Friday, January 23, 2009

SWFBUD Visits TBARTA To Urge Bicycling Be Part of a Regional Transit Plan

Another day, another pitstop at a public agency to promote bicycling. This morning, I represented SWFBUD before the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) -- the new government entity created to plan a regionwide mass transit system. I biked from SWFBUD hedquarters in Seminole Heights to TBARTA's new main office at USF. (No bike rack in front of its building, though, and more on that later).

For months, I have lobbied TBARTA to include a photo of a bicyclist at a train or bus station as part of its brochures and Web site. Finally, there it was -- a terrific photo of a bicyclist complete with helmet at a train station on the banner of the Web site. So I thanked TBARTA for showing a bicyclist.

But more importantly, I was there to urge TBARTA to please intergrate bicycling facilities such as bike racks, lockers, and bike space on light rail cars at every phase of its planning. It's obvious road builders did NOT include accommodations for bicycles when new roads were built in the Tampa Bay area years ago and it's very expensive to retrofit facilities for bicycles after the fact.

So, TBARTA, do the right thing and include bicycle facilities at each phase of your planning.

That lack of a bike rack in front of TBARTA's own building? A man at the meeting told me afterwards that a USF staffer was taking notes and there will probably be a bike rack in front of the building. Today, other cyclists and I used good ol' poles to lock up.

During the meeting, Mayor Pam Iorio, who biked with the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club on its maiden ride last year, is a TBARTA board member and gave an impassioned speech about light rail in Tampa and Hillsborough County. She said what we all know about our market -- big business and creative entrepreneurs won't be coming here if we as a region can't even offer rudimentary items such as a regional mass transit system.

As you can, Iorio wants the Hillsborough County Commission to put a 1-cent sales increase on the ballot to pay for light rail in Hillsborough. Good luck Mayor Iorio with the county commission.

So, I biked home and hopped on Busch Blvd. for a few blocks to see the new construction. New bike lane on Busch with the new paving? Of course, not. What do you think we are? St. Petersburg or something?

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