“Here’s Your New Bike Lane. Oh, Did You Want It to Go Somewhere?”

“Here’s Your New Bike Lane. Oh, Did You Want It to Go Somewhere?”

Photo: Matt Roth for WSF

“…City officials across the U.S. are installing hundreds of miles of bike lanes as they respond to a cycling boom that began during the pandemic and capitalize on federal grants, including from the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure law.

But car culture and political realities—anything that makes driving or parking harder doesn’t tend to win a lot of voters — mean these routes are sometimes counterintuitive, unsafe and just plain pointless.

Kate Drabinski, a Baltimore bike commuter, said she couldn’t wait to try out the newly painted lane down North Avenue. When she did, she was underwhelmed. ‘It just sort of ends,’ she said. ‘And then there you are, on your bike, surrounded by cars.’ [the southbound on-ramp of Interstate 83]

While commuters stayed home at the start of the pandemic, bike lanes sprang up seemingly everywhere, and more people began using them. Now, as cities come back to life, the mixing of car, bike and foot traffic is proving a bit rocky…

In New York City, cyclists are furiously ringing their bells and dodging guys in suits who don’t seem to be aware they’ve stepped into two-wheeled traffic. But the cyclists don’t all signal their presence, or stop for red lights, so on some streets it has become pedestrian beware.

The U.S. has more than 18,000 miles of bike lanes, low-traffic roads good for biking and off-road paths, according to the Adventure Cycling Association, which is assembling what it calls the U.S. Bicycle Route System. New York City alone has added about 120 miles of bike lanes since 2020, according to transportation officials…

The U.S. isn’t the only place building more bike lanes. Some are head-scratchers. The central England town of Kidsgrove recently got its very first bike lane. It is 20 feet long.

‘I wasn’t sure what they were doing with the road closed for construction, and then when I saw the end result I thought—Blimey! That’s it?’ said nearby resident Bill Priddin. ‘It’s ludicrous. I have to smile every time I drive by it.’

The tiny lane links two sections of an off-road cycle path, and county officials say it offers a more direct and safer cycling route through town.

Even as cities try to do more for cyclists, there’s no denying urban areas are still dominated by drivers. ‘It’s like a commandment: ‘Thou shalt not upset drivers,’ ‘ said Jed Weeks, head of the Baltimore cyclist group Bikemore.

On the other side, pro-driver groups, including the National Motorists Association, are urging cities not to make pandemic-era pedestrian and cycling accommodations permanent—and to cool it with the bike lanes. They’ve taken to calling cycling advocates ‘Big Bike.’

‘That was a term I coined because it’s just unbelievable how these bike lanes are being constantly pushed on us,’ said Shelia Dunn, a spokeswoman for the motorists group.

Should cities build more bike lanes? Or fewer?…

‘I get roasted all the time by Twitter folks who say, ‘What about Big Car?’’ she said. ‘Yeah, true. But the whole reason we have streets is because cars are the engine of the economy.’

The various modes of locomotion leave city officials ‘stuck between two camps: the biking enthusiasts and everyone else,’ said James T. Smith Jr., a former county executive who was chief of staff to the Baltimore mayor during development of the North Avenue project and other lanes.

‘You end up with compromises,’ he said, ‘and I don’t see that as such a bad thing.’

But those tweaked routes, cyclists say, are a big reason cities end up with bike lanes to nowhere and other impediments to a smooth ride…

This summer, L.A. opened the Sixth Street Viaduct connecting the Boyle Heights neighborhood to the city’s arts district and downtown—a half-billion-dollar project celebrated for its wide, pedestrian access and bike lanes.

Only one problem: ‘Uhhh, how do we get onto this?’ said Eli Kaufman, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, who biked it on opening day July 10.

To access bike lanes on the new bridge, cyclists face 200 or so feet of street riding with car traffic where there is an on-ramp.Photo: Eli Kaufman

To access the eye-catching new bridge, with its spectacular views of the city and its appealingly safe bike lanes, cyclists must first weave through lanes of traffic with scant signage for bicyclists, let alone dedicated pathways.

‘It’s actually funny, if it wasn’t so upsetting,’ said Mr. Kaufman. ‘The logic is, there is no logic.'”

— Julie Bykowicz, WSJ

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Graffiti Vs. Art

Graffiti Vs. Art

Photo: WFTS

“An average of 250,000 people bike, walk or jog the Pinellas Trail every month. However, those in charge of the 70-mile-path say they want it to be more than just a place of exercise but an overall cultural experience.

So they are giving cyclists a reason to pump the brakes and take a picture along the Pinellas Trail this week.

‘Its like a stamp of approval from the community saying that my work is valuable and that I’m an asset and that’s nice, I love it,’ said artist Yhali Ilan.

Ilan said it was an honor to be one of four local artists chosen to paint two overpasses along the trail, one in Palm Harbor and the other in Tarpon Springs. Each one has a different Florida theme…

‘Our parks department will go and paint over in plain gray paint and the next day they’ll come back and they’ll be graffiti on the tunnels,’ said Alexis Ferguson with Pinellas County Public Works.

Ferguson is not only a public works employee but she rides the trail all the time. She said it’s been proven these murals detract from crime.

‘There is a respect among graffiti artists and our local artists here painting murals that they don’t tag the art murals and that’s been seen throughout the county,’said Ferguson…

The plan is to continue to add more art to the trail every year.”

