Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Poster Unveiled For SWFBUD's Bicycle Bash on Nov 7 At Flatwoods

Thank you Doreen for coming up with the 2010 Bicycle Bash poster.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Bay News 9 Report On Ghost Bikes

Bay News 9 did a great TV report on ghost bikes and SWFBUD Director Alan Snel talked about bicycle safety

SWFBUD Store Owners Speak Out About Bicyclist LeRoy Collins' Death

SWFBUD store owners Brian Eckman of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium and Randy Myhre of Oliver's Cycle Sports recently visited the ghost bike memorializing the life of LeRoy Collins, 75, killed with riding a bioycle in Tampa on July 29.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SWFBUD Advses Iorio To Help Bicyclists

SWFBUD director Alan Snel advises Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio in a St. Pete Times column to stop the lip service and start implementing a bicycle infrastructure program in Tampa.

Ed Collins Talks With Bay News 9 About His Dad's Death

At 1 pm today, Ed Collins met a Bay News 9 TV reporter at the site of where his dad, LeRoy, was killed while riding his bicycle on July 29. There is a ghost bike at the corner of Brorein Street and Hyde Park Avenue, memorializing the loss of a bicyclist's life. Mr. Collins will always be remembered.

I am so proud to be a friend of Ed, who in the aftermath of his dad's death has spoken out for bicyclist safety and for the city of Tampa to start taking real action by installing bike lanes, sharrows, bike signs and a public safety campaign to advise drivers to look out for cyclists.

More and more people are riding bicycles in the Tampa Bay area and the country's top transportation official declared that cities and counties must plan for bicyclists and pedestrians -- not only cars -- when it comes to designing and building roads.

For years, Tampa built roads without bicyclists and peds in mind. The jig is over. Mayor Iorio, start making Tampa safe for bicyclists.

Ed was interviewed by Bay News 9 reporter Jody Lowery. Ed, an accomplished cyclist, still has not been able to hop on his bicycle after his dad was killed while riding a bike.

SWFBUD store owners Randy Myhre (L) of Oliver's Cycle Sports and Brian Eckman of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium stand by the ghost bike today.

SWFBUD has called on the city of Tampa to launch a bicyclist safety campaign, complete with Mayor Iorio issuing pro-bicycle statements on PSAs, a billboard campaign and using all platforms to advise motorists to watch for bicyclists.

Monday, August 16, 2010

SWFBUD Visits The Ghost Bike In Tampa

I posted a photo of this Ghost Bike Sunday. The photo was sent to me by the maker of the Ghost Bike, which memorializes the life of retired Admiral LeRoy Collins of Davis Islands, killed while riding a bicycle along South Hyde Park Avenue at the Brorein Street corner shortly after 6 AM July 29. The person who fashioned the Ghost Bike has requested anonymity and I will comply with that request. The Ghost Bike was put into place Sunday.

This afternoon I bicycled to see the Ghost Bike in person. It left a big impact. To see it in person drives home the fact that being a bicyclist in this area means you have to be on high alert when cycling at all times. For me, it means cycling with my hands on the brake hoods and scanning every side street, every vehicle and every corner.

I also pedal with the notion of being ready in a heartbeat to spring into action to avoid being struck by a car. My bike-commuting in New York City prepared me well for the unpredictable and aggressive nature of Tampa Bay's drivers.

I didn't know Mr. Collins. But I am friends with his bicyclist son, Ed, an experienced cyclist who is still hurting. Ed appeared before a Tampa City Council meeting recently to advise the city to take action to make our streets safer.

Ed told me today that he still hasn't been emotionally ready to get on his bicycle since the day his dad was killed while riding a bike.

The person who fashioned the Ghost Bike did a remarkable job at creating a moving and beautiful memorial.

For example, there are 14 stars on the chainguard. The 14 represent Mr. Collins, his wife, their four children and eight grandchildren.

At the request of the Ghost Bike maker, I wove the jasmine plant vines into the front wheel spokes this afternoon.

The top tube is two stars -- Mr. Collins was a two-star admiral.

If you notice, the Ghost Bike is very close to the Selmon Expressway. Wouldn't it be great to have a bike trail below the toll expressway. There are plans to accomplish that -- check out the Selmon Expressway Greenway Trail proposal on Wednesday from 4-6:30 PM at Union Station.

Bottom line -- please drive your bicycle like the vehicle it is.

