Friday, March 26, 2010

SWFBUD at the Tampa Downtown Crit

SWFBUD will have a table at the Tampa Downtown Crit Saturday from 11 AM to 9 PM. Swing by and say hi.

Tampa lawyer Tom Singletary of SWFBUD will be at the SWFBUD table from 1-3 pm to answer legal and insurance questions.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SWFBUD Announces Bicycle Bash's New Home On Nov. 7

SWFBUD tonight announced officially that we're moving the Bicycle Bash Classic, presented by Cure on Wheels to Flatwoods Park in Hillsborough County. SWFBUD tonight recognized the work of Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who reached out to SWFBUD to find out ways to improving bicycling and suggested moving the Bicycle Bash to Hillsborough County. We then discussed moving the bicycle festival to Flatwoods Park, where we can have live bicycling in the park to go with our popular vendor/exhibitor village.

We gathered tonight at SWFBUD store Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium, where owner Brian Eckman hosted a nice announcment. Thank you Brian.

Thanks also to Jack Sweeney, the famed Ghost Rider of Tampa, for attending with son Gray and snapping off these photos. Jack does a great job writing for

Here's Commissioner Sharpe telling his commitment to improving bicycling.

Next up was Tina Russo, a bicycle leader from Hillsborough parks who explained the importance of cycling in the county. Tina oversees the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

I enjoyed telling the folks tonight that SWFBUD is committed to growing bicycling in the Tampa Bay area.

A SWFBUD Shoutout for Our Posters and Fliers

SWFBUD says thanks to Steve Turner, a bicyclist in Seminole Heights, for his Bicycle Bash Classic posters/fliers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

SWFBUD Helps Get Bike Lanes On Euclid Avenue

On behalf of SWFBUD, I want to thank Tampa City Transportation Manager Jean Dorzback and Tampa Public Works Director Irv Lee for deciding to put bike lanes on a 2.2-mile stretch of Euclid Avenue in south Tampa.

Tampa always gets ranked near the bottom of U.S. cities regarding bicycle-friendliness and I commend the city's transportation staff for addressing this issue by putting in the bike lanes in a part of the city that really needs them.

SWFBUD has appeared before the Tampa City Council and other city agencies to lobby for more bike lanes during the past year and I am happy to see that our work has helped yield some positive news.

This went out this morning:

Dear Tampa Transportation Manager Jean Dorzback and Public Works Director Irv Lee,

On behalf of SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), I want to thank you both for your work on establishing bicycle lanes on Euclid Avenue. This type of policy decision will enhance safety for bicyclists travelling through south Tampa and is consistent with a complete streets approach we are seeing across the country; that is, cities making their roads hospitable for all users -- motorized vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.

I realize there might be complaints regarding lost parking, so I appreciate your decision all the more. Thank you for thinking of bicyclists as part of your transportation planning and resurfacing project on Euclid Avenue. It's a positive step toward making the city of Tampa a more bicycle-friendly city.


Alan Snel
Director of SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers)
9 Tampa Bay area bicycle store retailers and 2 lawyers committed to growing bicycling in the Tampa Bay area

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SWFBUD Learns Two-County Committee Recommends Demolition Of Friendship TrailBridge


SWFBUD learned today that it looks like it's the end of the road for the Friendship Trail Bridge.

The Friendship TrailBridge, a terrific bridge used by 600,000 annual users including thousands of Tampa Bay bicyclists, has been closed since Nov. 2008 because of structural problems. The Friendship TrailBridge opened on Dec. 11, 1999, linking Tampa and St. Petersburg.

This afternoon, I attended a meeting of the Hillsborough-Pinellas Friendship TrailBridge Oversight Committee, the government panel made up of Hillsborough and Pinellas county commissioners and citizens.

I appeared before both the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Commissions on behalf of SWFBUD to lobby both counties to seek federal aid to pay for an estimated $15 million to repairs to the TrailBridge to extend the life by 10 years. I also spoke out at two big public hearings in both counties last summer.

