Tuesday, April 25, 2017

BikeWalkLee urges Lee Legislative Delegation to oppose amendments to change Share the Road specialty license plate program

As a follow-up to today's News-Press headline story, "Nonprofits may lose license plate money to private company." BikeWalkLee sent a letter to House Chairman Grant and to the Lee Legislative Delegation urging them to oppose any amendment to change the Share the Road license plate program.

April 25, 2017
Members of the Lee Legislative Delegation:
Below is the letter BikeWalkLee sent today to Chairman Grant re: HB 1375 and our opposition to the attack on the Share the Road specialty license plate.  This amendment was today's headline story in News-Press. 
 As stated below, we strongly oppose the Beshears amendment to HB 1375, and urge you to press for deletion of this provision in the House bill.  We also urge you to oppose any amendment to any other bill (including SB 784 and HB 545) that would attack the Share the Road specialty license plate program.
Thank you for your support.
On behalf of BikeWalkLee

April 25, 2017​                                                                                                         
Representative Grant:

BikeWalkLee, a broad-based community coalition with 70 supporter organizations, advocates for complete streets in Lee County and promotes policies that enhance the safety and usability of our roadways, and actively participate through our Lee County Legislative Delegation in the annual Florida legislative process.  From our founding in 2009, we have partnered with the Florida Bicycle Association to focus on making Florida a safer place to bike and their safety education outreach supports our local efforts.
We understand that the House will be considering HB 1375 shortly.  We strongly oppose with the amendment adopted last week offered by Rep. Beshears ( lines 171 - 201 of Committee Substitution 3 of HB 1375), which is an assault on the Share the Road specialty license plate.  The Beshears amendment not only removes both the Florida Bicycle Association and Bike Florida from any proceeds generated by the Share the Road license plate, it instead gives the proceeds to a newly formed for- profit company, Cycling Association of Florida.

Florida Bicycle Association and Bike Florida have each existed for 20 years or more and have met all the requirements of the current statute pertaining to the Share the Road plate since signed into law in the year 2000 (Statute 320.08058).  This plate came about as a result of the hard work of countless volunteers who made the Share the Road specialty license plate a reality nearly 17 years ago.  It is unfair and unethical to hijack this program for the benefit of another group.  In addition, we believe the amendment violates Florida Statute 320.08056 (10)(a), which prohibits the monies from being used for for-profit activities. 
This amendment was of such significance to our community that it was today's headline story in the Fort Myers News-Press newspaper: "Nonprofits may lose license plate money to private company."

We urge you to remove this amendment from HB 1375 when the House moves to 2nd reading of the bill.  As the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists, the last thing Florida should be doing is eliminating the valuable statewide bicycle safety outreach program run by FBA.  Much is at stake for Florida's future in making our roadways and streets safer.


Darla Letourneau
On behalf of BikeWalkLee

Nonprofits may lose license plate money to private company

The News-Press, April 24, 2017
Melanie Payne 

(Photo: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles)
Nonprofit cycling groups will lose tens of thousands of dollars from the sale of specialty "Share the Road" license plates, if a Florida representative’s amendment is approved.

Changes to the Florida Statute on specialty license plates would cut Bike Florida Inc. and the Florida Bicycle Association Inc.’s share of the extra fees for the license plate and give up to half of the money to a privately held company, The Cycling Association of Florida.

"Share the Road" is one of 123 Florida specialty license plates covering a variety of interests, causes, colleges and universities. The $15 that the 10,000 or so Share the Road license plate holders pay in addition to registration fees contributed about $65,000 to Bike Florida’s annual budget, executive director Becky Afonso said. The money is used for marketing the plate, education and programming she said. But under the amendment filed by Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello,the nonprofit Florida Sports Association would receive and distribute the money and could use up to 25 percent for administration costs, and The Cycling Association could get up to 50 percent of extra fee revenue.

In addition, the amendment calls for raising the fee from $15 to $25 for a "Share the Road" plate. "I have no idea how this has come to pass this way. It's mind-blowing that its happening," said bicycle consulting business owner and former Florida Bicycle Association board member Dan Moser. "And they're moving the price point up to $25? That's a great way to make sure you don't make your goal," the Fort Myers man said, referring to minimum sales annual sales requirement specialty plates. That too is being considered raising the number from 1,000 to 4,000, but for all plates not just Share the Road.

