Monday, April 30, 2012

Bicyclist Killed Today In Hillsborough County

Another bicyclist tragedy in Hillsborough County,

A 56-year-old man on a bicycle is killed in Gibsonton on US 41.

The Tampa Tribune has some details here:

http://www2.tbo.com/news/breaking-news/2012/apr/30/bicyclist-56-dies-after-being-hit-by-van-in-gibson-ar-398407/


Times has similar brief: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/accidents/bicyclist-killed-on-us-41-in-gibsonton/1227759

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Ride On Bo!

Bo also knows bicycling.

Bo Jackson, the former Auburn star who played pro football and baseball, is biking 300 miles across Alabama to visit towns hit by tornadoes and raise money for the victims.

Ride on Bo! http://news.yahoo.com/heisman-winner-bo-jacksons-relief-ride-ends-sat-190644938--spt.html

FBA Executive Director Hit By Sheriff's Deputy While Bicycling -- Looking For X-ray of Bicycle

I'm sending quick healing thoughts to Tim Bustos, the executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, who was biking recently when he was struck by a sheriff's deputy who ran a stop sign.

Tim, a veteran bicyclist, took evasive action to minimize his injuries. Tim also is concerned about his vintage Trek road bicycle that has an aluminum frame. Tim said he was told hairline cracks not visible to the naked eye could be a hazard resulting in frame failure.

Tim is looking to see if there are any bike shops or other sources that can x-ray his bicycle for damage. Contact Tim at tim@floridabicycle.org

Florida Bicycle Association Reports Legislative Wins In Tallahassee

Timothy Bustos, the new executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, has some good news out of Tally.

"I reported our potential wins right after the legislative session ended, but it's now official - the Governor has signed our bill:


CS/CS/HB 1223 — Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
The bill contains numerous changes to highway safety and motor vehicle laws administered by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This is a very long bill with many sections. However, the important verbiage that affects cycling includes the sections below.Specifically, from the perspective of cycling in Florida, the most significant change is clarification in the “mandatory bike lane law” that explicitly spells out when we can leave the bike lane:

“Clarifies situations in which a bicyclist is not required to ride in the marked bicycle lane (if the roadway is marked for bicycle use) or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. The bill clarifies that a bicyclist is exempt from this requirement when a “potential conflict” or a turn lane interrupts the roadway or bicycle lane.



Other sections that affect cycling include the following:

Effective October 1, 2012, requires compliance with the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets contained in 16 C.F.R., part 1203. Helmets purchased prior to October 1, 2012, in compliance with the existing statutory standards may continue to be worn legally by riders or passengers until January 1, 2016.

 

Allows law enforcement officers to issue bicycle safety brochures and verbal warnings to bicycle riders and passengers who violate bicycle lighting equipment standards in lieu of issuing a citation.



Tim says, "These are all great wins for cycling in Florida, and are a direct result of FBA’s influence in Tallahassee.Everyone involved should be commended, particularly members of the legislative committee, and our lobbyists with Capital Alliance.Additionally, I think this signals a turn-around with our lobbying efforts, so expect good things in the future!"

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chief Jane Castor: Friend of Bicyclists

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor is a bicyclist and she knows the scene on local streets,

She knows that both motorists and bicyclists have to be educated about sharing the road together. And she appreciated J. Steele Olmstead of SWFBUD donating $2,000 for Share the Road It's the Law decals for the rear windows of another 100 Tampa cars.

The chief discusses that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4z_zBCJXrk&feature=youtu.be

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

J. Steele Olmstead Makes Donation To Tampa Police For Share the Road Decals on Police Cruisers

TAMPA -- SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), the alliance of Tampa Bay retail bicycle stores and bicycle lawyers committed to growing bicycling in Tampa Bay, is proud to announce that SWFBUD member lawyer J. Steele Olmstead is donating $2,000 to the Tampa Police Department for more "Share the Road It's the Law" decals on the police cars' rear windows.

Last year, Tampa Police began using the Share the Road It's the Law decals, which extend across the width of the police cruisers' rear window. The decals also show that motorists must pass a bicyclist by a minimum distance of three feet in compliance with state law.

With the $2,000 donation, Tampa Police will be able to buy even more Share the Road window decals. SWFBUD has worked with Tampa Police Sgt. Carl GiGuere to arrange the donation by Mr. Olmstead to Tampa Police.