This afternoon at the committee meeting, an engineering report showed that the repair work has skyrocketed to $42 million from $15 million -- a new twist that prompted the committee to recommend to their respective county commissions to demolish the TrailBridge.

This sets into motion a government process that will mean the end of the TrailBridge.

The woman in pink in the wheelchair made a final plea to the committee to keep the trailbridge, which she said she used to get outside and fish.

Experienced bicyclists still cross the current Gandy Bridge on its wide shoulders. But many casual bicyclists who don't feel comfortable on the Gandy Bridge shoulders with traffic going 60mph plus don't use the bridge.

SWFBUD today joined the Friendship TrailBrdge supporters in acknowleding that it is not responsible to seek $42 million in public dollars to extend the life of the TrailBridge.

SWFBUD will ask the DOT again to see if they reftrofit the current westbound bridge with barriers to create a bikeway/walkway.

And SWFBUD supports any new bridge to have bicycling and pedestrian areas.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SWFBUD Moves Bicycle Bash To Flatwoods Park

Nearly a year ago I had a chance to see the Sea Otter Classic, the country's biggest bicycle festival held in the scenic hills outside Monterey, Calif. It was incredible -- a lively vendor/exhibitor village combined with live bicycle activities of all types. The place was crawling with thousands of bicycle lovers.

I loved Sea Otter's synergy of an exhibitor village combined with multiple bicycle activities. So, when Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe reached out to me and asked what Hillsborough could do to become known as a bicycle county, I thought, let's move the Bicycle Bash to Flatwoods Park where we can combine a dynamic exhibitor village with off-road, on-road and off-site bicycle activities.

So the "2010 Bicycle Bash Classic, Presented by Cure on Wheels" was born. After three successful years of SWFBUD holding the bicycle festival in downtown St. Pete, it was time for SWFBUD to move the Bicycle Bash to a site where we can have BOTH an exhibitor village and many different types of bicycling.

The Tampa Tribune did a story on TBO today about SWFBUD shifting gears and moving the Bicycle Bash to Flatwoods.

The story also includes a video SWFBUD made of the 2009 Bicycle Bash.

So I'm happy to officially announce the 2010 Bicycle Bash Classic, Presented by Cure on Wheels will be held in Flatwoods park on Nov. 7 from 10 am to 4 pm. The Bicycle Bash will host the Cure on Wheels charity bike ride, which will raise money for local cancer research. Hillsborough County will be a co-sponsor of the Bicycle Bash.

For more information, check out the Tampa Bay Sports Commission media release about SWFBUD moving the Bicycle Bash to Flatwoods Park.

More news next week about the Bicycle Bash. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SWFBUD's Email Joins Others To Save The Office Of Greenways And Trails

Looks like the emails sent to the Florida Senate committee that was considering cutting the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails worked today.

Jennifer Bartlett at Sprinkle Consulting was among those who wrote to the state senators who sit on the Senate General Government Appropriations Committee and got this response:

"Thank you for your email regarding the Office of Greenway and Trails. I support fully funding this program and I am actively working to avoid this merger.

I am proud to tell you it appears we have now saved full funding except for the elimination of two already vacant positions. I will continue to work on this issue, also, to assure that it remains funded.

Thank you again for writing.


By Charlie, I'm assuming state Sen. Charlie Dean.

Nice work everyone who contacted the state senators on this committee.

SWFBUD Asks Senate Committee To Not Cut Trails Office

SWFBUD sent this letter today to:

Chair: Senator Carey Baker (R) --
Vice Chair: Senator Alfred "Al" Lawson, Jr. (D) -- (last year Senator Lawson made a proposal that saved OGT)
Senator Dave Aronberg (D) --
Senator Charles S. "Charlie" Dean, Sr. (R) --
Senator Steve Oelrich (R) --

Dear members of Senate General Government Appropriations Committee,

My name is Alan Snel and I just returned from the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., where more than 725 bicycle leaders from around the country met to grow bicycling in our country and meet our local congressional members. There is a bicycle movement in the U.S. as more and more people realize that getting around by bicycle is a great source of exercise and transportation. That's why I am asking you to reject a proposal to eliminate the Florida Office of Greenways and Trails and merge its functions with the state park system.

