Messenger Archive: Spring 2006

Florida Discovery Bicycling Centertm goes public

by Herb Hiller

FBA's new adult bicycle safety training and touring program goes public this month with a Website going live in time for the annual ProBike®/ProWalk Florida Conference in St. Augustine.

Lake Helen Mayor Mark Shuttleworth, Renee Tallevast of the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, FBA Executive Director Laura Hallam, this writer, and a host of others have poured many hours into the project. Several of us will officially announce the Florida Discovery Bicycling Center (FDBC) at an opening conference plenary session.

Lake Helen is partnered with FBA in the program. West Volusia County's River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, which includes Lake Helen, will provide marketing support.

The new website appears at www.floridabicycle.org/discovery.

The new FDBC logo was designed by Lake Helen commercial designer Ed Blackman.

Plans for a bicycling center first appeared in the FBA Messenger last year. A February report in the DeLand Beacon and a reference later that month in USA Today spread the word to the general public. Distribution of 1,000 postcards announced the program to cyclists at the annual Bike Florida tour in March. Postcards will further announce the program at touring events throughout the year.

The first Florida Discovery Bicycling tour, which will include safety training by League of American Bicyclists instructors, begins November 12.
In its opening six-month season through May 2007, FDBC will offer 11 six-day, five-night tours from Sunday afternoons to mid-Fridays along St. Johns River routes and through West Volusia farm and ranchlands. Daily rides will range from 20 to 40 miles with longer mapped options.

The tours will all begin and end each day at the program's headquarters lodging, the Cassadaga Hotel, a 1929 country inn.
“We're making this first season's tours all day tours and keeping the mileage down to attract the largest number of riders,” says Lyndy Moore, FBA's program director, who will manage FDBC. Lyndy, FBA president Mighk Wilson and Laura have led the program from its outset, along with Mayor Shuttleworth, Renee, Lake Helen deputy city clerk Jeannie Barlow, many town volunteers and Volusia County trails and transportation specialists.
Renee, a tourism marketing specialist, says that although many cyclists will come from out of state—“It's winter, isn't it?”—Florida will likely produce the largest number of tour-goers.

Lodgings, meals, touring sites and good social exchange will produce the favorable word of mouth that the program needs to succeed, says Renee.
Renee and her heritage corridor public relations agency, Hayworth & Hayworth of Ormond Beach, will arrange a summer and fall state tour by Laura of cycling organizations and media to promote awareness.

“This program is so important for Florida,” says Laura. “Florida is ideal for cycling, but we have to do more to lower our number of crashes. Safety training is one answer. We can't do that better for adults than by making a good time of it, and West Volusia offers outstanding potential for this.”
The Cassadaga Hotel is an 80-year-old country inn in its namesake spiritualist community. It sits at the little town center up from two lakes. Rooms all have private baths.

Also available for overnights is the Ann Stevens House, a bed-and-breakfast in neighboring Lake Helen (from hotel to B&B is a mere quarter-mile). The Ann Stevens House is a modest Queen Anne structure with a pub and soon a swimming pool. Breakfasts will be at the hotel and at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Pancake House at DeLeon Springs, lunches at farmhouses and at local sites elsewhere, and dinners at the Ann Stevens House and catered at Lake Helen homes and elsewhere in town.

Touring sites will include Blue Spring State Park with its manatees in cool weather, Hontoon Island State Park with its archaeological sites, Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge with its abundant wildlife, DeLeon Springs State Park with its swimming hole, the Spring Garden Ranch Training Center for watching trotters and pacers work out, and downtown DeLand, including Stetson University.

Price for tours will be $890 per person double and $990 per person single occupancy. Overnights at the Ann Stevens House will carry a nightly supplement.

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Bike Summit® 2006 draws advocates to DC

by Henry Lawrence

Bike Summit® 2006 was non-stop. Bicycle commuting, meetings, workshops, networking, guest speakers, lobbying Congress, networking, after hours, workshops, Bike Caucus ride and more networking.

You missed an excellent opportunity to be at the pulse of bicycle advocacy and networking with the bicycle industry. We do it together for all of you.
My 11 years of bicycle advocacy has never had a slow or a dull moment. Sometimes it may take 5, 7 or 10 years for a project to become a reality, but fortunately there are always small victories along the way —bicycle racks, signed bike routes, bicycle safety classes and excellent Master Plans that simply need dedicated funding.

