Upping Bike Florida's 'Share The Road' ante
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 happy boy announcing plans for the upcoming Bike Florida Share the Road celebration.
These are exciting times at Bike Florida.
We are less than two months out from our 3rd annual Share The Road Celebration of Cycling, in the City of Clermont. And we've assembled an impressive lineup of speakers for our Friday, Nov. 13, series of forums and panel discussions about how to make Florida a more bike-friendly state. Presenters will include Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, FDOT Dist. Sec. Billy Hattaway, state Bike-Ped Coordinator DeWayne Carver and many more. FOLLOW THIS LINK for more program details.
On the touring side, plans for our 2016 spring tour, Surf & Turf (Apriil 9-15) are proceeding nicely. We will be in Southwest Florida for the first time. starting out in Arcadia, riding to Sarasota and then on to Venice (so there will be lots of beaches to ride to) before returning to Arcadia.
And before that, on the week of March 13-18, Bike Florida will launching its newest and most exciting small-group (limited to 20 riders) inn-to-inn boutique tour. The Forgotten Coast Tour will start in Tallahassee, head to St. Marks and then on to Wakulla Springs State Park, Panacea, Carrabelle, Apalachicola and St. George Island, before finishing up in Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas. There will be miles of coastal riding, long bridges to cross over beautiful stretches of water and a lot of history, tasty sea food and cracker culture to sample along the way. Keep an eye on the Bike Florida web page, for further details.
Bike Florida has for years offered mini-grants of up to $2,000 to help fund bike-improvement projects. Those modest awards might be used to, say, repair old bikes for redistribution, provide Share The Road signage, produce safety videos and so on.
But on Sept. 13, Bike Florida's Board of Directors authorized a much larger and more ambitious grant to be awarded in 2016.
Our Share The Road Challenge Grant will award $25,000 - that money to come from the sale of Share The Road license tags. It will be a matching grant, so the total amount of money available could amount to $50,000 - and even more if those funds can be further used to leverage matching state and federal grants.
We're talking about real money, in other words.
Essentially we want applicants - city and county governments, school districts, bike clubs, bike-ped safety organizations - to come to us with innovative ideas for improving bike safety and facilitating cycling in their communities. Bike Florida Challenge Grants are intended to stimulate innovative thinking and creativity.
Maybe a city wants to experiment with protected bike lanes, or establish a bike boulevard. Perhaps a school district wants to launch a new bicycle safety course for its students. Or advocates might come forward with a bold new media campaign to make motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike more aware of their collective responsibilities to share the public roadways.
Bike Florida will issue a call for proposals and evaluate applications with an eye toward awarding creative thinking in bike-ped safety. The grant drafting process is just beginning, but we anticipate holding a workshop for interested applicants during our Share The Road Celebration of Cycling event, in Clermont, on Friday, Nov. 13. The application period will commence shortly thereafter, and the grant awarded in 2016. More details will follow.
As I said, these are exciting times at Bike Florida. Our organization has been in existence for 21 years, and we are determined that Bike Florida is going to become a much more active and aggressive partner in ongoing efforts to make Florida a more bike-ped friendly state.
Come ride with us on one of our tours. Come to Clermont on Nov. 13 and join in the discussion about how to make Florida, 'The Cycling State'. And if you've got a great idea about how to improve cycling in your community, consider applying for our Share The Road Challenge Grant.
We're just getting started at Bike Florida. I can't wait to see what 2016 will bring.