Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Perfect Weather for Sunday's Bicycle Bash

Sunday's weather for the Bicycle Bash in downtown Tampa looks exquisite -- High of 80 degrees, sunshine and zero chance of rain! Special thanks goes to Jim James E Shirk whose work on the Bash is making this annual bicycle advocacy event possible. To my bicyclist friends in Pinellas, please come and enjoy the bike stores of SWFBUD, a short, easy bike ride with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Columbia Cafe foo
d, free bike helmets courtesy of the Hillsborough County sheriff's office, bicycle legal advice from Steele Olmstead, Cigar City beer, chats with national bike advocacy leaders like Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists, a swap meet and free raffle for free bike goodies. And don't forget the first-ever Tampa Bay Bicycle Summit the next day on Monday Nov 5 from 1-4PM at the History Center. More info here --www.bicyclebash.info

You want to turn around Tampa and make it into a bicycle town where bicycling is both safe and enjoyable? Then get involved. See you at the Bash and stop by the SWFBUD table to say hi.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Rahm Says Build Bicycle Infrastructure To Recruit High-tech Start-ups

Enjoyed chatting tonight with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who told SWFBUD that he recruits high-tech start-ups by building bicycle infrastructure in Chicago. Good advice for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bike Bash/Post-Bash/Bike Summit Sked -- Nov 4-5

Bicycle Bash Schedule

Sunday NOV 4    10 am to 4 pm  Cotanchobee Park, Old Water Street in Downtown Tampa

10 am -- Start of Bicycle Bash
10:30am -- Group stretch
11am -- Mayor Bob Buckhorn bicycle ride
12 noon -- SWFBUDDY Awards
2 pm -- Kids bikes along Riverwalk
3 pm -- Free gear raffle
4 pm -- Bike Bash ends

Activities -- swap meet, demos, Columbia Cafe food, Cigar City beer, music

Sunday NOV 4   7 pm to 9 pm   Independent Bar, 5016 Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights

Meet and greet Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists; and Tim Bustos, executive director of the Florida Bicycle association

Monday NOV 5   1 pm to 4 pm    Tampa Bay History Center   Downtown Tampa

"The Big Turnaround: Bridging the Divide to Becoming a Great Bicycle Town"


Andy Clarke, League of American Bicyclists president -- What makes a great bike town?
Rick Baker, former mayor of St. Petersburg -- Why should an elected official invest in bicycling?
Cheryl Stacks, St. Petersburg bike-ped coordinator -- How do you keep bicycle projects rolling?
Jean Duncan, Tampa transportation director -- How does Tampa turn things around?
Tim Bustos, Florida Bicycle Association executive director -- How do we bridge the hopes of advocates with the goals of public officials?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Congrats To This Year's SWFBUDDY Award Winners

One of the best things I enjoy most about the annual Bicycle Bash is giving the coveted SWFBUDDY Award to local citizens and elected officials who step up and make Tampa Bay a more bicycle-friendly place. SWFBUD is proud to announce the 2012 Class of SWFBUDDY Award winners, who will receive their SWFBUDDYs at the Bicycle Bash event on Nov 4 in downtown Tampa. Our SWFBUDDY Award winners are:

-- Cindy Roberts, wife of fallen Tampa Police Officer Cpl. Mike Roberts. Cindy rode her bike 250 miles as part of the Police Unity Tour last year and she showed how truly inspirational bicycle riding can be when she rode in the memory of her husband during the PUT.

-- Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, who has consistently supported bicycling on the city council and as a member of MPO panels. Lisa knows bicycling makes Tampa a better place to live and has used her position to support steps to improve bicycling.

-- Architect Ken Cowart and political consultant Kevin Thurman, who this year submitted a business plan to the Hillsborough County Commission that prompted the commissioners to not demolish the Friendship TrailBridge. Not only did their report stop the demolition of the beloved Friendship TrailBridge, which was used by 600,000 annual users before it was closed, but their work has resulted in Hillsborough County government now working on a request for proposal to draw bids to rebuild the Friendship TrailBridge.

-- Antiques specialist Myron Griffin and Tampa Heights community leader Lena Younghave spearheaded a central Tampa bicycle and pedestrian trail movement called the Green Artery to build a network of paths and trails connecting the green spaces of central Tampa. Their unrelenting efforts have resulted in monthly neighborhood meetings in 20 different central Tampa communities over the past two years and have prompted Mayor Bob Buckhorn to support the concept. 

SWFBUD congratulates the 2012 class of SWFBUDDY winners and looks forward to the Bicycle Bash on Nov 4 when they will be publicly recognized for their work.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Creative Loafing Continues Great Bicycle Coverage

I urge you to support businesses and political candidates that support bicycling. Creative Loafing has used its editorial space to spotlight bicycling and kudos to Mitch Perry and Julie Garisto for their coverage, including Julie's latest. Thanks CL, Mitch and Julie


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn Leads Bike Ride During Bicycle Bash Festival NOV 4

Ride with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at the 2012 SWFBUD Bicycle Bash Festival on NOV 4. The Bash is from 10 am to 4 pm and the Mayor Bob Ride will be a short ride in downtown at 11 am.

Here's Mayor Bob inviting you to the Bash:


Monday, October 1, 2012

Bicyclist Economic Spending Power

Economic power of bicycling in the U.S. thank you Darren Flusche of League of American Bicyclists

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mayor Bob Invites You To 2012 Bicycle Bash on Nov 4

Check out Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn inviting everyone to this year's Bicycle Bash Festival on NOV 4 at Cotanchobee Park:


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wanted: Bicycle Bash Volunteers

Do you want to volunteer for the SWFBUD Bicycle Bash festival on NOV 4? Please email me -- http://www.bicyclebash.info/

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SWFBUD Has Worked Hard On Bypass Canal Trail Project -- Open House Held Thursday

SWFBUD has worked for several years to get Hillsborough County to build the Bypass Canal Trail from New Tampa to State Road 60 and I was happy to hear about the open house on the project held Thursday. SWFBUD members Randy Myhre of Oliver's and J. Steele Olmstead were among those in attendance. You want a regional paved trail network? Then call and write your county commissioners. Major bicycle improvements will happen only when you get involved in the political process.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SWFBUD Reunites With Two Strong Voices For Bicycling In America At Interbike

It was great to hang with two great voices for bicycling in America at Interbike -- Ira David Levy, creator/producer of the Pedal America TV show and Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists.  Both will be at the Bicycle Bash festival on NOV 4 in downtown Tampa and Andy will be the main speaker at the SWFBUD bicycle summit on NOV 5 in Tampa to be held at the history center. County Commissioner Mark Sharpe and Hillsborough County are also working to put on the bike summit Nov 5.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wish There Was Bike Parking At The Convention Center For Demo Days

