Reimagining "Share The Road" - Without Bike Florida, Inc.
Because No Government Agency Exists Exclusively to Monitor Non-Profits...
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1. 06/06/2019; complaint sent to Florida Senate Committee, alleging misuse of funds (Exhibit A) and misleading
the public (Exhibit B).
2. Within days(!) Bike Florida, Inc. ("BFI") hastily changes its entire website and proclaims a "new mission."
3. However, it appears BFI begins its "new" bike tourism mission with almost $200,000 in "pre-collected" funds intended for the prior mission (below)
4. Walking away when exposed seems sensible. But to me, doing so with funds intended for roadway bike safety seems shameful. No? Please consider:
A Mission Born Out of Tragedy. The "Share The Road" mission wording is not arbitrary. The mission was inspired by public concern after 2 cyclists were killed and 4 severely injured in December, 1996 when hit from behind by a truck. A grass roots effort with over 10,000 signatures resulted in the mission being signed into law on June 8, 1999. The mission was made emphatically clear to supporters with repetition and emphasis. Also relevant, Florida continues to lead the nation in vehicle-related bicycle deaths.
Here's the Mission Wording in Florida Statute - (highlights and underscores are my own): “The annual use fees shall be distributed to Bike Florida, Inc., up to 25 percent of which shall be used for marketing and promotion of the “Share the Road” concept and license plate. The remaining funds shall be divided equally between Bike Florida, Inc. and the Florida Bicycle Association, Inc., to be used for…“
Now see why when exposed, it seems BFI had no other choice but to hastily walk away.
Monies Misused? Judge for Yourself - see Exhibit A. While promoting itself as "Florida's Premier Bicycle Touring Company," grants intended for the mission stated above were in essence used for the purpose of lowering the cost of BFI's "luxury" bike tours ($2500 vs. $3500 to $5000), a bargain for well-heeled tourists.
Public Misled? Judge for Yourself - see Exhibit B. BFI avoids accountability in different ways, to include misleading wording and minimum required disclosure. Even after being exposed, BFI appears to continue the same pattern of behavior by hastily changing its website and announcing a "new mission." It seems this was done without prior notice to anyone, including government sponsors.
BFI's True Motives Exposed? Judge for Yourself - see Exhibit C. For me, certain actions by BFI demonstrated a lack of commitment to its "bike safety" mission (above). When BFI attempted to obstruct this private citizen's website - promotes safe biking, sells nothing, not government funded - I was stunned. I reviewed BFI's (now former) website and public documents. Again, I was stunned. Thus, MyBikeSafetyMission.com was born, to re-imagine Florida's #1 bike safety program - without Bike Florida, Inc..
"Florida's Premier Bicycle Touring Company" Website
Morning of 06/06/19
A Totally Different, Homemade Website
a Few Days Later
Validation! BFI responds (see bikeflorida.org/blog ). At least now, BFI makes no pretense as to serving the "Share The Road" mission (above). This is refreshing, because shortly before proclaiming its "new mission" (off-road bike tourism), BFI's previous tour (May, 2019) was also off-road: "Ride the Trails in Ocala National Forest."
Yet by all appearances, "Share The Road" continues to be short-changed.
Dear Board of Directors,
Today, the Board STILL appears to be using STR funds to pay salaries and pursue its "new mission," which by definition is NOT the mission for which the funds were given. Accordingly, I call on the Board to do the following.
I believe this is a matter that by definition involves the public trust and in order for BFI to be successful in its new public mission, this matter must be addressed. In my opinion, at the very least the Board has a duty to disclose to its plate customers, associates, government agencies, and the Public an explanation for why the Board suddenly cancelled or postponed tours, changed its website, and abandoned the "Share The Road" mission without prior notice to those affected. I believe a 501c3's duty to disclose is implicit in sections of FS:496.415.
Alternatively, BFI could release assets obtained from "Share The Road" through a merger with its sister organization
and the Board could put its talents to work elsewhere. Just a thought.
A Safe Biking for Florida Advocate
As part of the Specialty License Program, the FL Senate may have no choice but to act, making this a golden opportunity for Florida's biking community, bike clubs, bike shops, tour operators, bike trail advocates and others to help guide Florida in a more enlightened direction. The FBA (currently only 37.5% of STR funding) and other non-profits in other states show us what is possible. (Disclaimer: no contact with anyone at FBA.) Please make yourself heard. Short, to-the-point emails help. (Feel free to reference information herein.)
WHO TO CONTACT: the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee (formerly Transportation) oversees Florida's Specialty License Plate Program, which includes "Share The Road." This advocate emailed and got results! But I need help. Please make yourself heard, because rescue work for bike safety funds still needs to be done. Thank you, myBikeSafetyMission.com
Tom Lee, Committee Chairman
District: (813) 653-7061
Capitol: (850) 487-5020
Keith Perry, Vice Chairman
District: (352) 264-4040
Capitol: (850) 487-5008
Email the FL Gov. Form .
A recent champion of Visit Florida, maybe Gov. DeSantis will join this effort to reimagine the bike safety mission as written.