Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Back To The Future In Las Vegas

I'll be returning to Las Vegas in May to start work on two very different but satisfying projects.

First, I'll be working on Jared Fisher's campaign for governor because Jared and his wife, Heather, are committed to improving and spotlighting Nevada's education, economy and environment. Jared is a Nevada original, launching his successful Escape Adventures bike tour business with Heather 25 years ago. He also opened what I consider is America's most environmentally green bicycle store in Summerlin in Las Vegas in 2012,  In fact, here's Jared's bike shop in Dec, 2012.

To offer you a glimpse into Jared's run for governor, see his video.

Jared will be connecting with Nevada's people on a bike ride around the state called, "The Listening Tour," starting Sunday May 1 from his home in Blue Diamond outside Las Vegas. I'm still recovering from a distracted driver who smashed his car into me from behind in the Fort Pierce area March 7. So, I won't be biking with Jared at the start. But I hope my progress is far enough so that I can join Jared toward the end of his bike ride around Nevada when he gets closer to the Las Vegas and southern Nevada.

Jared is unique and conventional politics are changing. He's no idealogue and the only mud slinging you will see with Jared is the mud that flies from under his mountain bike tires. You probably already know Jared's wife, Heather, because she is the public face of the Save Red Rock movement that is opposing a developer's plan to build thousands of homes in Red Rock Canyon.

Jared will stress growing Nevada's economy by attracting entrepreneurs, highlighting the state's amazing environmental natural resources and stressing education as a key driver to the state's health and growth. I know Jared and I'm on board to lend my writing, PR and riding skills to get Jared and Heather to Carson City next year.

Here's Jared and I biking in Red Rock Canyon.



Second, I'll be tapping my sports-business reporting background to launch a new Las Vegas-based website that will cover the growing and dynamic sports-business scene and be called, LVSportsBiz.com. This is a dynamic period in Las Vegas, with a $2 billion domed football stadium being built for the Oakland Raiders, an NFL team moving to Las Vegas from Califiornia. A new NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights, is starting its inaugural season later this year at an arena on the Strip that I reported about for several years.



My website will be the authoritative source for sports-business news in Las Vegas and I hope to launch LVSportsBiz.com after I return to Las Vegas in May.

I have covered the business side of sports and stadiums for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal and launched a sports-business website called FoxSportsBiz for FoxSports.com in 2000. I also covered stadium issues while covering city hall beats in Denver and Seattle.

From 2012-16, I covered the sports-biz beat for the RJ, cultivating a comprehensive source network with Las Vegas Events, UFC, the Speedway, AEG, MGM Resorts International, NFR and I was the first reporter to profile Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. I also reported on the Raiders stadium subsidy deal.

I am tying up loose ends in Vero Beach, Fla and hope to return to Las Vegas in early to mid May.

Can't wait.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

'What Has To Change? Everything'

Chip Haynes is a pure bicyclist and writes all about pedaling two-wheelers when he's not tinkering with all types of bicycles.

You won't catch Spandex Lycra on Chip -- just shirts and pants and regular clothing for the upbeat Clearwater resident with the chipper sense of humor.

His enjoys penning books about bicycling and submitted a letter-to-the-editor to The Tampa Bay Times, after reporter Sharon Wynne wrote about how a motorist drove his car into me March 7 in St. Lucie County.

At every level, Florida has failed the bicyclist, the Times explained in an editorial The editorial ended this way:

"Safety requires a change of attitude, and until Florida quits accepting the injuries and deaths of pedestrians and cyclists as collateral damage in a culture focused on cars, don't expect much to change."

In his letter to the Times, Chip offered his own literary touch. Here's Chip in his words:

April 8, 2017
Editor,
While bicyclists and pedestrians have long been fighting a losing battle in Florida, with the loss of Alan Snel (“Failure to protect cyclists, pedestrians”, TBT 4/8/17), we may have just lost the war. That the driver was not ticketed for hitting Mr. Snel from behind tells you all you need to know about the official government view of bicycles in Florida: We are in the way. An annoyance in traffic. Something to drive around. Or over. We. Don’t. Count.

What has to change? Everything: The government’s stance on the rights of cyclists and pedestrians at every level, from local law enforcement to the engineers that plan our car-centric public roads to the State Legislature’s failure to pass strong laws protecting the weak. And when might that happen? Don’t hold your breath. Too few in government at every level bother to walk or ride bikes themselves, and without this being a personal priority, as it is with both Alan and myself, I honestly don’t expect to see any change at all. Alan Snel will move out west, I will stay right here, and bicycles will still be bumper candy.
Maybe I should take up bowling…
Chip Haynes
Author, “The Practical Cyclist” (New Society Publishers, 2009)
1601 Pinewood Drive, Clearwater Florida 33756
Tel, (727) 442-8072
Email chip.haynes@yahoo.com.