J. Steele Olmstead, a Tampa lawyer and bicyclist who has been a SWFBUD member for the past two years, will make the donation to Tampa Police today at 3 PM at Police Headquarters in downtown Tampa. SWFBUD has identified bicyclist safety as a major safety issue because eight bicyclists in Hillsborough County have been killed since last December.

Olmstead said that the Share the Road It's the Law message is vital for motorists, who might not understand that bicyclists have a right to public roads. In addition, Olmstead said most motorists do not understand that they are also required to pass a bicyclist by a minimum distance of three feet. Olmstead said he's pleased that the Share the Road message will be backed by the authority of Tampa Police on cruisers across the city.

Olmstead will present his contribution to Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at the check presentation ceremony this afternoon.

"SWFBUD appreciates the Tampa Police Department's efforts to make the city more bicycle-friendly," said Alan Snel, SWFBUD director. "The Share the Road It's the Law decals on Tampa Police cars are a combination of education and law enforcement coming together for the betterment of both bicyclists and motorists."

video
SWFBUD is a nationally-known, award-winning group of bike shops and lawyers that works with local governments and agencies to advance bicycling in Tampa Bay and puts on the annual Bicycle Bash festival and other bike events to show the value of bicycling in Tampa Bay's communities.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lots Of Bicycle Spirit At Today's Swap Meet

Swap meets are fun bicycle parties where you never know who will show up with an offbeat bicycle (like the rickshaw above) or an unusual bike jersey (like the Schaefer beer jersey below). It's a gathering of vendors peddling parts and used bikes and sometime crazy bike stuff -- and along the way the chatter and jokes and connections help build a bicycle culture and community in a town.


That's what I hope gets accomplished with the swap meets I hold such as the gathering at the Sherry's YesterDaze parking lot on Florida Avenue in the Tampa neighborhood of Seminole Heights.

It was wonderful to see terrific friends such as Nereia, Jim, the Jordans, Mike and also make new friends such as Irineo Cabreros, who teaches at the USF School of Art and Art History, and who shared his stories of biking along narrow Linvingston Road from USF to his home.

Thank you Sherry King of Sherry's YesterDaze for loaning out her parking lot and the bicycle folks who came out to enjoy the swap meet. Here are a few peaks at some of the scenes from today.





D

Swap Meet In Seminole Heights Is ON Today, 11am-3pm



Bicycle Swap Meet in Seminole Heights is ON for 11am-3pm today. It's at Sherry's YesterDaze at 5207 N. Florida Avenue just south of Hillsborough Avenue.

For the uninitiated, people do not trade bicycles at a swap meet. A swap meet is like a big yard sale where people set up tables and sell used bikes and bicycle parts, gear, equipment and clothing.

If you plan to be a vendor or sell anything, there is a $10 fee. Vendors can drive into Sherry's YesterDaze parking lot from the side street, unload, park and then return to set up.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Glass In The Bike Lane -- Bicyclist In The Travel Lane

If you're driving a car and see a bicyclist pedaling in the travel lane and not in the bike lane, it could be because there is glass in the bike lane.

Like this situation on northbound 40th Street (McKinley) north of Busch Blvd in Tampa.

So please don't get mad at a bicyclist who is avoiding debris in a bike lane and is pedaling in the travel lane. The cyclist is not trying to slow you down -- just staying safe by avoiding debris and a potential flat tire.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Save The Friendship TrailBridge

SWFBUD has joined a core group of people to craft a business plan to show the Hillsborough County Commissioners that the TrailBridge is worth saving.

It has been closed for 3 1/2 years and was scheduled to be destroyed, but the Hillsborough Commissioners have given the group until May 16 to come up with a business plan to show the economic feasibility of keeping it.

The effort will likely include creating a non-profit group and a public-private partnership with Hillsborough County.

Check out www.friendshiptrailbridge.com to get involved.

Kudos to Shanna for this gorgeous photo. The core group is filled with bright people looking to save the TrailBridge and improve the Tampa Bay area. Let's save this amazing prized resource we have in this area.

Ghost Bike For Bicyclist Killed In Bike Lane In St. Petersburg

A ghost bike in memory of bicyclist Kris Jones who was recently killed in St. Petersburg is scheduled to be installed on 1st Avenue South near 52nd Street in St. Pete.

The ceremony will be at 5 PM Saturday.

