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.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

SWFBUD Bike Shop Velo Champ Celebrates One-Year Anniversary Tonight

Congrats to SWFBUD bike shop Velo Champ in Seminole Heights for its one-year anniversary. The boutique retail bicycle store held a party tonight with Cigar City beer and waffles to mark the first year. The Miller family of Jordan and parents Doug and Sue have done a nice job at cultivating bicycle culture and continued success to this SWFBUD shop.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pinellas Public Works Officials Oppose Draft Plan To Transform Friendship TrailBridge

I was not surprised to hear this afternoon that Pinellas County public works officials have recommended against a very cool new draft plan submitted last week that would transform the closed Friendship TrailBridge into a world-class linear park across the Bay connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg.

My good friend Mitch Perry at Creative Loafing did an update story today explaining Pinellas public works officials opposed the draft plan. Pinellas is taking a look at the FTB draft plan because both Pinellas and Hillsborough jointly own the TrailBridge, which has been closed since November of 2008.

What's very disappointing about Pinellas County's action is that the public works staff didn't even show the professional courtesy of meeting the FTB draft plan's authors, Kevin Thurmon and Ken Cowart, to discuss the issues with the draft report.

Kevin and Ken would be happy to meet Pinellas staff to address the county's concerns.

Pinellas' opposition to infusing new life into the FTB does not surprise me because I lobbied the Pinellas county commission three years ago on behalf of SWFBUD to apply for federal funds to repair the FTB. But the Pinellas commissioners voted 7-0 at the time to not even apply for federal money.

Fast-forward three years and Pinellas staff this week opposed repairing the FTB. Mitch's story offers some details on why Pinellas staff opposed the draft plan and includes Kevin's good comment about all we want is a meeting to discuss the draft report.


The Pinellas public official, Jorge Quintas, spoke with Mitch Perry but did not even have the decency to talk with the report's authors, Kevin and Ken.

Meanwhile on the Hillsborough County side of the Bay, Hillsborough public works staff is still reviewing the draft FTB plan.

How can you help?

Please write or call the Pinellas County commissioners to advise them to have Pinellas public works staff officials meet with Kevin and Ken to discuss the FTB draft plan. Use this link to contact the Pinellas commissioners: http://www.pinellascounty.org/commission/default.htm

And please continue calling and writing the Hillsborough County Commissioners and tell them to support the FTB draft plan. Contact Hillsborough commissioners at this link: http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/bocc/about/contactus.cfm

And here are your talking points (which ran in a previous Patch blog post): http://seminoleheights.patch.com/blog_posts/tips-to-write-a-letter-to-county-commissioners-to-save-the-friendship-trailbridge

Write The Hillsborough County Commissioners To Save The FTB

Check out this link -- it has all the county commissioners in Hillsborough County to contact them with a message abiout saving the Friendship TrailBridge:


Read about the case to save the FTB: http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2012/may/14/naopino1-a-safe-haven-that-should-remain-upright-ar-403096/

And here are your talking points: http://seminoleheights.patch.com/blog_posts/tips-to-write-a-letter-to-county-commissioners-to-save-the-friendship-trailbridge

Monday, May 14, 2012

Talking Points To Support Friendship TrailBridge Transformation

SWFBUD provides talking point tips for people who want to email, write or call the county commissioners to advise them to support a submitted business plan to transform the Friendship TrailBridge. Check out my Patch.com post on the talking points:


SWFBUD Commentary On Saving The Friendship TrailBridge Runs In Tampa Trib

SWFBUD weights in with commentary on saving the Friendship TrailBridge. Click on link: http://duke1.tbo.com/content/2012/may/14/NAOPINO1-a-safe-haven-that-should-remain-upright/news-opinion-commentary/

Friday, May 11, 2012

SWFBUD Store Unveils Poster To Save FTB

SWFBUD store Velo Champ of Seminole Heights has created a call-for-action poster to help save the cherished Friendship TrailBridge. Velo Champ's Jordan Miller has posted the poster at his store to stir people to get involved in backing a new plan to restore the FTB and form a public-private partnership with Hillsborough County to create a new chapter in the life of this 2.6-mile bridge that connects Tampa and St. Pete.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tampa Ride of Silence -- May 16, 6:30PM Curtis Hixon Park

SWFBUD's Statement On Friendship TrailBridge Renewal Plan

Why give the closed Friendship TrailBridge a makeover?

