Buckhorn headlines 5th annual Bicycle Bash in suburban Tampa

Part of that awareness is about the fact that cyclists are allowed to be on the roadway, something that some motorists refuse to acknowledge, even in the roads leading into parks like Flatwoods, which is located off of Morris Bridge Road.

Tampa resident Joe Bradley said he'd like to see more bike lanes created in Tampa, though he acknowledges there are more now than there have ever been in the city. He also says that driver education about biking needed to be pushed more extensively. "You get a little scared getting out there on a bicycle if you're on a main road."

Jean Dorzback, transportation manager for Tampa, agreed that more education of drivers is essential, and emphasized that the city believes that bikes are part of improving the transportation needs of local residents.

Last year the city began implementing a walk-bike master plan that just ended its first phase, looking at connections to USF, downtown and Westshore (Phase two will look at other areas in the city).

But Dorzback said the culture needs to change as well, which may be more difficult.

"Just driving here I saw so many bicyclists, which is really exciting, but then I could see in this case, the drivers are just not showing much respect, and it's very dangerous."

The event included a tribute to Diane Vega, who was killed a year ago while at Himes and Spruce in Tampa.

There were a number of vendors offering a variety of goods and services, such as Trips for Kids-Tampa. which works with youth groups between the ages of 7-15, targeting inner city kids or others who don't have the opportunity to do off-road riding.

The marketing director of the organization, Darren Wilson, said they work with Academy Prep Center in Ybor City, Scout groups, Boys & Girls clubs, and "any kind of youth group where they want to expose the kids to different riding." He says they also train the kids on how to use the equipment and also about the environmental aspects of cycling well. He said his group provides bikes and helmets, but is also looking for volunteers to work with the kids (and donations). "If you can ride a bike, we're willing to have you come out and help us, " he said.

And there were even the now ubiquitous food trucks, as the Taco Bus, The Killer Samich Truck, La Creperia Cafe and Queen of Sheba produced and served food on the park grounds.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and daughter Grace get ready for a ride in the park
  • Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gets ready for a ride in the park

There are many, many areas where Tampa remains behind a host of other major cities in the U.S., and one of them is having a series of roads and trails designed for bike riders.

But that is slowly but surely changing, and the folks behind the South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers (Swiftbud) are the leading change agents in the city to make that happen.

On Sunday, hundreds of cyclists of various ages and skills joined forces at Flatwoods Wilderness Park in Thonotosassa to take part in the group's fifth annual Bicycle Bash, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, and state representatives Janet Cruz and Shawn Harrison.

The annual event brings in all types of cyclists, from the intense racers to more casual types, and Bicycle Bash director Alan Snel says it's also about creating more awareness about cycling in the Bay area.

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