Monday, May 07, 2007

Tampa Bay: Bike commuting gets a push

Image of Hillsborough River in Tampa, Florida
From the St. Petersburg (FL) Times, 05.07.07:

Commuting by cycling gets a push
Seasoned cyclists give advice to workers who want to bank bucks and trim fat.

What a difference a decade makes. Ten years ago, two public-interest groups in Washington, D.C., labeled the Tampa Bay area as the most dangerous metropolitan area in America in which to ride a bike.

Fast-forward to this May, when the League of American Bicyclists will present St. Petersburg with an award for being a "bicycle-friendly community."

What happened?

A five-year project called CityTrails which, among other things, increased the city's bike lanes from 10 miles in 1993 to nearly 50 miles today and an expected 93 miles next year, said St. Petersburg bicycle coordinator Cheryl Stacks. (Read more.)
This Bike to Work article relates some of the hard facts confronting bicyclists in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. Local cyclists are developing a "bike ambassadors" program to attract individuals to bicycling. The story indicates that more than 10,000 people in the area presently bicycle to work daily, many of whom do so for economic reasons. However, the story suggests that progress is underway. Let's hope.

Image: Web capture. Hillsborough River in Tampa
Visit: City of St. Petersburg Bike/Ped Program
Visit: Tampa Bay Freewheelers
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips


Matthew Croxton said...

Gainesville (pop. 150k) has 60 miles of bike lanes, so if the length of those 'motorist conveniences' is the way that you measure friendliness, then the Tampa/St. Petersburg area has a long way to go to reach that per
capita level.

I would say bike friendliness is much more influenced by the bike awareness and perceptions of motorists.

I perceive that Mr. Dorn is not a fan of John Forrester, based on his promotion of the European bikeways, so he'll probably not agree with my assessment of bike lanes as motorist conveniences either.

Paul Dorn said...

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am an League Cycling Instructor (LCI #1237) who has a respectful but critical view of Mr. Forrester. He has contributed much to bicycling knowledge, and almost nothing to bicycling advocacy.

I have observed first-hand how the improvements in the bicycling environment of San Francisco--not just bike lanes, but also bike racks, transit access, encouragement programs, bike route network, public awareness campaigns, "sharrows," etc.--have attracted additional people to bicycling. More bicyclists means safer bicycling.

I have also observed first-hand how extensive bicycling infrastructure in Davis has facilitated bicyclists of all ages, experience levels, and skills. It isn't "Bike Ed" that makes Davis a great bicycling town; it's the facilities.

I also take an expansive view of "bicycle education," well beyond Road 1 or Street Skills classes, which are of undeniable benefit to those cyclists fortunate enough to have access to them. I agree with you that motorists are in even greater need of "education" or "consciousness raising" than bicyclists.

A bike lane is educational, a "sharrow" is educational, a newsletter or pamphlet is educational, bicycling-friendly media efforts are educational, Critical Mass is educational, billboards and bus shelter signage are educational, street signage is educational.

I've shared my thoughts on bicycling advocacy earlier on this blog. Again, thank you for your comment. One of my goals for this blog is discourse.