Kris was killed April 14 when she rode her bike in the bike lane along 1st Avenue South in St. Petersburg. Kris was hit from behind by a motorist racing at about 80 mph, according to police reports. Toxicology reports indicate the driver had a slew of drugs in his system at the time. He also had his 3 yar old daughter with him.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Video Shows Motorist Buzzing Bicyclist, Violating 3-Foot Buffer Law


A recent video posted on Facebook shows a motorist on a local narrow road coming up on a bicyclist in the same traffic lane.

There's also a car coming in the opposite direction.

See the video here.

So, what does the driver do?

Does he slow down, wait for the oncoming car to pass in the opposite lane and then safely drive around the cyclist?

Or does he speed up, buzz the bicyclist and zip around the cyclist beating the oncoming driver in the opposite lane by a few seconds?

This being the Tampa Bay area, the motorist buzzes the cyclist -- violating the state law that requires a motorist to pass a bicyclist by a minimum distance of three feet -- and zips back into the lane before the oncoming car.

The scene was captured by a bicyclist's hemlet-cam. The bicyclist caught up with the motorist and tried to inform the motorist about the state's 3-foot buffer law.

The lesson didn't go over well on the driver, who tells the bicyclist to bike on the sidewalk. For bicyclists in an area with many roads that lack bike lanes and shoulders, it's a scene played out all the time.

What's the law and what's the standard here?

I refer to the folks at Cycling Savvy, who have a wonderful program educating bicyclists about the best lane positions to take and, in doing so, explains to motorists why a bicyclist is in a specific position in the road.

"Most overtaking crashes involve a motorist who attempts to squeeze past (illegally) in a lane that is too narrow to share," according to http://cyclingsavvy.org/hows-my-driving/

Cycling Savvy says, "While Florida law [FS316.2065-5] does say bicyclists must drive 'as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway,' it also provides many exceptions to this rule, including

•When overtaking and passing another vehicle

•When traveling at or near the same speed as other traffic

•When preparing for a left turn

•Where a lane is too narrow to share safely with another vehicle

•To avoid any condition that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge"

Indeed, many roads around Tampa Bay are too narrow to share safely with another vehicle, so as a bicyclist I will be "taking the lane" when there is an oncoming car and then waving a motorist behind me to go around me when there is no oncoming traffic.

In the case captured by this video, I likely would have taken the lane because it is too dangerous and narrow to share it safely with another vehicle and would have forced the motorist to move at my speed until the car in the oncoming lane passed.

To educate the motorized travellers in Tampa about the 3-foot law, I am also happy to say that Tampa lawyer J, Steele Olmstead of South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers is donating $2,000 to the Tampa Police Department to add more Share the Road Give 3 Feet Decals to the rear windows of Tampa police cruisers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Killer Driver Charged With DUI Manslaughter For Smashing Into Bicyclist In St. Petersburg Bike Lane

The driver who killed a 40-year-old bicyclist in a bike lane in St. Petersburg Saturday is charged.

Motorist Kills Bicyclist In Plant City Today

The deadly roads of Tampa Bay claimed another bicyclist.

This time, a motorist killed a bicyclist in Plant City.

Good-bye Bill Sharpe; You Touched Many


In his 59 years of living, Bill Sharpe made a lot of friends from all walks of life. That was obvious from the diverse audience of several hundred people who came today to memoriaize the life of Bill Sharpe, who did everything from sell stocks to run a bar to start a south Tampa community newspaper to host festivals and business networking sessions in Tampa. Bill also started the Epoch newspaper sold by people on street corners, but there was so much more to Bill.

There were the Epoch newspaper workers -- some wearing their reflective vests while sitting in the pews at the Hyde Park United Mtheodist Church. There was Tampa Council members Mary Mulhern and Yolie Capin and Jeffrey Neil Fox, who owns Bucs and Bulls Heaven, the sport mercahndise store, and my friend Mark Holan who works for the Tampa Bay Business Journal and Mitch Perry from Creative Loafing and a host of Bill's neighbors and friends from every background.

I got to know Bill from writing bicycle stories for Bill's South Tampa Community News. Bill was a big supporter of bicyling in Tampa and was an exhibitor at the 2010 Bicycle Bash festival and also supported bicycling by participating and covering the mayor's bike commute day last May. Bill gave me free exhibitor space at his BBQ and seafood festivals in downtown Tampa to spread the gospel of bicycling.

Bill killed himself on April 2 at his newspaper office, which doubled as his home on State Street, near Rome Avenue and Cypress Street in north Hyde Park. Nobody knows what was going through Bill's mind when he did that. He was at a downtown Tampa bicycle race only two days earlier and people said Bill was in good spirits.

