Food truck rally kicks off bike fest
By Ron Cunningham, GLOB Correspondent
EDITOR's NOTE: Ron Cunningham is a Gainesville cyclist, journalist, and the Executive Director of Bike Florida. The GLOB's bicycle boy is more than a little excited about this year's Share the Road Celebration of Cycling events.
Did you ever have a yen to take a bike ride with a giant gator and a humongous fish? Well, here's your chance.
On Friday evening, Oct. 24, from 6 to 9 pm, Bike Florida is going to hold a big bicycle social/food truck rally at Innovation Square, on SW 2nd Avenue. It's really just going to be a big party to "Celebrate Cycling."
There will be live music, good food (did we mention the food trucks?), hospitality booths, lots of things for the kids to d, and who knows what else?
Oh yeah, and we're going to do a bicycle parade from Innovation Square to downtown and back because.... well, just because. If you can't have a bicycle parade in a bike-friendly town like Gainesville, for goodness sakes, where can you?
Did I mention the giant gator and humongous fish? Actually they are "kinetic sculptures" mounted on bicycle frames anc created by Gainesville sculptor Raymond Rawls.
You might have seen Raymond and his fantastical rolling menagerie at the recent Open Streets Gainesville event, when nearly a mile of University Avenue was closed on a cool Sunday afternoon. Thousands of people took the opportunity to enjoy a signature Gainesvillestreet that is usually monopolized by automobiles.
It was a great party. And we're going to have another one at Innovation Square on Oct. 24. Raymond promises to be there with his creations. He was even kind enough to let us use the image of his kinetic fish on our 2014 Celebration of Cycling T-shirt. Check it out when you get to Innovation Square. It shows a serendipitous group of cyclists making their merry way across Gainesville's DNA bike-ped bridge.
I love it, and I hope you will too.
The Friday night bike social is just one event of this year's Share The Road Celebration of Cycling Weekend, sponsored jointly by Bike Florida and the Florida Bicycle Association. It is an opportunity to have some serious discussions about cycling issues, to recognize and congratulate some of Florida's more dedicated cycling advocates, and, of course, to have a little fun with the big gator and the humongous fish.
Oh yes, if actual cycling is your thing, there's going to be a lot of that too. Our Share The Road Celebration of Cycling Weekend coincides with the Gainesville Cycling Club's annual Gainesville Cycling Festival, with its popular Horse Farm Hundred and Santa Fe Century rides.
As for Celebration of Cycling, here's what we have in store for you: On Friday morning, Oct. 24, from 9 am to 12:30 pm, we will conduct a forum, The Economics of Cycling, at the city of Gainesville's historic train station, on Depot Avenue. Why should communities invest in trails, bike lanes, and other cycling infrastructure? Because there's almost always a positive return on investment (ROI). We're bringing in several speakers who will elaborate at length on the ROI of cycling.
Beginning at 1 pm, we will convene the Florida Bike-Ped Safety Summit to talk about how to turn around Florida's reputation as inhospitable to cyclists and pedestrians. We will be talking to experts from the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of Florida, and the University of South Florida about ways to improve bike-ped safety in the Sunshine State.
After all that talking, we'll need to have some fun. Cue the giant gator, humongous fish, and all the other goings-on at Innovation Square. Live music will be supplied by the local band Flatland, and maybe we'll have some other surprises in store.
On Saturday night, from 6 to 9 pm at the Paramount Plaza Hotel on SW 13th Street, we will have our Annual Share The Road Awards Banquet to recognize persons and organizations who have made significant contributions to safe cycling in Florida.
Our keynote speaker for the evening will be T.J. Juskiewizc, Director of RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). RAGBRAI, the oldest and best known cross-state bike ride in America, attracts over 10,000 riders each year. It's a legendary ride, and T.J. will have some great stories to tell.
Finally, at the banquet we will also wrap up Bike Florida's year-long fundraising campaign to restore the sculptures for fallen cyclists on Depot Avenue. The sculptures were erected in the memory of six cyclists who were riding from Gainesville to St. Augustine on the day after Christmas in 1996.
They never got there - on a lonely road in Clay County, a distracted driver in a pickup truck smashed into the group, killing two and injuring the other four. The sculptures have deteriorated over the years, and Bike Florida has vowed to restore them and will use funds from a raffle and silent auction at the Banquet.
Come and Celebrate Cycling with us on Oct. 24 and 25. FOLLOW THIS LINK for registration details and other information.