Thursday, December 30, 2010

SWFBUD Works To Re-Visit The Bypass Canal Trail

SWFBUD is working to get Hillsborough County and Southwest Florida Water Management District to re-visit a 10-year-old proposal to build a paved trail next to the SWFWMD's Bypass Canal from Morris Bridge Road just east of I-75 southward toward Tampa.

This afternoon, I joined SWFBUD store owner Randy Myhre of Oliver's Cycle Sports, along with Bill Hand and Tina Russo of Hillsborough County, Colleen Kruk of SWFWMD and planner Kelly Bray of the city of Temple Terrace on a short bike ride on mountain bikes to check out the canal trail route.

We started on Morris Bridge Road and headed south atop the berm and the views were wonderful. There were sections of shells and hard dirt used by the maintenance pickups, but after three miles or so we were stopped by I-75 as we headed slightly west.

The proposed canal trail alignment calls for the route to move off the canal property to a road about a quarter-mile away, then return to the canal land.

We hope to get the ball rolling on this plan.

Colleen of SWFWMD and Bill Hand of Hillsborough County check out the maps that show the proposed Bypass Canal Trail.

Tina starts the ride.

Bill enjoys the ride.

Check out the scenery -- nice stuff.

Kelly and Bill ride the trail.

Tina jumps over the fence where there was no opening.

One of the underpasses -- below Rt 301.

Tina and Randy biking the trail.

One of the smoother sections.

Randy checks out one of the underpasses.

At some sections there are lots of space along the canal.

Tampa District 3 Candidate Jason Wilson Offers Bicycling Views

Bicycling is a major news story in 2010 in light of the nearly dozen bicyclists who have been killed by motorists in the three-county Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco area since July. Yet, with a major March 1 election looming in Tampa -- a mayor and all seven council seats are up for grabs -- hardly any candidates have addressed bicycling.

SWFBUD reached out and interviewed five mayoral candidates on their positions on bicycling: Ed Turanchik, Bob Buckhorn, Dick Greco, Rose Ferlita and Tom Scott. Tampa is run by a strong-mayor form of government, which allows the mayor to have enormous power in initiating projects such as a bicycle program.

I have not asked council candidates for their views on bicycling. But out of 29 council candidates, only one council hopeful has contacted me to offer his positions on bicycling. District 3 candidate Jason Wilson, a Tampa General ER doctor from south Tampa, gave me this letter on bicycling in Tampa. Wilson wrote:

"Bicycling is an effective mode of transportation, excellent fitness exercise and an enjoyable family recreational activity. However, to maximize the potential of bicycles in our life, our city must work much harder to build a system that promotes the utilization and implementation of a bicycle culture.

1. Is there a bicycle representative/member on TBARTA? If not, there needs to be one on TBARTA and every other transportation work group that develops in the city or county.

2. We can work now to promote a culture shift by –

a. Educating drivers and law enforcement through publications and advertisement – current driver unawareness creates unsafe conditions for riders

b. Enforcing the laws that do exist that promote bicycle safety and the sharing of roadways

c. Develop more “sharrows” and signage on roadways

d. Encouraging companies and new businesses to integrate commuter bicycling - i.e. showers at work, indoor or sheltered bicycle storage areas - new buildings can be encouraged to implement these facilities by waivers and reductions on permits and other associated applications/fees

3. We must have a vision for a complete and complementary transportation system in Tampa. This vision encompasses:

a. Some form of mass transit that integrates bicycles so that riders can switch easily between rail/bus/car and bike as needed

b. Increased bicycle use and storage on existing or planned transit options (bus and highspeed rail)

c. Integrating new bicycle corridor initiatives into all further mass transit planning (Turanchik has the right ideas regarding this)"

I urge you to support political candidates who support bicycling. For too long, bicyclists in Tampa and the Bay area have stood on the political sidelines and failed to voice our agenda for safer roads, more paved trails and better driver awareness regarding our rights to the road.

As the mayor's race gets closer, I will offer my views on the mayoral comments regarding bicycling.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

St. Pete Councilwoman Leslie Curran, Injured In Bicycle Accident, Looks To Return After Jan. 1

You might recall that St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Leslie Curran suffered a serious head injury when she had a bicycle accident in the city over the summer.

The Times is reporting that she will look to return to council duty in January.

Snow Biking

Jeff Houck sent this beauty of a photo -- a New York Times shot of a bike that could use a little cleaning. I don't think we in Florida have much to complain about wheather when you see these conditions.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Triking In Downtown Tampa

This afternoon I was happy to see this lady, a trike bicyclist doing duty for the Tampa Downtown Partnership. She was using the trike's box to carry frisbees and balls for the kids using Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.

Nebraska Trip Close To Home

Ask anyone to name a road in Tampa with the worst reputation and usually the first one named is Nebraska Avenue.

