Biking events combine for spectacular weekend
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 ismore than a little excited about this year's Share the Road Celebration of Cycling events.
How can we make Florida safer for cyclists and pedestrians?
Is there an economic incentive for communities to invest in trails and cycling infrastructure?
What's a Cyclovia, and why should your city have one?
These and other questions will be examined during this year's Celebration of Cycling weekend, Oct. 24-25, in Gainesville.
Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association will once again co-host this year's Share the Road Celebration of Cycling events, which are being scheduled to coincide with the Gainesville Cycling Club's popular Santa Fe Century and Horse Farm Hundred rides that attract hundreds of cyclists from around the state.
The keynote speaker for the Saturday, October 25, Share the Road Awards will be T.J. Juskiewicz, director of RAGBRAI (the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa). RAGBRAI is the oldest and most popular cross-state bicycle ride in America, attracting in excess of 10,000 riders annually.
Bicycle tourism is a $1 million-a-day industry in Iowa. Florida has the potential to become a great bicycle tourism state, and we're looking forward to learning from T.J. about how Iowa became such a popular destination for cycle-tourists.
Share The Road Celebration of Cycling partners include the City of Gainesville, the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, UF's Innovation Hub, the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Center, Gainesville Citizens for Active Transportation, and Trek Bicycles.
The line-up of informational and public safety programs, including a Friday night "cycling social" and a Saturday night annual banquet, is designed to appeal to cycling enthusiasts, public policy makers, business people, and others who want to learn more about the utility, economics, and fun of cycling.
Share the Road Celebration of Cycling will feature a day long series of speeches and panel discussions on Friday at Gainesville's restored historic train station (203 SE Depot Avenue) that will focus on two major issues: the economics of cycling and bike-ped safety.
Friday Morning Session: The Economics of Cycling
The morning session will also include a discussion about how communities are using bike-ped amenities to attract millennials and young start-up entrepreneurs. In addition to the following speakers and panelists, a representative from the Jacksonville-based PARC Group will talk about that company's decision to develop the bicycle-friendly planned community of Nocatee in St. Johns County:
Dale Allen: Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation: The benefits of trails and greenways.
Jose Papa: How Palm Coast became a trail city.
Shawn Webber: Open Streets Gainesville: Cyclovias: When streets are temporarily closed to traffic and turned over to cyclists and walkers.
State Rep Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello: A legislator's perspective.
Ken Foster, Ride Director, Bike Florida: The untapped potential of cycle tourism in Florida.
Friday Afternoon Session: Florida Bike-Ped Safety Summit
This will be an important public policy discussion about how Florida can turn around its reputation as one of the most bike-ped unfriendly states in America. The discussion will be conducted with the objective of arriving at some specific policy recommendations for legislative and local government consideration to help improve Florida's safety record in regard to cyclists and pedestrians. Panelists and speakers for the afternoon will include:
Billy Hattaway: District 1 Secretary, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
DeWayne Carver: State Bike-Ped Coordinator, Florida Department of Transportation
Julie Bond: Senior Researcher, Center for Urban Transportation Research
Chris LeDew: Director, University of Florida Transportation Technology Center
Dr. Ruth Steiner: UF Department of Urban and Regional Planning
John Egberts: Associate Director, Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program
The afternoon session will be moderated by Tim Bustos, a member of Bike Florida's Board of Directors and former Executive Director of the Florida Bicycle Association
Friday evening, Bike Florida and the Florida Bicycle Association will host a Bicycle-and-Food-Truck Social at the University of Florida's Innovation Hub, at 747 SW 2nd Avenue from 5:30 to 9 pm. There will be live music, food, family-friendly activities and exhibitions. The location for Saturday evening's Share the Road Awards Banquet will be announced later.