Local biketivists from across Miami and Broward joined around 200 more transportation planners, engineers and bicycle professionals in Tampa yesterday for the first National Bike Summit, hosted by USDOT. The event kicked off a campaign that USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood promised to do for bike safety what ‘Click it or Ticket’ did for seat belt use and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have done for DUI. It has no catchy name yet but the idea is simple: We need a cultural shift in this country so that nowhere is it socially acceptable or legal for motorists to disrespect cyclists. LaHood and other speakers promoted more bike lanes, more tickets for those who pass cyclists too closely and an aggressive education campaign targeting people who ride and drive on proper, safe behavior.
There is more at Streetsblog but Transit Miami thanks all who traveled to Tampa to represent Southeast Florida. Special shout out to Bike SoMi, the City of Fort Lauderdale, Broward Complete Streets, Green Mobility Network, Atlantic Bike Shop, Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass, and many others I may have missed. There were also three of us from the Broward B-cycle program, including myself.
Florida Bicycle Association Executive Director Tim Bustos sent us this recap of the event:
“When we first got the official notice that there would be a bike summit in Tampa, we were ecstatic! Although many of us are already actively engaged in trying to improve the dismal bicycle crash record in Florida, we really felt like this kind of exposure, and the support of USDOT would be very helpful. The only catch was that it was happening in 10 days! Wow. Having put on many events like this over the years, I knew that most conference planners require at least six months - and a year is preferred. However, USDOT staff vowed to make it happen, and, since Secretary Ray LaHood has already announced that he would be stepping down soon, I can only guess that he wanted to be sure it happened before he left. So, no problems - just opportunities!”
“First steps were to contact all of our members possible - as soon as possible, as well as colleagues and affiliate organizations. This blitz was followed with a conference call between USDOT and FHWA staff to offer our assistance with planning efforts in Florida, and to suggest speakers.”
“Given the incredibly short window of opportunity, the bike summit actually came off very well. USDOT was hoping for at least 150 participants, and there were almost 200 in attendance! The speakers were also very well qualified and engaging, and spoke to the issues of community design, traffic engineering countermeasures, law enforcement, and current bicycle education efforts in the state. The only area I felt was lacking was the subject of funding programs. Given that MAP-21 (the new transportation funding bill) is still relatively new, and many people are still trying to figure it out - including FDOT, we felt this could have been a welcome addition to the line-up of presentations, but to me, it seemed to be conspicuous by its absence.”
“Still, Secretary LaHood should be commended for his intent to pull off this conference before he left office, and his staff gets bonus points for pulling it together at warp speed. And, as I mentioned at the end of my presentation on bicycle education, I look at this event not as a one time effort, but the beginning of a renewed effort throughout Florida to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable effort in Tampa, and throughout the state.”
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