Sunday, February 27, 2011

SWFBUD Today Remembers Bicyclist Robert Niedbalec, Killed By A Speeding Motorist In Tampa Area 2 Weeks Ago

Today, I paid my tributes to the memory of Robert Niedbalec, a 52-year-old vet killed by speeding motorist whuke cycling in a bike lane on Fletcher Avenue on Feb. 13.

Today was a rememberance ceremony for Robert as we took a short bike ride, showed the ghost bike and wrote messages in a memory book.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

HCSO Bicycle Messages On Portable Signs Return

Nice to see the bicycle messages returned recently to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office portable signs in Fletcher Avenue near I-75. SWFBUD suggested the HCSO start the sign messages on its portable sign boards last year.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

SWFBUD Gets Hillsborough County To Fix Fletcher Avenue Bike Lane Design

SWFBUD contacted Hillsborough County Public Works after the department re-surfaced Fletcher Avenue at 56th Street, but failed to configure the intersection with a bike lane that goes through the intersection.

As you can see, the bike lane veers to the right of the right-turn bike lane -- which is NOT the proper way to confugure the bike lane at this intersection, or any intersection.

So, SWFBUD spoke with the county's public works director and also wrote emails. They did the job. SWFBUD wants to thank Hillsborough County for addressing this issue promptly, as you can see by this photo showing a proper bike lane configuration on Fletcher Avenue at 56th Street.

Monday, February 21, 2011

SWFBUD Hopes People Attend 3 Upcoming Bike Plan Meetings In Tampa/Hillsborough County

After SWFBUD blew the whistle and prompted the Hillsborough County Commission and Tampa City Council to take action in response to bicyclist deaths in October, a government agency called the Metropolitan Planning Organization (the transportation planning arm of local goernment) has worked with other local government departments to come up with a proposed bicycle safety action plan.

Its proposals and strategies are a small first incremental step toward dealing with the high number of motorists who kill and injure bicyclists in metro Tampa area. The ideas are sensible and focus on creating safety awareness and education for bicyclists -- which is very good. But it doesn't focus much on motorists who are killing bicyclists or creating a sweeping infrastructure system of bike lanes and trails to improve safety.

The League of American Bicyclists wrote an outstanding letter in response to the bike plan

You can offer your thoughts on the bike plan at three upcoming meetings:

February 24: Pizzo Elementary (Cafeteria) at 11701 USF Bull Run Drive Tampa, FL 33617
6:30P.M. to 8:30P.M.

March 01: Bloomingdale Regional Library at 1906 Bloomingdale Ave. Valrico, FL 33596-6206
6:30P.M. to 8:30P.M.

March 2: Broward Elementary (Cafeteria) 400 W. Osborne Avenue Tampa, FL 33603
6:00P.M. to 7:30P.M.

A presentation will be repeated at the start and end of each workshop. For more information please visit & see the Bicycle Safety Action Plan (BSAP) section under Publications & Maps / Current Projects & Drafts, or contact Gena Torres at 813-273-3774 x 357.

Friday, February 18, 2011

SWFBUD Signs Powerful Letter In The Aftermath Of Another Tampa-area Bicyclist Death

A powerful letter in light of the recent bicyclist death on Fletcher Avenue in the Tampa area. I was proud to sign it:

Dear Tampa City Council & Hillsborough County Commissioners:

Another Tampa-area cyclist is dead. Yet another valuable and productive life ends with a painfully simple roadside memorial that reads “motorists – stop killing bicyclists”. The reckless driver that hit the cyclist – who was not doing anything wrong – hasn’t been charged with anything and is, as far as I know, still out there behind the wheel of a car today.

After a spate of fatal crashes last fall, we joined the chorus of concerned cyclists and wrote to Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Commissioners to ask for a meaningful response and a serious action plan to cut this appalling death toll. The first draft of that plan was presented last month and there are three more scheduled in the next couple of weeks to discuss the latest version. There’s lots of worthwhile activity in the plan – education for cyclists, rodeos for kids and recommendations for more bike lanes and complete streets. We need all those things for sure, but are these enough?

While looking for details of the most recent fatality, we saw story after story about pedestrians getting hit and killed, other cyclists getting hit and killed, drivers veering off the road and killing themselves, or smashing into other traffic and killing people in those other cars – and that’s all in the last couple of months. Another cyclist was badly injured in St. Petersburg yesterday. Folks, we have a problem here. We’ve read about the pedestrian safety grants that have gotten area police more resources to teach pedestrian safety and ticket jaywalkers, grants to build more sidewalks and crosswalks – again, all good things to do, but surely missing the stark, huge, and very inconvenient truth. We need to do something, and quickly, to stop careless, reckless, distracted, and downright dangerous DRIVERS, because they – you – are killing Tampa-area people in frightening numbers.

