Thursday, November 29, 2012

The New Cycling and Hiking Settings For Bicycle Stories

Bicycle Stories has moved to the western edge of the Las Vegas metro, a short bike ride to the inspiring Red Rocks Canyon area. I arrived Wednesday night and squeezed in a sunset bike ride to Red Rocks and this morning I was able to do a wonderful hike at Calico Basin, just two miles from the Red Rocks Canyon 13-mile loop. Behold the scenes

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vegas-bound Soon

Last day in Maryland. The West awaits.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catching Up With An Old Friend By Bicycle

It didn't matter that it was 41 degrees and breezy out of the West on the farm roads outside Frederick, MD.

I hardly felt the cold. That's what happens when you bike with a great high school friend for only the second time in 33 years.

Paul Feinberg always had a quick smile and a reliable 15-foot jump shot and today he offered warm conversation while we cycled on a late November day.

Paul went to Tulane and I went to Hobart College in the fall of 1979.

We didn't see each other again until June 2009 when I drove with my bicycle to Paul's home in Frederick and we biked 40 miles on the rural Frederick-area roads.

Then today we biked the same route and renewed a friendship that was made possible with a great bike ride.

It was great catching up with a fellow Fightin' Maccabee.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Proposed Law Would Allow Bicyclists To Turn Left At Red Traffic Lights Where Left-turn Arrows Don't Change

For you bicyclists who stop at red lights when making a left turn and won't budge until you get a green light or green turn arrow, a state lawmaker in Nevada has just the proposed law for you:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Final Message for The Bicyclists of Tampa/Hillsborough County

Six years ago I wrote a letter to the Florida Department of Transportation's Tampa office. I wrote that based on my two years of bicycling around the Tampa/Hillsborough County area, it was plain to see that the Tampa/Hillsborough area was the most dangerous place to ride a bicycle in the U.S. 

Sadly, tragically and regrettably, the high number of bicyclists dying on the streets of the Tampa/Hillsborough County area proved my letter prophetic.  

12 bicyclists are dead in Hillsborough County in 2012. 

A dozen bicyclists were also killed in Tampa/Hillsborough in 2010. As Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists said, the high number of bicyclists dying on the roads here is appalling.

I might be bicycling into the Tampa bicycle advocacy sunset, but I am leaving bicyclists and community leaders a four-point plan that goes beyond the Band-aid style responses we have seen so far and focuses more on the systematic issues of enhancing and growing bicycling in Tampa Bay.

Too often, the local bicycle measures are re-active, responding to perceived safety issues.

My philosophy is to enact public policy that would get more bicyclists on the road and create a more bicycle-friendly region. More bicyclists on roadways and trails, more educated drivers and bicyclists, more awareness for the appreciation of bicycling and more bike-friendly infrastructure will lower the crash numbers.

Local governments are required by their comprehensive plans -- their legal blueprints for growth and development -- to create transportation networks that accommodate bicycles.

It's time for you as a coalition, alliance or group or whatever you choose to call yourselves to hold them accountable. I leave you with my four points:

1. FUND IT, BUILD IT. SWFBUD has advanced the BAM Network in Tampa/Hillsborough. BAM stands for Bicycle Area Mobility and it means the city and county working together to build an integrated network of paved trails and roads with bike lanes/separated bike lanes like a highway system for bicyclists. Don't focus on individual trails here and there, but seek a system of connecting trails and safe roads with great bike lanes that allow bicyclists fast, efficient, pleasant safe connections throughout Tampa/Hillsborough. Projects include connecting the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and Suncoast Trail; building the 17-mile-long Bypass Canal Trail from New Tampa to State Road 60; building the South Coast Greenway; building a multi-use trail along State Road 60 from the Bypass Canal Trail to the Selmon Greenway; converting one side of Nuccio Parkway into a multi-use bike-walk trailway to link downtown Tampa to Ybor City; applying sharrows to the entire length of Cypress Avenue from North Boulevard to the U-Path trail that leads to the Courtney Campbell Causeway/Clearwater/New Causeway Trail.

Think bicycle highway system and network and lean on Mayor Buckhorn, the County Commissioners, the City Council members, Jean Duncan the city of Tampa's transportation manager and the MPO and its Board.

