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More “Independence From Oil” Rides Scheduled For This Sunday

Despite some weather setbacks on the first “Independence From Oil” ride here in Tampa, the event was pretty successful in getting the word out. Here’s some coverage from one of the local news outlets.

Now, other cities in the Tampa Bay area are joining in. Check out the (rather lengthy) press release for four other rides scheduled for Sunday, August 15th:

TAMPA, FL (Aug. 9, 2010) — Last week BP finally succeeded in plugging its blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Sealing the well, however, won’t repair the massive environmental damage that has been done to the Gulf, and it won’t solve the other problems related to America’s addiction to oil. To emphasize that fact, and the fact that bicycle commuting has never led — and never will lead — to oil spills that foul our oceans and beaches, local cycling advocates, joined by Tampa BayCycle and SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), have declared Sunday, August 15, 2010, “Independence from Oil Day 2.”

Like the first Independence from Oil Day this past 4th of July, the goal is to promote the environmental (and other) benefits of using bicycles for transportation. This one, however, will be much larger, a true Tampa Bay area event, featuring simultaneous rides starting from Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa, USF’s Tampa campus, Coachman Park in Clearwater, and the Pier in St. Petersburg.

All the rides will start at 8 a.m., but participants* should arrive at the starting points no later than 7:45 a.m. Since the theme of the event is “independence from oil,” participants are encouraged to ride their bicycles from home to the starting points. To find more bike-friendly routes, people can use the bicycle directions feature on Google Maps. (See below for specific ride information and links to route maps.)

While the organizers of this event believe strongly in the benefits of bicycle commuting, the recent tragic death of retired admiral LeRoy Collins Jr. is a stark reminder of the risks. Therefore, we have also declared August 15th “Bicyclist Safety Day,” and we call on both local and state governments to make Florida’s roads safer by adding more bike-friendly infrastructure, such as bike lanes, multi-use paths and trails, sharrows, and “share the road” signs.

We also call on the media to help keep pressure on government officials to make our roads safer. And we ask them to help raise public awareness by doing more reporting on the issue of bicyclist safety, rather than just reporting the latest traffic fatality or injury. For instance, they could remind their viewers and readers of the 3-foot passing law and that motorists need to watch out for cyclists and pedestrians before making turns.

Finally, since knowledge is a cyclist’s best protection, the organizers will offer some printed copies of bike safety literature to the participants of each ride. (The supply is limited, however.) We also urge cyclists to make use of bike safety resources on the internet. One of the best is the Florida DOT’s online version of Florida Bicycling Street Smarts. Tampa BayCycle has links to many other resources.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make the roads totally safe for bicyclists and pedestrians — or for motorists. Accidents will always happen. Our hope, however, is that by working together, government, media, and advocates can help prevent some needless injuries and deaths in the future.

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SPECIFIC RIDE INFORMATION

Downtown Tampa Rides. Starting place: Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 600 N. Ashley Dr., 33602. Pace: 12-14 mph.

The shorter ride (route map) will be about 11 miles long and will go down scenic Bayshore Blvd. to Ballast Point Park, then head back to downtown. Contact: Karen Kress, 813-221-3686, KKress@tampasdowntown.com

The longer ride (route map) will be about 24.5 miles long and will also go to Ballast Point Park, then west on Gandy Blvd. and across the Gandy Bridge, turning back after reaching the Pinellas side. Contact: Margaret Shepherd, 813-254-8882, shema711@verizon.net

(Thanks to City Bike Tampa, 212 E. Cass Street, for its generous support in offering to provide some refreshments for the participants of the downtown Tampa rides.)

USF Ride. Starting place: Near the Botanical Gardens, 12210 USF Pine Dr., Tampa, 33620. Pace: 12-14 mph. This ride (route map), led by the USF Bicycle Club, will be about 21.5 miles long and will go to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa, then head back to USF. Contact: Jessica Brenner, jlbrenne@mail.usf.edu

Clearwater Ride. Starting place: Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., 33759. Pace: 10-12 mph. This ride (route map) will be about 18.6 miles long and will go to the Pinellas Trail, head north on the trail to the Honeymoon Island spur trail, west on the spur trail across St. Joseph Sound to the entrance of Honeymoon Island State Park, then head back. Contact: Chip Haynes, 727-464-8200, chaynes@pinellascounty.org

St. Petersburg Ride. Starting place: The Pier, 800 Second Ave. NE, 33701. This ride (route map) will be about 28 miles long and will go up to Gandy Blvd. and head east across the Gandy Bridge, turning back after reaching the Hillsborough side. Contact: Jose Menendez, 813-598-1031, linksmaster@netzero.net

In case of rain in the area on the morning of the 15th, the rides will be rescheduled for a later date.
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*All participants in this event assume responsibility for their own actions and safety. By participating, they agree to absolve all organizers and sponsors of the event of all blame and liability for any harm, injury, or loss that may result from participating in the event. All bicyclists must wear a bicycle helmet and ride a bicycle in good operating condition. They are also encouraged to bring spare inner tubes, snacks, and plenty of water.

We’re looking forward to hearing how each of these rides turns out…and I’m praying for better weather than the last time.