The elimination of the 16 positions that run the Greenways and Trails program would essentially kill one of the shining stars of Florida’s recreation and tourism businesses, all to save $1 million. The Greenways and Trails system receives 4 million visitors a year in Florida and has an economic impact of $95 million a year. This program cannot run without a staff and this small investment is yielding strong returns on our investment.

Florida led the nation in bicyclist deaths in 2008, and we need infrastructure to safely accommodate the increasing numbers of bicyclists in Florida. In addition, the U.S. and its Transportation Secretary are focused on alternative forms of transportation and on more healthy lifestyles to fight obesity, Florida would be eliminating one of its most successful programs to make progress on both those fronts.

The residents and visitors of Florida consider the greenways and trails important to the quality of life here and what brings visitors back each year. I urge you to make smart economic decisions when you make budget cuts, and this proposal is not one of them. This office actually brings in revenues to the state. Please do not eliminate the Office of Greenways and Trails.


Alan Snel
Director of nationally-recognized SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers
9 Tampa Bay bicycle stores and 2 lawyers committed to getting more people on bikes
Home of the award-winning Bicycle Bash festival

Friday, March 12, 2010

SWFBUD Goes To Washington

It all began 10 years ago with 20 guys in Spandex walking the Congressional House buildings of Rayborn, Longworth and Cannon to lobby for bikes.

Yesterday, it was 800 of us bicycle types wearing suits and ties and carrying packets of pro-bicycle legislation and leaning on our local Congressional members to support HR 4722 The Active Community Transportation Act of 2010 (nicknamed The ACT act), and other laws about complete streets, safe routes to schools and urban revitalization/livable communities.

I was happy to be on The Hill on behalf of SWFBUD to pitch aides of Tampa Bay-area congressional members Kathy Castor and Bill Young. Castor, a Democrat, is already a co-sponsor of one of the bills. But we need Young, a Republican, to co-sponsor HR 4722. SWFBUD will hold a special Bill Young bike ride if he sponsors the bill.

I also visited the offices of Reps Tom Rooney, Gus Bilirakis, Corrine Brown, Ginny Brown-Waite and Suzanne Kosmas.

The National Bike Summit draws bicycle advocates of all stripes -- bike coalitions, bike shop owners, planners, bike industry folks. Just about anyone who loves bicycling and who believes that our national government needs to include bicycling in our transportation system. Even bike superstars like Gary Fisher, the guy who helped invent the mountain bike, was walking the marble floors of Congress with us to chat up their local congressmen.

This being the car-centric U.S., not everyone in the congressman's office is so supportive of bicycling. The truth is it's a mixed bag of reactions, with many offering a friendly smile, a sympathetic ear and non-committed words.

For example, one young aide just smiled and nodded her head when Randy Myhre, owner of Oliver's Cycle Sports, spelled out the reasons why her congressman should support the National Bike Summit's slate of legislative bills. (Fun fact -- did you know that there are more proposed bills in Congress than there are cherry blossom trees in Washington, D.C.?). She didn't have much to say and didn't ride a bicycle and didn't laugh at our jokes about Spandex.

Randy and I were paired for most of the day and though Randy was a rookie on the Hill, he was a pro in our meetings. I often did the introductions, and then tagged Randy for effective tag-team presentations.

In our visit to Congresswoman Kosmas's office (she represents a district from Orlando to the Space Coast), we met legislative assistant Paolo Mastrangelo. Randy opned up with, "With a nice Italian name like Paolo, you must be a bicyclist."

