Tag Archives: cycling

New Transportation Option Locks into Orlando

Visit any major city in the world and you will see hundreds of people using a bike to get around. In the wake of traffic, crumbling public transit, and a push to be healthier and more active, biking has grown in popularity. According to a U.S. Census Bureau study of commuter trends, Americans who biked to work increased 60.8% from 2008 to 2012. With Orlando leaders wanting to address it’s traffic issues, the demand for transportation solutions has become a key piece in its development. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when I was at an IDEAS monthly meeting and Peter Martinez was presenting on the latest trend to hit Central Florida, Orlando Bike Share.

An Iraq war veteran, Peter found an escape from his rough Miami neighborhood in the Marine Corps. Gaining a variety of experiences from up-armoring Humvees in the daytime, and providing convoy security in Fallujah at night, Peter learned the ropes in a variety of fields. As part of his final assignment there, Peter assessed vehicles destroyed by IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and re-utilized parts that were salvageable to maintain the Marine Corps’ mission in Al Anbar Province. Coming face to face with how short life truly is, he left the Marine Corps and moved to Orlando and found work as an automotive mechanic. Concerned by the potential physical toll of being a mechanic, Peter started his college education and tested out a couple business ideas.

Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/1GEmI8E
Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/1GEmI8E

While doing some research, he went to Washington, DC to search out the Travel Channel’s Jumbo Slice in Adams Morgan. It was then Peter noticed the hundreds of red bikes that cover our Nation’s capital through Capital Bike Share. Inspired, Peter tried to get public transit services to start the program locally in Orlando. Peter decided to team up with Tampa Bike Share’s operator, CycleHop, to develop Orlando Bike Share that launched earlier this month.

When asked about his greatest  challenge, Peter is quick to point to working with any new project: “all stakeholders must understand, that in order to move forward, the status quo, must go”. The “red tape” associated with starting a new project, has required constant perseverance. But as for great successes, obtaining sponsorships has been critical in bringing the Orlando Bike Share to fruition.

Peter’s experience has allowed him to develop a variety of perspectives, and notes that the Millennial Generation has inherently adopted the Marine Corps attitude of  “Semper Gumby”: always flexible. This attitude is especially fitting in Orlando today, where almost every empty parcel is ripe for development.  Peter adds that “We must make sure that we don’t go back to our past habits of creating places that are homogenized, single-use, and designed with the car in mind. Instead, lets focus on creating neighborhoods where we feel comfortable walking to the market into our 90s, where we can age in place.” Peter’s insight echo’s the new direction of urban redevelopment of walkable, concentrated cities.

“Orlando has many cool and funky ‘third places’ such as coffee shops, restaurants, and bars, but the streets of these third places are not enticing for walkers or bikes” says Peter. In a city that relies on the car, people rarely get a chance to see how their favorite spot fits in with the surrounding community, almost developing a patchwork view of their city instead of being able to see the big picture. How can you change that perspective?  Peter believes, “get out there, on a bike. If you don’t have one, rent one and start to see people, eye to eye.”