— Robert Boyd, WFTS

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“A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway wins NSBF Byway Community Award”

“A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway wins NSBF Byway Community Award”

Photo: Spoonbills and Sprochets in Palm Coast Observer
“The A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway is a winner of the 2021 National Scenic Byway Foundation’s Byway Community Award for its eighth-annual Spoonbills and Sprockets Cycling Tour – Crazy 8’s event. In its 10th year (2021), the Spoonbills and Sprockets Cycling Tour won in the Event Category. It introduces the byway to new participants while challenging our returning riders to see the byway with fresh eyes through requiring eight selfies of their time along A1A to win prizes.

From photos at the historic Marineland Dolphin Adventure to the Castillo de San Marcos, the Bridge of Lions, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and south to the beaches and waterways along A1A in Flagler County, riders compared photos and laughed together at the Marineland attraction after-party.

Spoonbills and Sprockets Cycling Tour is an example of a byway best practice that has grown through the cycling community’s support and has developed a reputation for excellence. While keeping the fundamentals in place, adding a new element each year keeps it fresh and fun. From designing custom medals and signature jerseys each year, creating a theme, and wowing our riders with celebrity entertainers and unique activities, it never seems like the same event twice! And SAG/rest stops are at locations along the byway, which correspond to our A1A Scenic Byway Mobile Tour…”

— National Scenic Biway Guest, Palm Coast Observer
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Read more about the A1A Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway

Read more about the National Scenic Byway Foundation

Florida fall: Activities to enjoy with cooler weather

Florida fall: Activities to enjoy with cooler weather

Photo: Patrick Connolly, Orlando Sentinel
” …Though Florida doesn’t experience the usual signs of fall that northerners look for — changing leaves, frigid nights and jackets worn by chilly commuters — there are cooler temperatures approaching for the Sunshine State…

Now, Floridians are beginning to come out of their air-conditioned abodes to garden, go for an evening stroll or move their exercise routine outdoors.

Here are suggestions for ways to take advantage of the milder weather…

Take a hike
Several state parks, including Wekiwa Springs, Blue Spring and Hontoon Island, offer scenic trails for recreationists of all skill levels. Seminole County offers up local gems such as Black Bear Wilderness Area and Little Big Econ State Forest. Urban escapes include Lake Baldwin Park, Little Econ Greenway, Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake and Mead Botanical Gardens.

Visit floridahikes.com for more ideas and resources.

Go for a paddle

While it might soon feel a little too cool for a swim in Central Florida’s many springs, the crystal-clear waterways offer great paddling opportunities — not to mention the countless options on lakes, rivers, lagoons and coastal shores. Take out the canoe, kayak or paddleboard for a trip down Juniper Springs, the Econlockhatchee River, Wekiva River, Rainbow River, Rock Springs Run or Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Florida’s East Coast also offers paddles in the Mosquito Lagoon and Indian River Lagoon near Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge…

Have an outdoor picnic

Step one: Find that perfect, 76-degree day to spend some time outdoors.
Step two: Pack your favorite sandwich, cheese, fruits, veggies and non-perishable dessert to have a pleasant outdoor picnic.

Central Florida has some splendid snacking spots, including Mead Botanical Garden, Bill Frederick Park, Lake Eola Park and Lake Ivanhoe Park.

Bring out the bike

Many Floridians, tired of being stuck inside, have dusted off their bikes and gotten out on the trails amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bike shops have been slammed and low on inventory as the demand for cycling surges.

Central Florida has miles and miles of paved trails to explore, including on the Seminole Wekiva Trail, Cady Way Trail, Little Econ Greenway, West Orange Trail and Cross Seminole Trail. For some mountain biking action close to Orlando, head to Lake Druid Park, Markham Woods, the Mount Dora Trail, Soldier’s Creek or Snow Hill.

See manatees

Florida’s ever-so-slightly-cooler fall temperatures serve as a sign of an annual happening right around the corner: manatee season. Central Florida manatee hotspots include Blue Spring State Park, Haulover Canal in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River and Homosassa Springs… ”

— Patrick Connolly, Orlando Sentinel

“A New Vision for the Florida Greenways and Trails System (FGTS)” 2019-2023 Plan and Maps Update

“A New Vision for the Florida Greenways and Trails System (FGTS)” 2019-2023 Plan and Maps Update

Photo: Florida DEP
“The FGTS Plan establishes the vision for implementing a connected statewide system of greenways and trails for recreation, conservation, alternative transportation, healthy lifestyles, a vibrant economy and a high quality of life. The original FGTS Plan was completed in 1998 and adopted by the Florida Legislature in 1999, laying the groundwork for many programs, projects and initiatives that exist today. The updated FGTS Plan and maps guides implementation of the connected statewide trail system from 2019 through 2023.

The Office of Greenways and Trails (OGT) has also updated its statewide opportunity and priority trail maps. Many trails are eligible for certain types of funding if they are on one or both maps.

As part of the update, OGT held 14 public workshops throughout the state to receive input from trail users, local planners and the public. OGT also received hundreds of e-mails and letters and input from the Florida Greenways and Trails Council. The input is helping to shape the direction of trails for years to come! The final versions of the Plan and maps are posted below…”

— Florida DEP
Download Plan (.pdf)
Visit DEP website for more about Florida Greenways and Trails programs