Traffic safety, or lack of it, dramatically cuts into everyone’s quality of life and literally chases cyclists and pedestrians off the streets. People on foot and on bikes are, like it or not, the indicator species of a vibrant and healthy community. Think about the places you like to go – most of them are filled with people you can watch, meet, and interact with. So this issue is about bikes, but it’s so much bigger than that.

And that’s why the solution has to be so much more than educating bicyclists and ticketing errant pedestrians. It’s time to demand more from drivers; to hold drivers accountable for their actions. In the majority of the recent fatal bike crashes, the cyclists were riding properly – they were riding where they should be, visible, following the rules, doing everything right. Diane Vega was killed standing on the sidewalk with her bike, for goodness sake. The drivers were not doing what they should be doing. They were distracted, impaired – and most recently, simply recklessly speeding (possibly racing) down the street. Those drivers are still out on the roads today, still driving. That’s not good for any of us – but we tolerate it and we don’t do anything to stop it.

Next week, we need cyclists and pedestrians – and anyone who isn’t prepared to tolerate this mayhem any more – to show up in support of the Bicycle Safety Action Plan. We also need them to say that isn’t enough. We need an immediate response from law enforcement and the court system to demonstrate very clearly that dangerous driving won’t be tolerated. That speeding through neighborhoods, running red lights, driving drunk, texting and talking on the phone while driving, and “failing to see” cyclists and pedestrians simply aren’t acceptable anymore; the price in human life is just too high. Cyclists and pedestrians aren’t perfect by any means, we know that. We’re committed to educating cyclists to follow the rules of the road in everything we do…but the harsh reality is that errant cyclists rarely harm anyone but themselves. Out-of-control motorists harm everyone in the community.

Andy Clarke, President, League of American Bicyclists, Washington D.C.

Alan Snel, Director, Tampa-based South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers

Dan Moser, Interim Executive Director, Florida Bicycle Association

John "Jay" F. Anderson, II, TSP, Executive Director, Stay Alive .... Just Drive!, Inc.

Friday, February 11, 2011

SWFBUD Works With Hillsborough County On Bicycle Safety PSA

Nice job by Terry McElroy of Hillsborough County's TV station to pull together a PSA on bicycle safety. Check out the PSA on YouTube.

SWFBUD worked with the daughters of Diane Vega, who was killed on her bike-commute on Oct. 1, to participate in the bike safety message.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

County Resurfacing Does Not Include Through Bicycle Lane at Fletcher Ave/56th Street

Dear Hillsborough County Public Works Director John Lyons,

Thank you for listening to my concerns today regarding the bike lane on eastbound Fletcher Avenue as it approaches 56th Street.

Generally speaking, the county has done a nice job with the bike lanes on resurfaced Fletcher Avenue. But I ride my bicycle on Fletcher Avenue all the time and it came to my attention recently that the county failed during its resurfacing to properly stripe a bicycle lane straight through the 56th Street intersection as bicyclists travel east on Fletcher Avenue. I have attached photos.

With Fletcher Avenue being resurfaced, this was the ideal opportunity to stripe a bike lane through the intersection. Instead, the resurfacing project's bike lane leads bicyclists to the right of the right-turn lane and then expect bicyclists to cross the right-turn lane to continue traveling east on Fletcher Avenue through the intersection. That is a potentially dangerous situation for bicyclists and counter to the standard of striping bike lanes straight through intersections. Personally, I travel on my bicycle straight through at that intersection and ignore the bike lane as it veers to the right of the right-turn lane.

This is especially disappointing when you consider that a workshop consultant for the county's bicycle safety action plan being crafted specifically showed two before-and-after photos of an intersection without a through bike lane and then the same improved intersection with the through bike lane -- which is the proper design. That could and should have been done on eastbound Fletcher at 56th Street.

I hope Hillsborough County can fix the bicycle lane design on Fletcher Avenue at 56th Street so the bike lane runs through the intersection instead of to the right of the right-turn lane.

Thank you for your help and I appreciate your time and efforts regarding this bicycle safety matter.


Alan Snel
Director of SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers
Stakeholder in Bicycle Safety Action Plan

Here is the story in photos:

As I approach 56th Street, I'm looking for the bike lane to head straight through the intersection.

But the bike lane is veering to the right -- to the right of the right-turn lane.

The standard is for bike lanes to continue through an intersection -- but not this one.

If you follow the bike lane and want to continue through the intersection, you have to bike across the right-tirn lane to get back on track, Potentially dangerous.