Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Florida Congressman Mica Introduces Bill That Kills Bicycling/Walking Funding

Seriously, John Mica? You're a congressman from Florida -- home of too many bicyclist and pedestrian deaths in this country -- and you just introduced the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act.

This proposed bill eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, and it goes much further and systematically removes bicycling from the Federal transportation program.

It basically eliminates our status and standing in the planning and design of our transportation system -- a massive step backwards for individuals, communities and our nation. It's a step back to a 1950s highway- and auto-only program that makes no sense in the 21st century.

The bill reverses 20 years of progress by:

•destroying Transportation Enhancements by making it optional;
•repealing the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school;
•allowing states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles;
•eliminating bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs; and
•eliminating language that insures that rumble strips "do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled."

On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark-up the bill and Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will sponsor an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Representatives Petri and Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their representative today.

Because of these urgent new developments, and the vital importance of a HUGE turnout on Capitol Hill in March, the National Bike Summit early bird registration deadline has been extended to Feb 20. We need every single cyclist in Washington, D.C. that the city can hold (and that's thousands ...). Register today!

Stay in touch by visiting bikeleague.org and americabikes.org for background and breaking news.

Tell You Local Congressional Member to Support Transportation Enhancements

This morning I called my local congresswoman -- Kathy Castor -- at both her Washington, DC and Tampa offices and urged her staffers to please advise Kathy to fight for bicyclists and walkers this week because House leadership is pressing to eliminate bicycling and walking funding in a transportation bill to be released today called the American Energy and Infrastructure Act.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, this bill:

•Destroys Transportation Enhancements by making the program optional
•Repeals the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school
•Allows states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles
•Eliminates bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs
•Eliminates language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled”

This week in the Transportation Committee, Representative Petri (R-WI) will stand up for bicycling and walking by offering an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School.

Mr. Petri can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their Representative on the Transportation Committee again today to urge them to vote YES on the Petri amendment!

Kathy Castor, please help bicyclists and walkers in the Tampa area. Tampa lags behind the rest of the nation when it comes to bicycle infrastructure and we need all the help we can get.

Please call Kathy in Tampa at 813-871-2817 and in DC at 202-225-3376 and tell Kathy to support bicycling by supporting Rep. Petri's efforts to restore dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sierra Club Holds Bicycle Safety Program Feb 8

The Tampa Bay Sierra Club February Program is Wed Feb. 8 at 7 pm /6:30 social time

Program: Rules of the Road: Bike Smart/Drive Safely
Speakers: Karen Kress and Jason Jackman
Walk Wise/Bike Smart Campaign
Hilton Garden Inn
1700 E. Ninth Ave. (Ybor City) (813) 769-9267

Marcia Biggs says more bicycles are sharing the road with motor vehicles than ever before.

As a bicycle rider, do you know proper signaling when riding a bike on a roadway?

What about turning left at a major intersection or riding against traffic. What about helmets, riding on sidewalks or riding at night? Did you know you can be ticketed for riding a bicycle after sunset without a white light on the front visible from 500 feet? Or riding and wearing a headset? Or running a stop sign? As a motorist, do you know the rules when encountering bicycles? Even you can be ticketed for reckless driving if you come too close to a bicyclist.

This program will be of interest to both motorists and bicyclers with a refresher on Florida bicycle laws, practical tips and techniques for safe commuting in our city streets, tips for choosing a route, carrying gear, fitting your bike/helmet/appropriate attire. All attendees will receive free bike safety gear and a copy of the Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide.

General meetings are free and open to the public. For more information, call 727-797-6261. Contact is Marcia Biggs. Chair, Tampa Bay Sierra Club

New Bike Lane On Bayshore Blvd. In Tampa

For years,SWFBUD has asked the city of Tampa to improve Bayshore Blvd., including reducing downtown-bound Bayshore from 3 to 2 lanes and adding a bike lane from the point where an existing bike lane ends.

Well, it's time to retire this "bike lane ends" sign. The Bayshore project offers this new bike lane and the reduction of lanes from three to two.

Let's Ride Over The Bridge To St. Pete

Today's weather in the Tampa Bay was so nice and cool and dry that it felt like that first nice spring day in the northeast, when the warmness of the afternoon gives you an energy jolt. There was an extra spring in my legs this afternoon and a natural ride was to head over the Gandy Bridge to St. Pete's waterfront from Seminole Heights.

