With perfect biking and walking weather just around the corner, the Bike/Walk Tampa Bay (BWTB) Fall Summit was right on time in sunny St. Petersburg, Friday, October 20, 2017. A healthy turnout of the community, including citizens, government officials, transit professionals, and advocacy groups, gathered at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Education and Conference Center.
The summit kicked off with a bicycle ride around St. Petersburg, led by Lucas Cruse, the Bicyclist and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of St. Petersburg. “We’ll take a ride around the city and look at the changes we’ve made to bicyclist infrastructure so far, and the changes we are continuing to work toward,” Cruse announced as the helmet-clad group prepared for takeoff. After the ride the bicyclists returned to a flurry of high fives and handshakes, and everyone came together over sandwiches, drinks, and snacks to talk and relax before the summit began.
After all had enjoyed their time networking, BWTB Vice-Chair Kent McWaters, BWTB Program Director Julie Bond, Mayor of St. Petersburg Rick Kriseman, Executive Director of Forward Pinellas Whit Blanton, VP of Government and Community Affairs at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Kimberly Bergman, welcomed attendees. “We are an eclectic city, and having a multi-modal community makes sense, and improves quality of life for everyone,” Mayor Kriseman said, harkening back to the vision that spurred the critical legislative moment in 2015 when he signed Complete Streets St. Pete into being.
What followed was a report on the City of St. Petersburg’s Complete Streets Implementation Plan, and reports for each of the “five E’s” to highlight current progress and discuss the coalition’s next steps as we work toward a more walkable, bikable region, focusing on Engineering, Encouragement, Enforcement, Education, and Evaluation achievements, goals and strategies. During the Education report, everyone raised their hands to take the safety pledge: “Therefore, I pledge to WalkWise, BikeSmart, and Drive Safely, and spread the word about the importance of safe behaviors to my friends, family, neighbors, colleagues and others.”
The summit wrapped up with a National Bike Challenge Awards Ceremony that honored our top participants in Tampa Bay. Amanda Coker of Zephyrhills was first to receive an award since she won the National Bike Challenge with an astounding mile count, and broke the world record. Finally, a celebration of the Florida Bicycle Association’s (FBA) 20 Year Anniversary capped off the night, and FBA Executive Director, Becky Afonso, said a few words before inviting everyone to have cake and coffee “to celebrate one of life’s simple pleasures—riding a bicycle.”
Click here to join us and take the BWTB safety pledge!