Stay safe everyone.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tampa Is 17th Out Of 70 Big U.S. Cities In Bicycle Commuting

I heard along the grapevine that Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio doesn't think a lot of people bike in Tampa, but maybe that was the Tampa decades ago when she grew up in the city.

Not anymore. Several Tampa bicycle organizations have cropped up in the past few years and here's the most compelling data of all -- Tampa was 17th out of 70 big cities in the U.S. when it comes to bike commuting in 2008.

Check out this chart; American Bicyclist is the source.

If you notice, Tampa finished just behind bike cities like Austin, 14th (home to Lance Armstrong); San Jose, 15th (California Bay area city); and St. Paul, Minn. 16th (Twin city to Minneapolis, which was number 2 in the country).

People DO ride bicycles in Tampa -- and many more would if Tampa improved bicycle infrastructure.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tampa Bay Can Learn Bicycle Infrastructure From Colorado

SWFBUD was in Colorado early August, visiting Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins to see excellent bicycle infrastructure such as bike lanes, sharrows, signs warning motorists to watch for bicyclists and a paved trail network.

I showed the Hillsborough County BPAC (Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee) many of these photos today as part of a presentation at a BPAC meeting.

Sharrows are everywhere in Denver. Why not put those on roads in Tampa? They alert motorists that bicyclists are on the roads.

Sharrows just don't have to be limited to urban settings. Here are sharrows on US 287 leading into Fort Collins on a road where there are three lanes leading into the city. Tampa has one-way three-lane speedways called Armenia, Platt, Cleveland and Florida -- roads desgned for only cars and not bicycles. Why not put sharrows in the right lanes if you're not going to install a bike lane?

Bike lanes are excellent, too, in Denver.

The trails are not just for recreation in Denver -- they're a super-highway, utilitarian system for bicyclists who want to commute to jobs. Here is a bike-ped bridge linking the South Platte River Trail with the Cherry Creek Trail.

Metro Denver builds trails along rivers, creeks and lakes -- here is one of the two big ones in Denver, the Cherry Creek Trail, which allows bike commuters to get to work in downtown Denver. Why not build regional trails along the Bypass Canal and Hillsborough River from miles away that connect into downtown Tampa?

Here is an amazing ped/bike bridge spanning I-25 in Denver, allowing peds and cyclists to go from a neighborhood to work in downtown Denver.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio killed proposed bike lanes on Euclid Avenue because she thought bike lanes would take away space for people who want to park their cars, but in Denver you can see people can park cars and also have a bike lane and a lane for vehicular traffic.

In the Denver western suburb of Wheat Ridge, signs warn motorists to be alert for bicyclists and peds.

In Fort Collins, there are signs warning motorists to watch out for bicyclists as they exit a commercial parking lot on US 287, then there are bicycle signs on 287. This is great stuff.

A Boulder organization has started an amazing bike-rental/bike-sharing program called B Cycle in Denver and there are 30 locations around Denver where you can swipe your credit card and use a sturdy two-wheeler. This location is at the art museum. In Fort Collins, they have a city-sponsored "bike library" where you can sign out a bicycle for a week for free.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Ironman Store Joins SWFBUD

I'm happy to report that The Ironman Store in New Tampa has become the tenth retail bike shop in SWFBUD. The Ironman Store is on County Line Road in Hillsborough County near the Pasco County line.

Friday, August 6, 2010

SWFBUD's Message For Tampa: Action Now, Not More Studies

The city of Tampa will do a bicycle/ped safety study. Seems like the MPO has lots of bicyclist/ped studies collecting dust.

Here's a few SWFBUD recommendations for the city of Tampa:

-- Deem bike lanes as essential parts of your transportation plan.

-- Install signs advising motorists to watch for cyclists and peds at all exit ramps in downtown and at major ramp/road sites.

-- Stripe bike lanes -- or at least sharrows -- as part of ALL re-paving projects.

-- Stripe bike lanes on major one-way, three-lane roads such as Platt and Armenia.

-- Re-surface Bayshore Blvd and stripe bike lanes in both directions from the Platt Street Bridge to Gandy Blvd.

-- Create a PSA and sign program to educate motorists to look for bicyclists and peds.

-- Stop studying and start doing.

