Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SWFBUD Supports DOT Plan For Causeway Trail Between Tampa And Clearwater

SWFBUD enthusiastically spoke in favor of a Florida Department of Transportation plan to build a $20 million multi-use bicycle/ped trail along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, including a $13 million tall span next to the State Road 60 bridge on the Tampa side.

Linda Saul-Sena, a former Tampa city councilwoman, voiced her support.

And so did John Harrison, a county greenways committee member.

Tampa Police Plan Bike Safety Message On Cruisers' Back Windows

SWFBUD and Karen Kress of Tampa BayCycle met two Tampa police officers this afternoon to see a new bicycle safety message that will initially go on the back windows of 40-50 police cruisers.

Thank you Sgt. Carl Giguere and Cpl. William Shaw for thinking of bicyclist safety. Stadium Toyota is paying for this.

Sgt. Giguere said TPD would like eventually to have all police cars in Tampa with this bicycle safety design on the back window.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SWFBUD Attends Florida Bike Summit In Tally Today

SWFBUD was a proud participant in today's Florida Bike Summit in Tallahassee and is proud to call state Rep. Janet Cruz of Tampa a friend of bicyclists for her support of bicycling and for supporting a bicycle safety bill.

Rep. Cruz lost a friend, bicyclist Diane Vega, who was killed on her bike-commute home last Oct. 1 at Himes and Spruce in Tampa.

SWFBUD also talked with state Rep. Betty Reed of Tampa and hopes a representative from Rep. Reed's office attends the Hub Grub Bicycle Ride of Seminole Heights on Aug. 2. The ride starts and ends at Ella's restaurant at 5119 N. Nebraska Ave. in Tampa.

SWFBUD also met representatives of state Senators Jotner and Norman today as well.

SWFBUD supports legislations that would ban texting while driving and also a vulnerable users law that would increase the criminal penalties for motorists who kill and injure vulneranle road users such as bicyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Florida's New Bike/Ped Ad Campaign: "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time." (This is not a joke) -- SWFBUD Gets Involved

Government is very well-intentioned about trying to improve safety for bicyclists. Sometimes, they can be misguided though.

The Florida Department of Transportation and the University of Florida picked a Tampa firm called Dunn&Co to create a bike and pedestrian safety ad campaign. Dunn&Co called it, "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time."

Here's the press release

I have not seen a shred of the print ad or content behind this "You vs. Vehicle" ad campaign, so I'm going on the campaign's mere title. But the very title made my head hurt. As usual, nothing about taking steps to change the motorists' behavior; in fact, just the opposite -- the title message empowers motorists that they're king of the road and that if you're a bicyclist the best thing you can do is just watch out and stay clear.

As I'm programmed to do (I am a former newspaper reporter, after all), I got on the phone today and called Troy Dunn, the firm owner, because I wanted to share my thoughts and hear the ad creator's response. I told Troy I haven't seen the ads or content but I had concerns about the title and its message. I said the real issue is that we have to educate problem motorists and bicyclists about using the roads together.

He disagreed and said there is no way to change aggressive, dangerous or reckless motorist behavior so the best thing for bicyclists and peds to do is be on full alert and be cautious to avoid being hit. Yes, bicyclists need to be smart and alert and visible -- but any safety campaign has to include addressing motorists.

So then I wrote the following letter to the Florida Bicycle Association today:

Hi folks,

I look forward to seeing you at the FBA summit in Tally tomorrow. I'll be traveling with Jim Shirk, a fellow Hillsborough County BPAC member, from Tampa and look forward to chatting with our local state legislators. At least two have agreed to meet us.

I'm writing to bring a new ad campaign about bicycle and pedestrian safety in Florida to your attention. I understand the University of Florida and the Florida DOT hired a Tampa ad firm called Dunn and Co. for this campaign.

Dunn's winning campaign is called "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time."

Here's the press release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/03/prweb5184344.htm

You probably have heard about it by now.

I have not seen any of the campaign's print material or content, but its title concerns me greatly. As the director of SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), I called the ad firm here in Tampa today and expressed my concerns to the firm owner, Troy Dunn.

I'm concerned that the title misses the point that bicyclists are co-users of the public roadway and that both bicyclists and motorists have to be educated and informed about how we interact on the road. Mr. Dunn informed me that it is impossible to change aggressive, reckless and irresponsible motorist behavior that imperils the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. So the best thing bicyclists could do, Mr. Dunn told me, is simply be on the alert and be cautious for cars that obviously are much bigger. Mr. Dunn informed me that the "share the road" mantra is stale and lacks punch. That might be so, but a "You Vs. Vehicle: You lose every time" campaign title seems to me that it emboldens motorists to feel they own the road and bicyclists don't have a place.

I hope you also see the flaw in the ad campaign title and immediately advise the DOT that a "You vs. Vehicle" title and message is not appropriate.

A recent League of American Bicyclists letter in response to the proposed Hillsborough County bike safety action plan also touched on the matter about how dangerous motorist behavior was left out of the equation in regard to bicycle safety. Tim, you might recall the FBA signed that LAB letter. (I believe it was Dan Moser who signed it).

I plan to bring this up to the DOT tomorrow and hope you will address this as well.


Alan Snel
FBA member
Director of SWFBUD
Co-founder, Seminole Heights Bicycle Club
Hillsborough County BPAC member

I heard back from Tim Bustos, the FBA's new executive director, and he informed me the FBA will be addressing this matter with the FDOT.

