Category: advocacy

A couple of news items caught my eye in the past few days…one is more of speculation, rather than hard news, but it is intriguing nevertheless:

1. Speculation that Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) might be chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to be the Secretary of Transportation. If you’re not familiar with Sen. Blumenauer, you should look him up — a dedicated proponent of bicycling, rail, walking and other non-automobile transportation modes. The speculation is quite thrilling…and I think Sen. Blumenauer would be a fantastic choice.
via Cycleicious (with links to other tidbits).

There’s even some further speculation that Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a long-time champion of the bicycle, could also be in the running. Either one is perfectly fine for me!

2. “Democratic leaders in Congress urged the Bush administration on Saturday to consider using the $700 billion bailout for the financial system to aid distressed American automakers, in a prelude to what may become urgent negotiations over additional economic stimulus measures.” This is being reported in The New York Times. This push is backed by a letter signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

REALLY?!? This is the best you can come up with, elected officials? I mean, I feel terrible that a bunch of autoworkers could lose their jobs, but it seems to me (and I freely admit that I am quite biased on this issue) that pouring money into the automotive industry is the LAST thing we should be doing right now. What do the rest of you think?

Darren Alff of Bicycletouringpro.com wrote to let our readers know about an upcoming Web-based event going on at their site. Here’s a little bit about it from the site:

The event, titled, “Bicycle Travel As A Modern Lifestyle Choice,� will take place on the weekend of November 22nd and 23rd and will feature a jam-packed schedule of articles, interviews, videos, and live Q&A sessions having to do with bicycle travel, commuting, and lifestyle design. The event is aimed at anyone interested in learning how to use a bicycle to change the way they live, work and travel.

Event participants include:
– The Adventure Cycling Association
– Author, Joe Kurmaskie (The Metal Cowboy)
– BikeCommuters.com
– Bike Friday
– Canadian Best Selling Author, Ted Schredd (The Cycling Adventures of Coconut Head)
– CrazyGuyOnABike.com
– CycleAware
– Entrepreneur, Yaro Starak
– Gene Bisbee
– Momentum Magazine
– Road ID
– WarmShowers.org
– Writer and World traveler, Chris Guillebeau

The goal of the event is to introduce people to bicycle travel (whether it be short trips around their home… or long distance tours across the country). The information will be totally free and open to anyone… anywhere! All that’s needed to participate is an Internet connection.

As a bonus, cycling products donated by the Adventure Cycling Association, BicycleTouringPro.com, CycleAware, and Yakkay will be also be raffled off to event participants.

As you can see, it will be a star-studded event. The crew from Bikecommuters.com put together a quick and dirty “crash course” in bicycle commuting (aimed at first-time and novice commuters) for this event…nice to rub shoulders with Internet bicycling “big guns”! Check it out, and if you register with your email address, you’ll be eligible for some great prizes.

Many areas offer early voting to ease the crush of long lines and even longer traffic jams on Election Day. Last week, early voting began in Hillsborough County, so my wife and I decided to ride downtown to vote at the very best early voting site in the entire county, the Fred B. Karl County Center, home of the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections (among many other county agencies).

county center

I used to work on the 18th floor in this building, and it has some of the best views of Tampa and the waterfront…huge windows all the way around the building mean there’s another spectacular view right around the corner. Voting is on the 16th floor, and while I waited for my wife to finish her ballot, I was able to look out at our neighborhood over 4 miles away…pretty stunning.

view

So, beat the rush on November 4th — take advantage of early voting if you can; use a bike to get there and you’ll send another message to our elected officials: a bicycle is a legitimate transportation choice for all manner of civic errands!

voters

The 2008 Bicycle Bash by the Bay was held today at Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. The weather was gorgeous, the crowds were thick and the enthusiasm for all things bicycle was strong and friendly. Of course, Bikecommuters.com was there to tell folks about our website, meet fellow commuters and give away some goodies provided by our wonderful site sponsors KHS Bicycles and the good folks at Xtracycle. We gave away literally HUNDREDS of flyers, “Gas Sucks” stickers, Bikecommuters.com stickers, KHS and Xtracycle catalogs, Hillsborough County Bike Maps and a variety of other pamphlets, pens and literature, and we spoke to hundreds of bike fans of all types. Great times were had by all!

For those of you unable to attend, I shot a bunch of photos and a couple videos to share so that you can experience this event “virtually”. Let’s proceed, shall we?