Great line! Indeed, Paolo was a bicyclist and said his boss, Kosmas, was a bicyclist -- and we were off and running with our pitch. We're hopeful she will support the pro-bike bills.

Part of our pitch is pointing out that Florida especially needs help because our state is number one in the U.S. in bicyclist fatalities. Florida has more bicyclist deaths than even California, which has twice the population.

That hit Paolo hard. Paolo said he went to college in Sarasota and suffered a great loss when a friend died on a bicycle.

Making connections comes in all way. In Ginny Brown-Waite's office, legislative assistant Kate Troller loved talking bikes with Randy and I because her dad back in Cincinnati was a bicycling fanatic and even her grandparents in Florida rode bikes. We used that connection to lean on Kate to tell her boss to support our bicycle agenda. Here's Randy talking with Kate, who knew all about Bontrager wheels from her dad.

Then, there are our colorful bicycle pins that we wear on our lapels. I wear them when I speak before the Tampa City Council or Hillsborough County Commission, and they're attention-grabbers all around the Capitol. The League of American Bicyclists, which runs the National Bike Summit, gave us a bag of a dozen green, orange and pink pins to hand out to our congressional contacts and people around The Hill.

Three guys from Wisconsin lobbying for the YMCA asked for them I gladly gave them some to wear on their lapels.

In Castor's office, Tampa health-care management services owner Joseph Hodges overheard us talking bicycling with Castor junior legislative assistant Faith Grant. When we walked outside Castor's office, Joe told us he was a triathlete from Tampa, loved cycling and gladly accepted a bicycle pin.

Paolo loved his pink bicycle pin, fully aware that pink is cool in bike racing.

It was heartening to see Matt Dickerson, a Young legislative assistant, to pin a green bicycle on his lapel. Hopefully, Young will support and co-sponsor HR 4722. That's Kathryn Moore, executive director of the South Florida Bike Coalition, talking with Matt in our group meeting in Congressman Young's office.

To pump up this legion of 800 bicycle lobbyists from around the U.S., the Godfather of bicycle-loving Congressmen -- Minnesota's Jim Oberstar -- gave a rousing speech while we carboloaded on bagels, fruit and muffins at 8:30 am. It was great to personally meet Jim yesterday. His number one quote: "Let's move from a hydrocarbon economy to the carbohydrate economy!" His power and influence is amazing as the chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

We also heard the words of Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Oberstar's bicycling wingman who has pieced together a Bike Caucus of more than 150 federal legislators.

Words of encouragement are vital because we bicyclists in Florida need to support each other because we have all seen the "just-don't-get-it" looks on the faces of people who are tethered to their cars and can't understand why people love bicycling.

It's fun to meet great bicycle advocates from around the country. More than 70 came from California, including Rebecca Stievater, outreach organizer for Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition who showed me her bike link tat.

A special highlight of the National Bike Summit was the comradery of my fellow Floridians who attended the Summit, anchored by the hard-working Laura Hallam, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association who kindly treated me to a margarita at a Mexican restaurant where Team Florida gathered after a day of walking Congress' long, sterile hallways yesterday. That's what I call leadership!

Randy Myhre of SWFBUD store Oliver's was smooth as silk in his talks with congressional aides and proved to be a wonderful meeting mate.

I relished the chance to see my blogging South Florida sidekick John Hopkins, a former Miami Herald copy editor and big-time green man who lovingly told Matt in Young's office to feel free to contact him if the congressman had any questions about the bills we suggested he back.

It was great to re-unite with Miami's hard-charging Gary Mendenhall, customer service manager for J&B Importers who I first met two years at the Summit. Gary is creating some cool bike events in the Miami area to get people on bikes.

Kathryn Moore is the new energetic executive director of the South Florida Bike Coalition and has great background working in the congressional office of a non-voting member from the American Somoa.

Mike Greehan of Lake Worth is a veteran of these Washington, D.C. gatherings and is the former publisher of Bicycling Magazine.