Let's look at the big picture: It's all about economic competition between major urban markets in this country.

When companies go shopping for cities to call home, they visit urban centers with a checklist that includes everything from schools to parks.

Tampa Bay's biggest calling card is our watery geography and weather -- so let's invest in infrastructure and amenities that showcase our strength. And that's providing people -- both residents and visitors -- access to water via a world-class linear facility. After all, the Bay is the geographic feature that lends us our identity and ties all of us together here in Tampa Bay.

Before the TrailBridge was closed in 2008, more than 600,000 annual users biked, walked, fished, rollerbladed this 2.6-mile public treasure. The variety of users was stunning, coming from all walks of life and both sides of the Bay.

Our planners know that people in Tampa Bay are thirsting for not only a safe place to bike and walk but also a pleasant venue. Our region has a notorious national reputation for the tragic high number of bicyclist and pedestrian deaths, so why is Hillsborough County considering blowing up a safe haven when we should be increasing our inventory of safe and attractive places to walk and bike?

The business blueprint to create a new chapter in the life of this bridge does not call for Hillsborough County to underwrite the bill to fix the resource. Instead, the game plan is simple -- local residents will create a non-profit and that non-profit will team up with Hillsborough County to form a private-public partnership.

For $13.7 million in donations and grants, we will save the good parts of the current bridge and replace the bad parts that have been damaged by the spray of salt water.

Here's the structural lowdown: The removed low span approaches can be replaced with modern, prefabricated metal structures commonly used for pedestrian bridges and trails. By replacing the low span approaches with new metal structures, the life expectancy is increased to more than 30 years, while the overall weight and yearly maintenance costs are significantly decreased.

Where will the money come from? Revenue to transform the FTB will come from three main sources; donations, grants, and fees.

Where will the money come from to maintain the new life of the bridge that we expect will last at least another 30 years to at least 2047? During the entire project, 55 percent of funds will come from donations and 45 percent will come from revenue after the bridge is opened including vendor rentals, parking fees and special events.

We believe a new and improved TrailBridge carries economic clout: A transformed bridge will be visited by more than 680,000 people a year and will increase direct spending by $14 million per year or more in both counties. That translates into more than $786 million in spending and 35 million visitors during the TrailBridge's extended new life.

As the director of a Tampa Bay alliance of 10 bike shops and the founder of an urban bicycle club in Tampa, the most popular refrain is, "I want to bike but I don't feel safe biking on local roads."

A new and improved TrailBridge helps answer that concern.

The idea of getting the TrailBridge back on line has struck a chord with so many different demographic groups in Tampa Bay and even radio sports talk hosts have taken up the cause.

Regrettably, our local elected leaders took an unimaginative approach to dealing with the closed TrailBridge. Proposed repair costs were across the board and eventually the easy way out was suggested -- blow the thing up.

Tampa Bay is in the fight for its economic life and destroying beloved iconic landmarks is not the strategy needed to compete with Southeast competitors such as Atlanta and Raleigh.

SWFBUD stands squarely behind a business blueprint that offers a realistic vision and feasible economic solution that has been submitted to Hillsborough County commissioners for review.

I know thousands of Tampa Bay residents want to walk, fish, bike and soak up the vistas from a new and improved TrailBridge. So, tell the county commissioners exactly that.

Commissioner Sandra L. Murman — District 1
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, PO Box 1110, District 1
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5470Fax: 813-272-7046

Commissioner Victor D. Crist — District 2
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 2
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5452Fax: 813-272-7047

Commissioner Lesley "Les" Miller, Jr. — District 3
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 3
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5720Fax: 813-272-7048

Commissioner Al Higginbotham — District 4 - Chairman
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 4
Tampa, FL 33601
Phone: 813-272-5740Fax: 813-272-7049

Commissioner Ken Hagan — District 5 (At-Large) - Chaplain
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 5
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5725Fax: 813-272-7052

Commissioner Kevin Beckner — District 6 (At-Large)
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 6
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5730Fax: 813-272-7053

Commissioner Mark Sharpe — District 7 (At-Large) - Vice-Chairman
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 7
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5735Fax: 813-272-7054

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BPAC Votes To Write Letter Backing Plan To Restore TrailBridge

Great to see the Hillsborough County Bicycle Pedestrian Advusory Committee agree to write a letter to the county commissioners backing a business plan to restore the closed Friendship TrailBridge into a world-class linear pathway above the Bay.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Plan For A New Life For The Friendship TrailBridge

Here is the plan to create a new and improved Friendship TrailBridge -- a world-class linear park above the Bay.


