Messenger Archive: Summer 2005
FBA & Lake Helen Mayor discuss permanent
cycling school for western Volusia County
by Herb Hiller
Plans for Florida’s first permanent school for safe bicycling with its promise of benefits from fitness to ecotourism and a higher profile for FBA quickened at a mid-June meeting of FBA leaders and western Volusia County figures in government, planning and business.
Three-term Lake Helen Mayor Mark Shuttleworth, a leading county “small is beautiful” advocate, called the meeting an “important boost for sustainability” and praised FBA President Mighk Wilson and Executive Director Laura Hallam for their show of interest in his plan to establish the year-round training school.
Executive Director of the West Volusia Chamber of Commerce and long-time county trails advocate Pat Northey called the cycling project “extremely exciting” and, “set up the right way, a win for everyone.”
The school would rely on LAB-trained cycling instructors (LCIs) to teach the league’s Road I and Road II safety and bike maintenance courses. Additional courses, including off-road safety and bicycle mechanics, might come later.
Different from customary instruction – Road I requires nine hours, Road II, 12 – the courses in Lake Helen would follow one after the other in a three-day program including two overnights. Three-to-four days of on-road touring through western Volusia and neighboring Putnam and Flagler counties – rural with back roads and bed-and-breakfasts – would optionally follow.
According to plans discussed at the meeting, FBA would operate the program under its not-for-profit tax-exempt banner. Lake Helen would incubate the program in town facilities and make Lake Helen a center of county pro-bike activities. FBA would recruit the program manager, who in turn would recruit LCIs and tour guides.
Meeting participants were confident that statewide and national marketing would attract a steady flow of registrants for the program. The course overnights alone position the school as a tourism activity, which opens the way for marketing grants.
B&B overnights, inclusion of all meals and fully supported touring would price a six-night, six-day program at about $900 per person, which would retail for something nearer $1,000. Domestic tours of comparable length catalogued by Vermont Bicycle Touring, for example, retail for the equivalent of $225 a day; a 2006 Florida Trails Tour program charges $995 for six nights, seven days but requires two persons per room.
The FBA/Lake Helen program would have a distinct social and vacation aspect: a way of bonding in class, on the road and at meals in host B&Bs, prepared by locals in farmhouses and at places like the famed pancake house at DeLeon Springs State Park.
Start-up grants could come from Bikes Belong and other sources available to FBA and, as needed, from local, regional and state economic development agencies. Marketing funds and publicity support could come from the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority and from VISIT FLORIDA. The school would become a featured activity of the west Volusia-based River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, a 50-mile-long sustainable tourism initiative based in Orange City.
“It’s bike ed with a ‘fun factor’,” said Hallam about the course with overnights that Wilson compared to a summer camp. He called Lake Helen “the next Madison,” referring to the north Florida city that has become a state cycling hub by hosting bike rallies and by mapping preferred touring routes.
Lake Helen offers its own distinct appeals. Chief among these is how it protects its small town character. The Spiritualist community of Cassadaga borders it to the south, the college town and county seat of DeLand to the west and north.
But fast-growing Deltona, DeBary and Orange City crowd town to the southeast and southwest, and I-4 connecting Orlando with Daytona Beach bisects the town below grade.
Threat of the new six-lane I-4 St. Johns River bridge to turn all southwest Volusia into a bedroom community of Orlando (40 minutes from Lake Helen) earlier this year led Lake Helen to downzone its land use master plan, halving its population forecast at buildout to 6,000 (double its number today).
Lake Helen remains a place where residents get around by foot, bicycle and horseback. It’s a popular equestrian center with a new horse arena. Two decades ago it was headquarters for Nautilus Industries sports, fitness and medical rehab equipment.
Downtown stayed busy. But after Nautilus shut down, shops dwindled to a few independently owned convenience stores, a floral shop but also a meat market and health foods store that attract residents from the large new Victoria Park development west across I-4.
Shuttleworth believes that downtown would additionally support one or two first rate restaurants and more retail and antique shops; maybe also a high-quality European bakery.
Downtown remains wooded with two-lane streets and grassy lawns to the edge of sidewalks. Its historic district is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and includes many grand homes, churches, a library and community center that date from the late 19th century after the town’s founding in 1888. Few buildings of vintage character haven’t already been restored.
Lake Helen is a trail hub in the making, although most of its stake remains in plans. So far, a three-mile trail is under construction from downtown to a rural wetlands district east at the town line.
A 1.3-mile off-road trail connects Lake Helen and Cassadaga through woods surrounding Lake Colby. County MPO bike-ped coordinator Jean Parlow suggests that surrounding county lands could extend this trail to about five miles.