SWFBUD brought his bicycle to Las Vegas to use it as transportation around the city and also see what another sunbelt city is like for bicyclists. I am staying in downtown Vegas a block from the Fremont Street Experience and biked the four miles to the Sands Convention Center on the Strip to pick up the shuttle bus for the outdoor demo days as part of the Interbike week but sadly and surprisingly there was not a designated  bicycle parking area at the Sands for people who biked there to take the shuttle. The bike parking room will be set up for Wed-Friday when Interbike shifts to the convention center in Vegas. So I convinced security to park my bike in its makeshift headquarters room.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Construction Challenges Facing Bicyclists In Tampa Area

Another construction zone challenge for bicyclists in Tampa area. This is Bruce B. Downs Blvd. at Fowler. today Bike lane ends and bicyclist has to veer left into through lane. Recipe for a car-bicyclist crash. Notice guy on bike going wrong way in coned off area. Pretty dysfunctional stuff all the way around.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

SWFBUD Prompts Local FDOT Office To Install Bicycle Signs At I-75/Morris Bridge Road Construction Area

SWFBUD contacted the local Tampa Florida DOT office about the danger area for bicyclists in a construction zone at the I-75 ramp and Morris Bridge Road outside Tampa. SWFBUD asked several times in emails to the FDOT for bicycle signs to alert motorists and I was happy see them on Morris Bridge Road and the I=75 exit ramp.

Sentence Hearing Set for Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Bicyclist Kay 2 Years Ago

Jose Menendez offers this update on the Kay Ishizuka case: 

sentencing hearing for Shawn Lee Burton, the motorist who was charged with leaving the scene of the crash that killed Kayoko Ishizuka, is scheduled for Oct. 19th at 8 a.m. That's 2 years to the day after he was arrested.

His pre-trial hearing back on Monday morning was continued to Friday (yesterday) at 2 p.m. At that hearing, he changed his plea and asked Judge Steven Scott Stephens to sentence him, rather than proceed with the jury trial, which was scheduled to start on Tuesday, the 18th. See this Tampa Bay Timesarticle for more info.

Leaving the scene of a crash involving death is a first degree felony in Florida, so it's possible that the sentence could be for many years in prison. Burton has already spent nearly two years in jail since his arrest on Oct. 19, 2010.

The 2nd anniversary of Kay's death is coming up on Tuesday, Sept. 25th

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tampa Bypass Canal Trail Open House

How do you envision the Tampa Bypass Canal trail?

The proposed 17-mile Bypass Canal Trail running from Flatwoods Park to Adamo Drive is envisioned as a 12 foot multi-use trail connecting parks and communities. It includes over and under passes, and roadway crossings.

Please join us for a public open house!
Thursday, September 20th
anytime between
4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Park
3602 Highway 301, Tampa, Florida 33619

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bicyclist Hit By Car On Bruce B. Downs at I-75 In New Tampa

Occasionally I'll bike on Bruce B. Downs Blvd near I-75 but usually I try and avoid it because the transportation crews don';t do a good job accommodating bicyclists at road construction areas and at interchanges. Today a bicyclist was struck on Bruce B. Downs near I-75:


Bicycling's Economic Benefits

Terrific piece by Darren at the League of American Bicyclists showing economic benefits of bicycling:


Monday, September 3, 2012

Can You Say Selmon Expressway Greenway?

Wow, check out how New York made space for bicyclists and peds and other users underneath the FDR Highway on Manhattan's East Side. Why can't Tampa build a similar trail below the raised Selmon Expressway? It's been proposed, so what is Tampa waiting for? Let's build it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Gov. Scott Opts Out Of Trail Funding But FDOT Earmarks Funds For Future Trails

IMBA, the mountain bike group based in Boulder, Colo., says Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the only governor in the country to opt out of recreational trail funding but the Florida DOT has pledged to put away the $2.6 million that Scott turned down from the feds for future trail projects.


SWFBUD joined 10 other groups from around the state of Florida to urge the FDOT to continue funding trails.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Brian's Song: County Rushing Through TrailBridge Process

Brian Willis, a talented young lawyer in Tampa, put it best about the beloved Friendship TrailBridge. Here is his letter to the Tampa Tribune:

* * *

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

This perfectly describes Hillsborough County's handling of the FriendshipTrail Bridge.

When it was open, the bridge was a unique community asset used by more than 600,000 residents per year. Even though the bridge is now closed, I still see people who have hopped the barriers and are using it. If you don't have a boat, the bridge is one of the few ways you can access the waters of Tampa Bay.

After the bridge was closed because of safety concerns in 2008, the county failed to perform a comprehensive study of the bridge's condition and failed to develop any plan to save this asset. Having failed to fully study the bridge's condition for four years, the county decided the only option available was demolition.

That is when I, and many other concerned citizens, got involved.

Our first argument to the county was that a comprehensive study was needed to determine the bridge's condition before tearing it down. Once we understood the condition, a plan could be developed. If the bridge could be saved, we developed a bold vision for the project.

The county seemed to recognize that it lacked the information necessary to make a decision when it voted to stop the planned demolition. Since then, however, the county has rushed through a series of poorly-thought-out proposals.

First, we had the parks referendum, which appeared without warning and died a quick death.

Now, the county says it wants to issue a request for proposals hoping that some private company will step forward to do the county's work.

The county is rushing from a poorly-thought-out plan to demolish the bridge to a poorly-thought-out plan to save it. Both options are likely to fail.

Without accurate information about the bridge's condition, it is impossible to plan a future for it. The county should have performed a comprehensive study four years ago.

For some reason, it is still refusing to perform a comprehensive study.

If the county won't perform the study, it should give the community time to raise money to conduct the study on its own. Once we understand the bridge's condition, then can we plan a solution.

Brian Willis

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bicycling -- The Non-Partisan Endeavor

I am a proud member of the League of American Bicyclists and I enjoy readaing the League's publication called "American Bicyclist."

I love bicycling because it's as non-partisan as you can get. American Bicyclist magazine had a nice feature featuring a conservative and liberal guest writer and I wanted to offer some of the highlights in the story authored by conservative Tom Bowden.

-- Properties located near bike paths are valued up to 14 percent more than similar properties without such facilities.

-- The bicycling industry supports 1.1 million jobs and generates $17.7 billion in tax revenues each year.

