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:

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:

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 "

Bike Lanes Are Good -- Protected Bike Lanes Are Nicer

Nice video on protected bicycle lanes:

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 ( to recuse itself from bicycle and pedestrian traffic homicide investigations. Tell the SAO to bring criminal charges in this case ( ).

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