Category: News

If you live in or near the city of Tampa, Florida, you will know that the car rules around here. While there are plenty of quiet streets to bicycle upon, there are not very many useful bike lanes in the area. Where bike lanes do exist, they have a tendency to start and stop at random, not linking up with other lanes or providing an unbroken route for cyclists to take advantage of.

But, things are changing — just a couple weeks ago, the city put the finishing touches on a bike lane that actually goes somewhere!

Tampa's newest bike lane

This is the new bike lane, running from just north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd all the way down to and INTO the heart of downtown Tampa. The lane runs down the right side of a busy one-way called Tampa Street. This street is the main surface road into downtown, and can be quite busy early in the morning as folks rush to work in the urban core. Before the lane was constructed, I had found a quiet residential street a few blocks east that served my purposes for a fairly direct commuting route. Now, though, I can take this bike lane to within a couple blocks of the library where I work!

Here’s another shot with the downtown skyline visible:
the lane with skyline in the distance

Even though my previous route was peaceful, scenic and quiet, I feel compelled to use this new bike lane, even though there are a LOT of cars out there with me. And that brings up a few questions — do you readers try to use bike lanes where available, even if there is a quieter or better route at your disposal? Should I feel compelled to use this lane (I mean, what if transportation officials are watching? Will they build more?)?

This is a step in the right direction for Tampa — let’s hope there are more lanes in the works! The new lane is smooth and fast. My only gripe is that there is not a corresponding northbound bike lane to take me back out of downtown toward home, and according to Florida DOT officials and the Mayor of Tampa, there is no plan to create one in the near future, even though there is a perfect northbound, one-way, multi-lane road only 3 blocks from this new lane. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, but I WILL step up my letters and emails to the transportation planners in the area!

A bike is an excellent piece of exercise equipment as well as a perfect means of transportation. Biking is better exercise than a home gym can provide, and you’ll feel better about yourself when you’re conserving energy. No other sport, not even golf equipment, can make you feel so good about the environment!

On the last day of Interbike we met up with the Banjo Brothers Crew. They showed us something new…

Check this out, the left one is the Commuter Back Pack that I reviewed, then on the right is a BIGGER Commuter Back Pack that will be available in Spring 08. It has about 2000 Cubic Inches of storage. The old back pack only had 1500.

Here’s Moe holding another item that will be ready for Spring 08, a smaller messenger bag. They also went away from the tarp-like material and went with a ballistic nylon.

They went with a gray inner liner, they said the white on the original bags would get dirty too easily.

Plus this bag is a switch hitter. Meaning you can have the shoulder strap go either on the left or the right side.

The Banjo Brothers are super cool guys and we’re pretty excited about the new things that will be coming out next year.

AB 57 Update: Contact the Governor with Letters of Support

Sixty organizations have signed on to support AB 57, California’s 2007 Safe Routes to School bill which would provide $24.25 million each year (in addition to the federal funding) for SRTS construction project. On September 12, 2007, AB57 (Soto) passed off the Senate and Assembly Floors and headed to the Governor’s desk. Unfortunately, in Senate Appropriations on August 30, the committee struck the language from the bill requiring that the Governor include $24.25 million for a state Safe Routes to School program (SR2S) in each year’s budget. Senate leaders contend that they like SRTS but that it’s better fiscal policy to not have ongoing appropriations. Despite this set-back, the bill is still extremely important as it will: 1) enable $52 million in existing state SR2S funding to be spent after January 1, 2008 (the date that the current SR2S bill expires), 2) allow for federal SR2S funds to be swapped for state funds (easing administration burdens on local agencies), and 3) create a framework for state SRTS funding to be included in the state budget. We urge Safe Routes to School supporters to contact Governor Schwarzenegger’s office as soon as possible with your support for AB57. Click here to see a sample support letter. Call (916-445-2841) and Fax (916-445-4633).

Please help me welcome our newest addition to the BikeCommuters.com team, Lance Lowry!

Lance comes on board with a plethora of cycling experience. He is a XC mountain bike racer and a fixed gear commuter. We’ve been riding with Lance on various mountain biking trails and decided to asked him to join the BikeCommuters and MtnBikeRiders.com teams.

We’re pretty excited to see what he’s going to bring to the table and we know that he’s got a lot to offer. So please, don’t be shy and welcome the fella to the BikeCommuters Family!