Email Pam Iorio at and tell the mayor that if she can spend tens of millions of dollars on a new art museum and a downtown park she can find money to protect the lives of bicyclists. Advise Iorio that she was wrong to kill bike lanes on Euclid Avenue so that motorists can park their cars for book club meetings.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

SWFBUD Commends Bicyclist Ed Collins For Speaking Out At Tampa City Council Meeting

SWFBUD commends bicylist Ed Collins, who told the Tampa City Council this morning that Tampa city government has to take ACTION -- and not do more studies -- to make our city streets safer for bicyclists. The MPO has offered plenty of recommendations and bike/ped projects in Tampa that are collecting dust.

SWFBUD advises Mayor Iorio and city government staffers that Tampa needs a network of bike lanes throughout the ENTIRE city and signage advising motorists to slow down and watch for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Ed's dad, Leroy Collins, Jr., was killed July 29 by a 27-year-old Tampa General Hospital intern who made a left turn at an intersection and broadsided Ed's father. Mr. Collins, Ed's dad, was mortally wounded by the driver's SUV.

Ed told the city council that the driver was not even given a ticket or citation. That surprised several city council members and Ed also met Police Chief Jane Castor at the council meeting to share his thoughts with the Chief Castor, who is a bicyclist, too.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SWFBUD Helps Get The MPO To Support South Coast Greenway

SWFBUD was happy to hear from Mariella Smith that SWFBUD was among many groups and residents who joined forces to support the South Coast Greenway in south Hillsborough County and to prompt the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) to vote unanimously today to:

(1) fully fund all six segments of the South Coast Greenway, and

(2) raise the priority of this multi-use paved trail into the top 20 percent of all projects listed in the 2035 Transportation Plan.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In Ed's Own Words

(Blogger's note: I asked my bicyclist friend Ed Collins to email some thoughts about his dad, LeRoy Collins, who was tragically killed July 29 while riding a bicycle in Tampa. He was broadsided by a SUV driver who was turning left in an intersection. I wanted to include Ed's thoughts in a column I wanted to write. When Ed's email arrived this morning, I was moved by the heart-felt words written by Ed. Which is why I am leaving Ed's email intact and publishing it with Ed's blessing. It's a moving, powerful and thoughtful essay written by a son who has lost his dad.)

* * *

By Ed Collins

This is yet another morning I hope to wake up and find out this was all a dream. There is that brief moment when you open your eyes and your mind has yet to reload all the issues you were facing as you fell asleep. Sadly, all of those thoughts have returned with many new ones.

On almost every Sunday, I would leave my house at 7AM, to go ride with my friends in San Antonio . This was the one ride every week I would look anxiously forward to, not only for the spectacular riding, but for the camaraderie with my friends. Today I could not do it. My wife suggested I should do something “normal” such as go on this ride this morning, however, I could not. I guess you can understand why.

Today is Sunday. It has been four days since my father was killed riding his bike the three miles from his house to the boathouse at the University of Tampa . This was a route he travelled two to four times a week. He had on his usual outfit. This usually consisted of some ill-fitting athletic shorts, some ancient t-shirt that was well past its prime and his super-high reflective safety vest he purchased to help keep this sort of tragedy from happening.

His bike had lights. It was a well worn mountain bike that was a horrible yellow color. He was riding on the sidewalk to further improve his odds. He approached the crosswalk that I am sure he has crossed numerous times. This is where people coming from the Crosstown Expressway and downtown Tampa turn left to go onto Davis Islands and Tampa General Hospital . It was early in the morning. He had probably been up for at least an hour. (My mom hated that because he was always noisy as he got ready.) Then he was struck…

I have made a few calls about the lady who hit him. From what I have been told, she is kind, and as sweet as apple pie. I wanted to make sure she was not a “schmuck”. I was told she is not. The one item that I think is COMPLETELY inexcusable? She will never show any of this accident on her driving record! You see, the woman who killed my father, the woman who struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk, the woman who didn’t take one extra second to look to the left before hitting the gas on her SUV, has a clean driving record of the accident because she was never charged with anything – not even a ticket for failing to yield.

When the driver goes to renew her auto insurance next year, the carrier will take many things into account before her policy is issued: her age, her vehicle. Does she have any children? Is she married? How many miles does she drive to work? Is her vehicle commercial? The once question they will not ask her is “has she killed anyone in the past 12 months”?

