Thursday, July 31, 2008

Become An Outlaw: Ride A Bicycle

Bicycling: The Art of Rebelliousness

Connector Trail Update

Brian Eckman, owner of SWFBUD member store Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium and a member of the Tampa/Hillsborough County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, sent out this message this week:

This coming Wednesday, August 6th is the final County Commission vote
concerning the possible connection of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and the
Suncoast Trail.

The following is copied from an email from Charner Reese, Principal Planner,
Planning and Design, Hills. County:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"UTBT Phase IV is the project that would link the existing 8-mile UTB Trail
in NW Hillsborough County to the 42-mile Suncoast Trail and the Starkey
Wilderness Trail. UTBT Phase IV is the top priority for the Hillsborough
Greenways committee, because the 7-mile link would create a 57-mile long
regional trail providing trail access to many more people and providing
non-motorized travel to many more destinations than presently available to
Hillsborough County residents. This citizen-based committee, which was
established in 1995, oversees implementation of the BOCC-approved
Hillsborough Greenways Master Plan.

The Phase IV project is funded for land acquisition, which is scheduled to
be completed this year.

The Greenways Committee has asked the BOCC to use Community Investment Tax
funds (a portion of the available $40 million) to fund design and
construction of Phase IV (7-mile trail segment from Peterson Road Park to
the Suncoast Trail on Lutz-Lake Fern Road, with 2 trailheads - one on
Lutz-Lake Fern Road to replace the existing temporary Suncoast Trailhead
that will be eliminated by the new Suncoast Parkway interchange on LLFR; and
another trailhead to be located on Gunn Hwy across from Keystone Park)."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I've attached some info concerning this connector, including a fact sheet
regarding the project, a proposed mapping of where the trail connector would
be located, and a letter from the Greenways Committee to the Commission.

There will be a final CIT public hearing during the regularly scheduled BOCC
meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. to consider modifications to the
Phase 1, 2 and 3 CIT projects which includes the appropriation of the $40
million. You are welcome to attend the public hearing to present your
views. The Board meets at County Center, 2nd FL, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in
downtown Tampa. The public can attend as early as 9:00AM to voice opinions
on the subject.


Even if this project doesn't happen immediately, we need to keep our voices
heard so that it stays on the priority list!

Thanks for reading all of this. Please forward to friends or anyone else who
uses these trails.

Brian Eckman
Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium
(813) 963-5765
14407-B North Dale Mabry
Tampa, FL 33618

Critical Mass Ride Gets PoliceInvolvement In NY

NYPD Cop Pushes Bicyclist Down

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Everything Is New Again

It's funny how all of a sudden the bicycle has been discovered as a practical way to get around -- whether it's biking to work or going to the store. It's always been around -- and I did some minor things to my introductory mountain bike years ago like putting on a rear rack, two pannier bags and smooth-surfaced tires to make it an errand bike.

Seems my bike would be called a sport utility bicycle, according to this Salon story sent to me by Picot Floyd.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Off To Flatwoods This Morning

This morning's ride included a picture-postcard early-morning view of the golf course off Rowlett Park Drive.

A beautiful feeling -- a lane all to myself on Busch Blvd -- even if it was for only a half-mile.

With Starbucks closing stores, they're peeling out every game plan in the book -- even dressing up people in banana costumes and asking them to convince drivers to pull into Starbucks restaurants.

The driver of this truck flew right next to me, blared his horn and then took off on Nebraska Avenue. But I caught up with him and snapped off a photo of his license plate. If you're in a position to find out the identity behind this plate, I'd love to know.

Here it is.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Accidents On Rowlett Park Drive

Early this morning I was cycling on Rowlett Park Drive, a narrow two-lane road that is necessary to take to get across the Hillsborough River north and east of Seminole Heights.

And for the second time in a few days, I biked into an accident. Drivers go way too fast on this road and with zero shoulder it's a flirt with disaster. This morning, it was a nasty rollover with the car ending on its roof in a ditch.

Taking A Free Ride

If you thought it was hot out there to bike take a look at these critters -- the four-legged friends were taken for a ride by their owners at Flatwoods county park Sunday.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The SHBC's Chipotle Ride

On behalf of the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club, I want to thank Chipotle for hosting some 50 or so cyclists who biked this morning with the SHBC from the Garden Center on Central Avenue in Seminole Heights for free burritos and drinks at a Chipotle restaurant on Howard Avenue in south Tampa. I worked with local Chipotle rep Kim Higgins, who offered the promotion to spotlight the Garmin-Chipotle team that's competing in the Tour de France this month.