It was also great to share a congressional meeting with Jeffrey Lynne of Akerman Senterfitt attorneys at law who is a board member of the League of American Bicyclists.

I also made a new pal in crafty Earl Lang, a bike shop owner in Punta Gorda, who fondly informed me he was a businessman before he became a bike shop owner.

And it was good to see Mary Jane Mack, who owns a Miami bike shop and is a Summit veteran who walked Congress with her husband and daughter.

Let's keep the bicycle activism rolling!

Monday, March 8, 2010

SWFBUD Attends The National Bike Summit

Metro Washington. D.C. -- It's nice to know I'm a less than a day away from breaking bread with some 800 other bicyclists from around the country who are committed to growing bicycling in our communities.

It's the National Bike Summit eve, and as director of SWFBUD I'm looking forward to renewing friendships with great nationwide bike advocates and starting new ones as well this week.

The League of American Bicyclists plays host and sets up the conference for us to learn new tips about bicycle advocacy before we descend on our congressional representatives and senators on Thursday to lobby them on supporting complete streets legislation and backing funding for bike facilities.

For me, it means trading in the lycra shorts and bike helmet for a dark suit and a silk tie to chat with those in the offices of Tampa Bay-area reps such as Kathy Castor.

Joining me is Randy Myhre, owner of Oliver's Cycle Sports who is making his rookie appearance at the summit. My best advice for Randy: bring your best formal walking shoes because the hall floors of Congress are rock hard and we'll be covering a lot of ground Thursday.

Who attends?

Any committed bicylist or bicycle planner or bike advocate who can swing the $375 League fee for the Summit, and travel and lodging costs.

They're bicycle advocates, bike shop owners, planning agency staffers, bike club leaders and bike organization chiefs tring to make a difference. It could mean bike education programs or money for trails or simply getting DOTs around the country to be more sensitive to the safety and access needs of bicyclists.

I'm glad to be here and will try to share highlights from this week's bicycle summit.

To save on lodging costs, I'm camping out in a spare room at the Rockville, Md. home of my college pal Laura Sarantis, who is an avid bicyclist and bike commuter to her local library job. I'll be commuting to downtown Washington with her husband, Guy, who works in a bookstore not too far from the Reagan Convention Center.

Stay tuned.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tell Us Something About Bicyclists and Peds In Florida We Don't Know, USA Today

Last year, SWFBUD crunched the numbers to show Florida was the deadliest state in the country for bicyclists and we prompted Bicycling Magazine and the Tampa Tribune to write stories about this problem.

A year later, USA Today did a story about this today.

We already know, USA Today. Your story follows several other media reports in Time magazine and the St. Pete Times this past year about Florida and Tampa being the deadliest places for peds and bicyclists.

We need an unprecedented campaign to be launched by the DOT and police agencies to make back the streets safer for bicyclists and peds.

Please DOT, you have the resources to launch a statewide EDUCATION and billboard campaign to advise motorists that they Do NOT own the roads; that they need to share the roads safely with peds and bicyclists.

Please police, crack down on aggressive drivers and ENFORCE laws to PROTECT bicyclists and peds.

Bicycle Retailer magazine, which covers the bicycle industry in the country, also ran something.

BRAINy Delivered By Bicycle For Its Monthly Display At Oliver's

In true SWFBUD fashion to kick off Bicycle Month in Florida today, I biked with the "BRAINy" Award to Oliver's Cycle Sports -- one of nine Tampa Bay area retail bicycle shops in SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers). Each of the nine SWFBUD stores is displaying for one month the BRAINy Award given in 2009 by the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN), the trade publication that covers the bike industry.

SWFBUD won the award for our bicycle advocacy work and I was happy to play bike messenger today to drop off the BRAINy for its month display at Oliver's -- the fifth stop on the nine-store SWFBUD tour. Here, I hand off the BRAINy to Randy Myhre, owner of Oliver's Cycle Sports in New Tampa.