CycleFest Rises Like a Phoenix!

The South Florida Bike Coalition has been spending lots of time with Jack the Bike Man and other Palm Beach advocates for better bicycling and the result is: the Return of CycleFest!

CycleFest first came to Palm Beach County a few years ago as a celebration of bicycling and bicycle culture. Despite great success, it took little more than one terrible hurricane season to bring an end to the party. The enthusiasm from people like you (who reads this blog anyway!?) never faded and so, with much ado, we announce CycleFest 2011!

CycleFest is a FREE, Family-Friendly 3-day international festival of all things bicycle. There will be something for everyone of all ages: music, pro and amateur races and criteriums, bike rodeos, design competitions, great food and, of course, beautiful bicycles. Currently, we plan to incorporate an open streets day, as well, in which we will temporarily turn Clematis Street into a world-class pedestrian boulevard.

We want your ideas, support and involvement – there is room for everyone who is willing and able to help make CycleFest an epic success.  Come out and celebrate/brainstorm/party/imbibe with us on Friday, September 3rd at E.R. Bradley’s in Downtown West Palm Beach. Even the Happy Hour is FREE: Just showing up gets you in for the open buffet, free drinks served up by our own bicycle community ‘Celebrities‘ and the opportunity to meet people who love their community and bicycling as much as you do.

If you’re unable to attend but would like to make a 100% tax-deductible contribution, please send a check to:
>CycleFest 2011 Fund<
Jack the Bike Man, Inc.
PO Box 8125
West Palm Beach, FL 33407

If you would like to join the Steering Committee for Cyclefest or just have an idea to share, please contact us at SFBikeCoalition@yahoo.com or 305-982-7343.

Now for some inspirational pictures to get you even more excited about CycleFest 2011:

Look at those crazy people on bicycles!

Prizes for Most Beautiful Bicycle

You'll See a Few of These

Happy Kids. Training for the Urban Mountain Bike Race?

Three Days of Criterium Racing: For Pros, For You, For Cruiser Bicycles, too*

West Palm Beach Waterfront: Ready to Party Again

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Ciclovia/Open Streets: The Example of Bogota, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia is home to the largest, most successful ciclovia program in the world. Every Sunday and holiday, over 1 million people from all walks of life enjoy 120 km of open streets in the heart of this international capital city. Young and old walk, bicycle, rollerblade, exercise, meet and explore the city. It is like nothing else that I have ever seen.

Today in Bogota, I met with the Director of this program as part of an International Study Tour funded by the Dade Community and Kellog Foundations. Mr. Mauricio Ramos shared with my colleagues and I some of the extraordinary benefits this program has had for Colombia over the last 35 years. He spoke of spurred microenterprise, a new social cohesion and civic pride, improved physical and mental health, the critical importance of repurposing public space as a facilitator of social integration and how this has made his city a model for nearly one hundred cities worldwide. His words renewed in my the inspiration and dedication to bring ‘open streets’ to our communities in South Florida.

This week, while I am in Colombia, leaders in West Palm Beach are deciding a date in the Fall for the South Florida Bike Coalition and the Open Streets Project to coordinate our state’s second ciclovia. Next week, we will be meeting with leaders in Doral to discuss a similar event. This is our time! It is an exciting time for our movement to better our community through bicycling. Thank you for being a part of this.

The Open Streets Project Partners with SFBC

Volunteers Make It Happen!

The volunteer team behind Bike Miami Days formally decided to partner with the South Florida Bike Coalition with the common goal of bringing more ‘open streets’ events to South Florida. So far, SFBC leaders have met with advocates and officials in West Palm Beach and are pushing for an event in late October. Rumor has it Lake Worth would welcome such a free and family-friendly program, and the City of Doral – whose leadership is all about parks, open spaces and getting active – has also been very encouraging. SFBC members in South Miami-Dade and Broward are calling for us to reach out to Kendall and Ft. Lauderdale. We hear ya! Looks like South Florida could be home to multiple new programs this Fall. As always, we and the people behind the Open Streets Project will need volunteers to make this happen. Let us know via email or facebook if you are interested. (If you already put I wanna volunteer! on your membership form, we’ll be contacting you directly soon.)