2. ROADS FOR ALL. SWFBUD appreciates the efforts to educate bicyclists to avoid being struck by cars. It's a great idea for local police to hand out lights and reflective vests to the "Guys on Bikes" so that they can be seen at night. Education is paramount for bicyclists. But bicyclist error accounts for half of the bike-car crashes. Car driver error accounts for the other half. So where is the public awareness, campaigns and education for car drivers to avoid hitting bicyclists? We need a public awareness campaign with a singular strong message: Roads are for everyone no matter what type of vehicle you drive -- motorized or human-powered. 

Lean on the Florida DOT to conduct a public awareness campaign that roads are for all and that bicyclists have a right to the road and that car drivers need to be patient and accepting of bicyclists on the public right-of-ways.

3. THE LAW. SWFBUD established strong relationships with Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, Assistant Police Chiefs John Newman and John Bennett, many Tampa officers and sheriff's office law enforcement. A new group must meet with law enforcement leaders and stress to them that police must crack down on impatient, aggressive and distracted car drivers and enforce the 3-Foot buffer law. Police need to understand that bicyclists have a right to take the lane under certain legal circumstances. Bicyclists need their support and engage police at all levels.

4. GOVERNMENT BUY-IN TO BICYCLE CULTURE. SWFBUD established a great relationship with Hillsborough County parks to hold Bicycle Bash events at Flatwoods, with the county parks fully supportive and backing bicycling. Any new group has to lean on Mayor Buckhorn, City Council members like Lisa Montelione, Yolie Capin, Mike Suarez, Harry Cohen and Mary Mulhern to get the city of Tampa to also provide free bicycle culture events such as "Ciclovias" where boulevards like Bayshore Boulevard is closed once a month on a Sunday morning for example to allow bicyclists and non-vehicular traffic full usage. SWFBUD also approached the Tampa Hillsborough expressway Authority to ask that agency to close the upper deck of the Selmon Expressway for periodic early Sunday closures to allow bicycle-only use. It's all about convincing local governments to buy into bicycling that will lead to more people on bicycles. City of Tampa, hire a full-time bicycle-ped coordinator to push the bicycle agenda on all fronts -- from events and promotions to building infrastructure and awareness. It's not just you as a bicycle alliance that has to buy into bicycling -- it has to be institutions like local governments, hospitals, colleges etc. that have to be partners. Start a Tampa Ciclovia, for example.

My final message: I will miss you all and I will watch from afar as you take the baton and take bicycling to the next level in Tampa/Hillsborough. Remember, roads are for everyone. Let's all be safe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hitting the Patapsco River Trail Outside Baltimore

On Monday at 2:05 am I stuffed myself into a packed station wagon and drove from Tampa, departing Florida under a cloak of darkness. I arrived in Ellicott City outside Baltimore about 8 pm and it was wonderful see my sister, bro-in-law and Ben, one of my nephews.

This morning I promptly started hitting the trail along the Patapso River and found this burst of red growing out of a host tree limb. Cool and crisp here. Cycling this afternoon on the farm roads of Howard County later.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Let Them Ride Bicycles and Eat Cake

What a birthday/goodbye cake!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gorgeous Electra Amsterdam For Sale: $475 or Best Offer

Great holiday gift, this Electra Amsterdam is an internal three-speed with coaster brakes with gorgeous touches. Smooth and stable ride. and excellent condition. Electra no longer makes this model. Price is $475 or best offer. For info, contact Bridget at 813-309-6610

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bicycling The 40th Street Tour de Eats -- This Ain't Your Chain Food

I just had to do this before I left Tampa -- bike along 40th Street north of Hanna Avenue and drop in for a bite at some of the restaurants I whiz by in the mornings during my daily 41-mile ride to Flatwoods and back. Up first was the wonderful Island Crew restaurant, which is a trailer with a small eating area in front near the Hillsborough River. Every morning I yell, "Ya man," as I bike by the Jamaican restaurant. The chicken, yellow rice and black beans were wonderful. The tender, moist chicken fell off the bones and the mango ices were so tasty. Here's owner Poppy and wife Denise with me at Island Crew.

Then it was a stop a mile up 40th Street at Big Steve's Georgia Boy BBQ for some ribs doused in the most delicious BBQ sauce I have ever tasted. This syrupy sauce had one helluva tangy and sweet taste with a chipotle pepper after kick. The ribs kicked ass and I sponged up the sauce with a white bread.

Then the final stop was at Johnson's 40th Street Seafood House. The original restaurant was altered because of the 40th Street road project, but you can still grab a few crabs and dine on a fish sandwich. The talapia sandwich was fantastic coated with a thin and tasty fried layer that enhanced the fish taste.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Transition Time For SWFBUD and the Bicycle Movement in Tampa

It's transition time.

