Thursday, December 30, 2010

SWFBUD Works To Re-Visit The Bypass Canal Trail

SWFBUD is working to get Hillsborough County and Southwest Florida Water Management District to re-visit a 10-year-old proposal to build a paved trail next to the SWFWMD's Bypass Canal from Morris Bridge Road just east of I-75 southward to Tampa.

This afternoon, I joined SWFBUD store owner Randy Myhre of Oliver's Cycle Sports, along with Bill Hand and Tina Russo of Hillsborough County, Colleen Kruk of SWFWMD and planner Kelly Bray of the city of Temple Terrace on a short bike ride on mountain bikes to check out the canal trail route.

We started on Morris Bridge Road and headed south atop the berm and the views were wonderful. There were sections of shells and hard dirt used by the maintenance pickups, but after three miles or so we were stopped by I-75 as we headed slightly west.

The proposed canal trail alignment calls for the route to move off the canal property to a road about a quarter-mile away, then return to the canal land.

We hope to get the ball rolling on this plan.

Colleen of SWFWMD and Bill Hand of Hillsborough County check out the maps that show the proposed Bypass Canal Trail.

Tina starts the ride.

Bill enjoys the ride.

Check out the scenery -- nice stuff.

Kelly and Bill ride the trail.

Tina jumps over the fence where there was no opening.

One of the underpasses -- below Rt 301.

Tina and Randy biking the trail.

One of the smoother sections.

Randy checks out one of the underpasses.

At some sections there are lots of space along the canal.

Randy on top of the levee at one of the highest points.

Tampa District 3 Candidate Jason Wilson Offers Bicycling Views

Bicycling is a major news story in 2010 in light of the nearly dozen bicyclists who have been killed by motorists in the three-county Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco area since July. Yet, with a major March 1 election looming in Tampa -- a mayor and all seven council seats are up for grabs -- hardly any candidates have addressed bicycling.

SWFBUD reached out and interviewed five mayoral candidates on their positions on bicycling: Ed Turanchik, Bob Buckhorn, Dick Greco, Rose Ferlita and Tom Scott. Tampa is run by a strong-mayor form of government, which allows the mayor to have enormous power in initiating projects such as a bicycle program.

SWFBUD has not asked council candidates for their views on bicycling. But out of 29 council candidates, only one council hopeful has contacted me to offer his positions on bicycling. District 3 candidate Jason Wilson, a Tampa General ER doctor from south Tampa, gave me this letter on bicycling in Tampa. Wilson wrote:

"Bicycling is an effective mode of transportation, excellent fitness exercise and an enjoyable family recreational activity. However, to maximize the potential of bicycles in our life, our city must work much harder to build a system that promotes the utilization and implementation of a bicycle culture.

1. Is there a bicycle representative/member on TBARTA? If not, there needs to be one on TBARTA and every other transportation work group that develops in the city or county.

2. We can work now to promote a culture shift by –

a. Educating drivers and law enforcement through publications and advertisement – current driver unawareness creates unsafe conditions for riders

b. Enforcing the laws that do exist that promote bicycle safety and the sharing of roadways

c. Develop more “sharrows” and signage on roadways

d. Encouraging companies and new businesses to integrate commuter bicycling - i.e. showers at work, indoor or sheltered bicycle storage areas - new buildings can be encouraged to implement these facilities by waivers and reductions on permits and other associated applications/fees

3. We must have a vision for a complete and complementary transportation system in Tampa. This vision encompasses:

a. Some form of mass transit that integrates bicycles so that riders can switch easily between rail/bus/car and bike as needed

b. Increased bicycle use and storage on existing or planned transit options (bus and highspeed rail)

c. Integrating new bicycle corridor initiatives into all further mass transit planning (Turanchik has the right ideas regarding this)"

I urge you to support political candidates who support bicycling. For too long, bicyclists in Tampa and the Bay area have stood on the political sidelines and failed to voice our agenda for safer roads, more paved trails and better driver awareness regarding our rights to the road.

As the mayor's race gets closer, I will offer my views on the mayoral comments regarding bicycling.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Let's Work To Eliminate The Need For Ghost Bikes In 2011

Holiday Greetings to all from SWFBUD.

Here's to committing ourselves to making the roads safer and installing no more ghost bikes in 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spreading The 3 Feet Message On HART Buses Thanks To SWFBUD

I enjoyed seeing this sign on the HART bus today.

I was cycling on Fowler Avenue this afternoon and turning left when I saw the 3 feet sign on the back of the HART bus in front of me.

SWFBUD worked with HART to get this 3 Feet bike-safety sign on the back of the bus.