True, the Nebraska corridor I follow on my bicycle from Seminole Heights to Ybor City and downtown is not exactly the quaint garden boulevard.

But I'm fascinated by the architectural residential gems and rugged and ambitious small businesses -- and new restaurants such as Ella's and Reservations -- amid the car shops, used tire lots, old motels and industrial storefronts.

So, I got up early (it's not too cold for me -- 34 degrees is springtime in upstate New York), took my camera and snapped photos along Nebraska Avenue from Ybor City's 7th Avenue to Hillsborough River.

Here are some images along the three-mile strip. The contrasts are stunning.

A lovely statue -- it's at a city of Tampa building where you pay parking tickets.

Everyone seems to like apostrophes. But you use them only in the possessive -- not when a word implies a plural.

Interstate above.

There's good.

And there's bad.


Look carefully -- there's a guy fixing a bike wheel in the background.


Like I said, contrasts -- bail bonds and day care.

Across from each other.

Subtle advertising.

Reservations -- they make great take-out food.

Lots of homemade ads.

Tires for all.

Nebraska -- home of the wrong-way salmon bicyclists.

Look who's running for mayor -- her headquarters are right here.

A lovely home.

More contrast -- Ella's and its residential neighbor.

Ella's art, with BBQ smoke wafting by.


Fun place to check out.

Vegetation and tires.

Monday, December 27, 2010

RIP Bicyclist Edward Allen Weber, 63

This morning the St. Pete Times ran a sad story about a 63-year-old bicyclist who was killed in Hillsborough County on Nov. 16 and the fact that nobody stepped up to claim the body.

His name was Edward Allen Weber and he was riding his bicycle to the VA Hospital in Tampa when he was struck from behind on US 41 at 5 AM Nov. 16.

Mr. Weber was scheduled to be creamated by Hillsborough County this morning and his ashes scattered in the Gulf of Mexico.

Friday, December 24, 2010

DOT Bicycle Lane Policy

Many people send me emails about bike lanes. Specifically, does local government or the DOT have to stripe a bike lane when doing roadwork? One bicyclist from Clearwater asked this question this week.

Lori Snively, the bicycle-ped coordinator for the Florida DOT's District 7 which covers the Tampa Bay area, offered this:

"It is the goal of the Department and in accordance with Section 335.065, Florida Statutes, Bicycle and pedestrian ways along state roads and transportation facilities: “(1)(a) Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Bicyclist Threatened With Fines For Riding A Trike With Ad Signs In Pinellas County

This is incredible -- Pinellas County government is telling a bicyclist who rides a trike with advertising signs that his bike-riding is illegal.

The bicyclist wears a Santa outfit while pedaling his trike with the ads.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Return To Lightning Domination

Tonight I hit the Lightning game and the Bolts methodically took apart the Carolina Hurricanes. Congrats to Stammer -- Lightning superstar sharpshooter Steven Stamkos scored his 100th career goal tonight. Remember the ex-Bolts coach/ESPN talking head who said he couldn't play?

What's a Lightning game without a photo opp with ThunderBug (in holiday garb).

Happy Holidays y'all.

Let's Bike Trip To St. Pete

Today's cool, crisp weather on the day before the first day of winter reminded me of living in Denver, where I loved the cool, ultra-dry air.

I took a quick ride to St. Pete from Tampa by cycling to the trail that leads you to State Road 60 near the Courtney Campbell Causeway, but then I biked underneath 60 toward the Grand Hyatt Hotel and took the trail called the "U-Path" that leads you to Cypress Street in Tampa. I then hooked up with West Shore Blvd. and took it south to the Gandy Bridge en route to St. Pete.

Check out the U Path entrance and trail.

I don't get this area. People and leaders waste incredible resources that others around the country would die for. For example, it's sad to see an amazing resource like the old Gandy Bridge/Friendship Trailbridge sit dormant -- along with the wonderful Al Lang Field ballpark on St. Pete's waterftont. Here's the old Gandy Bridge that is currently closed and the unused ballpark is pictured below.

A guy was giving away some used kids bikes on the side street across from the former church that leads to the park and trail that takes bicyclists to 1st Street en route to downtown St. Pete.

There's a cool metal gate door that leads you from a side street into the Sunken gardens shopping center and a Panera Bread across the street along 4th Street in old Northeast.

BayWalk in downtown St. Pete looks like a ghost town -- empty stores, such as this one.

One of the best-located ballparks in Florida is Al Lang Field on St. Pete's waterfront, yet it sits idle after the Rays moved their spring training to Charlotte County two hours to the south. What a gorgeous setting.

Here's one of the best pieces of the bicycle infrastructure in the Tampa Bay area -- the two-way bicycle lane along 1st Avenue that is an extension of the Pinellas Trail to the St. Pete waterfront.

Some of the locals were in the holiday mood on Central Avenue near Ferg's sports bar, but this fella was a bit stiff.