Our time on the Hill was spent encouraging our congressman to support the funding of high priority bicycle projects, the Bike Commuter Act, the Conserve By Bicycle Program, the Rivers, Trails, and Conservations Assistance Program, and joining either the congressional or senate bike caucus.
I also worked my own congressman on a local Rails to Trails project. Most meetings were with congressional staff, often a sit down, but sometimes in the hallway or even once in the cafeteria.

We had 19 meetings total and I even had an additional photo op meeting with Senator Nelson.
The fun part was having the bomb squad cut my lock and nearly impound my bicycle after meeting with Senator Nelson.

Florida representatives share bicycle issues on Capitol Hill ‘Team Florida’ reports National Bike Summit® experiences

by Laura Hallam, Mike Greehan, Walt Nygard

Florida was well represented at the Sixth Annual National Bike Summit® held March 1-3, 2006 in Washington DC.
Approximately 375 bicyclists, bicycle industry leaders and policy makers from all around the country participated in the Summit® to discuss a range of issues affecting bicyclists.

Even though the SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) was passed last August containing at least $4.5 billion to improve conditions for bicyclists at the state and local level, measures to insure these funds are appropriated and spent throughout the country were vital.

  • Day one of the conference concentrated on plenary and breakout sessions, culminating with issue and advocacy training for a busy day on Capitol Hill the next day. Delegates were charged with scheduling appointments with their representatives and senators to discuss the following issues:
    High priority projects in SAFETEA-LU: includes close to $15 billion in funding for High priority projects. At least $1 billion of this funding is for projects that are readily identifiable as bicycle, pedestrian, and trail projects.
  • Funding the Conserve by Bicycle Program: this policy act signed into law by President Bush in August authorizes a $6.2 million program to study the energy impact of shifting car trips to bicycle trips in up to 10 communities.
  • Bicycle Commuter Act: This act would extend the transportation fringe benefit, currently available to transit users and car drivers, to bicycle commuters. The legislation would provide a tax benefit to employers who offer cash reimbursements to an employee who commutes by bicycle, while helping defray the cost of commuting for the bicyclist. Day three concluded with more breakout sessions followed by a congressional Bike Caucus Ride around historic Washington, DC. Pegged Team Florida, Sunshine State delegates (see box at right) represented Florida well and met with 17 of Florida's 25 representatives and both senators for a total of 19 appointments. Attending the National Bike Summit® is exciting, energizing and very worthwhile. Next year, we need to double Team Florida. For more information about the National Bike Summit® visit www.bikeleague.org.

Comments from Team Florida:

The National Bike Summit® is hosted by the League of American Bicyclists, and their partners in advocacy, government, engineering and the bicycle industry. A few years ago such teamwork would have seemed unusual. But those who attend the Summit® can tell you that the cross-category partnership feels completely natural.

The Bikes Belong Coalition, consisting of manufacturers, retailers and marketers from the bike industry are the major sponsors of the Summit®. But sponsorship comes from many other sources, including the Federal Highway Administration. The Summit® is a chance for all of the parties interested in cycling to have a chance to interact, share ideas & concerns, find solutions—and then bring them to Capitol Hill.

The first Bike Summit (not yet called the National Bike Summit®) had 17 people in attendance. In just a few years, the number has grown to 375. California had more than 50 delegates, a number that would be tough to match by Florida, but the more the better. Florida Bicycle Association does a tremendous job each year in assembling the team from Florida. If you care about bicycling issues, education, safety, facilities, laws, etc., I'd encourage you to join FBA and to come to the 2007 National Bike Summit® in Washington, DC.

— Mike Greehan

This was my first time attending the National Bike Summit® and let me tell you that it was an eye opening experience. The first day was spent attending seminars that covered everything from “Creating Safe Routes to Schools Programs” to “Learning from the Best! The Davis Story.” The next day was really the highlight of the Summit®. All of us in the Florida delegation were assigned visits with our state members of congress at various times during the day.
We were guaranteed a lot of walking before the day was out. We visited the Florida senators’ offices on the north side of the Capitol Building and also the representatives’ offices on the south side. Some of us were lucky to meet with our respective senator or representative, but at the least, we met with their staffer. We were able to thank them for the support for passing the bicycle appropriations bill, which will fund $ 4.5 billion in federal funds that will be used over the next four years for bicycle-related projects. We also asked for their support on a range of issues affecting bicyclists in our state and across the nation. The day ended with a reception at the Russell Long Senate building. This opportunity gave us a chance to meet other bicycle advocates from other parts of the country and share thoughts and ideas. Friday began with more seminars and in the afternoon there was a congressional caucus bike ride, for all who wanted to go. In all it was a very memorable experience. The next time I do it, I will be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

— Walt Nygard
Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office
Bicycle Safety Specialist
Bike Unit/CPD

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President's message...
Trust your inner monkey

Mighk Wilson, FBA President

I've been swimming in the deep end of the library again. This time it's Evolution's End: Claiming the Potential of Our Intelligence, by Joseph Chilton Pearce.