-- Each year we incur $166 billion on health care costs associated with traffic injuries and deaths -- caused by cars.

-- Replacing short vehicle trips with utility cycling can cut into the $56 billion per year in health care costs.

-- Cycling can help reduce dependence on foreign oil. A huge chunk of all petroleum fuels go to car transportation. Only 15 percent is related to getting to work, while 90 percent of all trips are less than two miles.

Never Alone On A Bicycle

Never alone on a bicycle.

If there are no other bicyclists with me when I ride my bicycle, I am never alone. I ride a route to Flatwoods Park outside Tampa that includes people who live along the circuit who I see every day.
They are part of my ride just like the person pedaling with me.

There's the guy at the furniture retoration shop on 40th Street who yells out "Hi-yo silver!" when I pass.

There are the waves and smiles of the lawn care guys edging the sidewalk on McKinley outside Busch Gardens.

And there's the friendly toot of the horn by The Grizz -- a county Flatwoods park worker -- when he he sees me pedaling Morris Bridge Road.

Making connections along the bicycle ride. It's one reason why I ride a bicycle and leave the car in the garage.

Monday, August 6, 2012

SWFBUD Participates In Fla DOT Rap Session On Cars Crashing Into Bicyclists and Peds

During today's opening comments at the Fla DOT bike-ped discussion, the FDOT secretary for the Tampa Bay area, Don Skelton, said the high number of cars crashing into pedestrians and bicyclists is a problem. So for 3 1/3 hours DOT staff from Tally met DOT staff in the Tampa Bay area and a whole bunch of other agency reps to talk bike and pedestrian safety solutions. I hope more bicyclist/motorist education; better engineered roads and beefed-up enforcement/court action follow.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

SWFBUD Shops In St. Petersburg Help Bike Ride To Hands Across the Sand Event

Thank you SWFBUD shops ABC Bicycles and Trek Store of St. Petersburg for heloing in today's hands Across the Sand Bike Ride to St. Pete Beach.

We had nearly 25 cyclists bike on Central Avenue through Treasure Island and down Gulf Blvd. to St. Pete Beach for the event to protect our gorgeous and valuable Gulf waters.

Mechanics from both shops rode with us and thank you Rick Fidanzato of ABC and Trek of St. Pete for lending the manpower!

More pics here: http://alansnel.blogspot.com/2012/08/using-bicycle-energy-to-reach-hands.html

Friday, August 3, 2012

Attend Monday's FDOT Bike-Ped Council Roundtable Discussion

Get involved! Attend a Florida DOT bicycle-pedestrian roundtable discussion in Tampa on Monday from 8am-12 noon at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the USF campus in Tampa.

I will advising the DOT bike-ped council that our state of Florida needs to INCREASE spending on bike-ped projects even though the federal Transportation Bill that passed recently reduces bike-ped spending from $1.2 billion to $800 million. The bill also gives states more leeway on how to spend federal money and the states can potentially divert money away from bike-ped projects. Advise the FDOT council Monday to NOT do that and spend more money on bike-ped projects.

The Sierra Club is also signing people up for the Monday meeting:


Thursday, August 2, 2012

SWFBUD Welcomes Hillsborough County Commissioners Vote To Move Ahead With Trail Project

Score another big win for SWFBUD today.

I welcomed today's Hillsborough County Commission's 7-0 vote today to move ahead with a Upper Tampa Bay-Suncoast connector trail project through water district land in north Hillsborough after a neighboring landowner in north County tried to pressure the commissioners to move the alignment.

Such a move would cost $200,000 in a new study, jeopardize $1.4 million in DOT funding and put the project 1-2 years behind schedule.

I testified before the county commissioners that we need to move ahead with connecting the two regional trails to create the longest continuous trail in the state of Florida.

SWFBUD thanks Commissioners Mark Sharpe, Kevin Beckner and Ken Hagan who led the charge and were firmly behind this trail project in the SWFMUD water district land.

Bicycle Bash Kick-off Party Coverage

Nice coverage of the Bicycle Bash kickoff party this week for the Bike Bash, which is happening NOV 4 in downtown Tampa.

Mitch Perry's story in Creative Loafing: http://cltampa.com/dailyloaf/archives/2012/08/01/city-and-county-officials-come-out-for-bike-bash-festival-announcement-in-tampa

David Rice story on patch.com: http://seminoleheights.patch.com/articles/bicycle-bash-announcement-party-brings-together-cycling-community

Patch.com blog: http://seminoleheights.patch.com/blog_posts/swfbud-bicycle-bask-kick-off-party-at-swfbud-shop-velo-champ-brings-officials-and-bicyclists-together?ncid=newsltuspatc00000001

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

SWFBUD Happy To Encourage David Sandmann To Make A Difference In Largo

David Sandmann is your friendly everyday kinda guy who works IT at the University of Tampa, rides a bicycle and lives in Largo. He also wanted to make a difference for bicyclists, so he gathered up his courage to speak before the Largo city council a few months ago, asked them to put Share the Road, Give 3 Feet decals on Largo city cars and enjoyed hearing eventually that Largo police would indeed put the decals on the cars. The Florida DOT furnished the Share the Road decals, which are smaller than the ones placed on the rear windows of the Tampa police cruisers but still a great message.
So David made a difference. The big dude who rides a Trek road bicycle stepped and spoke out for bicyclists with the Share the Road decals on Large police cars. This morning I biked through the rain of Tampa, across the Courtney Campbell Causeway and met up with David at Largo Police and also with lawyer Jim Dodson who was also involved in the police decal program in Largo. I was happy to work with David to encourage him to make a difference. And here's my message -- you can do the same. Do you have a bicycle issue to address? Step up, speak out and come up with an option to fix it -- and then tell it to the governing boards and officials who can make a difference in your town.
David Sandmann did. You can, too.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Largo Police Cars Get Share the Road Stickers

Remember J. Steele Olmstead, a SWFBUD member lawyer who donated $2,000 to Tampa Police to place Share the Road Give 3 feet decals for Tampa police cruiser rear windows?

Well, Largo Police are joining the Share the Road sticker crowd.


At 9:30 am Wednesday, the Largo Police Department's Traffic Safety Team will advertise their support and enforcement of Florida Statutes designed to increase bicycle safety on the roadways. On Wednesday, "Share the Road, it's the Law" stickers will be placed on the rear window of every police cruiser to support awareness that motor vehicle operators should understand the laws as they pertain to the right of way of bicyclists.

