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:

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:

David Rice story on blog:

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.