TEMPLE TERRACE — Mayor Frank Chillura got a chance to show off his town as he led about 70 bicyclists on a leisurely 2-mile ride on a beautiful, brisk morning last week.
Chillura led the procession through shady, sleepy neighborhoods and past the historic golf course during the "Bike With the Mayor'' campaign, which coincided with national "Ride Your Bike to Work Day'' last Friday.
The mayor was more than happy to take a spin around the city because it dovetails with the ongoing effort to spin the city. Temple Terrace has even hired marketers to spread the word that it is a good place to buy a house and start a business.
With temperatures in the 60s, participants ate doughnuts and sipped coffee as the mayor spoke prior to the ride, telling the crowd that Temple Terrace recently received an honorable mention designation as a bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. It was one of 28 communities in the United States honored, along with its neighbor, Tampa.
"You will be very impressed with the character of Temple Terrace,'' Chillura told the crowd, mentioning the winding roads, plentiful trees and beautiful architecture.
"If you don't live in the city, you should look for a home in our city,'' he said.
Cyclist Alexia Bilbe, a mechanical engineering student at USF, came out for the event because she wanted to explore more places near the university to ride her bike.
Chris MacFarland, an enthusiast decked out in biking gear, arrived with his boss, lawyer Jeanne Coleman. "We closed the office this morning to come over here.''
Temple Terrace resident Joe Parr, a bicycling commuter, came out to show his support. He routinely rides his bike from home to his job at Busch Gardens and said he thinks rush-hour motorists need to do a better job of sharing the road with bicyclists. He does a lot of evasive bicycling, he added, particularly in Tampa.
"Temple Terrace is great. Once you cross 56th Street, it's every man for himself.''
The event was organized by the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida and co-sponsored by Tampa BayCycle, a nonprofit bicycling promotion group funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.
Julie Bond, a senior research associate with the urban transportation center, said she reached out to Chillura in light of Temple Terrace's effort to strengthen its bond with high-profile neighbors like the university, part of the city's marketing strategy.
"And also I am a member of the Temple Terrace Bicycle (Advisory) Committee, so I work with them on other projects,'' she said, ''and this just seemed like a perfect fit.''
Philip Morgan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.