Saturday, May 28, 2011

SWFBUD Wins Tampa City Council Commendation

I was honored to receive a commendation for SWFBUD bicycle advocacy work from the Tampa City Council and Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, who nominated me. Tampa is slowly improving its bicycle infrastructure and needs to do much more. A bicycle-pedestrian plan is currently being crafted and the city needs to do improvements to streets for bicyclists before they are re-surfaced.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SWFBUD Bikes With Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn On Bike to Work Day

This morning at 7:30 AM Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn donned a bike helmet and hopped on a Tampa Police bicycle and pedaled about two miles from Davis Islands to downtown Tampa and the Tampa Police headquarters for a fun bike-to-work event put on by the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

The mayor pledged his support for bicycle safety, joking that's he's more into three feet distances between bicyclsists and motorists than the famous six-foot distance he supported between strippers and customers when he was a Tampa city councilman years ago.

Tampa Police also unveiled its 3 Feet decal program on the rear window of its police cruisers and its bike safety campaign. Thank you Assistant Police Chief John Bennett for pledging the police support.

SWFBUD was there so let's check out the Mayor Bob bicycle scene. There's Mayor Bob ready to roll.

There's Jim Shirk and Jose Menendez.

There's Lea, Tony and Gena -- three fine bicyclists who appreciate the value of bicycling in Tampa.

There's the fast-growing son of MPO staffer Gena Torres, who has worked on a local bicycle safety action plan.

Biking on Davis Islands as we head for downtown Tampa.

Mayor Bob comes off the ramp and on to Bayshore Boulevard. Bob quipped as we biked on Bayshore, "Someone call the mayor and tell him Bayshore needs to be fixed."

There's the proof that Bob is a good bicyclist -- the mayor passes me on the uphill of the Platt Street Bridge, blowing me away like Lance did to the field in the French Alps during the Tour de France.

The mayor is happy after crossing the Platt Street Bridge with his life intact.

The mayor gets ready to turn left on Franklin.

Mayor Bob and Gena Torres of the MPO who works on bike issues side-b-side as they head for the Tampa Police Department.

Mayor Bob chats with my friend Tony of Seminole Heights.

There's Sheila wearing a Downtown Crit T-short chatting with Mayor Bob. Sheila was one of the earliest downtown residents.

Group shot with the mayor. The mayor has his arm around me as I keep Bob up on his feet after the two-mile ride -- ONLY KIDDING! Seriously, Bob did great on the bike and his cadence was excellent. He had the RPMs up and looked like a natural bike commuter.

Great job Karen Kress of the Downtown Partnership for bringing Mayor Buckhorn and the Tampa Police Department together for the bike to work event and the TPD Share the Road squad car decal program and bike safety campaign.

Mayor Buckhorn addresses the media with the Bicycles Are Vehicles message on the portable sign that TPD District II uses in Seminole Heights and other locations.

A look at the Tampa Police car with the share the road decal. Thank you Stadium Toyota on Dale Mabry Highway for underwriting the costs for the decal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SWFBUD Proud To Ride In The Tampa Ride Of Silence

Tonight about 50 bicyclists pedaled the streets of Tampa from downtown past the ghost bikes of retired Navy Admiral LeRoy Collins and Diane Vega after hearing words from Admiral Collins' son, Ed Collins, and the daughter of Diane, Genevieve. It was an emotionally moving night as we rode our bicycles in silence to remember the 14 bicyclists who have been killed in Hillsborough County since the start of 2010.

The Ride of Silence is a ride held in cities across the country to remember those bicyclists killed on roads around our nation.

My comrade Ellen Pierson rode for a close friend who was killed while biking in Louisiana on a training ride for the recent Police Unity Tour.

Nice work by Drew who worked with Jose Menendez to organize the Ride of Silence. There was also Rides of Silence from the USF campus and in the Dunedin/Clearwater area.

Ed Collins told the bicyclists to get involved.

The local FOX-TV station interviewed Ed.

A motorist ran a red light on Oct. 1 and killed bicyclist Diane Vega at the corner of Himes and Spruce in Tampa. Diane's family have attended events to keep Diane's memory alive and Genevieve thanked the bicyclists for riding in tonight's event.

Ed Collins listens to Genevieve talk about the Ride of Silence meaning for her family.

There's Drew and Karen Kress.

Steve Swiger had the NHL playoffs look.

Biking in downtown.

Heading out of downtown.

On Howard Avenue getting ready to turn left on Kennedy.

Who says you can't bike on Kennedy? We did tonight.

The night's youngest rider.

Steve remembers retired Navy Admiral Collins with the two stars on the black arm band.

SWFBUD Presents Regional Paved Trail Plan

SWFBUD appeared before the greenway committees of both the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County Tuesday to stress the importance of a regional paved trail network and focused on one segment -- the Bypass Canal Trail.