Celebrate July Fourth With “Declare Your Independence From Oil” Bike Rides

For folks in the Tampa Bay area, a number of cycling advocates have put together an event for July 4th. Here’s the press release:

Celebrate July Fourth With “Declare Your Independence From Oil” Bike Rides

TAMPA, FL (June 26, 2010) – The massive oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is only the most glaring example of the dangers of America’s unquenchable thirst for oil. With images of the ongoing disaster on TV every day, the environmental (and other) benefits of using bicycles for transportation have never been clearer.

Bicycling is a clean, sustainable mode of transportation that produces no pollution. It’s also fun, practical, especially for shorter trips, and it improves health and fitness. By using bicycles, people can save a lot of money annually on gasoline, diesel fuel, motor oil, etc. Most importantly, using bicycles doesn’t require that billions of barrels of oil a year be pumped out of the ground and shipped around the world — with the constant risk of a disastrous leak or spill.

To encourage people to try bicycle commuting, local cycling advocates, joined by SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), have declared Sunday, July 4, 2010, “Independence from Oil Day.” To declare their own independence, people should leave their motor vehicles at home that day and use bicycles (or walk) to get around.

To help celebrate the day, there will be two “Declare Your Independence from Oil” bicycle rides, starting that morning from Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park on Ashley Dr. (between Zack and Twiggs Streets) in downtown Tampa. Both rides will start at 8 a.m., but riders should try to arrive at the park between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m.*

The shorter ride (click here for a route map) will be about 11 miles long and will go down scenic Bayshore Blvd. to Ballast Point Park, then head back to downtown.

The longer ride (route map) will be about 24.5 miles long and will also go to Ballast Point Park, then west on Gandy Blvd. and across the Gandy Bridge, turning back after reaching the Pinellas side of the bridge.

Declare your independence this 4th of July, and help free yourself and your country from its costly and dangerous addiction to oil.

(Since the theme of the event is “independence from oil,” participants are encouraged to ride their bicycles from home to downtown Tampa. To find a more bike-friendly route to get there, people can use the bicycle directions feature on Google Maps.)

*All participants in this event assume responsibility for their own actions and safety. By participating, they agree to absolve all organizers and sponsors of the event of all blame and liability for any harm, injury, or loss that may result from participating in the event. All bicyclists must wear a bicycle helmet and ride a bicycle in good operating condition.

Racing Hits the Streets of Downtown Tampa

Many of us here are fans of bicycle racing…heck, we even sponsor a racing team (Mtnbikeriders.com Team — home of champions)!

So, I was very excited to head to downtown Tampa yesterday to catch the 2nd annual Tampa Twilight Criterium. This was a day-long event, combining 10 individual racing categories and several special events for families and local celebrities. We were able to spend a couple hours there and caught the 35+ Men and Women’s 1/2/3/4 brackets. The racing action was FAST and thrilling!

start

Coupled with the races was the ECO.lution Festival in the Lykes Gaslight Park and surrounding streets. The entire area was bustling with festival-goers, racers and spectators and was a beautiful day for families to enjoy all that downtown Tampa has to offer. Here’s a shot of “tent city”:

festival

The festival was sort of a who’s who in local cycling endeavors…SWFBUD member shops, the Tampa BayCycle folks, the Tampa Bay Bike Co-op and many others were in attendance. I couldn’t walk 10 steps without running into another cycling friend or local celebrity here!

City Bike Tampa and Tampa BayCycle also offered free bike valet parking…and the corrals were packed this year:

bike valet

Here are some shots of the races…men’s 35+ in the first two and women’s 1/2/3/4 in the last two:

race

racing

women

women

(note to self…I have GOT to get a better camera!)

As we walked away from the event, we discovered that the City of Tampa even blocked off a section of street for bike polo, something I’ve known about around here but never seen in person. It was pretty cool to watch, and my kids loved the wheel covers and the players’ bike-handling skills:

polo

This event is an exciting addition to Florida Bicycle Month, and we’re very happy that the Tampa Downtown Partnership helps get this race brought to us here…downtown is a fantastic place to hold a criterium, and we hope this becomes an annual tradition. In fact, I’ve spent the last few hours trying to convince some friends that we need to field a team for next year’s event. Anyone feel like sponsoring a couple of 35+ has-beens?

Tampa’s 2nd Bike to Work Day Coming Up!

Tampa BayCycle is sponsoring two Bike to Work days, on March 5th and March 26th. This year, there are EIGHT group rides to choose from: Seminole Heights, two West Tampa routes, Channelside, Bayshore/South Tampa, Harbour Island, Temple Terrace and Davis Island. All rides culminate with a meet-and-greet at Indigo Coffee in downtown Tampa (514 N. Franklin Street).

poster

For a giant poster-sized version with all the lurid details on routes and start times, please click here.

This Friday is the magic day…with a little luck I’ll see some of you out on the road on the 26th!

Tampa’s Bike to Work Days

Tampa BayCycle is sponsoring two Bike to Work days, on March 5th and March 26th. This year, there are EIGHT group rides to choose from: Seminole Heights, two West Tampa routes, Channelside, Bayshore/South Tampa, Harbour Island, Temple Terrace and Davis Island. All rides culminate with a meet-and-greet at Indigo Coffee in downtown Tampa (514 N. Franklin Street).

poster

For a giant poster-sized version with all the lurid details on routes and start times, please click here.

Hopefully I’ll see some of you out there — with luck, I’ll be riding on March 26th…this will be the first time since I moved to Tampa that I’m actually working on Bike to Work day!!!