The sticker displays a car and bicycle with an arrow between the two. The arrow indicates that 3 feet should be maintained between the motor vehicle and bicyclists. The awareness program was sponsored by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. embers of the media are invited to attend the program initiation at 9:30 am on Wednesday.

SWFBUD Celebrates Moving The Bicycle Bash Into Downtown Tampa Nov 4

Friday, July 27, 2012

SWFBUD Welcomes Signs In Temple Terrace

Way to go city of Temple Terrrace. Love the "May Use Full Lane" sign -- and the Share the Road sign -- that popped up on 56th Street near Fowler Avenue. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tampa Ranks NINTH In Its Bike-Commuting Rate

Tampa is one of the most fascinating bicycle towns in the U.S. Tampa gets hammered for its non-friendly bicycle streets, yet the city ranked NINTH in the country in its bike commuting rate in 2010 out of the 70 biggest cities.

That according to the League of American Bicyclists and Darren Flusche, the League's master stats guy who analyed the 2010 census data.

There's more. Check out this amazing stat: Tampa's increase in bike-commuting in 2010 from 2009 soared by a whopping 121 percent.

Here's the Top 10 bike-commuting cities (out of the 70 biggest cities in the country) for 2010:

1. Portland 5.8 percent of commuters use a bicycle
2. Seattle 3.6
3. SF 3.5
4. Minneapolis 3.5
5. Washington, DC 3.1
6. Tucson, Ariz. 3.0
7. Sacramento 2.5
8. Denver 2.2
9. TAMPA 1.9
10. Philly 1.8

Tampa's place as a TOP 10 bike-commuting city is stunning when you realize the League did not award the city a "bicycle friendly community" award like it did the other nine in the Top 10.

Tampa's bike-commuting rate is higher than noted bicycle towns such as Austin, Tex. and Chicago.

Portland is a Platinum winner, Seattle, SF and Minneapolis are Gold winners. Wash DC got silver, Tucson got gold and Sacramento got silver. Denver got bronze.

Tampa? Zippo, even though Tampa had a higher bike-commuting rate than noted bicycle towns such as Austin, Tex. and Chicago.

Hard to blame the League for not recognizing Tampa as a bike-friendly town when ex-Mayor Pam Iorio actually removed a planned bike lane from a local city street.

But Tampa is improving and I applaud terrific road improvements for bicyclists on 40th Street, Nebraska Avenue, Noth Boulevard and sharrows and more bike lanes showing up on local streets like Swann Avenue.

The bad news is that Tampa also got left out in the cold in Bicycling Magazine's Top 50 bike towns. Orlando was 34, New Orleans was 43, Orlando was 49 and Tulsa, OK came in at 50. Tampa was shut out.

SWFBUD is trying to help. We are moving the Bicycle Bash Festival into downtown Tampa on NOV 4. Come to a Bash Announcement Party next Tuesday on July 31 at 7 PM at Velo Champ bike shop when we talk about the move to downtown Tampa and have local elected leaders and agency officials on hand.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

North Hillsborough Landowner Tries To Change Upper Tampa Bay Trail Connector Trail On Public Land

For years, Hillsborough County has been planning to connect the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and the Suncoast Trail. One section of this connector trail runs through the swiftmud water district land. But an eye doctor with Ironman ties -- Dr. Gills -- is pressuring county commissioners to get staff to move the trail inside the water district lands because he said the trail is too close to his property in north Hillsborough County.
SWFBUD feels strongly that the county commissioners need to advise Dr. Gills that this project has been in the works for year and that it's inappropriate to change the trail alignment now. Plus, it would means thousands of dollars of more costs -- or possibly even losing funding -- and changing the trail route in the water district land would mean it would delay the project by a year or two.

PLEASE WRITE YOUR HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY COMMISSIONERS and use this sample letter as your guide.
Dear County Commissioners,

It has come to my attention that a private landowner in north Hillsborough County who is an eye doctor and has connections to the Ironman event, Dr. Gills, has contacted you regarding the alignment of the connector trail on public Swiftmud water district land that is part of the project to link the Upper Tampa Bay Trail with the Suncoast Trail. This connector trail project has been in the works for many years and is ranked as the top regional trail priority.

I have been informed that this property owner is seeking to influence Hillsborough County -- just months away from starting connector trail construction and after years of planning -- to change the alignment of the trail inside the water district lands owned by the public. I understand he has met with some of you with his lawyer.

SWFBUD and the thousands of bicyclists in Hillsborough County and Tampa Bay that we represent through our bike shops are asking you to please respectfully inform this landowner that it is inappropriate to alter the route of this trail in a public right-of-way on public land at the eleventh hour.

I understand that any change to the route of the trail in the Swiftmud land would cost tens of thousands of dollars in new expenses for the public and potentially even jeopardize funding, Plus, changing the trail route through the public water district land in this late hour would delay the project by a year or two.

Please inform this landowner that public amenities such as trails INCREASE property values of neighboring properties, will be a major benefit for the public that you serve and that Hillsborough County needs to proceed with this particular trail section on public water district lands as soon as possible.


Alan Snel
SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Building A Highway For Bicyclists

SWFBUD has been urging our local governments to build a "highway" system for bicyclists in Tampa Bay.

It's what our BAM (Bicycle Area Mobility) system is all about.

Here's how it's done:

Tell Hillsborough Commissioners To Place Parks/Trails Referendum On November's Ballot

In three months you've done what no one expected: You stopped demolition of the Friendship Trail Bridge and helped show everyone that there is community support for a better Tampa Bay.

You convinced Hillsborough County to have a vision beyond demolition. At every meeting, in every email, and every conversation they heard your voice.

Now Hillsborough County is already considering taking a giant leap further. In the next couple weeks the county commission will be discussing a plan that would invest over $80 million in parks, trails, and recreation activities across the county. They would put these investments into a referendum and up to a vote on the November Ballot in Hillsborough County.

Your voice has made a difference before and we need you to use it again.

The county is holding a public hearing on the budget tomorrow evening and we need to show support for the Bridge, and trails and parks across the county.

Here are the details:

Thursday, July 19
6:00 PM
County Center, 2nd Floor
601 E. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL

For those of you who couldn't make the morning meetings, here is your chance to show your support . For those that have helped before, we need your voice to be loud and clear again.

Every one of the Commissioners has told us how influential the emails and phone calls have been in convincing them to support our vision.

There are still some that think the Bridge isn't worth saving, parks aren't worth improving, and trails aren't worth building -- we can't let them be the only voices.Any possible referendum could transform the Bridge, but more importantly it will be a statement that we support a better vision for our community. A vision for our county that is more livable, more attractive to new residents, and a better place to start a business and raise a family.