Revision of the county trails master plan late last year calls for a Cross Volusia Trail that will connect New Smyrna Beach with the St. Johns River through Lake Helen and DeLand. Enhanced bicycle corridors will connect Lake Helen with trails that rim the north shore of Lake Monroe, circle it and extend eastward to Titusville along the East Central Regional Rail-Trail and north through DeBary and Orange City to DeLeon Springs State Park as part of a 30-mile Spring-to-Spring Trail. A 1.3-mile section already connects historic DeBary Hall to Gemini Springs Park, and another 2.1 miles are under construction around wetlands to Lake Monroe Park.
It was chamber of commerce director Northey who, as a Volusia County Council member before term limited last year, pushed the county to commit $1 million a year to trails after the county’s slow start.
Joining the meeting at lunch in Cassadaga was Katie Stiller, an official with the Southern Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association.
Stiller proposed a bike rental program that would let weekend visitors to Cassadaga cycle vicinity streets into Lake Helen and back. She offered secure housing for the bikes.
Herb Hiller often writes about tourism issues. University Press of Florida will publish his new work, Highway A1A, Florida At the Edge, this summer. In the late 1970s, with Linda Crider, he led revival of the Florida bicycling movement.
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FBA issues position paper on SR A1A
For more than a year controversy has raged over improvements to SR A1A in Palm Beach County. Residents along portions of the highway objected to plans to update the road in accordance with state statutes mandating sidewalks and bicycle lanes. After considerable discussion, FDOT bowed to local pressure against the improvements. Area cyclist organizations have considered legal remedies that could force FDOT to abide by the statutes and its own engineering recommendations. FBA has studied the issue extensively, talked with Palm Beach County residents and representatives, consulted with attorneys, and met with FDOT executives. This paper is FBA’s position on the issue, based on our assessment of its implications for future bicycling in Florida.
Bicyclist and Pedestrian Accommodation on State Road A1A
A Position Paper by the Florida Bicycle Association
We, the undersigned board members, advisory board members and staff of Florida Bicycle Association (FBA), maintain the following positions regarding the reconstruction and resurfacing of State Road A1A in Palm Beach County:
Florida Statute 335.065 and the Florida Department of Transportation's procedures and standards collectively call for five-foot wide bike lanes or paved shoulders and sidewalks at least five-feet wide along both sides of every state road where feasible. Florida Statute 335.065 states:
(1)(a) Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), bicycle and pedestrian ways are not required to be established:
1. Where their establishment would be contrary to public safety;
2. When the cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use;
3. Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.
Through years of research and experience, the Department has determined that a five-foot wide bike lane or paved shoulder is the minimum accommodation for bicyclists, and Department procedure (625-010-050-a) requires that such facilities must be provided wherever it is physically and fiscally feasible to do so. FBA does not call for installation of bike lanes or sidewalks where the Department does not possess adequate right-of-way. At the same time, private use of public right-of-way must not jeopardize the state's ability to provide the safest design feasible. Private interests that have encroached on state right-of-way with landscaping, fences or walls have done so at their own risk. Their desires must, by necessity and reason, be secondary to public safety and equitable accommodation for all road users.
It must be noted that the above caveats in F.S. 335.065 make no mention of "community preferences" as a legitimate rationale for not providing bicycling and/or pedestrian facilities. Doing so would effectively make the provision of walking and bicycling facilities a local preference instead of a state responsibility. "Community preferences" are a valid concern when discussing matters such as landscaping, but must not preclude the Department's use of the safest possible design or to compromise the ability of people to travel by human power.
Some communities along this project corridor declare a desire to preserve the "look and feel" of their area roadways; this is commendable. However, the visual impacts of bike lanes, paved shoulders and sidewalks are insignificant compared to that of buildings and landscaping when it comes to how a road "looks and feels." Communities should focus on historic preservation, building codes, and code enforcement if they truly wish to protect the aesthetics of their road corridors.
The poor behavior of some cycling groups is an illegitimate excuse for not providing adequate accommodation. If the same reasoning were applied to motorist accommodation, we would not widen our roadways due to the many motorists who regularly violate traffic laws by speeding, running red lights, and who drive carelessly, recklessly, or while intoxicated. Solo bicyclists will be the ones to suffer if cyclist accommodation is substandard. Group cycling on A1A will continue regardless and must be addressed separately. Florida Bicycle Association is working to improve this situation in cooperation with local cycling clubs and law enforcement.
Jurisdictions that claim existing sidewalks are adequate accommodation for bicyclists must understand that bicycling is in fact riskier on sidewalks than on roadways. Sidewalks designated as bicycling facilities that do not meet state shared use path standards are a liability risk for the jurisdiction.