My partner for the day was Terry Eagan, fellow librarian and employee of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission. He was chosen by his agency to represent sister agency Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization. Terry was extremely helpful and friendly and helped get the Bikecommuters.com word out, allowing me to wander the event, schmoozing with friends and strangers alike for most of the day.

terry

Check out some of the crowd — bicycles and bicyclists of all types…recumbents, roadies, fixed-gears, ratrods, choppers, trikes, BMX bikes and mountain bikers galore:

crowd

Here’s a wide shot of the enormity of this event — 70+ tents, thousands of visitors (estimated at 3000 or more):

wide

Vendors were varied this year…everything from bike shops to component manufacturers, advocacy groups, regional transportation planning agencies, bike clubs and co-ops. Here we see the lovely ladies of The St. Pete Skirts, fixed gear badasses and incredible vegan bakers:

skirts

Right next door we have the Tampa Bike Co-op. The Co-op volunteers did seminars and demos throughout the day, from repairs to loaded bike touring. They were selling really incredible t-shirts to raise funds for the Co-op, and I was happy to add one to my shirt collection. Here they are fixing bikes and telling folks how they can do it themselves:

co-op1

Here’s another one of the Co-op demos — this one the finer points of loading bicycle touring. This demo drew quite a crowd, and they had a sweet tourer to show off:

co-op2

Manny Sierra of Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium chatted up passerby and did some bike tuneups of his own. CBE is my absolute favorite bike shop in the Tampa Bay area — they’re super-friendly, talented and knowledgeable. They have a really good understanding of the needs of bicycle commuters, as many of the employees there are out mixin’ it up with traffic every day.

manny

Next to them, we’ve got the cool folks and ultra-badass wheels of American Classic. American Classic’s headquarters is right down the street from my house…too bad they don’t give “good neighbor” discounts!

am classic

Here’s the line for the St. Petersburg Bike Rodeo program. These folks gave away hundreds of bicycle helmets to kids in attendance today…each one with a personalized fitting. Bravo, Bike Rodeo!

rodeo

The custom-printed Bikecommuters.com jerseys were a gigantic hit at the Bash. We were asked dozens of times if we had any for sale, and were asked to get some made pronto in sizes all the way up to XXL. We’re sitting on a fashion goldmine, folks! Here, the boys from Bikecommuters.com model these awesome jerseys…comfortable on a hot and breezy day — we’re bringin’ sexy back:

sexy
(Thanks, Moe, for the wicked “One Speed” socks…another big hit)

Speaking of sexy, my wife and son came over and spent most of the day with us. Leah helped out a bunch, chatting up visitors, fetching lunch for us and passing out stickers and flyers. She’s a dedicated bike commuter, too, so advocating for us came naturally:

supersexy

I brought the Recycletron 1000 to display — man, the Xtracycle was a HUGE hit with this crowd. We gave away dozens of Xtracycle catalogs and literally hundreds of business cards. Folks had a million questions and most came away convinced to add one of these to their lives. Xtracycles sell themselves, really, but the real thrills came when I took my son out for loops around the park — we were being stopped every 20 feet or so to answer questions and we received lots of smiles and thumbs-up. One of the shops had a Kona Ute under their tent…and it languished all day in the shade. Xtracycle ruled this day! People were truly excited by the prospect of hauling groceries, children and anything else aboard an Xtracycle.

xtra

Toward the end of the day, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker made an appearance and spoke to the gathered bike throngs. This guy is SERIOUS about making St. Pete a truly bike-friendly city, and he’s made tremendous progress in getting things done there. I had a chance to speak with him during his tour of the event, and he’s very personable, passionate and dedicated to bicycling as a valid transportation alternative. Kudos, Mayor — you rock!

Mayor Rick Baker

Here’s a Flip video I shot — one quick loop around the park. I’m calling out highlights as I see them, and you’ll be able to see what a huge event this was for the Tampa Bay area:

We’d like to thank site sponsors KHS and Xtracycle for sending goodies our way to distribute (we’ll be giving away some KHS “Gas Sucks” t-shirts and cycling socks soon…stay tuned for details) and Alan Snel and the shops of SWFBUD (Southwest Florida Bicycle United Dealers) for putting on this amazing event for its third year.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual “taste” of the Bicycle Bash. Perhaps we’ll see you next year?

Several folks have written to us asking why Bikecommuters.com hasn’t offered any coverage of the recently-passed Bicycle Commuter Act, which was a last-minute addition to the $700 billion bailout package approved by the U.S. Government.

Well, here’s why: because it’s been covered at length almost everywhere else…and in a lot of cases, mere minutes after the measure was approved. To get an idea of the wide coverage of this news, check out Paul Dorn’s Bike Commute Tips blog, where he has a link list at the bottom of his writeup of it. Heck, even Rush Limbaugh covered it on his website!!! You’ll have to find the link for that on your own, though.

Frankly, the staff at Bikecommuters.com doesn’t have anything worthwhile to add to the discussion. In the first days after this news broke, I frantically scoured the Web looking for “cheat sheets” to guide commuters in applying for such benefits, only to discover that it is in employers’ hands. In any case, we’re certainly hopeful employers choose to offer this incentive to their bike-commuting employees, and we strongly urge such employees to ask their employers to provide this benefit.

But, we’d like to hear from you: what do you think about the passing of this piece of legislation? Is it too little, too late? Any word on whether your employer(s) will extend this benefit to you? For me, I’m excited that this bit passed, but I’m a little sad to see it was tacked onto the bailout package.