Our powerpoint on the Bypass Canal Trail was well received and hopefully will move up on the MPO's project priority list so that work can be done.

Monday, May 16, 2011

SWFBUD Requests Paving Of Bypass Canal Trail As Part Of Metro Tampa Regional Paved Trail Network

TAMPA -- On Tuesday SWFBUD will be making a powerpoint presentation on paving the Bypass Canal Trail along the Bypass Canal from Morris Bridge Road to State Road 60 as part of a proposed regional paved trail system for bicyclists to improve transportation and enhance bicycle safety in Hillsborough County.

Alan Snel, SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers) Director, will be making the Bypass Canal Trail presentation at a Hillsborough Greenways and City of Tampa greenways & Trails Citizen Advisory Coimmittees joint meeting on Tuesday May 17, at 6 PM, at the Loretta Ingraham Community Center at 1615 N. Hubert Street, Tampa 33607.

A paved Bypass Canal Trail would encourage bicyclists from New Tampa and Temple Terrace to bike south to State Road 60, where SWFBUD is asking the Florida DOT to include bicyclist facilities as part of the SR 60 improvement project.

In addition, a proposed South Coast Greenway project from the south could also hook into SR 60, with bicyclists biking from the south. Then, bicyclists can follow an improved State Road 60 corridor to the proposed Selmon Expressway Greenway and downtown Tampa.

"Hillsborough County, the city of Tampa and the MPO must work together to create a regional paved bicycle trail network so that bicyclists can safely and efficiciently move from all parts of the county. Some roads have good bike lanes, but many do not, causing gaps in bicyclists' travel routes in the Tampa area," Snel said.

"By creating a regional network of paved trails, it would provide bicyclists a chance to bike-commute to different parts of the county. It's just a matter of our elected political leaders to buy into this concept and make it happen," Snel said.

SWFBUD is choosing now to propose a paved Bypass Canal Trail as part of a regional paved trail network in metro Tampa because May is National Bike Month and the area has been hit hard by too many bicyclists killed by motorists.

SWFBUD is an alliance of 11 retail bicycle shops and two law fiems in the Tampa Bay area committed to improving bicycling in the Tampa Bay area. SWFBUD is responsible for prompting Hillsborough County officials to initiate the current bicycle safety action plan, putting on the annual Bicycle Bash festival and increasing the profile of bicyclists in the public arena. SWFBUD is nationally recognized for its bike advocacy work

Friday, May 13, 2011

Rides Of Silence In Tampa And Clearwater Wednesday 7 PM

There will be two Rides of Silence in Tampa on Wednesday at 7 PM. One will leave from downtown Tampa at Curtis Hixon Park on Ashley Street; the other will leave from the USF campus area -- location to be determined. Stay tune for details on that ride.

The Tampa Bay area has been scarred by too many bicyclist deaths and the bicyclists killed cross all ages, backgrounds and economic groups. In Hillsborough County/Tampa alone, a dozen bicyclists were killed by motorists in 2010.

The two rides will include passing all four ghost bikes in the Tampa area.

Ghost bike for retired Navy Admiral LeRoy Collins, killed July 29, 2010 at Brorein Street and S. Hyde Park Ave. Adm. Collins lived on Davis Islands in Tampa. A doctor heading to work at Tampa General Hospital made a left turn on red killed Adm. Collins.


Ghost bike for Kayoka "Kay" Ishizuka, killed Sept. 26, 2010 on Bruce B. Downs/30th Street. Kay worked as a USF Health researcher. A hit-and-run driver killed Kay.


Ghost bike for Diane Vega, killed Oct. 1, 2010 at Spruce and Himes. Diane workeed for FedEx and lived in Tampa. A motorist ran a red light and killed Diane who was heading home from work.


Ghost bike for Robert Niedbalec, killed Feb. 13, 2011 on Fletcher Avenue. Robert was a veterinarian who lived in Temple Terrace. A speeding motorist, possibly racing with another motorist, lost control of her car and struck Robert while he rode his bicycle in the bike lane.


Clearwater is also having a Ride of Silence:

Greetings Suncoast Cycling Club members,

Plans for our May 18 Ride of Silence are taking shape, and this is your first "heads up" to plan to attend this global memorial event.

This year's ride will feature a new route of just over 11 miles, part of which will follow scenic Edgewater Drive and Bayshore Boulevard in Dunedin, with beautiful early evening views across the bay to north Clearwater Beach and Caladesi Island State Park. As in years past, our ride will leave 7 PM sharp from the Publix Parking Lot at Caledesi Shopping Center, Curlew Road and Alt. 19 in Dunedin, with police assistance for the entire route.

