Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Paris Report

My Parisian correspondent Bridget files these photos from Paris today. These are exact captions for each photo. Too bad she has to leave before the Tour de France begins in July.

One of the few Parisians who wear the suggested visibility vest- but since she looks pretty blind to me, I guess it's best if she is visible to drivers.

This bike is fully equipped with a customized document carrier- very cool.

This woman had just tucked the hem of her long dress (she had been holding it up on her handlebars) between her butt and the seat. Check out the colorful cargo bags- now that is a serious shopper:) This one was taken before I had taken the metro into Paris- we are right on the border of Paris.

Picot On Keeping Flatwoods Open 7 Days A Week

Send me your letters and emails to the county commissioners about Flatwoods and I'll also post them here:

from Picot Floyd:

Dear Sirs and Madams,

Please consider this an impassioned plea to reconsider your budget requirements to close the Flatwoods park several days each week.

My hours are not normal, I don't work on Mondays, and so that is my day to go to the park. I also enjoy the beautiful woods on the weekends, like many other folks, when i am able to do so, but these times are arbitrary, and the park is really critical to us in the biking community.

I go there mostly with my family, we are five, my youngest is five years old, my oldest daughter is 14, and we use the space to enhance our family life. We always remember our times there, including a visit last year when we got to see a great horned owl, it was sitting right beside the trail we rode on, and all my girls got to enjoy that moment.

"Where else and how else?" is the question we are asking ourselves.

Please rule in favor of your constituents, and their families, and leave Flatwoods park open 7 days a week for people who don't have a traditional Monday through Friday schedule.


Picot Floyd

Flatwoods Bike Ride To County Budget Hearing July 16

As you know, Hillsborough County's proposed budget calls for closing Flatwoods county park Monday and Tuesday.

This is unacceptable and SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers) is asking bicyclists and park users to join a 5-mile bike ride to the county building on July 16 to tell the commissioners to Keep Flatwoods Open 7 Days a Week at a budget hearing at 6 PM in downtown Tampa.

SWFBUD is announcing a "Keep Flatwoods Park Open 7 Days a Week" Bike Ride from the Seminole Heights Garden Center at 5800 Central Avenue to the County Government Center for the first Budget Hearing on July 16. Email your contacts and tell others.

5PM: Meet in front of garden center on Central Avenue, a half-mile north of Hillsborough Avenue. Lots of space to park if necessary.

5:30PM: Reach county government building in downtown Tampa and sign up to speak.

6PM: Hearing begins.

Also, make your voice heard:

Call the budget hotline at 813-307-8337 at tell the county to keep Flatwoods open 7 Days a week.

Send an email to hcbudget@hillsboroughcounty.org

And show up July 16 at 6PM at County Government Center to speak at the hearing.

I have contacted the offices of all 7 County Commissioners and the aides for each commissioner provided the following information:

Rose Ferlita: Not available. Will get back to SWFBUD possibly tomorrow.

Ken Hagan: Opposes closing the park two days a week. He's asking budget officials to look for ways to restore the two days.

Kevin White: Aide will pass message to White to keep Flatwoods open 7 days a week..

Al Higginbothom. Supports not raising taxes. Looking for money to restoring those two days by knocking out "dead weight" in the budget and streamlining and cutting other areas. "We're trying to put money back to parks and see if cuts whether in other places.

Jim Norman: Jim is going to look to do everything he can to keep it open.

Kevin Beckner: Aide doesn't know and aide said Kevin Beckner will call.

Mark Sharpe: Eric the aide is getting a lot of requests and it's an issue to be determined. "We're getting hit on it on a daily basis. We hit a nerve on this one."

Budget Public Hearings (all starting at 6 p.m.) and Public Comment is taken:
Thursday, June 9, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009 (First State-Required Public Hearing to adopt tentative millage rates and a tentative budget)
Thursday, September 17, 2009 (Second State-Required Public Hearing to adopt final millage rates and the FY 10 operating and capital budgets)

Budget Workshops (all starting at 1:30 p.m.) and NO Public Comment is taken:
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009 (if needed)
Thursday, July 30, 2009 - Budget Reconciliation

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cycling With A Fellow Bike Cam Fan

This morning offered my final morning ride on the field trip as tomorrow I drive home to Tampa from Maryland.

My college pal Laura Sarantis came over from Rockville, a Wash DC suburb, for a pleasant 15-mile ride. Laura and her husband Guy are outstanding commuters. Guy walks 2 1/2 miles to his Metro train stop to work in Washington DC, while Laura pedals a terrific commuter bike complete with a rear bag that has small saddlebags to hold her food and other items.

