Category: Articles

I don’t usually carry a camera when I commute…I wish I did more often, but it is one extra thing to worry about. Today, though, I had some time on my hands and I wanted to snap a disturbing photo to share with you.

Before that, though, I got a couple shots of something most of us don’t get to see very often on our commutes. We’re used to seeing cars, buildings and the like, but when was the last time you saw a dolphin on your commute?!?

Just a few blocks from where I work is the Tampa Convention Center, home of the fabled (and way behind schedule) Tampa Riverwalk. This section of the Riverwalk is at the confluence of the Hillsborough River and both Seddon and Garrison Channels. I was standing at the seawall, catching my breath and getting a drink of water when I saw a couple of huge splashes. I whipped out my camera just in time to capture a young Tursiops truncatus, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, chasing a fat mullet…

You can see him just to the right of the red arrow:
dolphin

And here he is ducking under the edge of the seawall:
dolphin

How cool is that? There were at least three others feeding in the area, but my batteries died on me so I didn’t get shots of them. I’ll go back, though…it was exciting to see such beautiful creatures mere feet away from me!

After that, I took a spin over to Tampa General Hospital, where a crosswalk sign caught my eyes a few months ago. Within days of the installation of this sign, I noticed that it had some damage done to it. Since then, the damage has only gotten worse:

crosswalk

Yeah, that’s right: cars keep driving OVER this sign! This sign is placed squarely in the middle of a well-trafficked crosswalk that separates the hospital’s parking garage from Davis Islands, where there are a number of hospital-affiliated offices. It’s a surprise that no one has gotten creamed by a vehicle here; if motorists can’t avoid a bright green warning sign, what’s to stop them from hitting a person?

Back in March, we were contacted by Matthew Ides, a graduate researcher from Hunter College in New York City. He was looking for NYC-area bike commuters for a project he was working on. Matthew wrote, “The sole purpose is to record the subjective perspective (mental image/imageability) New York City bicycle commuters have of the build environment, good or bad, through a survey.”

He sent me a note today — the completed survey results are now available for viewing. Check it out by visiting his Scribd site.

Good work, Matthew…and thanks to the Bikecommuters.com readers who responded to the initial call.

What do donuts:

mmm, donuts

and baseball:

Tampa Bay Rays

have to do with bicycling? Good question…but our friend Alan Snel has figured out a way to blend them into one happy (and stomach-filling) event.

A little background: Tampa Bay area Dunkin’ Donuts stores have a promotion going that every time the Tampa Bay Rays win a game, anyone can walk into a Dunkin’ Donuts and receive a free donut of their choice the next day. Yummy! Well, the Rays have been winning so much this year that Alan even came up with his “batting order” for donuts:

Leadoff—Blueberry cake
Batting Second — Bavarian Creme
In The Third “Hole? — Double Chocolate
Cleanup—Chocolate Glazed
Batting Fifth—Peanut
Sixth Hole—Chocolate coconut
Seventh—Jelly filled
Eighth—black raspberry
And batting ninth — old fashion plain cake

Dunkin’ Donuts marketing and PR folks caught wind of this “batting order”, and they were very intrigued, indeed. So, Alan’s next pledge is that if the Rays clinch a playoff spot in September, he will personally lead a 100-mile “Tour de Dunkin’”, hitting 13 donut shops along the way to collect his free donuts. Read all about it at Alan’s new writing gig for the Miami Examiner.

My question to him was, “do you think you can eat 13 donuts in one bike ride?” Time will tell…in the meantime, we wish luck to the Tampa Bay Rays (and to Alan’s poor stomach!).

Faithful reader Mike of The Bicycle Spokesman sent me a troubling article today.

He says, “The story involves a commuter’s bike that was confiscated while it was locked up in front of a train station because it was considered unsightly. Many commuters ride ugly bikes to discourage theft. The complete story is at http://bicyclespokesman.com/an-ugly-bicycle/.

This happened in Washington D.C., which is not known for its bike-friendly atmosphere (despite a lot of bikes on the roads there). This story was so weird that the local NBC affiliate picked it up. Their coverage (including video) can be found by clicking here.

This story made me wonder: how many OTHER bikes have been confiscated by the Union Station police? How many folks just walked away thinking that their bike had been stolen, when a quick check with the station police might have revealed that their ride was “just too ugly for public display” and now resided in the storage basement?!?

Our friend Matt (regular reader and commenter “Palm Beach Bike Tours”) recently posted an article on his blog about using a bicycle to escape disasters…or to get around town after one hits.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Here is what I have learned: when all hell is breaking loose, a car isn’t going to do you any good. During evaculations, the roads are packed and moving 15 miles an hour. Cars run out of gas. Cars break down. Tempers flare. The roads move slowly.

After the 2004 hurricanes, 100-year-old oak trees in Orlando were down and even the most beefy Hummer could not get around town. Yet, you could get just about anywhere by bike if you didn’t mind lifting the bike over a trunk every once and a while.”

Read the rest of the article by visiting his blog.

Tropical Storm Fay

Well, crap. With a potential hurricane heading our way — the storm track projection on the above map labeled “8PM Tuesday” is pretty much directly over my house — we might just get to test this concept out. I’ll have to be sure the tires on my Xtracycle “escape vehicle” are pumped up! With two bikes, we should be able to get to safety with enough provisions for the whole family if we need to. Luckily, we live away from any flood zones.

I can attest to the utility of a bicycle after a natural disaster. I’ve lived in “hurricane country” (various points along the Gulf coast) since 1987, and I’ve been in the aftermath of about a dozen serious storms in that time. When gasoline is in short supply and there are downed trees everywhere, getting around town by bike doesn’t just make sense…it may be the ONLY way you’re going anywhere! A bike made it possible for me to visit friends to make sure they were OK after a storm — since telephone service was down, there was no way to call. A bike also allowed me to find a grocery store that was up and running when so many others were without power.

Something to think about, eh?