Messenger Archive: Summer 2004

Palm Beach County says no to FDOT lane width guidelines

On June 17, 2004, the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization, voted 11-4 in favor of the Delray Beach Consensus Plan which calls for 3-foot paved shoulders up and down the A1A corridor where sufficient right-of-way exists, notwithstanding the legal requirement for 4- to 5-foot lanes.

Plans to repair SR A1A have pitted bicyclists against property owners along a stretch of road that traverses eight coastal communities, from upscale residences to trailer parks.

Residents in one of the communities, Delray Beach, organized under the "Save Our Seacoast" banner and bankrolled a well-funded campaign to prevent the addition of bicycle lanes along their stretch.

Although Florida Statute 335.065 requires establishment of adequate bicycle lanes (determined by FDOT to be in the 4- to 5-foot range), the MPO took advantage of some fuzzy language in the section to justify the narrower width.
FBA joined the fray this past January, calling on FDOT to follow its own guidelines.

In a letter to the Palm Beach Post in May, FBA board of directors president Mighk Wilson wrote that many cyclists from around the state were concerned about this issue because it "would set a very bad precedent, allowing FDOT to disregard statute and policy and bend to the whims of those with money and special access to the State's higher officials."

FBA executive director Laura Hallam and board members George Martin and Don Braverman attended the June 17 MPO meeting. Martin and Braverman, with assistance from several local bicyclists and video production assistance from advisory board member Robert Seidler and Lee Berger, produced a video, "Three Different Roadway Treatments" for the MPO meeting.

The video was created using a handlebar and rear rack mounted camera that produced images from the viewpoint of a bicyclist. The 4-minute, four-segment presentation showed what it is like to ride with a bike lane, a paved shoulder, a travel lane only and, finally, repeat footage of a 5-foot bike lane.

Executive director Hallam provided voice-over, explaining the benefits and hazards users encounter in each situation.
Although the presentation did not sway enough votes to overrule the Delray Beach Consensus Plan, Hallam hoped it gave the committee and meeting attendees a better understanding of how roadway treatments affect all users.

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President's Message...
Waddayamean share the road?

by Mighk Wilson

We throw the "Share the Road" mantra around frequently here at FBA. Every so often we get a request to fund “Share the Road” signs along someone’s preferred cycling route, or we hear from a group trying to get their local government to do so.

Most of us agree that “STR” means bicyclists have the right to use as much of the road as is necessary for our safety, but do we really understand how the term is interpreted by non-bicycling motorists?

We shouldn’t assume to know. In a recent e-mail list discussion among bicycle coordinators a few wondered if some motorists thought “Share the Road” means bicyclists should keep as far right as possible so motorists can pass easier.

Even if every motorist understands what we mean, some will disagree because they don't know the law. Many coordinators prefer signage saying “Bicyclists May Use Full Lane” or some variation of that, and one suggested “Change Lanes to Pass Bicyclists.” But then there are those who really don't care what the law says, who will harass and threaten us regardless because the chance of punishment is low. Will a sign change the mind of a motorist who regards bicyclists as strange people who wear odd clothes, act childishly and hinder their progress?

You can't defeat a taboo with simple signs and slogans; it takes deeper social change.

Most motorists don’t want to hit or scare or threaten bicyclists, and they don't need the government to tell them how to behave. But there is that small percentage who don't care what the signs or the laws say.

I don’t believe there are many who fall between these two camps. It’s the members of that smaller group that make our cycling experiences unpleasant or even dangerous at times.

If we can reach them and change their attitudes, we'll solve one of today’s main problems for cyclists. The big question remains: Who are these people and how can we change their attitudes?

It’s too easy for us to say, “Oh, it’s those jokers in the big pickups with the Dale Earnhart stickers on the windows,” or “That town is full of people who hate bicyclists.”

And perhaps the solution is not to try to reach or even identify the thugs.

The Suwannee Bicycle Association has been holding its Secret Santa Ride in White Springs for many years. SBA sponsors a special holiday puppet show and party for the town's children, they encourage ride participants to bring presents to distribute to the kids, and they run a cycling Christmas Parade through the center of town.

Such outreach cannot guarantee the elimination of cyclist harassment, but it must have some benefit. It’s always nice to be nice, but sometimes you also have to take a stand. Rosa Parks was a nice person, but she knew that wasn’t enough, and eventually decided sharing the bus meant sharing all of it, not just the part others said she could use.

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Bike Florida surveys show positive economic impact

by Amanda Wilson

One form of active sport tourism that is becoming increasingly popular is bicycle tourism.

Bicycle tourists encompass a wide variety of individuals who may disperse into smaller regions and could possibly generate an increase in revenue for towns that usually do not receive much outside income.

Despite the potential re-emergence of the bicycle as an important form of transportation for leisure and recreational purposes, little research has been conducted into cycling within a tourism context.

“Bike Florida: Springs Fever" event
Florida's temperate climate, attractive scenery and minimal altitude change make the state a good destination for organized bike tours. One major such event is the annual Bike Florida tour.

