Category: Articles

Three new bicycling advocacy resources “went live” in the past couple months here in Florida…two in the Tampa Bay area and one in Florida’s largest city, Jacksonville. Check them out!

Bike Jax:

Bike Jax

Bike Jax is described as “… bike culture blogged. Our mission is to establish Jacksonville as a city that is increasingly safe, accessible, and friendly to bicycle transportation. ” The folks running the show over at Bike Jax are really friendly, too — it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re in the northern part of Florida and want to check in on bike-friendly events and news.

Southwest Florida Bicycle United Dealers (SWFBUD):

SWFBUD

SWFBUD “[is] an alliance of 7 Tampa Bay area bike stores that have joined forces to grow bicycling as a healthy lifestyle and as an effective mode of transportation. The seven stores are: Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole; Carrollwood Bicycle Emporium; Chainwheel Drive in CLearwater and Palm Harbor; Flying Fish Bikes in south Tampa, Oliver’s Cycle Sports in new Tampa, Revolution Bicycles in St. Petersburg and Suncoast Trailside Bicycles in Odessa.”
When this many bike shops can pool their resources to make bicycle advocacy a big priority, this lends a LOT of muscle to the movement here in Tampa Bay. SWFBUD is also responsible for putting on the annual Bicycle Bash by the Bay.

Tampa Bike Co-op:

Tampa Bike Co-op

Still in its infancy, the Tampa Bicycle Co-op recently put up a blog. “The Tampa Bike Co-op is a cooperative group of people working together to make cycling education available and accessable and to build cycling community in the less than bike friendly city of Tampa.”
“Diamond” Dave Japenga is one of the masterminds behind the co-op and is the hardest-working man in showbiz (he’s also Tampa’s only professional bike messenger…more on that later).

Come check out these great resources. With folks like these keeping area cyclists up to date on important issues of advocacy, we’re all in a better place!

Yeah, I know…this is pretty late on a Tuesday for a “Green Tuesday” article, but I made it under the wire!

I hope everyone did something green and fun for their Earth Day celebrating — our family got to spend the day riding bicycles!

fun times

Early this morning, my wife decided that we should celebrate Earth Day by going entirely car-free. This is a pretty regular day for me…I only drive my car about once every two weeks or so, on average (I really need to get rid of that thing!), but it is rare that Leah and I both have a day off together, and since she works odd hours, she often drives her car to work and doesn’t get to ride her bike that much during the rest of the week.

So, we decided to do everything by bike today, and we had a lot of fun with it. First, we took our son to school by bike, something I do most days of the week but rarely together with Leah.

Then, we went grocery shopping. 5 bags of groceries fit beautifully in her Basil panniers and my Wald fold-out grocery baskets attached to my “patented grocery gitter“:

groceries

When it was time to pick up our son from school, I raced home to switch out bikes for the Redline R530. My son’s trailer hitch doesn’t clamp properly on the narrow chainstays of the grocery gitter, but the Redline’s beefy chainstay is perfect for it.

We decided that we’d stop by the local lake on the way home (Lake Roberta in the historic Hampton Terrace neighborhood of central Tampa) to feed the ducks and turtles with a sack of stale bread.

lake roberta

Here come the ducks!

here come the ducks

The lake is absolutely full of turtles, too…from cooters to sliders to really big softshell turtles and probably a snapper or two. In the evenings, the softshell turtles are more active, but they must hide during the day because we only saw a couple off in the distance. This one is either a cooter or a slider…I can never remember which is which:

cooter or slider?

All in all, we had a wonderful day — didn’t fire up the car once, got a little exercise and got to check out the neighborhood “wildlife”. Good times!

Ok, here’s my confession: I read women’s magazines — Cosmo, Glamour, Jane, Lucky, etc. What can I say? I’m a print junkie and a librarian…magazines are all over the place in both my home and my office!

So, the other day, I was flipping through the May 2008 issue of Marie Claire magazine, and I ran across something that got my blood boiling. On the last page there’s a column called “The Opinionated Guide to May”, and in that column is a photograph of a bicycle and the caption “Bike To Work Day, Friday May 16: Arrive at Work Day, Monday May 19“…implying that it is such a long, tedious effort to ride a bike to work that one shouldn’t even bother! At least, that’s the implication I’M reading into it!

So, angry as I was, I decided to fire off a letter to the editor. Here it is:

Dear Marie Claire Magazine,

I was upset to read a snide comment in “The Opinionated Guide to May” in the May 2008 issue of your magazine (last page…the comment about Bike to Work Day).