This is also a call for a volunteer (preferably two) to ride sweep for the route, since our police escort will be assisting from the front to get us safely through busy intersections and/or traffic lights. Riding sweep simply involves staying behind the last riders to ensure that all return to Publix safely. The club's sweep kit (spare tubes and C02 cartridges) will be available in the slight chance it is needed. While lights are strongly advised for all participating, sweep rider(s) will be REQUIRED to have bright, functional tail and head lights. If you are willing to assist, please let me know via return email.

Please plan to attend if you are able, and encourage your family and friends who might not otherwise be interested in club rides to participate. Remember, this is a slow-paced ride (think funeral procession), so just about anyone can participate. It is a very moving experience to pedal slowly along hearing only the whir of freewheels spinning and chains pulling.

Further details will follow as the date approaches. For more information and to understand the scope of this international event, please visit

Chainwheel Drive
1770 Drew Street
Clearwater, FL 33755

Monday, May 9, 2011

Truck Driver Kills Motorist On Sanibel Causeway Saturday

When I discuss with government the high number of bicyclists who are killed by motorists in the Tampa Bay area and Florida, I'm often told that it's the bicyclists who are to be blamed because they're causing motorists to hit them. Proposed plans to help bicyclists in Florida include steps to educate bicyclists (which I support 100 percent) but why are motorists also not targeted for improved education and awareness? Case in point: A truck driver crossed the center line and hit and killed a bicyclist on the road shoulder on the Sanibel Causeway Saturday.

Read the story here.

Dan Moser of the Florida Bicycle association was quoted in the story:

Bike and pedestrian advocate Dan Moser said cyclists are permitted on all area bridges except the Caloosahatchee Bridge.

The causeway’s shoulder is 8 feet wide, he said, and the ride is more strenuous than dangerous.

“If motorists are paying attention, it’s pretty safe,” Moser said.

Monday, May 2, 2011

SWFBUD Supports League's Efforts To Educate BOTH Bicyclists AND Motorists

Few people in the Tampa get to witness people on bicycles act in a risky manner as much as I do.

On a recent Sunday night, for example, while I biked north on Nebraska Avenue from downtown Tampa to Seminole Heights, within a five-minute window I saw at least five people on bicycles with NO lights, no reflective gear and no helmets. Most of them were biking on sidewalks against the flow of traffic.

I tried to explain to them that they need to be visible and be seen, which means getting lights on their bikes and wearing clothes and reflective vests or gear. I also suggested they bike with traffic and not against. I don't know how much they will heed my suggestions.

The point is I'm quite aware that we need to inform bicyclists to reduce their risky bicycle behavior to reduce the number of bike-car crashes.

BUT, what is missing in the public discussion regarding making the Tampa Bay area safer for bicyclists is also EDUCATION FOR MOTORISTS regarding a bicyclist's right to the road and motorists' dangerous, distracted, incompetent and bully driving that imperils the lives of bicyclists on the roads.

That's not just my opinion.

The Florida Bicycle Association's new executive director, Tim Bustos, made this point in his first column in a FBA spring 2011 newsletter.

And this afternoon, I received a letter in the mail from the League of Americxan Bicyclists, which was focused on educating motorists AND bicyclists.

The letter from League President Andy Clarke starts this way: "Dear Alan, If you're like me, you're tired of hearing about educating cyclists. Wouldn't it be great if we saw road signs telling motorists to Stop Texting! Focus on Driving! Don't Buzz Bicyclists"

The League has a strong program to educate bicyclists. Now the League is calling for local communities to also advise motorists to respect bicyclists.

You might recall that League President Clarke wrote Hillsborough County about its proposed bicycle safety action plan because while the plan offers initiatives to educate bicyclists it fails to address motorist education about bicyclists to the same degree.

To the League's credit, Clarke wrote Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa to say exactly that. It was bicyclist Robert Niedbalec's death on Feb. 13 while he was cycling in a Fletcher Avenue bike lane and killed by a speeding car that struck him in the bike lane that caught the League's attention.

Clarke's letter a few months ago said, in part, "After reviewing this latest cyclist fatality, AND looking at the dreadful pedestrian crash story in this area AND the almost daily serious crashes involving just motorists throughout the Tampa Bay area, we figure it’s time to really challenge the community to tackle the scourge of careless, dangerous and reckless driving behavior that is making life miserable for everyone out there."

SWFBUD applauds the League's willingness to go public with that email and today's letter I received this afternoon that stress that we need BOTH bicyclist and motorist education regarding bicyclists in the roadways.

I am scheduled soon to meet the local Tampa Bay District 7 Florida Department of Transportation Office to hear the latest about a bicycle campaign that was originally entitled, "You Vs. Vehicle -- You Lose Every Time."

SWFBUD blew the whistle on that campaign title, contacting both the ad agency hired by the local DOT office and also the DOT office regarding this misguided campaign title.

SWFBUD will be asking the local DOT office to include motorist education in any campaign in addition to the message that bicyclists must ride safely, too.

We're all in this together -- bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.