If Bill was still around, he would be offering me space to write a story on a core group of people -- myself included -- that are working on a business plan to save the Friendship TrailBridge. The Hillsborough County wants to demolish and destroy the bridge, but I along with others believe there is a way to repair the parts of the bridge that need to be mended while also forming a non-profit fund-raising group to keep the bridge alive. I'll be writing that story and sending it in. I'm sorry Bill you won't be here to see it, but we will carry on in your memory.

Donations may be made to the Bill Sharpe Memorial Trust at any Bank of Tampa branch to keep the Epoch newspaper alive.

St. Pete Times story.

Build It And The Bicyclists Will Come (And Commute)

No shocker here. Study says that if governments build more bicycle infrastructure more people will bike-commute.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Enjoy A Seminole Heights Bicycle Ride Before the SH Swap Meet Next Sunday

Next Sunday before the Seminole Heights Bicycle Swap Meet: The Little Sights of Seminole Heights Ride. Margaret Shepherd will be your bike ride leader.

* At 8:30AM meet @ The Independent Beer Pub & Cafe, 5016 N Florida Av, two blocks south of Hillsborough Av (park on the north side of the Pub @ Florida & Wilder or in the lot behind)
* 13 miles @ 10-14 mph with lots of sight seeing

Join us as we make a circuit around and through Seminole Heights discovering the bicycle connector roads, passing some of the oldest homes, lovely yards and the pocket parks sprinkled along the Hillsborough River. The terrain varies from flat to a bit of up and down when we're near the River.

Most of the route is shaded by the gorgeous tree canopies for which Seminole Heights is known. This is a great ride for novice riders or for those wanting to tour our lovely, old neighborhood at a leisurely pace.

Breakfast at the Independent Cafe after the ride and then on to the Swap Meet in Sherry's YesterDaze's parking lot!

Motorist Kills Bicyclist In St. Petersburg Saturday

SWFBUD was saddened to hear about a motorist who drove into a bike lane and killed a bicyclist in St. Petersburg on Saturday. Read the Times story here. The usual "bicyclists shouldn't be on the road" comments follow the story.

Our local DOT district office in Tampa Bay hired an ad agency from Ybor City to show that bicyclists are to be blamed for causing car-bicycle crashes. Unfortunately, the DOT doesn't seem to acknowledge when drivers are to be blamed when killing bicyclists.

This St. Petersburg killing was a clear case where a motorist killed a bicyclist and should be blamed. SWFBUD supports safety programs teaching bicyclists to safely navigate the roads but where are the campaigns to teach motorists to safely share the roads with bicyclists?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You Never Know Who You're Gonna Meet

I have always maintained that there are so many more bicyclists in the Tampa Bay area than any of our elected political officials ever acknowledge.

I meet bicyclists all the time -- and sometimes they're not even biking when I see them for the first time.

Like today at the Starbucks on Hillsborough Avenue in Seminole Heights where I posted an April 22 Swap Meet flier.

A young gentleman dressed nattily in a tie said he was Clay from Temple Terrace and told me he is a bicyclist who reads Bicycle Stories every day.

Thanks Clay -- and maybe next time I'll see you on a bike in Temple Terrace which I bike through to Flatwoods Park.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Let's Save The Friendship TrailBridge

One Tampa Bay place that was beloved by all bicyclists from roadies to casual cyclists on cruisers was the Friendship TrailBridge, the old Gandy Bridge used by 600,000 annual users who enjoyed biking the Tampa-St. Petersburg link.

But Hillsborough County closed the bridge because of structural issues and was about to vote last week to demolish the TrailBridge until a core group of people won a 30-day reprieve at last week's meeting to come up with a business plan to show that this Tampa Bay treasure is worth saving.

SWFBUD will be working with this core group of people in the next 22 days to develop a business plan to show the value of saving the TrailBridge.