Comments like this are typical of the SUV-driving, latte-sipping conspicuous consumers your magazine caters to; this comment is neither witty nor humorous — rather, it is catty and utterly misguided. Research has shown that for trips around five miles or less, a bicycle is actually faster than driving…and there is no need to spend an additional ten minutes hunting around for a parking space! Bike to Work Day is the one time many slovenly fatasses get off their couches and out of their cars…and who knows? Maybe they’ll like the experience so much that they’ll rethink their transportation priorities!

In this day and age when “going green” is all the rage, your magazine should be supportive of the efforts of people who are doing their small part in making this world a less-congested, more environmentally responsible place. By riding bicycles, we bike commuters are saving money, getting exercise and reducing the amount of smog in cities. Also, spending time on a bicycle is way cheaper than paying a therapist…the woes and stresses of everyday life just melt away once the wheels start spinning.

I hope you will avoid comments like this in the future, but for now, on behalf of my two-wheeled brothers and sisters, please allow me to offer you a hearty “screw you” for thumbing your nose at bicyclists. You should be ashamed.

Jack Sweeney
“Ghost Rider”
Tampa, Florida
http://www.bikecommuters.com

I threw some ugly jabs in there just for good measure…no one ever accused me of being tactful or diplomatic!

If comments like this disturb you as much as they do me, I urge you to take pen in hand and let people know how unhelpful these kinds of things are. If you want to send the editor of Marie Claire a comment, here’s her email address: JoannaColes@hearst.com

If I hear back from them, I’ll be sure and post the response.

Editor’s note: This is really not the best way to handle such a grievance…the thoughtful commenters below advocate calmness and rational discourse rather than attacks, and they’re right — in situations like this, it is better to step away for a moment, take a deep breath and respond to these slights in a more diplomatic manner. I’ll try to do the same!

Alan Barnard is back again with another Guest Article…

I recently transitioned from a mix of telecommuting and car commuting, to multi-modal commuting using bike, bus, and train. In the process we eliminated a car and we’ll cut our annual automobile mileage by approximately 75%.

I’m fortunate that my monthly transit pass is valid on city commuter buses, county commuter buses, and Amtrak commuter trains and motor coaches. These options make it possible to start my commute as early as 5 a.m. and finish as late as 7 p.m. To come and go at convenient times for my changing work schedule, I often mix it up, taking the rain in the morning and the bus back in the evening, or vice versa. It’s been a real adventure, trying out all the options, figuring out where, when, and how to fold and stow the Brompton to make the various connections required to complete my 60 mile round-trip.

Here’s one example of a typical commute day:

Morning

* Out the door at 6:40 a.m., ride 5 miles to the Amtrak station.
* Board the train at 7:05.
* Depending upon whether the bike rack is full or not, either load the bike into the rack, or fold it up and carry it upstairs and place it between a pair of seat backs.
* Arrive at the downtown station at 7:35.
* Unfold the bike, exit the train, and ride the 6 blocks to the office.
* Bikes are not allowed in the front entrance of the building, so partially fold the bike and roll it in as a “cart?.
* Take it up the elevator to my work area, finish folding it and stow it under the desk.
* Get cleaned up and start work before 8:00.

Afternoon

* Partially unfold the bike into “cart? mode. Exit down the elevator and out the front door by 4:00 p.m.
* Completely unfold the bike and ride 10 blocks uptown to intercept the commuter bus where it first comes into downtown. Doing so gets me on the bus ahead of the busiest stops near the capitol where it quickly turns into standing room only.
* Fold and cover the bike to put it in “stealth? mode for the bus. Get on the bus at 4:15 and take a seat near the front where there’s room to stow the bike.
* Chill for an hour.
* Arrive in the suburbs at 5:15.
* Exit the bus, unfold the bike, and ride the 5 miles to the house.
* Get cleaned up and sit down to dinner before 6:00.


“No Bikes Allowed? : Ha!

This may all sound like a lot of work, but actually I find it quite enjoyable. It’s a great way to get in an hour’s worth of low intensity exercise every day, and the downtime on the train/bus helps me to unwind from 8-9 hours of intense work on the computer. Overall I’m spending an extra 40-45 minutes on the road, but 60 minutes of my total travel time is on the bike which in my mind doesn’t count, so I’ve actually gained a net 15 minutes. Plus, my old two-hour round-trip commute by car only added to my daily stress quotient; now I look forward to my commute and arrive relaxed and refreshed, which, even without the other benefits, makes it well worth the effort.

I found a great at Entrepreneur.com about incentive programs that companies can take to lessen their carbon foot print.

Biking to and from the office is also gaining popularity: “We give out a bicycle to everyone who has worked at the company for at least one year,” says Bryan Simpson of New Belgium Beer in Fort Collins, Colorado. The environmentally driven brewery, which runs on the power of wind turbines, has seen more employees biking than your average brewery and even hosts a philanthropic bike festival called the Tour de Fat, which celebrates bicycling as a viable form of transportation.


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