Based upon the severity of your offense, you receive points in the state of Florida . If you get a high number of points, your auto insurance rates will increase. Get enough points due to careless driving, and you will lose your license. In this case she will receive ZERO points on her license for killing my father. You get more points for having a burned-out taillight. I guess a taillight is somehow more dangerous than killing a father of four and grandfather of eight. I guess a man who tries to help wounded Iraqi veterans find a new lease on life is less valuable than a 50-cent light bulb in Tampa .

The exact cause of death of my father was a broken C-2 vertebra. According to the driver who hit my father, she did not hit him “that hard.” She, in effect, broke his neck by “tapping” him with her SUV. The medical examiner performed an autopsy based upon her comments because she thought there was no way she could have killed him with such a light impact. They investigated to see if he had a stroke or heart attack instead. I guess an SUV couldn’t have possibly done anything to contribute to this accident. They were wrong. The driver broadsided my father in a crosswalk with her car, and his neck snapped like a twig on impact, ending his life and his contributions to ours.

The insurance company assumes that a driver who has caused any accidents or has in this case committed manslaughter would be issued SOME SORT OF CITATION. For some reason, in this case she was not. Upon questioning other friends, this seems to be some sort of trend in the city of Tampa . I guess Mayor Pam Iorio's campaign promise to make Tampa a more “livable city” only applies to people in an SUV, and not to pedestrians in a cross-walk.

Pam Iorio was once overheard saying at a Seminole Heights Bicycle Club ride that she would never ride her bike in the city because it was “too dangerous.” I guess she should call someone in government who has the authority to do something about it. Who might that be, Pam?

“Why is it only people in a car, deserve safe transportation”? This was a quote I read from a mayor who had redesigned his city to allow multi-modal travel for its people. It has stuck with me, even more so now.

I find in interesting to point out how this is the same stretch of road where a homeless lady was killed by a hit and run driver recently, and the city saw no need to pursue any course of action against that driver either. It wasn’t until the people found out that Tampa Police saw no reason to issue a citation to a cute cheerleader that any action was taken. Maybe a cute young doctor (she was 27) receives the same privilege. Maybe these are the “new laws” to make the city more livable. I should find out what they are, in case they may affect me too.

On the news, we tear up at the image of people who abuse and kill animals, yet we seem to not care if a man is killed on a bicycle. Animal abusers are almost always cited and prosecuted. Thank you Michael Vick.

Abuse a child and the penalties get far more severe. You get jail time and even worse, the prisoners in jail make it a point to abuse you. However, kill a man on a bicycle and you get to go home, cry, and resume life as normal. You don’t even pay a nickel.

We have state laws to protect “pregnant pigs” in addition to those odd little “yield to pedestrians in cross walk” laws, but I guess if you actually kill the pedestrian, that’s not a very big deal.

Furthermore, why is it when you read the comment section after the online version of the story of my father’s death that some people reply with joy about how many cyclists they have hit, or tried to? Are we some sort of wild game to be hunted? Are we some sort of new southern sport like lawnmower racing? See how many Lance Armstrong wannabes you kill on your commute?

My wife and I moved five weeks ago. We moved from Tampa to an area about 45 minutes away called “ Spring Lake ” near Dade City and Brooksville. We moved because we enjoy riding our bicycles for fun, exercise, and to be with our daughter. We found that riding in the city was getting to be far too dangerous. And Pam, contrary to your promise, Tampa is far LESS livable than before, but I will give you credit for finally paving Euclid after eight years (even without a bike lane).

Did you know that for a while, it was faster for my daughter to ride her bike from our house to school by almost 10 minutes, however, for safety reasons we chose to drive her. I also discovered that it took about the same amount of time to ride a bike from Seminole Heights to Hyde Park as it was to drive. Traffic in the city is horrible. The city says they don’t have money or the road width to make improvements. That part I almost understand, however the cost of bike lanes has not deterred St. Petersburg from installing bike lanes. They have found the cost to be minimal in comparison to adding another vehicle lane. I guess Tampa will not be happy until Dale Mabry is eight lanes wide and we can take the elevated “Swann Expressway” to get to Starbucks and park in the eight-level SOHO parking deck.

Now my wife and I live in a community where there are bike lanes, and although there are the occasional angry drivers, they appear to be in the minority. When riding down a country road any driver who fumes that we are “slowing them down” needs only to change lanes. Failure to do so makes them look far sillier than any spandex I could ever put on my body. I am glad to no longer live in Tampa . The city I grew up in has become a place that is far too disgusting to live in, for many reasons now.