In the meantime, SWFBUD needs your help. Please send emails and make phone calls to all seven Hillsborough County Commissioners and explain to them why the TrailBridge needs to be saved. Here are their emails and phone numbers:

Commissioner Sandra L. Murman — District 1
murmans@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, PO Box 1110, District 1
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5470
Fax: 813-272-7046

Commissioner Victor D. Crist — District 2
cristv@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 2
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5452
Fax: 813-272-7047

Commissioner Lesley "Les" Miller, Jr. — District 3
millerl@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 3
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5720
Fax: 813-272-7048

Commissioner Al Higginbotham — District 4 - Chairman
higginbothama@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 4
Tampa, FL 33601
Phone: 813-272-5740
Fax: 813-272-7049

Commissioner Ken Hagan — District 5 (At-Large) - Chaplain
hagank@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 5
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5725
Fax: 813-272-7052

Commissioner Kevin Beckner — District 6 (At-Large)
becknerk@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 6
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5730
Fax: 813-272-7053

Commissioner Mark Sharpe — District 7 (At-Large) - Vice-Chairman
sharpem@hillsboroughcounty.org
Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners • PO Box 1110, District 7
Tampa, FL 33601-1110
Phone: 813-272-5735
Fax: 813-272-7054

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Save The Friendship TrailBridge -- 6PM Meeting Thursday


Friends, an accelerated campaign has begun to save the Friendship Trail Bridge. For those that don't know, the Friendship Trail Bridge was an old span of the Gandy Bridge that was converted to pedestrian use. Before it was shut down in 2008, the bridge was being used by over 600,000 residents of Hillsborough and Pinellas County per year to run, bike walk, skate and fish.

1. Please come out to the organization meeting this Thursday, 6pm at the
Tampa AIA office at 200 N. Tampa Ave: http://friendshiptrailbridge.com/schedule.
2. Attend the County Commission meeting where the Commission will vote on the fate of the bridge - May 2nd at 9 am.
3. Forward this email to at least one friend that might be able to help.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Save The Friendship TrailBridge

Which bridge would you like to bike on? The Gandy Bridge shoulder where cars fly at 60 mph to your left or the Friendship TrailBridge (The old Gandy Bridge) where you bike with runners and roller-bladers?

I thought so -- you want the Friendship TrailBridge to re-open since its closure in November 2008.

The Hillsborough County commissioners were set to vote to hire a company Wednesday to demolish the Friendship TrailBridge, but gave a 30-day reprieve to a small band of residents led by Neil Consentino to see if the group can come up with a business plan and engeineering evidence that the bridge isn't going to collapse.

Contact Neil at 813-251-4669 to get involved.

Matt From Tour De Pizza, Good Luck In Brazil!


My pal Matt, a bicyclist and owner of the Tour de Pizza in St. Petersburg and friend of all bicyclists, is leaving his pizzeria in St. Petersburg for at least six months starting in May to move to Brazil with his wife.

You might recall Matt biked from St. Petersburg to New York in 2010 to show that pizza can be healthy food and that you can lose weight eating pizza. He stopped at pizzerias along the way and appeared on TV to spread the gospel about pizza.

Matt's Tour de Pizza in the Publix shopping center off 4th Street and 38th Ave. displays many bike jerseys and he's a big supporter of bicycling in Tampa Bay.

Good luck in Brazil, Matt!

A Bike Lane Grows On Swann Ave. In Tampa

Good to see that the city of Tampa is complying with road standards -- striping a bike lane when there's new road surfacing. It's a stretch along Swann Avenue from South Boulevard to Hyde Park Village

Bill Sharpe Memorial: April 17, 5PM @ Hyde Park Methodist


Brooks Morgan, Bill Sharpe's close friend and right-hand man, tells me a memorial for Bill is scheduled for April 17 at 5 PM at the Hyde Park United Methodist Church. There will likely be a gathering afterwards in Bill's memory from 6:30-8:30pm.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hillsborough Commissioners Approve $3,000 For Bike Lights and Safety Vests

SWFBUD is happy to report that the Hillsborough County Commissioners -- led by Commissioner Mark Sharpe, the bicyclist ally on the commission -- approved spending $3,000 for bike lights and vests for the Guys on Bikes seen biking at night without lights and vests.

The lights will be given to Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies and Tampa police to give to the bicyclists who are pedaling around without reflective safety vests and lights.

Thank you Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing who wrote about the county commission action and is a great reporter when it comes to covering the bicycle issue in Tampa bay.

For more bicyclist news, check out this wrap-up.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tampa Doesn't Even Apply For Bikes Belong's Green Lane Project

A city of Tampa staffer told me she considered applying for this Bikes Belong "Green Lane Project" but was told by her superiors there were more important priorities.

So, while Tampa needs all the help it can get to expand its bicycle infrastructure network, these other six cities won major resources from Bikes Belong for their bicycle systems -- Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

“The selected cities have ambitious goals and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected officials and communities,” said Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal. “They are poised to get projects on the ground quickly and will serve as excellent examples for other interested cities.”

Tampa and other Florida cities, are you listening?