Providing paved shoulders or bike lanes along the stretch of roadway lined by state-protected Australian pines in Gulf Stream must also be considered. The statute protecting the trees allows that public safety must take precedence over preservation.
The Florida Department of Transportation is known as a national leader in bicycle and pedestrian facility design. District 4 has the reputation as the district with the best record in the state for accommodating bicyclists. FBA commends and sincerely appreciates the work District 4 has done over the years.
Not providing adequate accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists along A1A, and allowing private use of public right-of-way to compromise that accommodation sets a very bad precedent for the rest of the state. It would essentially tell the Department that it is acceptable practice to disregard statute and policy, and bend to the whims of those with money and special access to the State's higher officials.
FBA President Mighk Wilson
Executive Director Laura Hallam
members of FBA’s board of directors and advisory board
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by Laura Hallam FBA Executive Director
Educating law enforcement continues to be a high profile program of FBA.
Delivering our message has always been a struggle but we're finally making headway in reaching the people that matter most when it comes to the enforcement of traffic laws as they relate to bicyclists.
FBA and the Florida Department of Transportation, have worked to create the following program specifically for the law enforcement professional.
The program's goal is to give law enforcement the latest tools and information related to bicycling and roadway sharing.
By understanding both motorist and bicyclist errors, law enforcement personnel will be more able to prevent injuries and deaths associated with these user group conflicts.
We suggest this three part series (available soon on one DVD) be viewed in the following order:
Ride on By 1 strives to increase officer understanding of bicyclist errors and the major contributing factors to the high fatality rate in Florida and how enforcement can lower the fatality rate of car/bike crashes.
Ride on By 2 continues the theme, but this time concentrating on the officer’s understanding of motorist errors with bicyclists and the major contributing factors to the high fatality rate in Florida.
Understanding Bicycle Law Enforcement covers Florida Statutes in a visual and easy to understand way. It also provides successful law enforcement strategies from around the nation on topics like crash causation, ticketing, roadway sharing and more.
The Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide provides information in print in a concise format that fits into a pocket or ticket book. The Guide is updated annually and includes all bicycle statutes.
Plans to develop a Florida Pedestrian Law Enforcement Guide are underway for 2006 since Florida's pedestrian injuries and fatalities are also extremely high.
FBA representatives regularly attend the winter and summer conferences of the Florida Police Chiefs and Florida Sheriffs Associations to promote our programs. This summer we also began attending the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) and School Resource Officers (SRO) conferences to promote our programs and network with law enforcement personnel.
Another program associated with law enforcement to be administered in 2006 is the School Resource Officer Helmet Program.
This program, developed by Dr. Ron Van Houten as an instructional DVD and produced by Seidler Productions via an FDOT safety grant to encourage helmet use by middle school students, will be presented in 6-8 middle schools.
FBA Program Director Lyndy Moore will be attending the Florida Association of School Resource Officers (SRO) conference in late July to talk to SROs to network and brainstorm about the program and bike safety in general.
One on one contact with law enforcement continues to pay off and they get to know a person with information, skills, contacts and ideas to help them with their programs as well as selling principals, chiefs, etc. on the importance of bicycle and helmet safety.
In August, we go into production of the Older Adult Activity Program video that will guide the older adult through the process of getting active as a pedestrian and/or bicyclist. Pedestrian activities will be applied, explained and related to cycle use. The bicycle as a vehicle will be thoroughly explored in order for the older adult to understand their position on roadway sharing and driving habits. The objective of the program is to empower the older adult to create bicycle organizations in their communities, to learn and apply correct pedestrian and cycling principles when in or around traffic, to set a positive standard for health and fitness in their communities by increasing human powered activities throughout their communities, and to work as liaisons with the assistance of FBA as they travel as ambassadors to other older adult communities. The production location is in The Villages, an older adult community of over 50,000 residents. They have a cycling club, the Village Cycling Association, of over 200 very, very active members.
Other programs planned for 2006 (grant year beginning October 1, 2005) include the following:
- The development of safe group riding behavior materials via print materials and video to address another growing problem in Florida: many bicyclists are abusing their rights to the road when riding in groups. Eight 30-second television and radio commercials addressing ethics and issues involved with group riding will be produced or used as a 4-minute stand-alone package. Materials will be marketed to event directors, bike clubs, bike/ped coordinators, MPOs and anyone interested in promoting positive and safe group riding behavior. They can also be used as PSAs or commercials.
- The Florida Pedestrian Law Enforcement Guide similar to the Bicycle guide.
