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Advocating for Bikers across Tampa with the Help of Oliver's Cycle Sports

By Elisha Neubauer

'Advocacy for Bikes' is a statement that you don't seem to hear very often. But at Oliver's Cycle Sports, it's written plainly and boldly on their website and is a motto they live by both in and out of the shop. Located in the bustling city of Tampa, Florida, Oliver's Cycle Sports lives and breathes the bicycle life and is partnering with other locals to help achieve some milestones in the recreation.

According to Randy Myhre, owner of Oliver's Cycle Sports, there have been multiple studies conducted showing that more people would ride bikes if they felt safer on the road. "For what seems like forever, Tampa has competed with Orlando for the dubious honor of being the worst place in the US to walk or ride a bike," he informs us.

For this reason, Oliver's Cycle Sports started an organization consisting of local bike shops which began promoting Advocacy for Bikes in the Tampa Bay Area. The organization has become known as SWFBUD, South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, and has remained strong over the decade since its inception. "The organization has changed a bit through the years, but the seeds were planted locally and we've seen significant improvements to cycling infrastructure in the recent past," Myhre states.

The organization has made quite an impact during its time. In fact, Myhre himself has traveled to DC, meeting with senators and congressmen to discuss the constant stream of challenges bikers face in Florida, particularly Tampa- everyday. "We've always felt that bicycles are a simple solution to many complex problems but unfortunately infrastructure changes take time and money and paradigm shifts aren't exactly predictable," explains Myhre, who believes having a presence of like-minded people has gotten the issue to the point in which Florida DOT and the local Metropolitan Planning Organization are doing more than ever to help create the kind of transportation alternatives in the community that people want. "Florida is flat and has good weather- two reasons why we should be way ahead of where we are now but as I said, things are improving bit by bit."

Another organization that receives attention from Oliver's Cycle Sports is PeopleforBikes. Started in 1999, PeopleForBikes includes both an industry coalition of bicycling suppliers and retailers, as well as a charitable foundation. The organization has spent more than $30 million to help improve bicycling practices and conditions. They have invested $2.1 million in community bicycling projects, as well as influenced more than $654 million in federal, state, and private funding towards the practice. "We have contributed millions to national groups and programs like the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the League of American Bicyclists, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association, ensuring safer places to ride for both children and adults," Myhre claims.

Myhre reminds us that most of the nation's growth, Florida included, has been centered on car transport over the years, and he realizes it will take time to transition from a car-centric culture to one that focuses on a more multi-modal approach. "In the meantime, we continue to support all efforts to allow people to ride more miles as safely as possible through organizations like BikeWalk Tampa Bay, where I am a board member," he details.

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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