Nearly one in 10 vehicles in Southwest Florida features a specialty license plate. See which options are the most popular in the five-county region. Video by Dave Breitenstein/news-press.com Dave Breitenstein/news-press.com

The “Share the Road” license plate was signed into law in 1999 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and sales began in 2000. The legislation called for the fee purchases paid to be distributed to Bike Florida, which could use up to 25 percent for marketing and promotion of the license plate. The remaining funds were to be divided equally between Bike Florida, based in Alachua County, and the Oldsmar-based Florida Bicycle Association, and used for bicycle and motorist safety programs and to promote safe bicycling.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 6,663 bicycle crashes in Florida in 2016 and 137 fatalities. As of April 23, there have been 29 bicycle deaths in Florida this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that Florida had the highest rate of bicyclist deaths of any U.S. state with 0.57 deaths per 100,000 people, double the national average.

Formed to make Florida a “state where bicycling is safe, respected and encouraged as a means of transportation and recreation,” the Florida Bicycle Association was incorporated in 1997 as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. By contrast, Tallahassee-based Cycling Association, state records show, filed as a corporation on April 17. The only officer listed is Kenneth W. Foster, a former employee of Bike Florida Inc. and an officer in a cellphone repair business.

Foster’s LinkedIn profile lists several cycling organization affiliations, including a two-year stint as the executive director of Bicycle Tallahassee and the owner of a bicycle retail store from 1992-2001.

Several attempts to reach Foster by phone were unsuccessful. The legislative assistant for Beshears said the legislator was in meetings all of Monday morning. She said he would try to call in the afternoon but if he couldn't she would try to get a statement to The News-Press by email. No call or statement was received prior to publication.

“Florida statutes outline which organization(s) receive the funds and the amount distributed. The organization(s) or amount can change pursuant to a change in statute,” Alexis Bakofsky, press secretary for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles wrote in response to an inquiry from The News-Press. “The monies can be distributed to a for-profit organization, but the monies cannot be used for for-profit activities, per F.S. 320.08056(10)(a).”

But Afonso questions if switching the beneficiary of the money is fair to the organizations that gained approval of the plate nearly 20 years ago, or fair to the 10,000-plus taxpayers who pay extra every year for a “Share the Road” license plate.

“People put their money into that plate,” Afonso said. “And it’s going to go to a company with no track record and no history.”

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24: Upcoming running/walking/bicycling/tri events

Upcoming events

  • Saturday, April 29: Head/Neck Cancer 5K. 100% of the funds will remain in Southwest Florida and will be used for Head & Neck cancer screening, treatment and follow-up care, financial assistance for Head & neck cancer patients in need, and for educational programs related to Head & Neck cancer. Registration opens 7:00 a.m., 5K Run/2 Mile walk starts at 8:00 a.m. Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers (3dracinginc.com)
  • Sunday, May 7: Tropicool 5K. Enjoy a wonderful 5K race that showcases the beautiful streets of Olde Naples. This course is two loops starting on Broad Street. Starts 7:30 a.m., Olde Naples (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, May 13: Lovers Key Turtle Trot 5K (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Saturday May 20: Cape Cops 5K, Cape Coral Yacht Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
  • Monday, May 29: SNIP Collier Memorial Day 5K (gcrunner.org)
  • Saturday, June 17: Sugden Stride 5K, Sugden Regional Park, Naples (eliteevents.org)
  • For more running events visit gcrunner.org/calendar.html; ftmyerstrackclub.com/race-calendar; and 3dracinginc.com/.

  • Friday, April 28: Cape Coral Critical Mass ride. Gather at 7:30 p.m. at 4706 SE 11th Place for a family-friendly ride through the Cape. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, April 29: SW Florida Critical Mass will offer a starter/sightseeing ride on Saturday; gather at 9 a.m., roll at 9:15 a.m. from 2160 McGregor Blvd. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, May 5: SW Florida Critical Mass ride. A family-friendly slow ride through Fort Myers starting at 7:15 p.m. Front and rear bike lights required. Grab your helmet, bring all your friends and meet in the open field next to Publix at First Street Village, 2160 McGregor Blvd. Fort Myers. (twitter.com/swflcm or meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Friday, May 12: NE-Lee Critical Mass ride. Gathers at 7:30 p.m. at the Winn-Dixie, 14600 Palm Beach Blvd. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Saturday, May 13: Sanibel Critical Mass ride. Gathers at 7:15 p.m. at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Wednesday, May 17: Ride of Silence, Centennial Park, downtown Fort Myers (caloosariders.org
  • Friday, May 19: Roll Estero. 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Light Catholic Church at 19680 Cypress View Drive, Estero. Lights required, helmets recommended. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
  • Ongoing: Join the Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club on one of their many weekly rides for members and potential members, with an array of paces and routes to choose from. Check them out online at www.caloosariders.org.
  • For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).