I might be leaving.

But the bicycle movement in Tampa will continue to grow. It's simply the next stage.

The next step will grow out of an initial meeting held two days ago in Tampa where more than 30 bicyclists of all backgrounds came together to discuss the transition from my efforts on behalf of SWFBUD to another community-based group to continue growing bicycling in the Tampa and Tampa Bay area.

Toward that end, bicyclist Mike Weimar has created a discussion group to get the transition ball rolling. Thank you Mike.

Here is Mike's email to the folks who provided their email contact info at Wednesday's meeting:

"Welcome to the discussion group help further Alan Snel and SWFBUD's goals of 
a better cycling community in the Tampa Bay area. This is an open group, so 
please feel free to invite folks who would like to participate in the initial 
transitionary discussion. This is not intended to be a wide open public group.
It will serve as a transitionary step between what Alan had built and what it 
will eventually become. A public discussion group will come in the future, but
this is to continue the discussion from the evening of November 14, 2012. If 
you have any questions please feel free to email me at I 
am stepping up to help facilitate this transition, but in no way am assuming 
any ownership, that is what we are all here to decide as a group. Thank you 
all again for your support of the cycling community in the Tampa Bay area, now
let's get the ideas and discussion rolling!
Mike Weimar

Here is the group's description:

A transitionary discussion group to help facilitate the dissolution of Alan 
Snel's SWFBUD organization to a community initiative in the Tampa Bay area to
further better and safer and cycling access for all members of the community."

* * *

The bike shops and lawyers of SWFBUD will also be having their own meeting in January to discuss how they perceive the future. I will tell you that the owners of the SWFBUD bike shops care deeply about furthering bicycling in Tampa Bay and I'm sure they will want to coordinate their efforts with whatever new group emerges from Wednesday's first meeting.

This is an exciting time for bicycling in the Tampa area. Local political leaders are more aware of the relevance and value of bicycling than ever before, several regional trail projects are in various stages of development and more people than ever care deeply about growing bicycling in Tampa Bay.

I leave knowing that the bicycle awareness movement that SWFBUD helped start in Tampa will be growing with new leaders into its next stage. I will watch from afar with pride as I see your your work and efforts result in the next stage of bicycle growth in the Tampa area.

I'll be saying good-bye at a party Saturday at 7 PM at my house. Email me if you need more info.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Passing The Bike Advocacy Baton In Tampa

I'm leaving Tampa's bicycle scene in the hands of a fantastic can-do group of bicyclists after more than 30 bicyclists of all backgrounds came together tonight to continue making Tampa an improved bicycle-friendly town. There were the vets like Tina Russo, Michael Edgerley, Phil Compton, Pat Kemp and Ed Crawford, plus Mike and David from the Bike Co-op, and Allan, Doug and Bill from the Seminole Heights Club, and the USF group, and Karen Kress of the Downtown Partnership, and Jose the bicycle stat man, and the list goes on. Great job organizing the meeting, Jim Shirk.

 There are already many great bicycle groups and bike ride events in the Tampa area but the elected leaders need to also see a coalition representing the growing base and cross-section of bicyclists in this region. So my hope is that a new Tampa Bay bicycle coalition gets formed to continue making bicycling a political and public policy issue. The political pressure must be applied to step up funding to build an integrated and regional bicycle infrastructure network that connects all sections of the Tampa area and region and there must be a campaign to not only educate bicyclists about avoiding being hit by drivers but ALSO educating drivers to not hit bicyclists with the central theme that our roads are for ALL of us regardless of the type of vehicle you use.

The future looks good for bicycling in Tampa as a I hit the dusty trail. Keep it going everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Great Knowing You Ranger Rick

It doesn't get any better than Ranger Rick offering his heartfelt wishes -- Ranger Rick is the "secret weapon" at Flatwoods park outside Tampa where I find bicycling solace.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Continue Bicycle Advocacy -- Nov 14 7:30PM at Gilligans Downtown Tampa

Six years ago Sharon Kennedy Wynne of tbt wrote this preview of the FIRST Bicycle Bash in 2006, and had the foresight to write that the event may be the start of Tampa pedal power. While I may be leaving, I hope the pedal power movement in Tampa continues and toward that end there is a meeting next WED NOV 14 at 7:30pm at Gilligans bar 202 Morgan St in downtown Tampa to create a core committee of bicycle activists to continue the task of leaning on elected leaders to fund bicycle improvements and to continue working on making Tampa/Hillsborough more bicycle-friendly. My friend Jim Shirk and I will be there and if you're interested I hope you attend, too.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bicycling The 40th Street/McKinley Corridor