- Other traffic safety education programs will be continued to educate bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists using videos, publications and curriculum developed by FBA, LAB and FTBSEP.
- The Lunch and Learn program will be expanded to include more corporations, community groups and organizations to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety and physical activity to their employees.
- The second annual Pro Bike®/Pro Walk Florida conference.
And finally, our ongoing statewide communication link via the quarterly newsletter, electronic newsletter, and Web site, distribution of traffic safety literature via the attendance at special events and through direct mail campaigns to bike clubs and shops.
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Pedi-cab and utility bike operators put their mettle to the pedals
by Hugh Webber
Would you care for a complimentary ride? There's no charge...I work for tips!
This is the offer made by operators of several models of pedi- and pedalcabs cruising the streets and sidewalks of central Florida.
Some 50 bicycle cabs serve club-goers in downtown Orlando and visitors on International Drive. A smattering of drivers operate in other nearby areas or at events. Generally, there is no fare or fee; operators subsist on tips alone.
"We'll be cruising at an altitude of about 18 inches.”
Pedicabs are large tricycles with passenger seating; some are jointed at the driver's seat for greater maneuverability. On some models, the driver is in the front; on others the passengers lead the way
Pedalcabs are two-wheeled bicycle-drawn articulated cabs hitched either at the seatpost or near the bike’s rear axle.
Bike cabs shuttle passengers to and from their cars, between shops, restaurants, attractions or clubs and give tours or “cruises.”
The cost: whatever it's worth to the passengers. Tips are frequently negotiated before embarking on long rides.
Operators frequently use cell phones for dispatching and sharing group rides with other cabs. Cooperation between competing fleet operators is common.
Workbike Online (www.workbike.org) lists 34 pedicab operators across the U.S.—117 worldwide. The actual totals are certainly much higher.
Agra, India (home of the Taj Mahal), population a little more than a million, has 5,000 bicycle rickshaws, writes Tony Wheeler in Chasing Rickshaws.
A number of entrepreneurs use similar bikes and tricycles for cargo delivery; a niche industry of manufacturers has produced this kind of vehicle since the 19th century.
Worksman Cycles, early supplier of the Good Humor ice cream tricycle, has been in business since 1898.
Sometimes skeptical at first, law enforcement officers, soon appreciate the extra area security that alert operators provide.
Motorized taxi and limo operators quickly realize that bike cabs can't take their long runs and increasingly give their short (money-losing, for taxis) runs to bike cabs.
On streets, drivers eventually learn that they can easily get past a bike cab; in heavier traffic, smart cabbers have learned to take a brief break on the sidewalk to allow any motor vehicle backups to clear.
Cycling on the sidewalk is illegal in Orlando and about half of International Drive, the tourist and convention strip that runs between Universal Studios and Sea World, with a stop at the Orange County Convention Center along the way.
I've reminded my sidewalks-only competitor, Why Walk Pedicab, of the law although the local police tend to turn a blind eye to the practice, especially since they have been on bikes and found that even a gun can't protect you from determined idiots in the street.
I'm quite aware of the greater dangers on sidewalks, having used a bicycle as transport for 25 years. Still, when International Drive jams (which is every night from 9 to 10:30) you either run the walks (which also jam during the dinner rush on the narrow Orlando walks) or sit empty.
“Help you with those packages, Ma'am?” ... “We'll find your car, Sir!”
Pedicabs and similar bikes can haul pretty much anything you want to move, provided the distance is reasonable and the terrain relatively gentle. Bikes at Work, in business in Ames, Iowa, since 1991, has hauled everything from refrigerators and mattresses to recycled bottles, according to proprietor Jim Gregory.
Florida cities are not particularly conducive to bicycle-drawn cargo (although growing congestion may change that), but pedicab operations are catching on, especially in areas frequented by tourists. Why Walk Pedicab says it is planning to add 41 cabs to its fleet of 12 (although they may retire 10 of the old ones).
Several other Florida cities also have bike-cab services in pedestrian-heavy districts. Bike Taxi USA reports franchise operations in West Palm Beach, Orlando, Delray and Gainesville. Other cabs operate in Ft Lauderdale, Jacksonville and other likely tourist locations.
Key West pedicab operators have been around for some time. St. Augustine has several operators that compete with horse-drawn carriages and bike rentals.
Although the three-wheel, passenger-in-the-back design is most common in tips-only passenger service, many other passenger-carrying HPV designs exist: side-car Velocycles, quadricycles and even 12-passenger collectively-pedaled "buses."
People who are strong bikers and who are direct, yet courteous, enjoy talking with passengers and know about the operations area can make a living on a bike-cab.