Wrong Way Bicycling

This morning I observed a guy on a bicycle pedaling against traffic on the sidewalk. When he came to the Hillsborough-Florida Avenue intersection, he nearly found out that maybe that's not the best way to ride a bicycle.

Monday, December 20, 2010

SWFBUD Alerts City Regarding Nebraska Avenue Bike Lane Debris

SWFBUD has alerted John Marsh at the city of Tampa regarding the glass and debris in this southbound bike lane along Nebraska Avenue just south of Palm Avenue. John, who handles bike-ped issues at the city's transportation dept., told me this morning via email that he forwarded this to the appropriate staff.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

SWFBUD Interviews Tampa Mayoral Candidate Ed Turanchik

This morning SWFBUD caught up with Tampa mayoral candidate Ed Turanchik to find out his views and positions regarding bicycling. I spoke with Ed for about an hour and a half and here is a summary of his comments:

-- "(Tampa's) reputation is well-earned. We're not bicycle-friendly. We're not pedestrian-friendly. Tampa never gave much thought to it."

-- "Development here was fast and easy. It leaves us with impoverished bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We have to redesign the facilities to make them safe."

-- "I've always worked through having a vision. The goal is that the Tampa Bay area should be one of the most heavily-traversed regions of the United States for bicycles. Our climate is spectacular eight months of the year. And our terrain is flat."

-- Bicycling is "good for transportation. It's good for families. There are good public policy reasons to promote bicycling. And you know what, gas is going back to $4 a gallon."

-- "Where it can really work is neighborhoods."

-- "The big vision is rails and trails. Not rails to trails. It's rails and trails."

-- Turanchik wants the public to buy CSX railroad lines and develop bicycle corridors along the CSX corridors to "provide long-distance commuting capacity . . . Neighborhoods would be tied in. It would be elegant and low-cost connectivity for neighborhoods to a train system."

-- He saw a good CSX corridor in South Tampa, from downtown to Port Tampa.

-- He said bicycling was an "integral" part of a multi-modal transportation system. "It's all predicated on eventually getting a transit referendum passed."

-- For immediate help for bicyclists, Turanchik would reach out to the bicycle community. "It's important to listen to them."

-- He wants to create "safe bike corridors." He cited Bayshore Blvd. as a good bike corridor because "your intersections are minimized and it's already a protected corridor."

-- He cited Azeele and Cypress as possible east-west roads that could be used by bicyclists.

-- He said the transporation vote that was defeated at the polls in November relied "too much on light rail."

-- He favors a "robust transit system" where the paradigm is shifted to "say we want to move people."

-- His transit system would be based on rails and trails and the expenditures on bicycle infrastructure depends on the "system you design."

-- "You can develop bike facilities along the rail line and connect into the system with sidewalks and bike lanes."

-- "People who ride the streets (on bicycles) know what the issues are. We have to listen to the users. I used to commute to work by bike. I'm sensitive to people who ride their bike to work. I know what those dangers are."

-- He noted transportation projects faces shortfalls of billions of dollars, so "what we do with bicycling will be modest and incremental . . . the big leap forward is new money -- the transit referendum."

-- "Bike and pedestrian facilities are integral to a successful transit system . . . Bicycles and pedestrian facilities are vital components of a good transit system."

-- "Build a good city for the people who live here now."

-- "Where we can create protected envelopes (for bicycle routes), that should be a priority."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back To The Future With The Bypass Canal Trail

The Bypass Canal Trail has been on the Hillsborough County trails master plan for a good decade now. It's a fabulous trail idea -- a path along the Bypass Canal from Morris Bridge Road southward toward I-4 and then west toward downtown Tampa.

It's a trail concept shown on maps as unfunded.

But SWFBUD believes it's a trail idea worth pursuing. So, I presented the Back to the Future Bypass Canal Trail to a joint county-city trails committee, which appeared to like the idea.

Here's a map of the trail, which would run from Morris Bridge Road along the canal land right-of-way, which is owned by SWFMD -- the water district. It's been part of the county's trails plan -- but it has never been funded.

SWFBUD is going to lobby for this trail to be built, even if it's just a mountain bike trail at first.

SWFBUD Interviews Tampa Mayoral Candidate Dick Greco

SWFBUD caught up with Tampa mayoral candidate Dick Greco today to find out his views on bicycling and what he would do to make Tampa more bicycle-friendly if elected mayor. Ed Collins joined me and here are the Greco highlights:

-- "You'd be in charge, not me . . . you just educated me in two minutes." Greco would have a bicycle advisory committee to advise him on bike projects.

-- Greco floated the idea of building a bicycle lane down the center of Bayshore Blvd.

-- Greco recalled visiting Cuba and being asked by Castro about whether he rides a bicycle. Greco recalled there were few cars in Cuba and that most bike to work. "I never thought of it as a transpoprtation piece."