Each person that has joined our effort so far has shared that vision. We want to let the commissioners know that they should keep looking to invest in our future. If the emails and phone calls stop now, the county will go back to ignoring us.

The county process is moving fast, because you have shown your support for the Bridge. Your continued phone calls and emails are essential to maintain our momentum.

Over the next six months we will be raising money and organizing to conduct a study to find the cheapest and best way to transform the Bridge into a linear park. Even if you can't make the meeting tomorrow, we need your help by volunteering to be on one of our committees -- just reply to this email to find out more information. We will get back to you quickly about what you can do to help.

This is a pure grassroots campaign -- and every little thing you can do will help us make this dream a reality.


The Friendship Trail Bridge Team

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Numbers Do All The Talking

Photo courtesy of Interbike. SWFBUD will be there in September.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thank A SWFBUD Bike Shop And Lawyer

If you believe SWFBUD has been a strong voice for bicyclists in Tampa Bay and have increased the profile of bicycling in our area, then thank a SWFBUD bike shop or SWFBUD lawyer.

Ten SWFBUD bicycle stores and three bicyclist-lawyers pay me every month to represent their collective voices to show our elected leaders and government agency officials that bicycling needs to be valued as an essential part of our community.

We hold the annual Bicycle Bash Festival to celebrate bicycling in Tampa Bay, attend dozens and dozens of meetings to make sure bicyclists' voices are heard and work behind the scenes to write emails from everything from asking the DOT to clear debris from the Gandy Bridge shoulder to asking Tampa officials to hold a ciclovia event in conjunction with this year's NOV 4 Bicycle Bash in downtown Tampa.

These ten bicycle stores and three lawyers make it financially feasible for me to lobby our local officials to improve bicycling and organize events such as the Bicycle Bash. Please do your bicycle business with these ten shops and three lawyers:

-- ABC Bicycles in St. Petersburg

-- Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium

-- Oliver's Cycle Sports in New Tampa

-- Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole

-- Chainwheel Drive in Clearwater and Palm Harbor

-- Trek Store in South Tampa and Clearwater

-- Street Fit 360 in South Tampa

-- University Bicycle Center in north Tampa

-- Velo Champ in Seminole Heights

-- Trek Store of St. Petersburg

-- Tom Singletary in Tampa

-- J. Steele Olmstead in Tampa

-- Mark Roman Law Group of Clearwater.

These folks pay the freight to allow me to do bicycle advocacy on your behalf. Please take the time to thank these folks by doing business with them.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tell A Florida DOT Committee To Continue Funding As Many Bike/Ped Projects As Possible In Wake Of The Recent Transportation Bill

Florida’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Focused Initiative Round Table Discussion

August 6, 2012 8:00 am – 12:00 noon
District 7 Tampa - USF Center for Urban Transportation Research

August 6, 2012 1:00 – 5:00 pm
District 1 Bartow – D1 Headquarters, Auditorium

August 7, 2012 1:00 – 5:00 pm
District 6 Miami – D6 Headquarters, Auditorium

August 8, 2012 1:00 – 5:00 pm
District 4 Ft. Lauderdale – D4 Headquarters, Auditorium

August 9, 2012 1:00 – 5:00 pm
District 5 Deland – D5 Headquarters

August 10, 2012 1:00 – 5:00 pm
District 2 Jacksonville Offices

The recently amended federal Transportation Bill hurt bicyclists because it will allow local DOT district offices to divert money that was previously spent on bike/ped projects to be spent on highways. That's bad for bicyclists we need as much bike infrastructure spending as possible, especially here in the Tampa Bay region.

But here are forums to tell a Florida statewide DOT committee that the Florida DOT must continue investing as much money as it can on bicycle infrastructure.

The Tampa Bay meeting will be AUG 6 from 8 am to 12 noon at the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research at the USF Tampa campus.

Friday, July 6, 2012

SWFBUD Bicycle Bash Will Be In Downtown Tampa NOV 4

I am happy to announce that SWFBUD is moving our annual Bicycle Bash Festival into downtown Tampa, with the city of Tampa our co-sponsor and ISM Saddles our presenting sponsor. It will be NOV 4 from 10 am to 4 pm at Cotanchobee Park next to the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Polar Bottle and American Traffic Solutions are other Bicycle Bash sponsors. Many more details to follow. If you want to be a vendor at the Bicycle Bash, please email me at alansnel@yahoo.com.

Friday, June 29, 2012

SWFBUD To Hold 2012 Bicycle Bash In Downtown Tampa Nov 4

There's a new NEW Tampa -- one where people love to ride all types of bicycles. I saw it tonight when some 80 or so bicyclists pedaling everything from hybrids, road bikes and fixies to an adult trike and mountain bikes met in downtown Tampa and then drove their bikes through downtown, Harbor Island and Ybor City. The fact is Tampa is changing and more bicycles are hitting the road.

This is as go...od a time as any to inform everyone that SWFBUD is moving our Bicycle Bash Festival into downtown Tampa on NOV 4 and the city of Tampa is a co-sponsor. The Bicycle Bash also has a new presenting sponsor -- ISM Saddles. More details to come and we will be having a Bicycle Bash Announcement Party next month at a SWFBUD bike shop. Stay tuned for details.

Here are some pics from tonight's ride: http://alansnel.blogspot.com/2012/06/real-new-tampa-were-growing-bike-town.html

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Top 10 Reasons Why Congress Must Support Bicycling In The Federal Transportation Bill

From the League of American Bicyclists:

As members of Congress enter the critical stages of negotiations on a federal transportation bill, the League of American Bicyclists releases the following statement from League President, Andy Clarke.

For the past 20 years, local elected officials have had access to state transportation funds through a handful of federal programs for bicycling and walking initiatives: Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails. They account for just 1.5 percent of the overall federal transportation bill and have all been heavily over-subscribed since their creation.

Despite the overwhelming success and popularity of these programs, House Republican leadership and a handful of influential Senators have waged an unexplained and inexplicable vendetta against these programs -- not to save the government any money, just to prevent state or local governments spending their money on these specific programs and activities, removing any vestige of local control over transportation investments.

Here are our top ten reasons why members of Congress must reject these small-minded and vindictive attacks.

- A recent national survey found overwhelming bipartisan support among the American public: 83 percent of respondents support continued or increased federal funding for bicycling and walking programs.

- More than 70 national organizations -- from the NAACP to the AARP -- have united to urge Congress to preserve control over biking and walking projects in the federal transportation bill.