I was cycling in the Gandy Bridge shoulder when I took a look next-door and saw the shut-down Friendship Trailbridge. What a pathetic shame -- a bridge offering amazing access to thousands shut down for structural problems and for lack of political will to repair.

It was a joy to bike today and downtown St. Pete and its waterfront were abuzz. Check out the Dali -- the new museum is a must visit in St. Pete.

Baseball is back -- University of Miami was at the downtown St. Pete ball park.

From The Hangar restaurant-- great perch to see the downtown St. Pete airfield.

Uh-oh -- looks like someone with a penchant for mischief had a little fun with this church sign.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let's Paddle The Hillsborough

Today Bicycle Stories traded the bicycle for the kayak this afternoon and paddled the waters of the Hillsborough River from Lowry Park underneath Florida and Nebraska Avenues and I-275 to the Park Circke neighborhood in Seminole Heights.

Here's the most humble home I saw on the river today.

Back on land, let's face it, Florida and Nebraska Avenues are not exactly the stuff of a garden city. Lots of car lots, repair shops, thrift stores. But on the water, it's a whole different world. Check it out.

This vessel has seen better days.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Supporting Sharrows and the BAM

Our local politicians should know there are many people in the Tampa Bay who care deeply about improving bicycling and who act on their concerns. One of those folks is Michael Ploch of Riverview, who created the Sharrows reflective design for vests and jerseys, including this one. Here's Michael at the Flatwoods park seven-mile loop.

He is also behind the creation of a regionwide paved trail system that SWFBUD is calling the BAM -- for Bicycle Area Mobility.

Michael will be selling very cool BAM T-shirts he designed showing the BAM map on the front at the Feb. 19 Swap Meet at the Taco Bus St. Pete on Central Avenuer. Fellow bicyclist Nico Stearley designed the BAM map.

Thank you Michael and Nico for supporting BAM.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

66 Fixed Gear and Singlespeed Shop in St. Pete Closed

I'm sorry to see that Michael Davis has closed his 66 Fixed Gear and Singlespeed bike shop on 1st Avenue in St. Petersburg. Mike opened the shop in 2007 and it became a favorite for the fixie crowd in St. Pete, but Mike told Bicycle Retailer that he was burned out.

I saw Mike just yesterday at the former 800-square-foot shop and it looks like he's liquidating the business. Mike said he expects to swing by the SWFBUD Swap Meet at the Taco Bus St. Pete on Feb. 19 from 11 am to 3 pm.

Bicycle Retailer has more on the store closing here.

Just last week I saw Bill Addler, who is closing Revolution Bicycles in St. Petersburg.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gasparilla Childrens' Bike Rodeo Needs Volunteers

It's time again for the Gasparilla Childrens' Bike Rodeo Saturday and they need volunteers!

The Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Rodeo, presented by the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, is a chance for you to help teach the children of Tampa Bay the important bicycle/pedestrian safety skills they need to know in order to be safe biking and walking members of our community!

If you volunteer you'll either be helping with passing out and fitting helmets, or leading kids through one of the stations in the safety obstacle course!

This event is free to all children, and each child participating in the safety course will first receive a free bicycle helmet to keep (until they run out)!

Volunteers should arrive between 9:30 - 10am for training and to help set up. The actual event is from 11am-2pm. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for USF volunteers!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A New Sight on Bayshore Blvd: New Bike Lane

Great to see the city of Tampa install bike lanes on Bayshore Blvd. starting from Platt Street.

The bike lanes run from Platt Street to Rome Avenue. How more bike lanes extended from Rome Ave. to Gandy?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bicyclist and Actor Gene Hackman Hit By Pickup in Florida Keys

81-year-old Gene Hackman was riding his bicycle in the Keys when -- surprise, surprise -- he got hit by a pickup.

A CNN story said Hackman was biking without a helmet in Islamorada when a Toyota Tundra hit his rear tire.

The CNN story cited a state highway patrol report that said Hackman was taken to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami with "serious" injuries.

Lakeland Motorist Arrested For Running Red Light and Killing Bicyclist in June 2011 -- Driver Says She Was Cleaning Her Glasses

Polk County Sheriff's Traffic deputies arrested a Lakeland woman today on a warrant charging her in the death of a bicyclist in June 2011.

