Sunday, March 20, 2011
Life And Death And Bicycling In Tampa
March is Bicycle Month in Florida, with a fun bicycle race in downtown Tampa on March 26 and the Hub Grub Bicycle Ride of Seminole Heights coming up on April 2. Two very different bike events that celebrate bicycling and draw very different types of bicyclists.
The March weather has been incredible lately here in the Tampa area, so bicyclists are having a great time out there on the roads. It's warm, but not humid and you can bike forever.
So why is dying on the roads around Tampa weighing on my mind.
Maybe it's the ghost bikes I pass while cycling near the University of South Florida campus and along Fletcher Avenue and underneath the Selmon Expressway and at Himes/Spruce. Four ghost bikes in the Tampa area since August -- and another dozen bicyclists killed since last summer.
I had a dream last week that all my friends and family were begging me to not bike anymore because of all the bicyclist deaths in the metro Tampa area.
Bicyclists even die on documentary movies I watch -- like when a likable ultracyclist cyclist named Bob Breedlove from Iowa was killed while cycling in RAAM in 2005. I watched Bicycle Dreams Saturday night -- the documentary that focused on the 2005 RAAM, which included Breedlove's death.
And after watching the documentary Saturday night, I turned on my computer and read the St. Pete Times online and learned that at 8 PM the same evening a bicyclist was killed while trying to cross Martin Luther King Avenue in Tampa. Cops said, according to the brief Times web account, that the bicyclist did not have the right-of-way.
Tonight, a friend named Karl wrote in an email that he nearly got killed while bicycling on Euclid Avenue in Tampa -- the street with the sharrows, the first sharrows in the state of Florida. Even sharrows can't guarantee safety.
We all know there is nothing inherently dangerous about bicycling, that it's a beautiful life-affirming activity. Why do you think every cause has a bike ride to raise money and to draw attention? Because bicycling is all about celebrating life.