More than 1,000 cyclists participated in this year's "Bike Florida 2004: Springs Fever,” a seven-day bicycle and tent camping tour that started and ended in Gainesville, included nearly 375 miles of north central Florida country roads and led riders to several of Florida's world-famous natural springs.

The event drew Florida residents and visitors from 40 states and such countries as Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico and Canada. Participants ranged in age from 4-84, with a median age of 54 and consisted of 59% males and 41% females.

The majority of people who came on this year's Bike Florida tour were typically well-educated and from middle to high income households. More than 70% of the riders surveyed reported having earned at least a Bachelor's degree and over 85% earned at least an Associate or technical degree.

Nearly one-quarter of the respondents reported an annual household income of from $50,001 to $75,000; median income fell in the $75,001 to $100,000 range.

A total of 277 questionnaires were collected from tour participants during the last two days of the tour to determine the economic impact of the event and get feedback. The data collected support the potential that bicycle tourism has to generate revenue for the communities along a tour route.
The overall estimated economic impact for all riders based on the mean scores for this sample was $743,455. Although only an estimate, it is a good indicator of how bicycle tourism has the potential to bring money into an area.

This may be a very conservative estimate because those people who stayed in motels and ate mainly at restaurants were not as accessible to be surveyed and were therefore under represented in this sample.

Participants spent the most money on costs associated with the event itself (registration, souvenirs, bike repairs, bike equipment), but the projected economic impact for the remaining categories was substantial.

Second only to event expenditure was spending for food and beverages, followed by transportation to and from Gainesville, lodging and shopping in retail stores.

Factoring in motel nights and restaurant expenditures not captured in the survey sample indicates that Bike Florida probably generated close to $1 million in economic impact for this week-long bicycle tour. That’s about $1,000 of impact per person.

Although the questionnaire administered for this study only examined expenditures only related to Bike Florida, over half (57.7%) of the respondents also indicated that they planned or had already traveled somewhere else in Florida independent of the tour.

This suggests that Bike Florida also contributes to bringing in additional revenue to the state of Florida that was not measured and discussed in this report.

Riders completing the survey expressed interest in a tour in the Florida Keys and the Panhandle. Almost 90% of the respondents would like to ride on a trail that connects Florida's rail trails and greenway corridors for at least part of the ride and the majority of the riders indicated they prefer days where the distance is between 51-60 miles.

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Palm Beach County’s picturesque
historic neighborhoods on Summit/Cycle Fest’ ride agenda

by Raphael Clemente

Palm Beach County, one of Florida's largest counties, offers a wide range of neighborhoods from coastal communities to equestrian villages in its 2,023 square miles.

Of the state's 67 counties, Palm Beach was the 47th county when it was established in 1909. The first county government meeting took place in a school house on the corner of Clematis Street and Dixie Highway. At that time approximately 5,300 people lived in the county. Today, the population is over 1.2 million people.

Approximately 52 percent of the people live in one of the county's 37 municipalities, with the balance of the population residing in unincorporated areas.

Historic neighborhoods:
The oldest municipality in the county, West Palm Beach was incorporated in 1894. People settled on the shore of Lake Worth in the 1870s and many began farming.

More people arrived when Flagler extended his Railroad from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach in 1894.

By the 1920s, the population and construction began to boom. To preserve older structures, the city commission has designated 13 historic districts since establishing its preservation program in 1991. Royal blue street signs identify the historic districts.

Feature Neighborhoods
Old Northwood
In 1991, city commissioners designated Old Northwood the city's first historic district. A marker on the corner of Poinsettia Avenue and 26th Street announces the neighborhood, which runs 10 blocks north to 35th Street and extends from Poinsettia Avenue (North Dixie Highway) on the east to Broadway on the west.

The district is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Most of the area was homesteaded by Rev. Elbridge Gale, a retired horticulture professor who grew mangoes. Gale's home, which has since been altered and moved, stands at 401 29th St.

The area was developed between 1920 and 1930 during the Florida land boom. Local builders designed the majority of homes; however, the neighborhood is dotted with houses designed by architects John Volk, William Manly King and Henry Stephen Harvey.

Predominant architectural styles are Mediterranean revival, mission revival and frame vernacular.

El Cid & Prospect Park
The city gave these waterfront neighborhoods historic designation status in 1993.

Dominant architectural styles are Mediterranean revival and mission revival.

The El Cid district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It encompasses properties from Flagler Drive on the Intracoastal Waterway west to South Dixie Highway, and is bounded by Barcelona Road and Flamingo Drive on the north and Dyer Road on the south.

Developed from 1922-30, the northern area was part of a parcel of land from Belvedere Road north to Okeechobee Boulevard that was homesteaded in 1876 by pineapple grower Benjamin Lainhart.

Elizabeth Wilder Moore homesteaded the land south of Lainhart's property to Dyer Road.

John Phipps, a wealthy man from Pittsburgh whose father was a partner in U.S. Steel, developed the area and named it El Cid after Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, whose enemies called him Cid, the Arabic word for lord.