Any Given Sunday in Bogota

In related news, I’ll be in Bogota next week, meeting with leaders of their famous ciclovia and mass transportation programs with the hope of bringing back some great ideas for South Florida. Our community is such a richly diverse and exciting place – so much fun to explore by bicycle! Over the summer, we’ll be participating in more and more group rides, like the Good Old Fashioned Bike Race, taking place this Saturday. This event is a fundraiser for young Miami-based social activists and we are excited to join in the fun for a good cause. If your group (however informal it might be) would like support planning or coordinating a ride, let us know. It’s one of my favorite parts of this job.

Also new this week, your SFBC has partnered with The Heritage Continuum on a project to improve sustainable transportation use in and around Overtown. Located right in the middle of Miami – framed by Wynwood, Downtown, the Miami River, the Health District and the Performing Arts District – Overtown is easily accessible by bicycle, bus, metrorail or just walking. Programs like Roots in the City and Folklife Fridays are bringing visitors to the neighborhood. I am looking forward to working with the Heritage team make Overtown safer, easier and more fun to visit by bicycle.

We'll be there!

Fundraiser Success at Bike Miami Days

Today we hosted the Bike Miami Days AfterParty at Akashi in the Grove, handed out hundreds of free Heinekin beers and raised hundreds of dollars for the South Florida Bike Coalition. Good day. Volunteers designed, printed and handed out fliers promoting our little party which was generously sponsored by Akashi. The Japanese restaurant provided free mimosas, delicious food and staff support.

Bike Miami Days Participant Around the SFBC Table at Akashi

Heinekin promoters Jennifer and Cecilia handed out cans of the Dutch beer and donated all of their tips to the cause. They also handed out green bottle openers and were of top spirits as we ran out of ice (oops). Our thanks to volunteers for bicycling out to a not-so-nearby gas station and bringing back loads of ice on their baskets for us.

More photos at CoconutGroveGrapevine.blogspot.com

The South Florida Bike Coalition gave out free stickers and related bike-education literature, signed up new members and interested people who bicycle and enjoyed celebrating all of the day’s volunteers and sponsors, who attended the party for free.

Do you have photos from the event? Please send them to us so we can post them here! Thanks again.

Beautiful, Historic, Bike-friendly Orlando

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.

Another Busy Day for Bicycling Advocacy in Miami

Last April's BMD: Orange t-shirts, Local Music, Live Art, Volunteer Fair and much more.

A Public Meeting in South Miami today could mean new bicycle lanes on Sunset Drive, also known as Marjory Stoneman Douglas Historic Road. FDOT’s required neighborhood public meeting to address their proposed work on the roadway takes place from 6-8pm tonight. It is structured so that you can drop in at any point to meet with FDOT officials and consultants working on the project and share any thoughts you may have.

While bike lanes are not an end in and of themselves, particularly on this heavily trafficked roadway, it is my belief that implementation of such facilities (as requested by the Miami-Dade Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee) will be improve conditions for all road users by promoting cycling, slower motor traffic speeds and more complete streets. For more information about the meeting or how you can support the project even if you cannot attend, please see my post on TransitMiami.com here. Event is also on Facebook.

Also tonight: the Miami Open Streets Team (MOST), a small, dedicated group of activists who championed the return of Bike Miami Days in the City of Miami, will host their regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting at the Wallflower. The group, which I co-lead, is understandably a bit nervous these days. The big event is less than a month away and the city seems to be dumping the coordination of this massive community event on the city’s bicycle coordinator. Do they really think he doesn’t have enough on his plate already? Or perhaps, the city now sees this event as just a bone to throw at bicyclists, rather than the massive family arts/culture/parks/health/music/community event that it has become?

More to follow, as always. Hope to see some of you tonight!