at least cite the driver for careless driving or failing to yield a right of way.

Ed does not want Ms. Manuel to suffer just because he suffered the loss of his father.

But surely, Ed told me, shouldn't the driver be cited for something?

After all, a bicyclist was struck by a vehicle while crossing an intersection and died.

* * *

Tampa is a city that is not kind to bicyclists.

Mayor Pam Iorio claims she supports bicycling, but she recently killed a city transportation manager's plan to stripe bike lanes on a 2.2-mile stretch of Euclid Avenue.

Why? Apparently our so-called pro-bicycle mayor thought the convenience of people who wanted to park on Euclid was of more importance than the safety of bicyclists who pedal along Euclid.

There is a culture in Tampa city government that talks about helping bicyclists and actually does very little in the way of on-road infrastructure for bicyclists. Thank goodness the Florida state Department of Transportation -- not the city -- striped bike lanes on Nebraska Avenue and Tampa Street.

Like Tampa, other Florida cities such as Miami and St. Petersburg had horrific reputations for being unfriendly to bicyclists.

But immediate former mayors decided to apply resources to make their cities' more hospitable to bicyclists. Now St. Pete and Miami are seen as model turn-around bike cities.

Even non-traditional bike cities such as Boston and Long Beach have launched bicycle programs to stripe bike lanes.

Mayor Iorio? She TOOK AWAY bike lanes on Euclid ao that people can park for book club meetings.

We need a city mayor who will support bicycling like she does light rail and the arts.

We need our public officials to rally support to educate drivers about bicyclist safety in the same way they did to fight drunk driving and get people to wear seat belts.

Perhaps if Ms. Manuel was informed by bike-safety PSAs and public awareness messages to look out for bicyclists, Ed would still have his dad around to talk bicycling.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Officials Must Mount Public Awareness Campaign For Bicyclists

I have submitted this column to the St. Petersburg Times

The July 29 tragic death of bicyclist LeRoy Collins, a retired admiral and the son of a Florida governor, was a painful wake-up call regarding the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in the Tampa area. Collins, out for an early-morning bike ride in the Hyde Park area, was killed by a driver who made a left turn into him.

For the past two years, SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers) has been sounding the call for public safety and political leaders to mount a public awareness campaign focusing on getting drivers to slow down and drive cautiously around bicyclists and pedestrians.

Under law, bicycles are vehicles -- just-slowing moving vehicles that have the same rights to be on the road that you have as a driver of a motorized vehicle.

But here in the Tampa Bay area, roads were designed and built with little room for bicyclists, which has prompted a car-centric public sensibility.

This must change now.

I am asking Mayor Pam Iorio, the Hillsborough County Commissioners and other elected officials to work with police to spawn a campaign to tell drivers to slow down, give three feet when passing bikes and show courtesy when sharing the road.

Our community has mounted anti-drunk driving and seat belt buckle-up safety campaigns and now I'm asking everyone from the DOT Community Traffic Safety Team to the MPO transportation planners to public agencies to launch a public sign and PSA movement to get the word across that the drivers of bicycles and motorized vehicles need to safely be on the road together in a safe manner.

SWFBUD has already partnered with Tampa Police (District 2), Hillsborough and Pinellas county sheriff's offices and Temple Terrace police to have law enforcement deploy portable electronic message boards on roadways to display bike-safety messages such as Bicycles Are Vehicles, Share The Road, and Give 3 Feet When Passing Bikes. You can see those signs on

This message that bicycles are everywhere needs to be disseminated through all media platforms by public agencies that have the public resources to get the word out.

The death of Mr. Collins was heart-breaking and saddening, but regrettably it was only the latest death of a bicyclist in a state that usually leads the nation in per-capita bicyclist deaths.

We have launched anti-drunk driving and buckle-up campaigns.

Now it's time to do the same to advise drivers that our public roadways are for everyone regardless of the mode of transportation you choose to get around.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

RIP Retired Admiral and Bicyclist LeRoy Collins, 75, of Davis Islands

SWFBUD extends our deepest condolences to the family of bicyclist LeRoy Collins, 75, of Davis Islands, Tampa who was killed by a car driver this morning in the Hyde Park area. Mr. Collins was the son of a former Florida governor.

Retired Admiral Collins is the dad of Seminole Heights bicyclist and friend Ed Collins. Ed, our thoughts and prayers are with you today. Your dad lived a blessed and full life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

HART Becomes Bicycle Bash Sponsor

I am happy to report that HART -- the public bus and transportation system of Hillsborough County -- will be a sponsor of the 2010 Bicycle Bash Classic, Sponsored by Cure on Wheels.

The Bicycle Bash is put on by SWFBUD to celebrate bicycling in Tampa Bay. It's NOV 7 at Flatwoods County Park off Morris Bridge Road, off I-75.

HART has also begun displaying signs in its buses advising motorists to give a berth of at least three feet when passing bicyclists.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

SWFBUD Store Bicycle Outfitters Holds Autism Fund-raiser/Swap Meet Saturday

On Saturday, I was promoting SWFBUD's Bicycle Bash at a nice event at SWFBUD member store Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole.

Adam Beland's store was raising money for autism while having a swap meet, offering free BBQ, playing live music and watching the Tour de France.

A nice crowd came, including John Sinibaldi of the St. Pete Bike Club, Gary Rossiter of SWAMP and Boston Bill of Boston Bill's Sunglasses.

