In early 2017, Bike/Walk Tampa Bay (BWTB) presented its first Bicyclist of the Year award to Michael R. Schwaid, who was known by many as “Michael on Bicycle.” Michael was honored for his passion for bicycling, and his courage and resilience in getting back on his bicycle after being rear-ended by a motorist with a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit. Later in 2017, Michael passed away of natural causes. The BWTB Board of Directors, with the support of the Schwaid family, named the award “Michael R. Schwaid Bicyclist of the Year” in his honor.
On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, at a reception following the Gulf Coast Safe Streets Summit in Tampa, Florida, the newly-renamed award was presented for the first time to Steve Brown, founder of Chain Gang Cycling. Steve was nominated by Joan McCarthy for being a role model and inspiration to other cyclists and because he is often takes time to clean up debris on the side of the road to make a route safer for other cyclists. Steve initially formed Chain Gang Cycling as an extra outlet for fellow bicyclists to explore new routes, but in short time, the group developed into a full-fledged bicycling team and was participating in charity rides. As the leader of Chain Gang Cycling, Steve earned the nickname “The Warden” and he even helps plan routes for numerous philanthropic bicycling events. The award was presented by BWTB Chair Jane Castor, and Dr. Robert Bertini, Director of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida. Also in attendance to help present the award was Schwaid’s family.
Steve accepted the award humbly. He was also a close friend of Michael’s and, during his acceptance speech, spoke about Michael’s role in Chain Gang Cycling and how Michael was always looking out for the safety of the group, earning the nickname “Safety Mike,” or as Steve dubbed him, “Radar,” for his apparent sixth sense in knowing when a car was coming up behind the team. Whether you knew Michael as “Michael on Bicycle,” “Safety Mike,” “Radar,” or just Mike, he was an inspiration to bicyclists all over the Tampa Bay region.
BWTB is thrilled to honor Steve Brown as part of Michael’s legacy and is looking forward to working with Steve as he continues to improve conditions for bicyclists throughout Tampa Bay.