Yesterday, I had a great day bicycling around Orlando and then giving a presentation on ‘Open Streets’ to local planners, political staff, engineers, consultants, architects and other people interested in promoting the ideas of the Congress for the New Urbanism. It was a glorious day for a bike ride and I’m grateful to Keri Caffrey of Commute Orlando and Brad Kuhn of the the BikeWalk Central Florida for touring me around. I was so impressed by the beautiful old neighborhoods of Orlando, admittedly unexpected. Even the Downtown area was inviting and bicycle-friendly. (No, we didn’t go anywhere near Disney). We had coffee at a great local shop and brainstormed ideas for a new civility campaign aimed at improving (already good but still…) relationship between motorists and bicyclists in the area. The program, which is funded already in part through the wonderful Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), will include PSAs and actual collaborative outreach. It was great to be a part of thinking it out and I look forward to seeing how it pans out.
Our “rolling brainstorming session” hit a bump when we were pulled over for riding two abreast. Yes, you heard me right. A little ‘bicycle buddha’ action on the part of Keri and Brad kept my comments to an innocuous level. Keri/CommuteOrlando describes it best here. In short, if you are pulled over or even ticketed for doing something legal, it is likely best not to argue with the officer right there. You are right. S/he is wrong. In a fight of egos, we have an idea who will win. Be sure to get the officer’s name and department. Contact us right away and the SFBC will:
1) Find a nonconfrontational way to contact the officer, ideally through a colleague, and right the wrong.
2) We’ll provide the support necessary to get any citation thrown out quickly and undramatically – dramatically, if necessary.
3) All cyclists win. When you are mistreated and you do not file a complaint, it is as if nothing happened. The South Florida Bike Coalition urges you to file a complaint or report any incident you have on the roadway. Our dedicated Bicycle/Pedestrian coordinators, city planners and law enforcement need to hear from you on the record so they can do their jobs effectively. Team effort.
Back to why I was in Orlando. The CNU local chapter invited me to speak on one of my favorite topics: open streets as a city planning tool. As the former coordinator for Bike Miami Days, I’ve had the privilege to travel all over the Americas and talk about ciclovia recreativas/open streets projects. One benefit of ciclovias is that they bring together a cross-section of people who normally would not attend a charrette or public meeting. If your city is considering extending transit down a certain street, or rebuilding a particular roadway, I say, Why not host a a free, family-friendly street party where you can get real, innovative, public input? If you are interested in bringing a Bike Miami Days-style event to your town, let us know and we’ll do our best to help.
My sincerest thanks to Eliza Harris and everyone at the exciting planning firm, Canin Associates, for bringing me to Orlando and showing me what a beautiful city it really is. I’d also like to thank the Rusted Chain Bike Collective for doing what they do, empowering all kinds of people to ride more and better. Needless to say, I look forward to returning to Orlando soon.