- Transportation investment in bicycling, pedestrian and trail projects are more effective in creating jobs, per dollar spent, than traditional road projects.

- From 2001 to 2010, more than 50,000 pedestrians were killed because our roads remain unsafe for the most vulnerable users: people who walk.

- Bicycling reduces traffic jams: Even a 1.2 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled in 2011 resulted in 30 percent reduction in congestion in our major metro areas.

- A small investment makes a big difference: In cities that have invested in bicycling programs there has been a 77% increase in bicycle commuting since 2000.

- Small-scale projects to improve the safety, functionality and operation of highway system for all users are popular, successful, and get done quickly. Mega-highway projects with will still take years to get built even through a streamlined process.

- There are so many benefits beyond transportation to investing in more walkable, bike-friendly communities. Highway agencies may not care about health or livability but the American public does.

- Biking and walking improve military readiness: The U.S. military is so concerned about the general lack of physical fitness among kids that they are big supporters of the Safe Routes to School program.

- Bicycling and walking make up 12% of all the trips that are made by Americans; 14% of traffic fatalities are bicyclists or pedestrians; but only 1.5% of federal transportation funds address these issues.

Bicyclists Pedal to BOCC Meeting To Stop Demolition of the TrailBridge

 It was very cool to see all the bicyclists who pedaled to Wednesday's Hillsborough County Commission meeting, where the commissioners voted to delay the demolition of the treasured Friendship TrailBridge.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SWFBUD Shop ABC Bicycles Holds Women's Bicycle Program In St. Petersburg

Your SWFBUD bike shops are always doing good deeds whether it's Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium holding free monthly safety classes or Bicycle Outfitters holding a holiday bike ride for a hospice cause. Tonight I was happy to talk about SWFBUD at ABC Bicycles' special women's bicycle program in St. Petersburg. Here's ABC Bicycles owner Rick Fidanzato at the start of the evening's festivities.

Now It's Time For Everyone To Get Involved To Restore a New Friendship TrailBridge

YouiD itSW, We won today!
You did it. Thanks to your work we won our vote to delaying demolishing the bridge. This isn’t just about the bridge; we’ve shown everyone in the area that when you come together and put forth a vision -- you can do anything. Even build a bridge.
For weeks we’ve been telling you about the vote at Hillsborough County Commissioners and we’ve reverse the course toward demolition that we have been on for four years. Commissioners Beckner, Sharpe and Crist took the lead and the vote ended up being unanimous.
Why did they reverse course? You convinced them. The county released a statement today saying they delayed the demolition after “Commissioners’ offices received hundreds of calls and emails from citizens wanting to save the Bridge.”
Your calls, your emails, and your work won this vote today. But our victory today is just the beginning.
Our next task is to complete a full inspection and engineering study of the Friendship Trail Bridge. We are going to be evaluating several engineering options and funding methods.
How we won today is how we will get over the next hurdle -- with your help.
We are now accepting donations thanks to the help of our partner Creative Tampa Bay.
Many people counted you out over the last 90 days. They called us “dreamers” and claimed the decision was already made. But you proved them wrong. We can’t stop now.
All these donations will add up together to help us reach our initial goal of $100,000 to start our study.
Also, we are having a meeting on Monday at 6PM for everyone to get involved. It will be in Tampa at the AIA headquarters. We will set up committees to work on Public Relations, Community Outreach, Fundraising, Events, and more. We will to need your help no matter what you can afford to give today.
Thank you again. You saved the bridge today -- tomorrow you will help us transform it into a linear park over the bay.
We can’t wait to join you for a walk, run or ride on the bridge again someday.
Friendship Trail Bridge Team

SWFBUD Helps Save the Friendship TrailBridge At Hillsborough Commission Meeting Today

SWFBUD is proud to be part of a group of professionals in Tampa Bay that saved the Friendship TrailBrudge this morning when we convinced the Hillsborough County Commissioners to vote 7-0 to NOT demolish the beloved FTB and instead give us time to conduct a feasibility study. Kudos to everyone who spoke led by group leaders Ken Cowart and Kevin Thurman and a band of FTB supporters who told the commissioners to save the FTB. The county is also planning a parks and recreation ballot initiative for November, which will include a new FTB. Thank you commissioners Mark Sharpe, Kevin Beckner and Victor Crist who were firmly behind the FTB. Beckner pointed out there were too many unanswered questions before there could be a FTB demolition.

SWFBUD was also proud to speak out today at the meeting to say a new and improved FTB would be part of an economic development program to make Tampa Bay more competetive and be part of our BAM multi-trail system. It was cool to see people attend today's ,eeting wearing the SWFBUD BAM T-shirts. SWFBUD is proud to work with Ken, Kevin and Julia and everyone else who helped save this amazing resource.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hillsborough County Budget Proposes Money Option To Save Friendship TrailBridge

SWFBUD was happy to hear tonight that Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times wrote in his county budget story that Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill includes $27.5 million in the proposed county budget to rehab the Friendship TrailBridge into a linear park above the Bay. Merrill, as you will read below, includes the money as an option.

We still need you to attend Wednesday's county commission meeting to advise the county commissioners to save the closed TrailBridge.

SWFBUD has lobbied hard to advise our local governments in the Tampa Bay area to build bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Obviously, we are pleased Merrill's budget includes the funding option to save the FTB.

Here is a section of Varian's story that focuses on the FTB:

(Merrill) also presents the option of asking voters to approve a slight property tax increase that would be dedicated to parks and recreational centers. It would function similarly to the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program.

The county would take on debt to pay for a number of building projects, using proceeds from the tax to pay it over 10 years.

Included on the list of projects is $27.5 million to preserve the Friendship Trail Bridge, a former span of the Gandy Bridge, and converting it into an over-the-water linear park.

Merrill said he has heard enough positive feedback from commissioners to bring forward the new tax proposal. But it was unclear late Friday if the enthusiasm will wane once the proposal gets publicized. The 0.15-mill tax would cost the owner of a house valued at $165,000 about $25 a year.

"It is something that gives the voters an option to give either a thumbs-up or thumbs-down," Merrill said.

He said the county has all summer to get public feedback, not having to approve a referendum for the November ballot until September.