On Friday, January 13, 2012, Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies took 34-year-old Tashica Wanyell Smith (DOB 4/12/77), of 512 W. Lowell Street in Lakeland, into custody without incident for Negligent Manslaughter/Vehicle/Killing of a Person.

According to the investigation, at approximately 1:30 p.m., on June 24, 2011, Smith was operating a 1994 Ford Escort on U.S. Highway 92 east of State Road 659 (Combee Road) in Lakeland. Smith, who was traveling at an approximate speed of 77 MPH in a posted 45 MPH zone, failed to stop at a red light, which resulted in her hitting 56-year-old James Galey (DOB 2/5/55), of 2412 Hatwood Street, Lakeland, as he was crossing U.S. 92 on his bicycle.

Smith and a witness in her vehicle stated that at the time of the crash, Smith was cleaning her glasses. Smith has been booked into the Polk County Jail and is being held on $10,000 bond.

She was also arrested and then released on bond in October 2011 for a charge of Failure to Redeliver a Hired Vehicle. She has seven total prior arrests for charges such as Grand Theft, Failure to Appear, and Violation of Probation. Attached is her current mugshot.

Thank you,

Carrie Eleazer, PIO

Polk County Sheriff’s Office

Office: 863.298.6217

Cell: 863.287.7440

Fax: 863.298.6262


City of Tampa Works Deal To Maintain U-Path Trail Near Airport

One of the unheralded paved trails in Tampa Bay is the U-path that allows bicyclists from points north of State Road 60 to circumvent Tampa International Airport on its west side to reach locations south of the airport. It was nice to hear Karla Price of the city of Tampa tell us members of the Tampa-Hillsborough Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee this week that the city of Tampa has worked out a deal with the Tampa International Airport for the city to maintain the trail.

It's an essential link that allows bicyclists to bike south on George Street to a city park where the trail starts and heads to State Road 60/Causeway and continues south of SR 60 past the Hyatt, around the airport and to Cypress Avenue. Make a left on Cypress and you can head to downtown Tampa and other Tampa locations.

I use it all the time when I cross the Courtney Campbell Causeway from Clearwater to Tampa and pick it up off SR 60 starting at the Hyatt.

Here's an overhead map of the U-Path.

You might recall that I also took photos of roseate spoonbills hanging out in a watery hideaway between the U-path trail and the Hyatt.

You also get a pretty good view of landing jets when biking the U-path.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sprinkle Consulting To Start Study Next Month of Tampa Bypass Canal Trail Crossings

BAM Network Update -- I learned tonight that Sprinkle Consulting will start next month on a six-month consulting job for the Hillsborough MPO on the Tampa Bypass Canal Trail crossings.

SWFBUD is pushing for the BAM Network -- a regional three-trail system of the Tampa Bypass Canal Trail, the South Coast Greenway and the Selmon Expressway Greenway.

The Tampa Bypass Canal Trail is a 17-mile trail from New Tampa along the Bypass Canal Trail to State Road 60. It's grass now. But we want the trail paved to allow more bicyclists to use it.

Bicyclist Killed in Hillsborough County Last Night

Another bicyclist is killed in Hillsborough County.

Monday, January 9, 2012

SWFBUD Swap Meet -- Feb 19, 11 am to 3 pm at Taco Bus St. Petersburg

SWFBUD is proud to announce its inaugural SWFBUD Swap Meet at the Taco Bus parking lot on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg on Feb 19 from 11 am to 3 pm. We will also have live music while you shop for cool bike gear and parts at the Taco Bus in St. Pete.

Bike Commuter on 40th Street

My friend Allan Feldman bikes from Seminole Heights to the USF campus.

Why Bikes Lanes Are Good

I was cycling north on Morris Bridge Road this morning when a car in the opposite direction passed a car in its lane and came mighty close to striking me. Here's why bike lanes are good -- take a look.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Go By Bike -- And Park At The Seminole Heights Outdoor Market

They came by bicycle, the folks on mountain bikes and road bicycles, on fixed-gear and urban-commuter chariots and even a bike with a trailor. The bicyclists who pedaled to today's Seminole Heights Market were an assorted lot bound by the sheer joy of arriving at the community gathering place via human-powered transportation.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Community Cycling With The SHBC

Every first Saturday of the month, I stroll down my driveway and greet the cyclists who come for the easy and casual 6-mile ride I lead through SAeminole Heights.

