Inaugural Bike/Walk Tampa Bay award ceremony celebrates the local bicycle community.

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Inaugural Bike/Walk Tampa Bay award ceremony celebrates the local bicycle community.

Michael Schwaid is presented with the Bicyclist of the Year award by BWTB Chair Jane Castor

On June 14, 2017, Bike/Walk Tampa Bay hosted its inaugural Awards Ceremony at the “People, Places, and Perspectives” event. The purpose of the event was to bring the conversation about bicycling and walking to the public. “People, Places, and Perspectives” featured equal input from experts and local bicyclists, and the Awards celebrated community members for their contributions to local bike/walk culture. “The Bike/Walk Tampa Bay Awards are BWTB’s way of celebrating the people who walk and bicycle and the organizations that support them” said Julie Bond, Bike/Walk Tampa Bay Program Director.

A call for award nominations was sent out prior to the event, asking the public who is the “Best of the Best” when it comes to bicycling. The winners were determined by the Bike/Walk Tampa Bay Board and staff. The award categories created for the event were as follows: Social Bicycle Ride, Pedestrian Advocate, Bicycle Advocate, Outstanding Volunteer, Bicycle Commuter, and Bicyclist of the year, presented to “a bicyclist showing extraordinary courage and resilience and serves as a role model for other bicyclists.

The Bicyclist of the Year was Michael Schwaid of Odessa, who commuted daily to his job at the Pinellas County Courthouse, earning national recognition from the League of American Bicyclists for surpassing 20,000 commute miles. That all changed on March 30, 2016, when he was hit by a drunk driver on his bicycle and sustained two broken ankles and a shattered pelvis. Schwaid spoke about what it meant to be a “roadie”, and explained some of the reasons a cyclist may leave the bike lane or ride in the center of the road lane, such as debris or puddles along the edge of the roadway. Schwaid also thanked his wife, Barbara, for all her support during his recovery. He still racks up miles on Strava, and you can find him there as “Michael on a Bicycle”.

Katie Roders-Turner, who organizes History Bike Tampa alongside Eric Turner, accepted the award for Best Social Bicycle Ride – Hillsborough County. Her comments summed up the theme of the night: “We couldn’t do it without the support of all the people that show up and ride with us, so we want to thank them,” she said.

AWARD WINNERS

Social Bicycle Ride: A community ride organized to encourage bicycling for all abilities
Hillsborough County – History Bike Tampa
Pinellas County – Tour de Shine

Pedestrian Advocate of the Year: A person who promotes or enables increased adoption and support for walking, or improved safety and convenience for pedestrians.
Ronnie Oliver

Bicycle Advocate: A person who promotes or enables increased adoption and support for cycling, or improved safety and convenience for bicyclists.
Eric Trull

Bicycle Commuter: A bicyclist that rides to work or school at least twice a week.
Leo Rodgers 

Outstanding Volunteer: A person who has gone above and beyond the call of duty for an extended period of time by providing volunteer service benefitting bicycling.

Given to Jeff White in recognition for his work volunteering for the trail at Alafia River State Park. Jeff, a member of the SWAMP Club, volunteered an average of 824 hours over three years, accounting for about ten percent of all the club’s volunteer hours.

Bike/Walk Tampa Bay Board Award for Bicyclist of the Year: Presented to a bicyclist showing extraordinary courage and resilience and serves as a role model for other bicyclists.

Presented to Michael Schwaid for his resilience after being struck by a drunk driver during his commute to work.

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