Complete Varian story: http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/proposed-hillsborough-county-budget-includes-raises-for-some-workers-no/1236812

Federal Funds To Pay For Tampa Riverwalk and Selmon Greenway

As you know, SWFBUD has been pushing its BAM Network proposal, which stands for Bicycle Area Mobility. It includes building three major paved trails to create a bicycle highway system in the Tampa-Hillsborough area. It was great to hear that the US Dept of Transportation will award a TIGER grant for the Riverwalk and Selmon Greenway projects in Tampa. The Selmon Greenway is one of the three major trails along wioth the Tampa Bypass Canal Trail and the South Coast Greenway:

TIGER funds will be used to support bicycle and pedestrian transportation connections downtown. This project will complete the remaining sections of the 2.6 mile Tampa Riverwalk and construct the 1.7-mile Selmon Greenway. This project completes 12 years of planning by providing a 2.4 mile multimodal transportation loop in downtown Tampa. This project is supported by both public and private entities, including a non-profit created specifically for capital fundraising.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

SWFBUD Visits St. Pete Bike Club To Discuss Friendship TrailBridge

SWFBUD joined Ken Cowart (left) this morning to tell the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club about the Florida TrailBridge plan to rehab the closed bike/ped bridge that connects Tampa and St. Petersburg. Julia Gorzka Freeman also joined us.

It was great to see John Sinibaldi of St. Pete and also Boston Bill at the gathering, which included several dozen St. Pete cyclists.

We need everyone to attend a Hillsborough County Commission meeting on June 27 to tell the commissioners to NOT demolish the FTB and instead accept the plan's first goal to conduct a feasibility study during an eight-month period.  After meeting the St. Pete Bike Club, SWFBUD biked back to Tampa on the shoulder of the current Gandy Bridge and saw these other three road cyclists. The shoulder might be OK for road cyclists but the vast majority of people who ride bicycles are casual bike users who would never bike this shoulder. That's why we need a rehabbed FTB to replace the current bike/ped bridge.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Speakers Attend Hillsborough County Commission Meeting To Support the Friendship TrailBridge Plan This Morning

I represented SWFBUD and our 10 retail bike shops that have thousands of bicyclist customers before the Hillsborough County Commission this morning to support an effort to overhaul the closed Friendship TrailBridge and make it into a world-class linear pedestrian-bicycle park above the Bay linking Tampa and St. Petersburg. I was happy to speak in front of the Hillsborough commissioners to show SWFBUD's support for this project. We wanted to show support for this plan in front of the county commissioners, who will vote on the FTB rehab proposal on June 27.
I was joined by more than a half-dozen speakers such as Ben Ritter of the Florida Gulf Coast Paralyzed Veterans of America (above), Ken Cowart below who spoke and then listened to County Commissioner Victor Crist praise the FTB report (immediate below), Seminole Heights resident Susan Long who explained that her kids left Tampa because the region needs amenities such as the Friendship TrailBridge and Seminole Heights bicyclist Margaret Shepherd, wlo listened below to Ken Cowart address the commission.

W e also had other speakers including plan co-author Kevin Thurmon and bridge advocate Neil Constentino, while Hillsborough-Tampa Bicycle Pedestrian Chairman Jim Shirk and Jordan Miller of Velo Champ bicycle shop in Seminole Heights also attended. I submitted a BPAC letter signed by chairman Shirk backing the FTB project.    

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thief Breaks Into SWFBUD Store Velo Champ, Steals Road Bike

Jordan Miller of SWFBUD bike shop Velo Champ reports that someone broke into the store and stole a road bike. Here is Jordan's message:
To our friends, customers, neighbors and the bay area cycling community. Our shop was broken into last night (Sunday 06/03/2012) at approximately 11:00pm. The front door was kicked in, and a Cinelli Experience road bike was stolen.

Our great neighbors identified the thief heading South on Central leaving the shop. We have detailed camera footage and some positive forensic evidence to help in catching this person.

If there is anyone with information regarding the incident, we look forward to hearing from you. In addition, if you see the bike, please notify law enforcement and/or call us ( 813-374-2424 ). We are thankful that we have such careful neighbors, and hope with fingerprints and some video detail we catch this person.

Support Your Local.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Update On Friendship TrailBridge Draft Plan and County Commission Meeting

From Ken Cowart, one of the authors of the draft plan to rehab the closed Friendship TrailBridge:

"I know it appears that we've been silent for the last few days, but rest assured there has been plenty of great "behind the scenes" action taking place. First and most important, Hillsborough County BOCC has once again moved t...he vote. It is now on the June 27th agenda. BUT WAIT! We still plan on having a showing of support on June 6th. It is very likely that our plan will be discussed on the 6th, so we still need everyone to attend in support. There will be a short volunteer meeting on June 5th in the evening to give everyone an update on our plan. Look for a FB event posted shortly with the information.

Thanks for your support and please tell your friends to sign up at our website www.friendshiptrailbridge.com "

Bike Lanes Are Good -- Protected Bike Lanes Are Nicer

Nice video on protected bicycle lanes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFzhYB0GEL4&feature=youtu.be

Driver Who Killed Bicyclist On Sanibel Causeway Faces No Criminal Charges

One year ago a bicyclist by the name of Tracey Kleinpell was killed on the Sanibel Causeway while biking on the shoulder. On May 17, the new broke that the State Attorney's Office would not bring criminal charges against the driver. In response, bicycle community leader Dan Moser wrote this commentary for the local newspaper:

First, there’s shock, which turns to sadness. Now, there’s outrage and the need to act.

The facts are simple: On May7, 2011, while driving across the Sanibel Causeway, Theresa Shirley veered across oncoming traffic and struck Tracey Kleinpell, who was riding her bicycle along the shoulder. Kleinpell died at the scene. Shirley walked away – and apparently will now walk away again without taking any responsibility for her actions.

So we ask: What happened to the investigation into this homicide? Why wasn't all the evidence gathered and appropriately analyzed?
Why did it take the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) more than a year to bring this investigation to a close?
· IIs FHP capable of properly investigating any fatality involving a bicyclist or a pedestrian? The local pattern indicates cyclists and pedestrians are second-class citizens when it comes to roadway safety.
How was so little evidence collected by FHP that the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) felt it was left with few legal options to seek punishment for Shirley?
Was “failure to drive within a single lane” the best legal option left? Really? Even if the FHP botched the investigation, prosecutorial discretion allows the SAO to aggressively pursue criminal acts if the situation warrants – and we think it does.
Look at the cocktail of prescription drugs (muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety meds and narcotic pain pills) found in Shirley’s bloodstream, any one of which carries a clear warning to “use caution when operating a car." Didn’t authorities deem that to be “reckless” behavior or “driving under the influence”?
Finally, where’s the justice? How can one person take the life of another, in a case where the fault is crystal clear, and the killer walks away with minimal consequences?