We had so many bicyclists that we split into groups based on speed. Margaret Shepherd was nice enough to lead a slower group of 14 bicyclists that biked around 12-14 mph and I led a second wave of 35 cyclists who were pedaling around 16-18 mph.

I can't tell how cool it is to see a group of 35 cyclists biking Tampa's tough streets, which are not exactly bicycle-friendly. Didn't matter today. We biked three miles through the streets of Seminole Heights before heading south along North Boulevard, Cleveland Street and Howard Avenue to reach the Chipotle.

Here's just one wave of cyclists --the faster group waiting at the light on Central Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue near Starbucks.

Here they come. It's chow time at Chipotle.

That's one serious line of bicyclists.

Jack Sweeney AKA The Ghost Rider broke out the vintage Bianchi road steed and Bianchi jersey for the occasion. He's chatting it up with Eric Smithers.

The Ghost Rider gets his burrito.

Eddie Escobar attended the Tour de Georgia and picked up some Chipotle logo gear, and proudly shows off the wares inside the Chipotle restaurant.

Angelo prepares to order his grub.

Kevin wears some sweet wool jersey action.

Eddie chats with Matt.

The USF riders were also well represented.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Update On Connector Trail

I was among five speakers who addressed the Hillsborough County Commission last night and asked the commissioners during the budget hearing to earmark $12 million to complete a 7-mile connector trail between the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and the Suncoast Trail. If completed, that continuous trail would be the longest continuous trail in the state of Florida, beating out the 46-mile Withlacoochee Trail.

Other speakers were Ellen Pierson, Jim Shirk, Mike Edgerly and Trip Stringer, who is pictured in the photo above. They all spoke well about the benefits of this long trail for not only bicyclists but users of all types -- from walkers and nature lovers to rollerbladers and runners.

I understand the county's parks director, Mark Thornton, has not recommended funding this connector trail this fiscal year. But Commissioner Mark Sharpe told me that the connector trail will be done within five years and that it would be funded within that time frame.

Commissioner Jim Norman raised an issue of spending $4 million for the right-of-way through an equestrian site and asked county staff to check into whether the this section of the trail can somehow link into a pre-existing county right-of-way.

My hunch says the connector trail won't be funded in this fiscal cycle, but, like Sharpe said, it will be funded within the next five years.

Bike Sales Are Up As People Park Cars, Ride Bicycles

Bicycling saves gas money and the more bicyclists on the road means more conflicts with drivers on roads that are ill-suited for cycling. A story about drivers swapping cars for two-wheelers and the conflicts that ensue.

A thanks to Mary Shaw for sending this item.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rowlett Park Drive Highlights This Morning

Seems like it's always something on Rowlett Park Drive, the two-lane road that connects the Seminole heights area to Sulphur Springs and the Busch Gardens area.

This morning I was cycling along Rowlett Park Drive when I pedaled into an accident. A car trailing a schoolbus smashed into the rear of the bus, which had slowed to check for the railroad crossing.

Eating Donuts

Looks like I'm not the only one who knows about the Dunkin Donuts promotion that allows folks to get a free donut at any store in the metro Tampa Bay area after every Rays win. Here's an official press release on the number of free donuts that have been gobbled up thanks to the Rays' winning ways this year:

"Thanks to the Tampa Bay Rays’ remarkable 55 victories over the first half of their season, Dunkin' Donuts, America's favorite everyday, all-day stop for coffee and baked goods, has already given away 138,875 free donuts this season, at participating restaurants in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. As part of “Rays Win, You Win”, fans can receive a free donut by simply mentioning that the Rays won the day before.

During the entire 2007 season, participating “Rays Win, You Win” Dunkin’ Donuts shops gave away 117,600 donuts – following the Rays’ 66 total victories. At their current victory pace, the Rays would finish with 94 wins, which could result in Dunkin’ Donuts giving away double the number of donuts from last season.

“We are excited with the Rays’ success thus far and would love to see them surprise the baseball world and make the playoffs,” said Natalie Ostroski, Dunkin’ Donuts Field Manager, North Florida . “Dunkin’ Donuts is proud to be a partner of the Rays for the second straight year. We look forward to giving away many more donuts during the season’s second half.” Ostroski said.

Fans do not need to attend a game or redeem a ticket stub to receive a free donut; they only need to be aware that the Rays won a game the day before – either at home or at an away game. The Rays begin the second half of their season Friday, July 18, at home against the Toronto Blue Jays."

