The announcement was made by Alan Snel, head of Swiftbud (the South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), a local bicycling advocacy group. "We want to show people that bicycling is the gateway to a great way of life, to effective transportation, health and wellness issues as well," he said in extolling the virtues of the yearly event, which was held last year in Flatwoods Park in Hillsborough County.
Jean Duncan, the city of Tampa's transportation director said that though it may not be evident, Tampa has invested in 32 miles of bike infrastructure over the past six years - not all in bike lanes, but for "some provision for bicycle traffic."
Comparing her to transportation managers in bike friendly cities like New York and Portland, Snel introduced Duncan as the "secret weapon" in turning Tampa around in terms of advocating for alternative forms of transportation.
She said that under Mayor Bob Buckhorn, there is now a specific line item in the city's budget for bicycle related projects. "Things do take time, but a lot of things are in motion," adding that cycling advocates were "essential in making that happen."
Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe made an appearance as well. He said when he first was elected to the BOCC in 2004, his advocacy for bike trails and paths was met with incredulity.
"'You're not in Portland. You're not in Seattle,'" Sharpe said he was told by critics. "'Mark, this is Florida, you know people don't ride bicycles.'"
His response to that?
"That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard. If they can ride a bicycle in a city that rains every day of the year, you can ride a bike in the Sunshine State."
Sharpe praised his Democratic colleague on the BOCC, Kevin Becker, who earlier Tuesday flagged $8.5 million in the county's 2013 budget for improvements to 10 of Hillsborough County's most dangerous roads, saying it was no longer acceptable for the county to lead in the state in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.
"It doesn't matter what your ideology is. These are people who love being outdoors," he said of cyclists like the two dozen who were listening to him inside the tight confines of the boutique bike shop. "I put bike before politics, " Sharpe continued, getting laughs when he added that he also puts beer before politics as well.
Looking at the cyclists, Sharpe said "I'm looking at the future of Tampa Bay, and it's beautiful."
Among those also in attendance Tuesday night was Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick and Phil Compton from the Sierra Club.
Last fall the League of Bicyclists named Tampa ninth in the country in its bike commuting rate in 2010 out of the 70 biggest cities, a surprising statistic considering the reputation the city has.
The Bicycle Bash will take place November 4 in Tampa's Fort Brooke Cotanchobee Park.