You never who will attend. We have our regulars such as the czar of the bike valet Jim Shirk, our Seminole Heights Bicycle Club communications manager and always friendly Margarey Shepherd and Wes and Faye, too.

And this morning we had 10-year-old Joseph who lives near Margaret, a teacher named Neil who I met at a climate symposium at Blahe Highh School in November and Kelly, who grew up in metro Tampa, lived in Boston for 24 years and has returned to Tampa.

We biked down 12th Street to Park Circle and the Hillsborough River, checked out 22nd Street Park, biked back to Lake Roberta for a lap around the ol' lake and finished back at my house.

See you Sunday morning at the Seminole Heights Market at Hillsborough School where the SHBC tent will be up and Jim Shirk and I will be ready to chat neighborhood and community bicycling with you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bicycles and Buses Work Together To Reduce Traffic and Air Pollution

It was nice to participate in a HART video explaining the great connection between bicycles and buses.

Tampa's city TV station -- CTTV -- aired it as part of "Spotlight Tampa" this month, says bicyclist/CTTV cameraman Brian Sullivan.

Plight of the Tampa Bicycle Commuter

I'm a Facebook friend of USF graduate assistant Sven Williams, who conveyed his recent experience of being told to ride his bicycle on a sidewalk:

"dear driver on Yukon, nearing 40th: you will forgive me if I don't respond politely to your fat ass braying at me to get on the sidewalk. I'm sure you were on the way to doing something important with your life, but it takes like 30 seconds to safely pass me. (and folks wonder why I cheer a little when gas prices spike)"

* * *

About four comments followed on Facebook after Sven's post and then Sven wrote more:

"Ironically, it only really happens to me in poorer parts of town, where bikes are more transportation than recreation. I think it's in part because I'm an annoyance in their already-shitty lives, and I'm a convenient target to take it out o...n, because I can't really do much in retaliation beyond memorizing license plates and delivering one-finger salutes.

There's this really super-strong car culture in Tampa, partly because the city really grew after the 40s, right around the time when the streetcars were dismantled here and cars really took off in America. Not owning a car in Tampa relegates you to second-class citizenship and denies you full use of public space. Try going to grad school, working, and attempting to have a social life without a car here. Impossible, since it takes you an hour to get anywhere worth getting to, and you risk your life every time!

I'm done fighting and pretending like my transportation situation is a matter of principle. I'm looking for a motorcycle; know anyone selling one?"

* * *

Bike commuting in Tampa is no easy task when a high number of motorists do not respect your right to use the public right-of-way. Add to that a lack of bike lanes and paved trails and the bicyclist faces a challenge, indeed. The local DOT's new bike safety message even blames bicyclists for getting hit.

But don't give up. Don't let all these forces make you give up your bicycle. It's a beautiful thing, bicycling, and makes your life fuller.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Walk Yields Bicyclist Scenes

Take a walk and it's inevitable that something will grab your attention. Like this superb use of garbage cans to protect prized plants from the frosty temperatures we have endured the past few overnights in Tampa, Fla.

Nice parking by someone with a big ol' red SUV in the assistant principal parking space by Seminole Heights Elementary School.

At Sligh and North Blvd, there's a hard-core bike commuter with big pannier bags.

The serene Hillsborough River.

There's Jordan Miller, owner of Velo Champ bike shop, cycling on Central Avenue.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Some New Bikes Lanes Around Tampa Bay

Bike lane alert. A new bike lane is always a nice surprise in Tampa Bay.

Here are a few new ones I've noticed. Here's Florida Avenue from Fletcher Avenue to Bearrs Ave. in Tampa.

Have you seen Bayshore in Tampa? There's a new striped bike lane on Bayshore from downtown to Rome Ave., then a Share the Road sign after Rome.

In Pinellas County, I rode in a new bike lane for a short stretch of 49th Street south of 118th Avenue as part of my Bridges Ride.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

They're Back -- Roseate Spoonbills Hanging Out Off U-Path Trail

At mile 40 of the 50-mile Bridges ride, I saw my usual pals in a watery area off the U-Path trail behind the Hyatt Hotel near the airport.

Close-up of the roseate spoonbills.