Acting and clowning skills are useful, as is a an ability to put up with sometimes rude, inconsiderate and sometimes downright moronic behavior from passengers, pedestrians and passing motorists.
Beginning operators most often work as independent contractors, paying a percentage or fee per shift for use of a bike-cab. A well-fitted pedicab can easily run $3,500.
There has been talk of holding a bike-cab operators' convention, possibly in Orlando.
"We are approaching our destination. Please return your trays to the upright position."
I use a three-passenger chromed PedalTek Mini trailer, pulled behind a bicycle. My cab is perfect for dizzying "wild" rides for tots; it can spin in a six-foot circle. It's very comfortable, attractive and visible, sporting several blinking lights. I operate on both streets and sidewalks, and can tour at over 7 mph.
I love loading small kids and going into the tightest spin, crying, "Oh, no! We're caught in the Spiral of Death!"
Somehow, no little one ever (quite) wets or spits up. A carload of cranky kids is magically transformed into quiet little diners, done in one minute without leaving the restaurant parking lot or exceeding 7 mph.
FBA member Hugh Webber owns and operates Earth Shuttle Pedalcab in Orlando. He has operated pedicabs, customized electric golf cars and pedalcabs in tips-only passenger service with six companies, starting in 1984. Earth Shuttle Pedalcab runs evenings only on International Drive between Orlando and Disney, near Universal Studios and Sea World.
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And for the rest of you, something to look forward to...
John Sinibaldi, Sr., takes National Age Group Championship (again!)
by John Sinibaldi, Jr.
He did very well, finishing the course with a smile on his face and to the cheers of all present. At the awards ceremony he received a standing ovation - both for his age (the oldest competitor licensed by the United States Cycling Federation, by over 10 years), and for his lifetime of achievements in the sport of cycling, which include: o 18 national age group championships,
- Olympic cyclist in 1932 and 1936 (Los Angeles and Berlin, Germany),
- Holder of a national 100 kilometer individual time trial record of 2 hours 25 minutes that stood for over 50 years
- Inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1997 alongside such bicycling legends as Major Taylor, Jackie Simes, John Howard and Greg LeMond.
A recent book by Roy Wallack, Ride for Life, has a 9-page interview with Sinibaldi. Roy calls him "The Grand Old Man of American Cycling," Apparently that moniker stuck; the announcers kept coming back to him by that tagline throughout the event.
Most of the cycling community has simply called him "The Legend" for years—also an apt name.
At 91, he still rides quite fast , although the hilly Utah course took its toll. Still, his overall performance was excellent considering (most time trials—a race against the clock instead of a mass-start road race—are held on relatively flat courses).
Sinibaldi was scheduled to start the race at 3 p.m. By then it was sunny, hot and extremely dry.
Back home, he tends his garden and rides with his friends and family. His routine: 30-40 miles a day, five days a week, 7,000+ miles a year. He'll be 92 in October.
John Sr. won his first bicycle race in 1928 at the ripe old age of 15. Here are some current events for some perspective:
- In 1928, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig teamed to help the Yankees win the World Series.
- Joe Dimaggio was just entering high school.
- The stock market was riding high—a year before the big crash of 1929.
- 1928 was one year after Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Bing Crosby wasn't even a radio star, let alone a movie star.
- Nancy Drew had yet to solve her first mystery.
- Television was totally experimental...and was installed in three homes.
- Photo flash bulbs hadn't replaced flash powder.
- The Star Spangled Banner wasn't our national anthem yet (that didn't occur until 1931).
- Walt Disney just finished Steamboat Willie, the first "talking" animated movie (and the birth of the Mickey Mouse legend).
In 1932, when Sinibaldi participated in his first Olympics,
- Radio City Music Hall had just opened in New York.
- Jack Benny was just starting out.
- Charles Lindbergh's baby was kidnapped. o King Kong had yet to climb the Empire State Building (for the first time...).
- Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party were just coming into power.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt hadn't done his first fireside chat.
- It would be another year before the first drive-in movie theatre would open in Camden, NJ.
In 1936, at what became known as the Hitler Olympics, John Sr. hob-nobbed with Jesse Owens (even talking Owens into taking a ride on his bicycle for the press!)
John Sinibaldi, Sr., has seen more history than most—and remembers just about all of it. His family and friends are all very proud of him—as a cyclist, and as a human being.
His secret to long life? Eat your vegetables. Work in the garden. Listen to classical music. Walk barefoot whenever possible. Avoid TV as much as you can. Read the paper front to back every day, and work the crossword puzzle.
Eat red meat sparingly. Don't smoke. Hug all the girls at every opportunity.
...And ride your bike like crazy.
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