One of the oldest homes in the area, a three-story, shingle-style home at 200 Pershing Way, was built in 1909 by carpenter Christian Kirk, who worked for Henry Flagler.

South of El Cid, the Prospect Park/Southland Park district also runs from Flagler Drive west to South Dixie Highway. It extends from Monceaux Road south to Monroe Drive.

Most of the historic homes, modeled after Prospect Park in Brooklyn, were built during the 1920s and 1930s and along with Mediterranean and mission revival styles include Monterey, Colonial revival, Tudor revival, Art Moderne, American foursquare and others.

Architects Belford, Shoumate, and King designed homes in both districts. The El Cid area also has homes designed by Maurice Fatio and the team of Henry Stephen Harvey and Louis Phillips Clarke.

Flamingo Park & Grandview Heights
The city designated Flamingo Park a historic district in 1994. It is under consideration for national historic status and most likely will receive the designation this year.

The district encompasses the area between the FEC Railroad tracks on the east to Parker Avenue on the west, and Park Place on the north to Belvedere Road on the south.

Developed from 1921-30, the land was first a pineapple plantation. It sits on one of the highest coastal ridges from West Palm Beach to Miami, allowing some homes on the ridge ocean views from second-story rooms.

The majority of homes are mission and Mediterranean revival style built between 1924 and 1926. Monterey, Art Moderne and frame vernacular homes and other architectural styles also appear.

King designed the Armory Arts Center, 1703 Lake Ave., in the Art Moderne style in 1939; and Harvey and Clarke designed the Mediterranean Revival home at 701 Flamingo Dr. in 1924.

North of Flamingo Park is Grandview Heights, approved as a West Palm Beach historic district in 1995. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

One of the city's oldest neighborhoods, the area was platted from 1910-20. It extends from Alabama and Florida avenues on the east to Lake Avenue on the west, and from N Street south to Park Place.

Part of the original development was demolished in 1989 for the city's redevelopment project that includes CityPlace and the City's new convention center.

Many craftsman bungalows are found in the district as well as homes designed in the Mediterranean Revival, Mission Revival, Monterey, Colonial Revival and American Foursquare styles.

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Off-road adventures...
Why I ride Baird

by Rudy Miller

The Baird Tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest is one of my favorite places to go off road riding. One of the reasons for this is, that it is NOT where everyone else is riding.

I like to be alone in the peaceful quiet of the wilderness and Baird is a great place to do that. Rarely do I see anyone on this land that is not in my riding party.

What I have seen, are bobcat, black bear foot prints, wilderness beauty, lots of wild flowers and of course alligators, snakes, turtles, hawks, owls and deer.
On a recent ride there, I saw something that was most unusual to me.

You can begin at the paved trail head of the Van Fleet State Trail at SR-50 East of Tarrytown and West of Clermont. (There is a second entrance on CR-471 about 2 miles South of Tarrytown.)

Turning right, around a locked gate, about two miles South of the ride start, puts you on the Baird Tract. The two loops on this recent ride gave us about 18 miles total and was all double track (dirt roads).

The riding is not challenging, at least not usually. On our ride, several sections of the road had recently experienced a make-over with the riding tracks in some areas still soft and bumpy. We spotted a sizable Alligator and a tree full of Ibis above a lake full of Fragrant Water Lilies.

Pickerelweed's violet-blue flower spikes extended above the water in numerous places. This is a beautiful place to ride.

We saw mountain bike tracks, so we knew someone else had been through here recently, but we never saw that person.

While we picnicked under some large, old, live oak trees, two men passed driving tractors pulling discuses, trashing the grasses on the sides of the high crown road and leaving lumpy soil behind them.

It makes a great fire break I am sure, but riding out after they passed meant keeping our wheels in the middle of the road.

With a little luck and a lot of rain, these roads will be back in good riding condition.

The "unusual discovery" is related to cypress trees. Two kinds of cypress trees are common in Florida, the bald cypress and the pond cypress. The bald cypress have flat leaves, ½ to ¾ inches long that grow on both sides of horizontal branchlets and their bark is relatively smooth.

The pond cypress have leaves that look awl-shaped, poking straight up 2 to 3 inches from the branches and their bark is very rough.

Pond cypress prefer non-flowing water. With this basic knowledge, I have, for years, tried to find a location which supported both kinds of cypress so that I could view them side by side.

At Baird, I spotted both kinds of cypress trees in a small pond, along the road in the Baird Tract. Dismounting for closer observation, I discovered something puzzling.

A bald cypress and a pond cypress were growing right next to each other; next to both was a cypress that defied either description.

It had the flat like leaves but they grew all around the branch in every direction. Later on-line research turned up an explanation.

Bald and pond cypress can interbreed when they co-exist in the same location. This can cause varied characteristics to appear on the same tree or create a hybrid/mutant tree that is both different from and similar to the two species.

If you like peace and quiet and want to discover this place yourself, have at it. You now know how to find it.

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This Issue:

Palm Beach County says no

President's Message

Economic surveys

Palm Beach County neighborhoods

Why I ride Baird


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