Reimagining "Share The Road" - Without Bike Florida, Inc.
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Complaint: Bike Florida, Inc. (501c3), Misuse of Funds, Misleading Public
So Charity Abandons the Mission ... But Keeps Donors' Money

Share the Road Florida1. 06/06/2019; complaint sent to Florida Senate Committee, alleging misuse of funds (Exhibit A) and misleading public (Exhibit B).
2. Within days(!) Bike Florida, Inc. ("BFI") hastily changes its entire website and proclaims a "new mission."
3. It appears BFI has walked away with about $200,000 "pre-collected" for bike safety for BFI's "new" bike tourism mission.
4. Walk away - sensible. Take bike safety funds - shameful. 11/07/2019; case being referred to FL Regulatory Investigative Unit.

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.

"Share The Road" Program in Florida Statute: “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…“

  1. education and awareness programs, for bicycle safety and motorist safety, with emphasis on sharing the roadway for all users,
  2. training, workshops, educational materials, and media events, and
  3. the promotion of safe bicycling.

Now see why when exposed, BFI had no other choice but to walk away.

Monies Misused, Judge for Yourself - see Exhibit A. While proclaiming itself as "Florida's Premier Bicycle Touring Company," BFI uses bike safety & education grants for the purpose of lowering the cost of its "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 continues the  same pattern of deceit by hastily changing its website and announcing a "new mission." It seems this was done without prior notice to anyone, including government donors and sponsors!

BFI's Soul Exposed, Judge for Yourself - see Exhibit C. This act is how BFI's lack of commitment to any "bike safety" mission was made known to me. Thus "MyBikeSafetyMission.com" was born, to reimagine Florida's #1 bike safety program - without Bike Florida, Inc..


"Florida's Premier Bicycle Touring Company" Website
Morning of 06/06/19
Bike Florida, Inc. June 1, 2019


A Totally Different, Homemade Website
a Few Days Later

Bike Florida, Inc. June 29, 2019


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."

STR Donor Funds Should Be Returned

Yet by all appearances, "Share The Road" continues to be short-changed.

  1. As part of the Florida Specialty License Plate Program, a Florida Senate vote is required for change. While the groundwork can be laid in Committee, the Senate does not convene again until March, 2020. Short of legal injunction or voluntary action by the Board, BFI can continue to receive STR funding (if the Board so chooses) until mid- 2020 at least.

  2. At last report (2017), BFI showed $195,969 in "pre-collected" funds, conceivably all or most from STR. The Board should refund STR's portion as it was advanced for a mission that BFI has voluntarily abandoned.

Open Letter to the Board

Dear Board of Directors,

Today, the Board STILL appears to be using STR funds to pay salaries and pursue its "new mission," which is clearly NOT the mission for which the funds were given. Accordingly, I call on the Board to do what is just and right for the mission and the donors.

  1. Publically Decline all future funding from the "Share The Road" program, (whereas no notice was given to the State, and in fact off-road tours were already underway), and...
  2. Publically Acknowledge that certain "pre-collected funds" (almost $200,000 per latest Form 990) and other assets may be due back to "Share The Road" and will be preserved pending investigation.

I believe this is an ethical matter involving the public trust and in order for BFI to be successful in its new 501c3 mission, this matter must be addressed. At the very least the Board has a duty to disclose to its existing donors, associated non-profits, and government agencies the reasons why shortly after 06/06/19, this Board cancelled tours, changed its website, and abandoned the "Share The Road" mission without prior notice to anyone. I believe a 501c3's duty to disclose is implicit in sections of FS:496.415. Sponsors, affiliates, the public and the State all have a right to know.

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.

Sincerely,

A Safe Biking for Florida Advocate
mail@myBikeSafetyMission.com

A Call to Action

Attention Florida bike safety advocates! 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


Senator Tom LeeTom Lee, Committee Chairman
Email: lee.tom@flsenate.gov
District: (813) 653-7061
Capitol: (850) 487-5020


Senator Keith PerryKeith Perry, Vice Chairman
Email: perry.keith@flsenate.gov
District: (352) 264-4040
Capitol: (850) 487-5008


Other Committee Members
Linda Stewart, stewart.linda@flsenate.gov
Ed Hooper, hooper.ed@flsenate.gov
Annette Taddeo, taddeo.annette@flsenate.gov


Other Committee Members
Aaron Bean, bean.aaron@flsenate.gov 
Janet Cruz, cruz.janet@flsenate.gov 
Travis Hutson, hutson.travis@flsenate.gov


Gov. Ron Desantis 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.


Visit Florida
Email: partner@visitflorida.org or pr@visitflorida.org. Now tax revenue subsidizes BFI to compete vs. free market.


MyFloridaSpecialtyPlate.com ,
Share The Road is a 2019 Featured Specialty License Plate! Given BFI's new mission, why continue to mislead the donors? E-mail: myplatefl@aol.com


FL Dept. Agriculture, Consumer Affairs Online Complaint Form
FL Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services (in "Please select subject," scroll down to "Other"). See Exhibit B for possible violations of FS:496.415 (relevant here).


Questions or comments are invited: mail@mybikesafetymission.com

Overview of the Evidence:  Exhibit "A"  ...  Exhibit "B"  ...  Exhibit "C"

Disclaimers: Opinions expressed herein are my own. Nothing is presented with malice towards any person. Nothing herein is intended to be false or misleading. All efforts have been made to ensure completeness and accuracy. Financial information has been limited to the latest public IRS Forms 990s, and other public sources.