Time For A New Rear Tire

I guess it's time to replace this one.

Cycling For Everyone

North Carolina correspondent Willie Drye sends in this cycling item.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

When Drivers Attack

St. Pete Caleb sends this video treat from Portland. Seems like a driver takes a bicyclist for a ride.

Bicyclist feels the heat of a driver's road rage

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Even Birds Know That Bikes Are The Best Way To Get Around

Look who's taking a ride on a trike.

A New Era For The Tampa Bay Lightning

With the stroke of a pen, Vincent Lecavalier signed an 11-year, $85-million contract extension this afternoon in front of the assembled media and a big throng of Bolts fans.

Number 4 spoke with the media

And after the media left, a fan with a puff of hair and his little kid went up to Vinnie and said, "Hopefully in 15 years you'll be coaching the team. too." It was amazing that Joe Schmoe fan can stroll right up to the team's top player and have a simple chat with a superstar. Only in the NHL.

New Lightning owner Oren Koules survived a lawsuit and combined forces with Len Barrie and others to buy the Lightning for $200 million from Bill Davidson, the car glass magnate in Detroit who also owns the NBA Pistons.

Koules, the mastermind behind the Saw movies, has been checkbook-happy, signing and trading players and re-molding a Lightning team that finished dead last in the NHL last season after the club hoisted the Cup in '04.

The Feastermeister is history. Here's the guy who's pulling the trigger, along with Koules and Barrie. Brian Lawton, vice president of hockey operations.

The prospect of getting Vincent's signature drew a long line this afternoon.

A Proud Bicycle Tradition: A Visit To The Local Brewery

Part of the bicycle culture is usually a frosty beer at the end of a long ride, so this morning I finally made it over to the Yuengling plant on 30th Street between Busch Gardens and the USF campus. The former Schlitz/Stroh's plant was bought by Yuengling, which is the oldest brewery in the United States and dates back five generations to 1829 in Pottsville, PA.

The Tampa plant cranks out 1.5 million gallons of Yuengling brew -- equal to the production of the two plants up in good ol' Pottsville. Tours are 10AM and 1PM at the Tampa facility.

My favorite affordable beer is the Yuengling black and tan -- a delicious and tasty caramel-flavored beer that goes down smooth.

Let's go on the tour. First stop.

My favorite Yuengling was rolling down the assembly line this morning -- black and tan.

This fella on the tour carefully picked out his T-shirt.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good Night, Dodgertown

When I lived in Jensen Beach in 1992-94, I used to bike along the Indian River north to Fort Pierce, then another 15 miles north to Vero Beach. It was here where I would bike inland a few miles and visit the famed Dodgertown -- a baseball time machine where you could feel the ghosts of Hodges and Reese and Robinson and Snider.

Even after the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to the Left Coast, the Dodgers of Koufax and Garvey and Piazza still got ready for the regular baseball season by throwing and hitting and running at Dodgertown.

But this past March was the last time a ballplayer in a Dodgers uniform will call Vero Beach home.

I found out this weekend that the Dodgers informed Indian River County officials that their new spring home is Arizona is officially ready and that they have seen the last of Dodgertown and Holman Stadium, the minimalist and beautiful little ball yard that housed the spring training games.

Later when I worked for the Florida Today newspaper and lived in Melbourne from 2002-04, I would drive after work along US 1, which hugged the mainland-side of the Intracoastal, and watch the Vero Beach Dodgers play in the Florida State League.

Here is my favorite photo from Dodgertown.

Maybe He Bought This One At Mons

Seems like you can buy one of those bumper-sticker ribbons for just about any cause these days and this being Tampa -- home of the stripper club on every street corner -- I guess even this "cause" has a bumper sticker, too. Just had to stop and get a shot of this tender message.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bicycling Is Going Mainstream

Even Yahoo is posting stories about bicycling.

Here's one on the best cities and one on the politics of cycling.

RIP Bobby Murcer 1946-2008

If you grew up in metro New York City in the 1970s like I did, you know that Bobby Murcer was a smooth-fielding, smooth-hitting left-handed centerfielder from Oklahoma who was beloved -- even by a Mets fan like myself.

It saddened me to hear that Murcer died today from brain cancer at the mere age of 62. He brings back sad memories of a contemporary of Murcer's -- another former popular New Yorker by the name of Tug McGraw -- who also died before his time from brain cancer.

RIP Bobby

Lake Roberta Plays Host To Waterfowl

A little blue heron likes to hold court at Lake Roberta, a small watering hole in the Seminole Heights neighborhood.