Friday, July 16, 2010

SWFBUD's Photo Makes Hillsborough County Map Cover

Check out the new Hillsborough County bike map -- SWFBUD supplied the front picture showing the 40th Street Bridge in Tampa with cyclists Jack Sweeney and Doug Jesseph of the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club.

SWFBUD Works With Tampa Police To Deploy Signs For Bike Safety Messages

I enjoyed working with Tampa Police Maj. John Newman, District 2 commander to deploy portable message board signs showing bike safety messages. This sign is on Central Avenue in Tampa and signs will be deployed around Tampa on roads that need them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Deploys Signs With Bike Safety Message In Response To SWFBUD Request

As posted here earlier, SWFBUD has contacted police and local governments in Tampa Bay to ask them to deploy their portable message signs along roadways to display "Share the Road With Bicycles" messages.

SWFBUD believes public education is an essential tool to enhance bicyclist safety on the roads.

This morning, I got good news from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office -- they are deploying three message signs with the Share the Road message at three locations.

The email:


My name is lieutenant Adrian Arnold of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Just wanted to let you know our agency deployed 3 portable message board signs talking about “Share the Roads with Bicycles.”

Thank You,
Lieutenant Adrian B. Arnold
Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
Patrol Operations Bureau
Central District Station"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stop By And Say Hi Saturday At The Bicycle Outfitters Event

All 9 SWFBUD bike shops do great things for cycling in Tampa Bay -- and this Saturday will be no exception when Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole on the Pinellas Trail hosts a Swap Meet and autism fund-raiser on July 17 at the store.

I will be there manning the SWFBUD table, so stop by and say hey. There will be music, food and biking, of course. It's 10 am to 5 pm.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Buddy Brew Coffee In Tampa To Be A Bicycle Bash Vendor

Happy to report the owners of Buddy Brew coffee on Kennedy Avenue in Tampa say they will be a vendor at the 2010 Bicycle Bash Classic, Presented by Cure on Wheels.

Dave and Susan Ward roast their coffee right at their 2020 Kennedy Ave. storefront.

So, look forward to tasty java at the Bicycle Bash! They join American Classic, Boston Bill Sunglasses and Boomer Bents and Bikes as the first vendors. Contact if you want to be a Bash vendor on NOV 7.

SWFBUD Prompts HART Bus Service In Tampa Area To Install 3-Foot Bicycle Warning Signs

About six months ago a HART bus nearly struck me while I was cycling on Rowlett Park Drive in Tampa. It was the third time in two years a HART bus nearly hit me. I caught up with the bus driver, who informed me, "Bike on the sidewalk."

Wrong answer. I reported the driver to HART, which reviewed the videotape of the incident -- and yes, the driver was wrong and nearly hit me.

Clearly, the bus driver violated the Florida law requiring motorists to pass cyclists -- and peds -- by a minimum clearance of at least three feet.

In response, I attended a HART board meeting in January as SWFBUD director and I explained the near-hit incident. I told the board I did not plan to report the incident to police but instead I asked HART to start a public sign campaign to inform the public about the 3-foot buffer law. In addtion, I told HART that bus driver must be trained to pass cyclists by a minimum distance of three feet.

So, recently these signs held today by Luis Rivera, HART's operations superintendent, went up inside the bus above the seats along with signs showing bus schedules and other PSA announcements.

Thank you Katharine Eagan at HART for your help in producing the 3-foot warning signs.

Katharine also indicated that HART will be a sponsor of the 2010 Bicycle Bash Classic, Presented by Cure on Wheels on Nov 7 at Flatwoods County Park outside Tampa.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hillsborough Commissioner Mark Sharpe Invites Everyone To The Bicycle Bash On Nov.7

SWBUD is proud to support County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who was instrumental in reaching out to SWFBUD and helping us move the Bicycle Bash festival to Hillsborough to celebrate bicycling in the Tampa Bay region.

Mark this morning spoke to SWFBUD and has this message for all bicyclists.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

SWFBUD Store Bicycle Outfitters Holds Customer Appreciation/Swap Meet July 17

All nine SWFBUD bicycle stores are owned by people who add so much to the local bicycle scene. They give back a lot in many ways.

On July 17, Adam Beland at Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole right on the Pinellas Trail is holding a terrific event.

It's a customer-appreciation/swap meet/cycling celebration day with swap meet fees of $10 going to the Autism Speaks charity.

Admission is free and the festivities will run from 10 am to 5 pm.

The first 75 people get a free waterbottle. The swap meet will run from 11 am to 3 pm and live music kicks off at 12 noon, with face paitning from 12 noon to 2 pm.

There will be a big raffle be held at 3 p.m., with all proceeds benefitting the Autism Speaks charity. There will also be a huge assortment of bikes and accessories at clearance prices, up to 70% off, with portions of those sales also going to support Autism Speaks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SWFBUD Helps Ivan Rack 'em Up At Viitals Bakery In Tampa

About a month ago, SWFBUD got a call from Ivan, owner of Viitals health food bakery in Tampa. Ivan needed a bike rack for his business, but he could not afford one.

So Ivan emailed SWFBUD for help. I contacted Karen Kress at the Tampa Downtown Partnership, which works with a school program that makes bike racks for businesses.

A bike rack was fashioned and delivered at Viitals a few weeks ago -- and Ivan was grateful.