Confessions of an early-morning bicyclist -- 40th Street and McKinley have come a long way. It's a main north-south bicycle artery from Hillsborough Avenue to Busch Gardens and USF in north Tampa.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Transportation Manager Bikes Right To The Stage

I interrupt your Election Day post-game analysis with a second universal, non-partisan bicycle story from Sunday's Bicycle Bash.

Tampa Mayor Bib Buckhorn was telling the crowd about the city's commitment to improving bicycling and mentioned the city's transportation division manager, Jean Duncan.

The mayor asks, "Where's Jean?" And Jean, straddling her Trek 820 mountain bike, responds, "Here I am, mayor," and proceeds to bike from her spot right up to the stage where the mayor was speaking.

When your city's transportation manager rides her bicycle to the stage to be next to the mayor you know your city will improve its bicycling scene.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sweetest Little Bicycle Story

I interrupt your Election Day fervor with a universal, non-partisan bicycle story about my niece in Miami.

Fresh off attending the Bicycle Bash festival in Tampa on Sunday, my sister tucked her 7-year-old daughter into bed Sunday night and at 6 am Monday could not find her anywhere in the house.

My sister looked in every nook in the house and couldn't locate her. Finally, my sister went into the back yard and found my niece bicycling laps in the back of the house, wearing the bicycle helmet she received at the Bicycle Bash the day before.

That's why I am card-carrying member of The Bicycle Party.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Chatting Up The Bicycle Bash With Channel 10 News

Great to discuss Sunday's Bicycle Bash festival event with Allison from Channel 10 this morning.

Time to Go Home

Every ride eventually ends.

And I will be finishing my nine-year Tour de Tampa stint soon.

I’m going home. Not to New York.

To journalism.

I will complete my final Bicycle Bash event on Nov. 4 and then return to newspapers.

I am heading West. I have accepted a reporting job with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where I will cover the business of sports – a beat I have covered at other newspapers.

I didn’t expect to last nine years in Tampa, let alone the past 6 ½ years working for a group of bike shops to increase the profile of bicycling in Tampa Bay and to get politicians to understand the value of bicycling for health, transportation and economic development.

I came to Tampa to work for the Tampa Tribune and I leave happy knowing that more people in government in the Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Tampa Bay area seem to appreciate the many benefits that bicycling can offer a region.

The most beautiful thing of all is that so many of you joined my little journey to make bicycling more visible to those in power.

No fewer than 15 bicycle shops in the Tampa Bay area are or were SWFBUD members, while three lawyers joined the cause and even a really terrific guy who makes world-class bike seats.

SWFBUD was a unique concept, but in the end it was not financially sustainable in the long term beyond 6 ½ years. Besides, when I bike the mountains of The West, there's an exhilaration I just don't feel when cycling the flatlands of Florida.  

I will cherish all the amazing people I met through bicycling in the entire Tampa Bay region and close to home here in Seminole Heights.

I have many folders of photos to remind me of the Hub Grub Bike rides and the Seminole Heights Club treks and the Bicycle Bashes held in St. Petersburg, Hillsborough County and now Tampa on Sunday.

I have nothing but smiles when I look back. The fact is it’s you who kept me going and motivated much longer than what I thought was possible.

You have no idea how much your emails and comments of encouragement meant to me.

At the start, I found myself on a lone branch at city council or county commission meetings urging elected leaders to fund trails or stripe more bike lanes or appreciate what bicycling can do to a community. Many of the politicians on the diases looked at me with bored expressions.

Now they listen because improving bicycle conditions means our Tampa Bay region can economically compete with other metro areas across the country.

They know that to attract talented people and high-tech businesses you can’t have an area that’s known for its Ghost Bikes.

So Sunday will be my last Bicycle Bash. I’ll be around at the SWFBUD tent, so swing by and say hi.

Front-page Tampa Trib Story Highlights Sunday Bicycle Bash

Nice story by Keith Morelli who wrote about Sunday's Bicycle Bash:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

See This Poster At The Bash Sunday

This poster will be at the Bicycle Bash -- Thank you Bikes Belong! See you Sunday in downtown Tampa.