Friday, April 7, 2017

How Many Bicyclists Have To Die And Be Injured In Florida?

It's happened again in Florida.

A motorist has killed a bicyclist.

This time, the victim was a former state legislator, Kissimmee city mayor and Osceola County Commission chairman. His name was Frank Attkisson and he was 61 years old.

It happened yesterday around 7 p.m. in the St. Cloud area in central Florida. A motorist slammed her car into him from behind as he rode his bicycle.

And predictably enough, the anti-bicyclist crowd will trot out their same point of view without even knowing the exact circumstances.

That bicyclists break traffic laws.

That bicyclists hog the roads.

That bicyclists do whatever they want out there.

It happened with me -- those comments -- after an admitted distracted, inattentive and careless driver rammed his 2016 Chevy Cruze into me as I bicycled on Old Dixie Highway in St. Lucie County on March 7. The motorist did not receive a ticket. I received two fractured vertebrae, a concussion and a knee that bloats with blood from so many leg muscle bruises.

Florida has by far and away more bicyclist deaths than any other state in the country. Not just per-capita deaths -- but the highest raw number of bicyclist deaths.

And I ask a simple question: how many bicyclists have to die and be injured in Florida before our state Legislature enacts harsh penalties for killer motorists?

The Tampa Bay Times wrote an editorial about this very topic.

ADD:
Celebration of Life
April 10th at 11:00am
Kissimmee Christian Church 
415 N. Main Street



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Florida DOT Delays Release of Wabasso Bridge Safety Report, Still Has Not Made Safety Improvements



Whenever I biked across the lagoon-spanning Wabasso Bridge north of Vero Beach, I always was amazed at two things -- how beautiful the Indian River looked below and how low the bridge’s concrete barrier stood.


I thought that if a motorist hit a bicyclist crossing the bridge, the cyclist would be pitched into the Intracoastal lagoon below and likely drown.




And I asked myself, how did the Florida Department of Transportation get away with building that bridge with such a low barrier?


Well, I was not the only one who feared that the bridge’s low barrier and lack of span space imperiled the safety of bicyclists.


Hugh Aaron, founder and executive director of the non-profit Bike Walk Indian River County group (Disclosure: I am a member of the group’s board), also saw the dangers on that bridge several years ago and his group prompted the Florida DOT to conduct a safety audit of the Wabasso Bridge.


And here’s where things go sideways.


The report, which included a variety of recommendations to deal with the safety concerns, has a January 2016 date on it.


But the Florida DOT only made the report public to Aaron and the public in February 2017  


So, state transportation officials withheld the safety audit report on the Wabasso Bridge for 13 months from the public.


After making several inquiries last year about whether the safety study was ready, Bike Walk Indian River County and Vero Cycling (the local bike club) received a copy of it only two months ago.


Aaron did not mince words. He told Bicycle Stories, “They have done absolutely nothing to make the bridge safer.  Now they are saying they have to evaluate any safety improvements in the context of a district for wide study of every bridge in the district.  There are something like 80 bridges in district 4.


“It seems to me that they were just looking for a way to shelve this report and that's what they came up with. For whatever reason, it seems like they do not want to make that bridge safer.”




In a November 2016 email to Aaron and two Indian River County planning officials, Carmen  B. Pullins, community traffic safety program manager for FDOT District 4, said the report was not ready.


In August 2015, Aaron had prepared a paper for Vero Cycling that outlined its bridge safety concerns.


It raised concerns about the low barrier wall on the bridge and the State Road 510’s shoulders, which are so narrow that they do not meet the Florida DOT standards for the width of a bike lane. State Road 510, or Wabasso Beach Road, uses the Wabasso Bridge to connect the mainland with the barrier island and is a popular road for bicyclists.


The bridge wall is only three feet high. It led Aaron to write, “The average bicycle seat is between 2.5 to 3 feet high. Accordingly, if someone riding a bicycle right next to the concrete wall falls (or is knocked off) his or her bicycle in the direction of the concrete wall, he or she could easily go over the side of Bridge. Given the height of the Bridge, going over the side would most likely result in death or critical injuries.”


Interestingly enough, the DOT audit suggested the agency install a fence outside of the current three-foot barrier wall to address the barrier’s low height.


Unfortunately, that recommendation was in a consultant report provided to the public on Feb. 16 -- more than a year after the January 2016 date listed on the report itself.


And the fence has never been installed.

I reached out to FDOT District 4 officials for comments, but they have not responded.


Maybe you will do better -- here are the emails of the people to contact at the FDOT:


Alexander.Barr@dot.state.fl.us,
barbara.kelleher@dot.state.fl.us,
daniel.hiden@dot.state.fl.us,
paul.lampley@dot.state.fl.us