Friendship TrailBridge Wins A 30-Day Reprieve



Hillsborough County commissioners granted a 30-day reprieve for the beloved Friendship TrailBridge, which was scheduled for demolition. The amazing bridge links Tampa and St. Petersburg, but engineers found some erosion in the structure. It's been closed since November 2008.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bike Parking Restriction At Free Speech Restrictions Meeting

Tonight I bicycled to Stetson law school on Tampa Street, a four-mile journey from my Seminole Heights home for an ACLU-led panel session on the city of Tampa's proposed free speech limits and restrictions for the GOP convention in August.

It was a packed house at the Stetson law school with lots of valid First Amendment concerns, like limiting groups to 60 minutes for parades/rallies during the convention.

Restrictions are everywhere. Even fo me tonight.

I locked my bicycle to a pole outside Stetson -- a move that was of grave concern for a Stetson security guard who threatened to remove the bike before someone tracked me down inside the meeting room.

The bike didn't block anyone from going in the building, but the security guard said someone could crash into the bike and sue Stetson.

Restrictions -- you haven't seen anything yet because your First Amendment rights are about to take a beating when the Republicans come to town in late August to nominate Mitt Romney to run against President Obama.

The city of Tampa is imposing a "Clean Zone" that's way more than the arena area in downtown. Inside this so-called clean area you are banned from bringing in stuff like water squirt guns or wearing masks (but you can bring in your concealed handgun -- that's a state law the city of Tampa says they don't control.)

The Tampa city attorney was on the panel assembled by the ACLU, though nobody from Tampa Police or the State Attorney's Office was on the dais.

On Thursday, the Tampa City Council will be reviewing the proposed restrictions and I recommend anyone who cares about his or her First Amendment rights attend that council meeting.

Mark Your Schedule: Swap Meet on April 22, 11am-3pm in Seminole Heights

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mourning The Loss Of Bill Sharpe, Community Leader and Bicycling Supporter In Tampa

Today is a heatbreaking day for Tampa.

My heart sank when I read that Bill Sharpe, publisher of the South Tampa Community News, has committed suicide.

Bill also published the Tampa Epoch newspaper, which was sold at city street corners. Bill was a community leader and supporter of bicycling in Tampa. He was 59.

I wrote stories on bicycling for Bill for his South Tampa Community News and I was happy to say that Bill participated in the Bicycle Bash festival.

Bill was a doer. Bill also put on a blues and barbecue festival and a recent seafood festival in downtown Tampa and offered me the use of his newspaper office space for any bicycle events.

Bill was a wonderful friend who attended LatkeFest.

The Tampa Bay area has lost a very decent man and a community leader and I mourn Bill's loss. RIP Bill Sharpe. It is a sad day.

This photo was taken from Bill's blues and bbq event last October.


Added Tuesday 10:45AM
It's sad that the media, in reporting Bill's death has focused on his role in creating the Tampa Epoch.

Bill did a lot more than that. He worked selflessly in putting on a Blues and BBQ event last October at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa and just recently put on a seafood festival at the same park. He invited me to have free space at both events to spread the word about bicycling in Tampa Bay.

Bill was a big supporter of bicycling. He participated in an event last May when Mayor Bob Buckhorn led a bike-commute group of cyclists to highlight bicycling in Tampa and he had a space at the 2010 Bicycle Bash to tell people about the South Tampa Community News and bicycling.

Bill also held a series of business networking mixers at local restaurants and worked hard to making Tampa a better place to live.

The media -- and I used to be a newspaper reporter -- is adroit at honing in on the most controversial and unsettling moments in people's lives. In this case, Bill Sharpe should be remembered as a man who cared deeply about Tampa and his community and he showed his caring with actions, not words.

Pedaling The Old Seminole Heights Home Tour

Making the Tampa Bay area more bicycle-friendly comes in many ways. I was happy to offer the bicycle valet service Sunday at the French country cottage of Miss Bridget. whose lovely home was among nine on the 14th Old Seminole Heights Home Tour yesterday.

All-universe bike volunteer Jim Shirk mapped out a bicycle route for cyclists to pedal nearly eight miles to reach the nine Seminole Heights homes on display.

I welcomed about 40 bicyclists throughout the day at Bridget's cottage. Here's Jim in front of the bike parking sign we posted in front of the house.


Bridget wanted to have her home welcoming and friendly to bicyclists and what better way than to have bike valet and a protected bike parking area?


Rick and Nanette were just one of many coupleswho pedaled the home tour.