-- Greco said he would work to promote bicycling.

-- He said the roads are dangerous. He said motorists don't see bicyclists.

-- "I don't wear a (bike) helmet when I ride. I probably should."

-- "A lot of it is education."

-- He would create a bicycle safety advisory committee and "y'all probably have a million ideas. We would get a list of things we'd do and we'd check them off one by one as we do them."

-- "The more you talk about bicycling, the more the committee talks about bicycling, the more it gets into people's head."

-- "It's an educational process."

-- Greco is not a big fan of bicycling over the Platt Street Bridge: "You talk about the Platt Street Bridge, I wouldn't drive over that son-of-a-bitch on a bicycle."

-- "I'm sure y'all have a 100 ideas and you'll let me know what they are and we'll get it done . . . we'll educate people on TV and radio."

-- He said oldtime Tampa residents are "not used to" bicyclists on the road. They "should slow down and take care (when passing a bicyclist) but they probably don't like it."

-- Greco suggested using part of the rail track right-of-way for a bicycle path in the Channelside area to downtown Tampa.

-- On the bicycle front, Greco said, "Count me in. Get a group, we'll assign someone from the city, then have periodic meetings to see how much we can implement."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Next Mayoral Candidate Interview On Bicycling: Dick Greco

SWFBUD's next mayoral candidate to interview on bicycling is Dick Greco Wednesday.

If you have any questions you would like asked, pass them along.

Ed Collins will be joining me tomorrow when we ask Greco what his vision and plans are for bicycling in Tampa if elected mayor in March.

SWFBUD has interviewed mayoral hopefuls Tom Scott, Rose Ferlita, Bob Buckhorn so far.

We will also be interviewing candidate Ed Turanchik and hopeful Marion Lewis has expressed interest in discussing bicycling, as well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SWFBUD Interviews Tampa Mayoral Candidate Bob Buckhorn

Tampa mayoral candidate Bob Buckhorn likes bicycling -- so much so that he spent spent more than an hour and half with SWFBUD discussing the importance of bicycling to the overall health and quality of life of a city.

-- Buckhorn said he is committed to turning around Tampa as a city that's not kind to bioyclists and his goal is to be on the cover of the League of American Bicyclists magazine as the mayor who turned Tampa from its bad reputation to the highest grade level, a platinum designation.

-- Buckhorn said he wants to "attract intellectual capital" to Tampa to create and staff the kind of jobs that make a city strong. To do so means making bicycling attractive by buildings trails, bike lanes and using markings on existing roads as part of the quality of life that would attract that intellectual capital.

-- He said the recent "(bicyclist) deaths have attracted attention, but it's been a systematic problem." He admitted Tampa "has not done a very good job" at making its city hospitable to bicyclists.

-- Buckhorn said the bicycle improvements in St. Petersburg are due to former Mayor Rick Baker's commitment to bicycling. Buckhorn said Baker recently told him that turning around St. Pete from an unfriendly bike city to a city with bike infrastructure was one of his highlights as mayor.

-- He said making the city more friendly to bicycling would attract more people to downtown and would create stronger economic impact. He said road engineers dictated the road designs in Tampa and that too many roads were built to get cars from point A to point B as fast as possible without including bicyclists in the mix.

-- Bicycling can make Tampa compete better with cities such as Denver, Portland, Phoenix, San Antonio, Raleigh, Bickhorn said. "We have an obligation to do it."

-- Buckhorn said he would use the mayor's office as a pulpit to advocate for bicycling in Tampa and use a TV PSA campaign to educate residents about the importance of bicycling and the importance that everyone knows that the roads are there to be used and shared by everyone -- drivers and bicyclists alike.

-- He would stress that bicycling is an inexpensive way to commute to jobs and would encourage if not require downtown buildings to have bicycle racks.

-- "Bicyclists make this a better place."

-- He said getting intellectual capital to Tampa is essential because "companies follow the labor pool."

-- Buckhown endorses all forms of bicycle inmprovements from shared road markings such as the "sharrows" on Euclid Ave. to an expanded regional bike trail system.

-- "It gets back to the road engineers who controlled the debate" about road design, Buckhown said.

-- Tampa needs a "fundamental paradigm shift."

-- Buckhown cited the mayor of Los Angeles who took an active role in trying to improve bicycling in that city.

-- Buckhorn said his younger brother was a big bicyclist in the Washington, DC area until a bike crash resulted in him shattering his elbow.

-- Buckhown said he bikes with two daughters on Davis Islands.

-- "I don't need to be a bicyclist to know the bottom line," he said. Buckhown said bicycling gets into other things that make a city strong and said "bicycling is a big part of land use plans."