I also sent my letter to the SWFBUD bike shops. Rick Fidanzato, owner of ABC Bicycles and the Trek Bicycle Store of St. Pete, responded this way: "Thank you for catching this! This is terrible. We must understand that cars are driven by PEOPLE! It is a very negative ad campaign and will destroy any headway bicyclists have made. You are correct when you say that motorists will be empowered by this slogan. It is a very negative and auto-centric slogan. We must change all behavior, but there are significantly more people driving cars than bicycles in this area. With gas prices soaring, obesity rates still increasing, and no sign of any significant public transportation plan, bicycles will become more prevalent on the road. We still must "share the road". Without this mantra, bicycle riders will surely "lose every time".

Thank you again for your attention to these matters. Good luck this week at the conference. I am looking forward to your thoughts when you get back."

And then, there's my good bicycle advocate pal Joe Mizereck of Tallahassee, who created the "3 Feet Please" yellow bike jersey. Joe wrote to me in response to the ad campaign title, "My gut reaction is this is absolutely absurd. I hope I am missing something, but I am very concerned about the intent and theme…very concerned."

So, my hunch is that Troy at Dunn&Co. might be hearing from a few more people about "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SWFBUD Works With Rep. Cruz And Thanks Her For Sponsoring Bicycle Safety Bill

SWFBUD is proud to hear this morning that a friend of SWFBUD -- state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-58, -- is sponsoring a bicycle safety bill.

SWFBUD has worked with Rep. Cruz in the past year to further the cause of bicycling in the Tampa area. Cruz has voiced her support for a paved bicycle trail along the Bypass Canal in the Tampa area and also appeared at a memorial bike ride last Oct. 1 to memorialize the loss of bicyclist lives on the roads of Tampa Bay.

SWFBUD gave a SWFBUDDY award to Rep. Cruz at last year's Bicycle Bash and appreciates her dedication and commitment to advancing bicycling and making bicycling safer in the Tampa area.

Friday, March 18, 2011

SWFBUD Helps With Ghost Bike To Remember Robert Niedbalec

SWFBUD was proud to help install a ghost bike in the memory of Robert Niedbalec, a 52-year-old veterinarian who was killed Feb. 13 while biking in a bike lane on Fletcher Avenue near the Hillsborough River. A speeding motorist lost control of her car and struck and killed Robert, who lived in Temple Terrace.

In March, SWFBUD worked with Dan, who painted an old bicycle white for the ghost bike installation two weeks ago.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

SWFBUD Talks To Plant High School Students About Bicycling

This week, I enjoyed visiting Nereia Cormier's six AP social studies class at Plant High School and talking about the value of bicycling on behalf of SWFBUD.

Monday, March 7, 2011

SWFBUD Bike Shop Owners Attend National Bike Summit

Good luck to SWFBUD bike shop owners David Luppino of Just Ride Bicycles, Brian Eckman of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium and Randy Myhre of Oliver's Cycle Sports who are all attending the National Bike Summiot this week in Washington, DC.

The National Bike Summit draws hundreds of bicycle activists, bike shop owners, advocates, bike planners and bike industry reps to network, attend advocacy seminars and lobby their local congressmen to support bicycle legislation.

I don't give credit enough to the SWFBUD bike shop owners like David, Brian, Randy and the rest of the SWFBUD stores who go beyond the retail scene to advocate and support bicycling here in the Tampa Bay area.

When you shop at a SWFBUD store, you support advocacy because those stores' owners pay me monhtly to do what I do -- lean on local government leaders and workers to include bicycling in local plans, to put on events like the Bicycle Bash and to increase the profile of bicycling in the Tampa Bay market.

Your other SWFBUD stores are Chainwheel Drive in Clearwater and Palm Harbor, ABC Bicycles and the Trek Bicycle Store of St. Petersburg, Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole, Street Fit 360 in south Tampa, University Bicycle Center in north Tampa, the Trek Bicycle Store in Clearwater and south Tampa, and The Ironman Store in new Tampa.

Please shop in these SWFBUD bike shops and thank them for supporting bicycle advocacy.

* * *

Good to hear that my bicycle friend Ed Hillsman is OK after a motorist crossed two lanes in front of him to turn into a side street while Ed was biking east in a bike lane on Fletcher Avenue last week. Ed ended up broad-siding the car because the motorist drove so quickly across the two lanes of Fletcher in an attempt to turn into 52nd Street near the USF campus.

Ed, who bikes to and from his job at the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), was slightly hurt when his left leg went into the end point of his handlebar. But otherwise, Ed seemed OK when we chatted Saturday at the USF Amazing Race bike scavenger hunt.

Everyone, be careful and alert for motorists who don't see you. Make yourself as visible as possible and anticipate motorists making turns in front of you. Ed was looking for breaks in the traffic that allow cars to make turns in front of him, but this driver went so fast and the break was not even seen.

* * *

Gas is hitting $3.50 per gallon and I'm sure it will hit $4 soon. So, expect the bicycle commuting stories to crop up. They did the last time gas hit $4 per gallon.

* * *

Enjoy a free Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game tonight if you ride your bicycle to the Ice Palace/Forum. Game starts at 7 PM for the match between the Lightning and the Washington Capitals. It's part of Bicycle Month in Florida and catch www.tampabaycycle.com for more March bike activities.