Ever heard of the triune brain concept? Some neuroscientists divide our brains into three key functional components: the reptile brain, the mammalian brain, and the neo-cortex. The reptile brain handles basic sensory processing and primitive reactions. “Big thing move toward me; run!”

The mammalian brain understands relationships and, if developed properly, intuition. “Hey, there were mangoes on that tree about this time last year; should be some there now.” The neo-cortex takes information from both lower brains and applies abstract, intellectual thought.

Pearce believes that we “civilized” folks have been relying too much on our reptilian intelligence and our neo-cortex intellect, and ignore or suppress our mammalian intelligence. The intellect reacts to sensory inputs from the reptile brain and asks, “What can be done about this?” Then it goes about figuring out a totally rational way to deal with the problem. But since we often ignore and suppress the mammalian perspective, our intellects fail to fully understand the relationships inherent in the situation. Such attempts to solve problems often fail. This is a key source of our culture's obsession with bikeways and its disregard for cyclist training.

Our reptilian brains only understand that big, fast things are coming too close to us. Our mammalian brains could understand the full reality of the situation if we only gave them the chance. It's during childhood that our culture usually carries out its worst interference with our innate mammalian ability to deal with complex situations. Messages telling us to distrust our mammalian brains have been prominent in our culture for centuries: “we don't need the other animals,” “breastfeeding is bad,” “leave your tribe and get a job in the factory,” etc.

Nobody told me bicycling was dangerous when I was a kid. I was given a few simple rules to follow and sent out into the world to figure it out. (Conversely, my mother, who did not know how to swim, instilled in me a fear of water that took years to overcome.) Through years of exploration and informal education I figured out much of what I needed to know about cycling on roads. Keep in mind this was not in some small town, but in a bustling, traffic-choked suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.

Today's kids are repeatedly told bicycling is dangerous. Parents, who themselves never learned how to bike in traffic, inhibit learning instead of teaching their kids how. The reptile/intellect team understands vulnerability, but since it's been ignoring the mammalian brain it has a weak grasp on risk, which is based on more complex relationships. To be safe we have to understand both vulnerability and risk. Most parents and their kids have an incomplete understanding of the relationships between motorists and cyclists. All they understand is the reptilian message: “Big, fast thing come from behind; get out of the way!” Since they are vulnerable, have “nowhere to go,” and the government controls the streets, they beg the government to give them such a place: a “bike path,” a sidewalk; some will say a bike lane.

Of course the bike lane is just a bit of paint on the road, and the intellect says, “Hey, I'm not stupid; there's nothing to keep that big fast thing from crossing that line! I want a curb!” Since the mammalian brain has been left out of the discussion, the complexities of relative speeds, perception and reaction times, braking distances, turning movements, and scanning at intersections are never analyzed.

So, in places where governments have responded to this reptile wisdom, we have paths that force bicyclists into conflicts they don't understand, and those conflicts are more difficult to deal with than the ones a cyclist would encounter on the roadway. This thinking also makes cyclist education a tough sell. Some people who've been cycling a while have a better-than-average understanding of the traffic relationships, but their comprehension could be better. Convincing these cyclists that they could benefit from education and training is difficult because they “think they know it all.”

The training program developed by the League of American Bicyclists is a compilation of hundreds of years worth of experience from dozens of veteran cyclists who understand traffic relationships. No matter how experienced you are, the combined knowledge of these cyclists is greater. At the other end of the experience spectrum is the cyclist who has ridden only a little bit and has been frightened by careless or aggressive motorists.

Since role models who understand how vehicular cycling works are very rare, the cultural voices reinforcing reptilian wisdom are the ones most believed. Our “take a pill” culture sees helmets as the only remedy. If you've ever heard the bozos on talk radio rant about cycling you've heard the ultimate expression of reptilian bicycling wisdom.

Do you need any stronger proof you should trust your inner monkey?

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This Issue:

FDBC goes public

Bike Summit

Presidents message

 

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