Laura also bolted a Nikon digital camera onto her helmet and a big rubber band holds it in place. Laura said her bike cam was more high-tech than me holding a camera with one hand and my bicycle with the other -- and I confess she is correct.

Laura picks up some asparagus at the local farm stand during the ride. Notice how the asparagus matches her bike shirt.

There's Laura biking.

Before Laura arrived, I took a little stroll down to the Patapsco Valley Park along the river.

Wow, an actual train showed up.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Riding The Farms of Howard County, Md.

This morning I went out for a hilly 42-mile ride amid the farms of Howard County. True rollercoaster terrain and challenging for a Florida flatlander.

The wild lillies were out in force this morning.

One of my favorite wildflowers.

During my 42-mile bike ride this morning, I passed several garage sales, including one that sold me a video of Breaking Away for 50 cents. Deal.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hot and Cool

Hot wife, cool ad.

Day on the road ends here.

Today's Field Trip: Washington, DC

This morning I travelled into Washington, DC to share lunch with an old newspaper pal, Bob O'Harrow, who is at the Washington Post. Bob and I worked at the Middletown (NY) Times Herald-Record in ancient times, and we used to play hoops, hike and watch college basketball.

Like New York, Washington, DC is a big bicycle city. I was impressed with all the bicyclists getting around the city, easily beating cars around the city. Here's a row of bike rentals that you access at a kiosk with the swipe of a credit card. Cool stuff.

Fixies are everywhere.

White House in the backdrop.

There's something so funadamentally American about a dude holding a little dog while also texting in front of the White House.

It's not the White House without a few protests.

Back at ya Bob O'Harrow

A Metro station in downtown DC. People can bring bicycles on the Metro trains.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Crotch Cam Returns

Back in Howard County, Md. Will be here through the weekend, then back to broiling Tampa.

This is Frederick Road, which runs parallel to9 I-70 snd US 40 in Maryland.

Tell The County Commissioners: Keep Flatwoods Open 7 Days A Week

We bicyclists come from all backgrounds but one thing we can agree on is that Flatwoods county park is a gem of a bicycle resource and we need to come together to convince the county commissioners to not slash hours and personnel there.

SWFBUD is asking for a call of arms (and legs) for people to tell the county commissioners to not close Flatwoods two days week.

Flatwoods County Park faces deep budget cuts under the proposed Hillsborough County budget, including the park closing on Mondays and Tuesdays.

This is unacceptable.

Please attend county commission budget hearings this summer to tell the commissioners one thing: Keep Flatwoods open 7 days a week.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Let's Go For Ride In New York

Cycling in New York.

Taking A Healthy Bite Of The Big Apple

Biking in Manhattan. Buses and taxis and cars and scooters and pedestrians and motorcycles. And the giant buildings that soar into the sky.

It's chaotic and crazy and exhilirating and challenging all the same time.

I used to bike commute into Manhattan -- and Tuesday and today I was able to re-visit my old city route of cycling across the George Washington Bridge and cycling to below mid-town all the way on the opposite side of the Manhattan island to see my old newspaper and longtime pal Gary, who is a national editor at the Associated Press in New York.

Last night, we went to the Mets-Cardinals game at new Citi Field, a typical retro-style new ballyard in the Coors Field/Camden Yards-mode. Lots of points of sale on a wide main concourse, brick and metal touches throughout and improved food over the urine-and-grease pit known as Shea Stadium, the Mets' previous home.

Let's go for the tour of New York.

I see you, Empire State Building.

Bike lanes galore.

Cute little bikie.

Bike with great cages to carry stuff.

My favorite bookstore: The Strand just south of Union Square.

Gary checks out art at Union Square.

How cool is that -- a green bike lane leading to the Flatiron Building.

People wait on line for the Shake Shack at lunch for burgers. Supposedly, the best burgers in New York.

Fixed gears were everywhere in New York.

Gary is ecstatic after walking out of the parks workout facility with the special senior citizen membership of only $10 a year.

The view from Gary's apartment on the East Side.

Gary shows off the lovely Mets department store gear in true Jane Merrill fashion.

The Jackie Robinson Rotunda

Gary and I near the field during Cardinals batting practice.

Gary sits in a folding chair that the ushers gave us for our seat. Our seats were behind the last row of the upper bowl, in an area where physically disabled are usually situated.

Midtown Manhattan at rush hour.

Yes folks, that's New York City -- calm Riverside Drive after rush hour.

Walking up and down the stairs with my bike to gain access and leave the George Washington Bridge.

My last view of the Hudson River from Haverstraw -- serene watery beauty and green hills with Tilcon's quarry and smokestacks on the river.