I know there are those who believe this is not the place to air my views, on this subject but I beg to differ. It is a subject that needs to be discussed. I never thought I would say this but Tampa Florida is a very dangerous place to ride a bicycle. It is sad that we are losing a cyclist a month. We lost our 12th cyclist, with in a year, this past Sunday, on a road with a very wide shoulder. Drivers texting, on telephones, or speeding to get somewhere, have very little regard for people on bicycles. Drivers do not discriminate, they even killed a high decorated soldier. I pray for their families.
Speaking to the local authorities, they are restricted to what they can do, due to budget cuts and indifference. One police officer told, you have no business riding a bicycle, the roads are only for cars and trucks. I wonder what our police chief, who is an avid cyclist, would have thought of his comment.
When I commute to work, I have no bicycle lanes, or sidewalks on 55 mph roads. In my work complex, there is only one bicycle rack, that has a dozen entrances. The closest entrance, that is open, on the weekends, is 3/4 of a mile away. If one parks their bike elsewhere, they will cut the chain and confiscate ones bike. I have gone to my company and to the complex managers, asking for another bicyle rack and been asked not to ask.
I am sad but getting very angry. My girlfriend and I have both been hit more than once. One driver ask me, looking at my legs, do you take falls and do this for a living? The driver who hit my girlfriend, disregarded a stop sign, on a walking path, asked her, is this going to take long, I am late and have to get my sister in law to the airport. ( as she laid on the ground bleeding and in pain) Another time, when she was hit, they never stopped.
Besides moving, or finding a new job, is there any thing that can be done. I am sure I am not the only one who is experiencing this. Do others live in areas, that have been through this and mobilized to make the public aware, to motivate legislatures to take action and make the changes needed to protect our lives? Although ACO is dedicated to lobbying, on the national level, I wish they could lend their support to helping develop a local infra structure to help organize cyclist who want to affect change. It is on the local and state levels that will make a difference.
I have been told by family, friends, coworkers, and fellow cyclists that if you ride in Tampa, it is only a matter of time, before you will become a statistic. In the past, I have ignored their comments, I am beginning to believe it. I would welcome you comments.