Please call and email your county commissioners to advise them to support this plan for this amazing 2.6-mile path above the water and also attend a May 16 Hillsborough County Commission meeting.

Get involved.

Monday, May 7, 2012

SWFBUD Backs Business Plan To Refurbish Friendship TrailBridge

A business plan developed by a group of residents to save the Friendship TrailBridge and rehab it into a world-class 2.6-mile-long walkway above the Bay was presented to the Hillsborough County comissioners today.

SWFBUD is part of this effort to refurbish the TrailBridge, which was used by thousands of bicyclists before the bridge was closed in 2008.

Kudos to Kevin Thurmon and Ken Cowart for leading the charge and assembling this compelling report.

Please attend a Hillsborough County Commission meeting at 9 am Wednesday May 16 to tell the commissioners to not demolish the traiulbridge and to use this report as a springboard to action to give a new life to this amazing bridge.

Trek Store of St. Petersburg Launches Bike n Eat Ride on Saturday

SWFBUD bike shops are always doing great things. For example, Bicycle Outfitters holds a great Christmas light bike ride through a neighborhood to raise money for hospice. Chainwheel Drive gave away bikes at holiday time last year. And Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium holds a free monthly safety class. SWFBUD lawyer J. Steele Olmstead just donated $2,000 to Tampa Police for rear-window Share the Road decals.

And on Saturday, the Trek Store of St. Petersburg is holding its St. Pete Bike n Eat bike ride that is a restaurant ride fashioned after the Hub Grub Rides of Seminole Heights.

Last year's Bike n Eat drew 100 bicyclists who visited six St. Petersburg restaurants  And on Saturday bicyclists will be visiting five restaurants with the ride ending with a party at the Trek Store at 3169 Fourth Street in St. Pete. Riders should start gathering at 2:30 PM and the ride leaves at 3 PM. Bicyclists should please wear helmets. 

Refreshments for the party will be donated by Cigar City Brewing Co. and the Chocolate Mushroom Gravy Band will be playing. 

SWFBUD Supports Banning Texting and Driving

Why does SWFBUD support banning texting and driving?

This is why.

This driver was looking at her smart phone -- not the road -- when she pulled into a left-turn lane on southbound 40th Street at the Busch Blvd. light and sat reading the gadget even after the light turned green.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

SWFBUD Says Congrats To Pedal America For Launching TV Bicycle Series

Congrats to Ira David for launching the Pedal America TV show now being seen on PBS stations across the US, including this morning on WEDU in Tampa. The first Pedal America episode was on that great bike town, Austin. And later in the season, a Pedal America show on the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club and Tampa Bay will be aired, too. You may recall Ira David and crew came to Tampa in December to film footage.

At Least There's A Share the Road Sign

SWFBUD has asked the city of Tampa to install bike lanes when they re-surface a road. Unfortunately, the city doesn't always do that -- but at least in this case on MacDill Ave. there is a share the road sign. That's Jason Wilson, former city council candidate, riding in the travel lane with the SWFBUD sharrow jersey.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

SWFBUD Store Velo Champ Marks One-Year Anniversary With Fun Event

Happy to hear that Velo Champ, a SWFBUD bike shop in Seminole Heights, will be celebrating its one-year anniversary on Thursday, May 17 at 7P M. (Velo Champ's actual anniversary was April 15 but the store felt the celebration was better left for May -- National Bike Month in the US.)

Look for craft beer, soda, coffee and Belgian waffles at the anniversary celebration.

Jordan Miller, owner of the bike shop with his parents Doug and Sue, invites Seminole Heights residents and the Tampa cycling community at large to the celebration at the store at 6112 N. Central Avenue at Hanna Avenue in Seminole Heights.

You can expect some additional festivities over the course of the night, including a Seminole Heights neighborhood circuit race, as well as the first installment of Nicole Kibert's (www.elawgrrl.com) Bicycle Portrait project.

Blaming The Bicyclist

Florida bicyclist's case makes Mionske's column -- check it out: