Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Bicyclist Killed By A Motorist In Florida -- This Time, In Alachua County

I'm sad to report that a motorist in a Ford pickup has killed a 65-year-old Arizona man cycling in Bike Florida's bike ride this week in Alachua County.

A 23-year-old driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck drifted onto the shoulder of a road in Newberry, FL and killed Robert Paul King, 65, of Prescott, Ariz. Wednesday at 12:42 pm.

The Gainesville Sun Web site provides more details.

A Look At Traffic When Comparing Cars To Buses To Bicycles

Same number of commuters.

One group drove cars.

One group hopped the bus.

One group pedaled.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hub Grub Bicycle Ride Parking

If you can, ride your bicycle to Ella's restaurant -- the starting point for the Hub Grub Bicycle Ride on Saturday at 3 PM.

But if you need to drive your car, I'm told by the Ella's manager that the small parking lot at Ella's is off-limits because it has to be available for the 5 PM regular customers.

So, please park your car anywhere around Seminole Heights or nearby side streets and bike over.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SWFBUD Supports Causeway Trail Between Tampa And Clearwater

At this evening's hearing, SWFBUD enthusiastically spoke in favor of a Florida Department of Transportation plan to build a $20 million multi-use bicycle/ped trail along the Courtney Campbell Causeway, including a $13 million tall span next to the State Road 60 bridge on the Tampa side.

Linda Saul-Sena, a former Tampa city councilwoman, voiced her support.

And so did John Harrison, a county greenways committee member.

Tampa Police Plan Bike Safety Message On Cruisers' Back Windows

SWFBUD and Karen Kress of Tampa BayCycle met two Tampa police officers this afternoon to see a new bicycle safety message that will initially go on the back windows of 40-50 police cruisers.

Thank you Sgt. Carl Giguere and Cpl. William Shaw for thinking of bicyclist safety. Stadium Toyota is paying for this.

Sgt. Giguere said TPD would like eventually to have all police cars in Tampa with this bicycle safety design on the back window.

A Bike Commute Into Yesteryear

One of the great bicycle experiences of my life was bike-commuting 24 miles from my rental in Northvale, NJ near the Rockland County, NY border to a former job with at 6th Avenue and 18th Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, just south of mid-town.

It included biking over a ridge in Bergen County, NJ to reach Route 9W on the west side of the Hudson River; pedaling south on Route 9W for about 10 miles to the George Washington Bridge; biking over the GWB to upper Manhattan and 177th Street; biking a few local streets and getting to Riverside Drive; and then heading south along the West Side to 72nd Street, 11th Avenue before zig-zagging on local streets to the Bed, Bath & Beyond Building where I started a sports-business web site for in 2000.

What a bike commute! Faster than bus and train and amazing savings compared to a car.

It was the best way to go.

Here is the pic of the side door to the building where I would roll my bike in and lock inside next to a freight elevator.

Bicycling In The Big Apple

I was in Manhattan recently for business and took some time to check out the bicycle lanes and bike culture of NY. The City wants to be a world-class bicycle town and by the looks of the amazing bike infrastructure and the proliferation of bike lanes all around Manhattan, New York is on its way.

I also visited the new High Line elevated pedestrian trail (off-limits to bikes) on the West Side, a half-mile raised trail on an old freight line that would pick up and drop off items in buildings along the rail line in the 1930s.

And a few iconic buildings are thrown in here, too.

The High Line Trail is a linear park trail on the old elevated freight line on Manhattan's west side. It runs about a half-mile and opened nearly two years ago. Another 10 blocks to the north will be opening this spring.

Elevated trail even includes a stage/seating area.

View from trail.

Here's the end of the trail -- it's the meat-packing district across from New Jersey.

Trail goes through several buildings.

View from the trail -- note another bike lane.

Hotel on the trail -- windows provide stages for exhibitioners.

Big Daddy Gary Kane -- I was right of college when I met Gary in the Auburn bureau of the Syracuse Herald-Journal and Post-Standard in 1983. We've stayed good friends ever since. Gary went on to have great careers at the Palm Beach Post and AP. He lives with his girlfriend Jen in the east Village and he does documentaries now.

Here's Gary in the famous Strand Bookstore.

After breakfast with Gary we sauntered to an East Village flea market and bicycles are big sellers.

Union Square -- a place for a good protest.

Empire State Building -- or as Bugs Bunny would say, Umpire State.

Flatiron building-- another NY icon.

St. Marks Church -- also used for community theater.

Metro Card bike.

Stripped bike -- probably was abandoned. Giant mt bike in the background still used on the streets of NY.

Slick city bike.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bicycling Speeding Ticket In Central Park Voided -- Police Apologize

My former Hobart College and bicycle pal David Regen got an unusual visitor at dinner time one day this week -- two New York Police officers who came to his apartment on 103rd Street in Manhattan and who said a speeding ticket given to David for biking too fast in Central Park (25 mph down a hill) was a mistake and that it was voided. David said the police apologized!

Here is the New York Times story on this bicycle caper:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Day In Tally For The Florida Bike Summit

It was a great day in Tallahassee as I represented SWFBUD at the Florida Bike Summit, where I met state Rep. Janet Cruz and state Rep. Betty Reed -- two state lawmakers from Tampa.

I travelled with Jim Shirk, king of the bicycle volunteers of Tampa Bay and chairman of the local MPO Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

We asked Reps. Cruz and Reed to support legislation for a ban on texting while driving and asked her to support future proposals for a vulnerable user law and to oppose the elimination of the greenways and trails department.

It was also nice to see fellow Tampa area folks who won Florida Bicycle Association awards such as Tina Russo, Bevin Maynard, Sharon Monahan, Lori Snively and Cris who runs the ALS ride.

There was also some behind-the-scene discussion of a proposed bike-ped safety ad campaign for the Tampa Bay area titled, "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time." The rather ominious sounding campaign prompted Dennis Scott, the Florida DOT's bike -ped coordinator to contact the local Tampa Bay District 7 office. We shall see.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Bike/Ped Ad Campaign: "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time."

Government is very well-intentioned about trying to improve safety for bicyclists. Sometimes, they can be misguided though.

The Florida Department of Transportation and the University of Florida picked a Tampa firm called Dunn&Co to create a bike and pedestrian safety ad campaign for the Tampa Bay region -- Fla DOT's District 7 area. Dunn&Co called it, "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time."

Here's the press release

I have not seen a shred of the print ad or content behind this "You vs. Vehicle" ad campaign, so I'm going on the campaign's mere title. But the very title made my head hurt. As usual, nothing about taking steps to change the motorists' behavior; in fact, just the opposite -- the title message empowers motorists that they're king of the road and that if you're a bicyclist the best thing you can do is just watch out and stay clear.

As I'm programmed to do (I am a former newspaper reporter, after all), I got on the phone today and called Troy Dunn, the firm owner, because I wanted to share my thoughts and hear the ad creator's response. I told Troy I haven't seen the ads or content but I had concerns about the title and its message. I said the real issue is that we have to educate problem motorists and bicyclists about using the roads together.

He disagreed and said there is no way to change aggressive, dangerous or reckless motorist behavior so the best thing for bicyclists and peds to do is be on full alert and be cautious to avoid being hit. Yes, bicyclists need to be smart and alert and visible -- but any safety campaign has to include addressing motorists.

So then I wrote the following letter to the Florida Bicycle Association today:

Hi folks,

I look forward to seeing you at the FBA summit in Tally tomorrow. I'll be traveling with Jim Shirk, a fellow Hillsborough County BPAC member, from Tampa and look forward to chatting with our local state legislators. At least two have agreed to meet us.

I'm writing to bring a new ad campaign about bicycle and pedestrian safety in Florida to your attention. I understand the University of Florida and the Florida DOT hired a Tampa ad firm called Dunn and Co. for this campaign.

Dunn's winning campaign is called "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time."

Here's the press release:

You probably have heard about it by now.

I have not seen any of the campaign's print material or content, but its title concerns me greatly. As the director of SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), I called the ad firm here in Tampa today and expressed my concerns to the firm owner, Troy Dunn.

I'm concerned that the title misses the point that bicyclists are co-users of the public roadway and that both bicyclists and motorists have to be educated and informed about how we interact on the road. Mr. Dunn informed me that it is impossible to change aggressive, reckless and irresponsible motorist behavior that imperils the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. So the best thing bicyclists could do, Mr. Dunn told me, is simply be on the alert and be cautious for cars that obviously are much bigger. Mr. Dunn informed me that the "share the road" mantra is stale and lacks punch. That might be so, but a "You Vs. Vehicle: You lose every time" campaign title seems to me that it emboldens motorists to feel they own the road and bicyclists don't have a place.

I hope you also see the flaw in the ad campaign title and immediately advise the DOT that a "You vs. Vehicle" title and message is not appropriate.

A recent League of American Bicyclists letter in response to the proposed Hillsborough County bike safety action plan also touched on the matter about how dangerous motorist behavior was left out of the equation in regard to bicycle safety. Tim, you might recall the FBA signed that LAB letter. (I believe it was Dan Moser who signed it).

I plan to bring this up to the DOT tomorrow and hope you will address this as well.


Alan Snel
FBA member
Director of SWFBUD
Co-founder, Seminole Heights Bicycle Club
Hillsborough County BPAC member

I heard back from Tim Bustos, the FBA's new executive director, and he informed me the FBA will be addressing this matter with the FDOT.

I also sent my letter to the SWFBUD bike shops. Rick Fidanzato, owner of ABC Bicycles and the Trek Bicycle Store of St. Pete, responded this way: "Thank you for catching this! This is terrible. We must understand that cars are driven by PEOPLE! It is a very negative ad campaign and will destroy any headway bicyclists have made. You are correct when you say that motorists will be empowered by this slogan. It is a very negative and auto-centric slogan. We must change all behavior, but there are significantly more people driving cars than bicycles in this area. With gas prices soaring, obesity rates still increasing, and no sign of any significant public transportation plan, bicycles will become more prevalent on the road. We still must "share the road". Without this mantra, bicycle riders will surely "lose every time".

Thank you again for your attention to these matters. Good luck this week at the conference. I am looking forward to your thoughts when you get back."

And then, there's my good bicycle advocate pal Joe Mizereck of Tallahassee, who created the "3 Feet Please" yellow bike jersey. Joe wrote to me in response to the ad campaign title, "My gut reaction is this is absolutely absurd. I hope I am missing something, but I am very concerned about the intent and theme…very concerned."

So, my hunch is that Troy at Dunn&Co. might be hearing from a few more people about "You vs. Vehicle: You lose every time"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Congrats To Bob Buckhorn -- Tampa's Mayor-elect

Bob Bockhorn knows,

He knows Tampa needs to improve its collective bicycle IQ and take steps to reform a bicycle scene that is characterized by too many bicyclists getting hit and killed by motorists.

I also welcome a new Tampa City Council, a majority of which gets it. Council members Mary Mulhern, Lisa Montelione, Yolie Capin and Harry Cohen get it. Mike Suarez has the potential to get it. Charlie Miranda is clueless about bicycling. But all we need is four out of seven and I believe we have a majority who care about bicycling and will take action to get staff to do more.

I was at Channelside to share the Buckhorn victory celebration. Congrats on Tampa's new mayor.

Firefighter Todd Bulger manned a polling site at a south Tampa church on Bay-to-Bay.

Before I hit the Buckhorn party, I met Ed Turanchick, a mayoral candidate who threw his support to Buckhorn, and Brian Maholm, a Tampa resident and Buckhorn supporter who wants a new Rays baseball park in downtown Tampa.

Congrats to City Council District 3 winner Yolia Capin. The Buckhorn campaign bicycle trailer also included a Yolie sign.

Michael Fox worked in the trenches to get Yolin Capin elected.

Buckhorn For Mayor Campaign Billboard Rolls On The Streets Of Tampa Today

The Bob Buckhorn for Mayor Bicycle Trailer was rolled out this morning on Election Day.

Bob has pledged to make Tampa more bicycle-friendly -- which is why I am supporting Bob.

The rolling billboard hit 21 miles before noon and will be back on the streets of Tampa this afternoon and in the Channelside area later today for Bob's election party.

SWFBUD Works With State Rep. Janet Cruz And Thanks Her For Sponsoring Bicycle Safety Bill

SWFBUD is proud to hear this morning that a friend of SWFBUD -- state Rep. Janet Cruz, D-58, -- is sponsoring a bicycle safety bill.

SWFBUD has worked with Rep. Cruz in the past year to further the cause of bicycling in the Tampa area. Cruz has voiced her support for a paved bicycle trail along the Bypass Canal in the Tampa area and also appeared at a memorial bike ride last Oct. 1 to memorialize the loss of bicyclist lives on the roads of Tampa Bay.

SWFBUD gave a SWFBUDDY award to Rep. Cruz at last year's Bicycle Bash and appreciates her dedication and commitment to advancing bicycling and making bicycling safer in the Tampa area.

Tampa Election Day Recommendations

Today is Election Day in the city of Tampa and I am recommending these candidates to make Tampa more bicycle-friendly:

Mayor: Bob Buckhorn
District 1: Mike Suarez
District 3: Yolie Capin
District 4: Julie Jenkins
District 7: Lisa Montelione

Monday, March 21, 2011

Safety Bracelets, The Tampa Downtown Crit, Bike Photos and Birthday Wishes

I'm happy to say that the local Florida Department of Transportation office furnished me with some 200 reflective safety bracelets that will be handed out to all Hub Grub Bicycle Ride participants on April 2. Thank you to Jeanette Rouse of the local DOT safety office for providing these very cool safety bracelets.

* * *

My bicycle friends Jordan and Catalina Markel of the Wellswood neighborhood in Tampa tell me that their friend Susie is looking for volunteers for Saturday's downtown crit race in Tampa. Susie wrote this message:

"I am coordinating the volunteers for the Cigar City Brewing Criterium bike race next Saturday, the 26 of March. Is there any chance that the two of you might want to come downtown and volunteer for a couple of hours? I am in need of course marshalls- spend a few hours in the sun keeping pedestrians off the route. Bring your lawn chair. I have other options too. Thanks! Susie"

* * *

Jeff Houck, the premier food writer of the country who happens to live right here in Tampa Bay, took a few photos of bicycle life in downtown St. Pete. Some cool bike lock action near the museum downtown.

Here's the latest entry for this weekend's grand prix race.

St. Pete has some major banyon tree action going on.

Tight squeeze to get by this bakery. The tourists like to rent these bikes and pedal on the sidewalks.

* * *

And Happy Birthday wishes to bicycle commuter and Bicycle Stories reader Nick Griffiths, who bikes from his Seminole Heights home to the Moffitt Cancer Center every day. Nick bikes with the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club and has been known to snap a few photos while on his bicycle.