We don’t have answers, but we do have suggestions on what needs to happen next:

First, we call on Gov. Scott to launch an investigation into the FHP’s handling of this case and a broader look into FHP’s investigative practices into bicycle/pedestrian fatalities. The troubling pattern of disregard for the rights of the most vulnerable road users warrants a closer look.

Second, we call on the FHP to recuse itself from any investigation into bicycle and pedestrian traffic homicides until this inquiry is complete and any recommended changes can be implemented, allowing local law enforcement agencies to handle these cases in the interim.

Third, we recommend Gov. Scott and the Legislature undertake a comprehensive study into the safety of the state’s transportation system for vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists).

Fourth, the SAO needs to charge Shirley commensurate with the seriousness of the crime, not let her off for killing another person.

Fifth, if there’s a legal gap here that allowed Shirley to fall through the cracks, we need to hear about it from the SAO and FHP. While we think there are laws in place that could have been applied here, if a new law is needed to ensure justice, tell us.

Finally, we encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to keep the faith. Cycling and walking are still safe pursuits and a vast majority of motorists do drive responsibly and are willing to share the road.

What can you do? Tell Gov. Scott to investigate FHP’s handling of this case and support a safety study of Florida's roads. Tell FHP (fhp@flhsmv.gov) to recuse itself from bicycle and pedestrian traffic homicide investigations. Tell the SAO to bring criminal charges in this case (stateattorney@sao.cjis20.org ).

We can’t stress enough the importance of fair and thorough enforcement of traffic laws to keep our roadways safe. When laws are enforced, they are obeyed; conversely, when enforcement is lax or inconsistent, more road users cut corners, engage in dangerous behavior and put themselves and fellow users at risk.

Dan Moser is on the steering committee for BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County. A more detailedBikeWalkLee statement on this issue is available online at www.bikewalklee.com.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bicyclist Killed In St. Petersburg This Morning

Another bicyclist is killed in the Tampa Bay area. This time it was in St. Petersburg this morning. The Tampa Bay Times offers this very short brief: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/bicyclist-killed-in-st-petersburg-traffic-crash/1232530

SWFBUD Likes Special Bike Parking For June 6 Hillsborough Commission Meeting on TrailBridge

Jim Shirk, the czar of the bicycle parking, will be setting up a special beefed-up bicycle parking area at the Hillsborough County Commission meeting on June 6. Bike on over to the meeting in downtown Tampa at Kennedy and Morgan -- it's the easiest way to get there and the parking is the closest and the least expensive (free).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SWFBUD Likes Times Column Supporting FTB Renewal

SWFBUD is proud to be part of a group of professionals trying to put the brakes on demolishing the iconic Friendship TrailBridge and convince Hillsborough County Commissioners to accept and approve a business plan submitted more than a month ago to rebuild the FTB into a world-class linear park above the bay.

Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times is buying in: http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/a-grand-plan-for-the-gandy-bridges-comeback/1232130

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tell Commissioner Beckner To Back Bicycling In Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner will be at the Seminole Heights Library from 11 am to 1 pm today. Go to the libe on Central Avenue at the Osborne corner and advise Comissioner Beckner that you want him to support the Bicycle Area Mobility (BAM) Network and the Friendship TrailBridge plan. Tell him people want improved bicycle resources in Hillsborough County.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FTB Update -- Meetings With Hillsborough Public Works

SWFBUD provides this Friendship TrailBridge Update:

 The FTB group has meetings scheduled with the Hillsborough County Public Works Dept. on Friday and next Thursday to go over their comments and make adjustments to the draft plan based on their feedback and the feedback we've gotten from supporters over the last few weeks.

We will be releasing a second draft of the plan next week as part of that plan that will highlight other engineering options for transformation and widening the trail on the bridge.

Remember June 6 -- we need to pack that Hillsborough County Commission meeting room. They need to hear from you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

SWFBUD Appears On Bay News 9 To Spread The Friendship TrailBridge Gospel

It was terrific to meet Bay News 9 anchor/bicyclist Al Ruechel and discuss the Friendship TrailBridge draft plan that SWFBUD supports to transform the closed FTB into a world-class linear park above the Bay.

Al is a huge bicyclist himself, so he easily related to the need to have more safe and pleasant places to ride your bicycle in the Tampa Bay area. I urge everyone to read the draft plan here: http://friendshiptrailbridge.com/plan Also, circle June 6 because that's when we need your support at a Hillsborough County Commission meeting to get at least four of the seven commissioneres to approve an initial eight-month period to conduct a feasibility study. We hope to raise $250,000-$300,000 to pay fo the feasibility report.

Friendship TrailBridge Report Author Addresses Story Errors

The Tampa Bay Times published a story on the Friendship TrailBridge today that was so one-sided and riddled with errors that I am not going to post it here, In the story's comments section, one of the FTB report authors -- Tampa architect Ken Cowart -- addressed all the issues and I am posting Ken's comments here. The Times story did not even contact Ken or fellow report author Kevin Thurmon.

Ken's comments:

1. Our plan can be downloaded and viewed by anyone at friendshiptrailbridge dot com, it is a comprehensive 70 page plan an 200 page appendix with all the facts, history and data.

2. In our plan we are not requesting any additional monies from either county, only the funds already allocated for demolition.

3. The bridge was not closed for vehicular use in 1995 due to structural issues, it was shut down due to the new span constructed.

4. In 2008 when structural issues were discovered they were limited to the girders on the low span approaches. This is why our plan involves the immediate demolition of these portions.

5. Contrary to the article, our plan includes monies for the repair of the pilings, we simply disagree with staff that every single piling must be repaired on day one, especially the pilings that are in good condition. We will repair every piling during the first 10 years of operation. Which is more than most bridges in Pinellas.

6. Engineers did NOT look at the bridge again in 2010. They simply performed a peer review of the previous report. The price tag of $48 million was flat out rejected at the time because it suggested an inappropraite repair option. Previous repairs were estimated between $7 and $15 million.

7. Our plan includes a series of benchmarks in order to not put the tax-payer at risk. We plan to raise the needed $13.7 million dollars from the private sector over 5 years.

After countless interviews and discussions with several people in the media, it is puzzling that not one of the "backers" were contacted prior to this article being published. Saving the Friendship Trail Bridge is saving a tremendous asset to the community. Over 600,000 users a year when it was opened! That's a lot! It is one thing that connects Hillsborough and Pinellas and allows citizens to appreciate Tampa Bay.