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Saying Goodbye to a Friend and Hardcore Advocate

January 16, 2013
Here's Abhi with his pre-bus-accident xtracycle

Here’s Abhi with his pre-bus-accident xtracycle

The news came quite suddenly.

Abhishek Mukherjee, Co-Founder and former Director of the JBC and affiliate of Bike Jax, sat down with me at dinner one night along with Goliath Flores, another member of the JBC, to inform us of his latest pursuits as an engineer. And shortly thereafter, his career called him to another city – Lakeland – where the cycling community is certainly smaller, but the overall street-sharing atmosphere is considerably friendlier.

I remember the first time I met him. It was July of 2011 and I was hosting my very first brainstorm with a rag tag group of other cyclists who yearned for change as much as, if not more than I. The group was intimate but enthusiastic and full of enough hope and good feelings to represent a hundred able bodies. Well, all of us, that is, except one person. As our naive notions of a better tomorrow for the cyclists of these mean streets filled our little corner of Three Layers Bakery, Abhishek brought to our table a raincloud of a scowl, and with raised eyebrow, proceeded to not-so-gently let us down with a tellin’-it-like-it-is approach. And I couldn’t be more grateful to him, then and always, for being the logical skeptic that he is.

Abhishek was an old hand at bicycle advocacy in the River City, having already been an active member of Bike Jax, so his jaded remarks were completely founded on years of struggling with our not-so-cycle-savvy city council members. In fact, it was only by coincidence that he joined our brainstorm, as he was actually only there to meet up with a friend. But before he knew it, and with some not-so-gentle nudging from Yours Truly, he got carried away with our conversations and… shortly thereafter… became a Co-Founder of the Jacksonville Bicycle Coalition.

Since then, our town and our little coalition have experienced good change thanks to Abhi’s diligence and hard work, and quite literally, his blood, sweat, and tears. Well, blood and sweat anyway. Abhi’s no pansy.

He created a comprehensive cycling survey for the city, which included video testimonials. It had a great turnout and was used in conjunction with other materials presented to our city council members.

He helped write a proposal to the city, encouraging city council members to get on board with other forward-thinking cities where cycling is regarded as an essential element for a thriving urban core and progressive city overall.

He attended countless Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meetings for years and also attended countless City Council meetings for various cycling, pedestrian, and urban core-related hearings.

While with Bike Jax, he helped create that fantastic Bike Valet at Riverside Arts Market. In fact, he’s been a part of many Bike Jax-related activities and pursuits long before he partnered up with the JBC.

He played the main role in getting those Riverside Avenue sharrows installed. That was his idea and his proposal. And by pure coincidence, Abhi was also struck by a city bus on that very road, weeks before the sharrows were installed (that’s the “blood” portion of his advocacy, by the way). You can read more about that here.

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Abhi also played another integral and important role in the direction of the Mayor Bicycle event which took place during 2012’s Bike Month. Not to mention all the other aspects of Bike Month that was largely implemented because of him. He created the Jacksonville Bike Month website and coordinated with others on launching various events and then listing them on the site, kind of as a main go-to hub for bicycle-related activities all over the city.

And it doesn’t stop there. Abhishek is also an afficianado of the arts and wrote and co-directed the short film noir, The Convert. You MUST see it. Take six little minutes out of your life and watch this film, all shot by Abhi. You can even read some of the reviews here too:

Click on this image and it will take you to the Jacksonville Bike Month site where the film clip resides.

Click on this image and it will take you to the Jacksonville Bike Month site where the film clip resides.

Abhi was also a featured guest on Action News Jax during last year’s Bike Month, explaining to the public what the basis of our problems are as a car-centric city struggling with the idea of sharing the road with cyclists.

Click on this image to watch the video clip.

Click on this image to watch the video clip.

There is far more that this man has done for our community, both behind the scenes and at the forefront, than what this little blog post suggests. Inspired by Bike Jax’s farewell blog post, I’ll leave you with a few photographic memories of Abhishek Mukherjee, good friend, amazing advocate, and a great loss to Jacksonville’s cycling community. We miss you, man.

Sincerely, Jenny Kubicki

Riding bikes with me and some buddies for my 31st birthday.

Riding bikes with me and some buddies for my 31st birthday.

Filming cyclist testimonials that were used in correlation with the JBC survey.

Filming cyclist testimonials that were used in correlation with the JBC survey.

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Surprising Harley and Matt on their birthdays with a group bike ride and specially designed cupcakes

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Is that cupcake Harley or Abhishek?

The Bike Jax Bike Valet at RAM

The Bike Jax Bike Valet at RAM

The Mayor Bike event

The Mayor Bike event – Jenny, Alvin, Matt with Bike Jax, Olivia, and Abhi

Abhi, Olivia, and Goliath

There’s Goliath as the man behind the Mayor Bike brainchild and speaker for the event

There's Abhi at the First Annual Duval Dirty Bike Olympics

There’s Abhi at the First Annual Duval Dirty Bike Olympics. Stay cool, man.

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