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Saying Goodbye: A JBC original moves on to greener pastures and greener streets.

March 15, 2013

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There was this kind of fantastic, organic dynamism to my initial encounters with each original JBC co-founder. It’s the kind of thing you don’t see everyday in well-established, large, deep-rooted communities within other metropolises, to find “your people” so quickly with the use of one simple yet surprisingly sovereign word: Bike.

While other big cities have already long ago embraced bike culture, the word “bike” no more special than the word “car” (*shudder*), Jacksonville is just now coming into its own with the acceptance of our beloved pedal-pushers, making bikes a still charmingly misunderstood lifestyle to the typical motorist… for better or worse. And though it comes with many faults concerning pedestrians and cyclists, I do fully appreciate the advantage of this blank canvas of a city we call Jacksonville; you can really leave your mark any way you wish, and find your scene if you’re clever enough and set astir to do so.

So the grand departure of yet another great advocate and JBC member, Katie Smith, leaves another bittersweet residue as we farewell our fair maiden to greener pastures and, hopefully, friendlier faces behind the wheels of her soon-to-be Colorado car counterparts.

I actually met Katie in a creative setting, not at all bike-related, some two years ago, at one of my first Sketch Up gatherings at the Starbucks on San Jose.

I soon discovered Katie as one of those multifaceted members within our community with certainly no shortage of that canny quick wit and mover shaker mindset needed to be the incredible advocate that she is. Our conversations were limited during the first couple Sketch Up gatherings, that is, until we started talking bikes. We connected then, immediately, both hungry to explore our ideals regarding cycling issues in this city, and driven to seek out others who also felt that distinct pang within the pits of their own voracious bellies.

Katie and I entered the Jacksonville bike scene right around the same juncture. She was still just borrowing her roommate’s bike at the time, her bruised legs a testimony of her relationship with what she lovingly referred to as Bike Turner, a mish-moshed cruiser type of sorts with a mercilessly short temper, and pitifully short frame for Katie’s leggy needs. I had just purchased my first road bike, a great departure from my old Trek mountain bike which was solely used for commuting around St. Augustine and certainly not for seeking out or connecting with any Old City bike culture. Admittedly, we were noobs, clever enough on an individual basis, but just barely dumb enough to take on Jacksonville’s politics. Just barely.

Since then, Katie’s cycling repertoire has increased tenfold. She bought herself a respectable road bike, some serious tires, a rack, panniers, stylish-yet-functional commuter threads, a helmet, amongst a slew of other goodies, and of course her fair share of tire tubes, naturally. As for her advocacy repertoire, what would this community have done these past two years without Katie Smith serving the cycling movement?

A revolutionary, in both senses, this dynamo of dirty Duval brought the smack down on antiquated habits of the bureaucratic kind while simultaneously swaddling the babe of  Bold New City bike culture.

Katie helped create a comprehensive cycling survey for the city, which included video testimonials. The results of the survey were included with the proposal, that she helped to research for and write, for the City Council, pleading they consider placing cycling and pedestrian needs further up on their list of priorities.

She attended countless Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meetings and also attended several City Council hearings whenever there arose issues related to cyclist and pedestrian needs and urban sprawl concerns. Despite her naturally demure tendencies, she mustered up enough gumption to approach the podium during the Mobility Fee Moratorium hearing, giving her two biting cents to the City Council: To paraphrase a quip from her speech, referring to last year’s failed attempt at implementing a moratorium on mobility fees, “The definition of insanity, in short, is to do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results”. Way to stick it to ‘em, Katie!

She played her part in implementing a proposal to the State to install those sharrows we all know and enjoy on Riverside Avenue.

Katie was also a major key composer in the Mayor Bicycle event which took place during 2012’s Bike Month in May. Her contribution as an easy-on-the-eyes and heavy-on-the-elbow-grease bike washer for the Bike Wash Fundraiser, no doubt, gained amply amicable contributions for the cause. And she was, overall, a great contributor to the success of Jacksonville’s first relatively-organized Bike Month last year.

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Gettin’ clean at the JBC Bike Wash Fundraiser

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Last-minute touches on the Mayor Bike

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An art enthusiast, writer, and keen eye for solid compositions, she also helped create an absolutely beautiful, not to mention remarkably professional, locally-shot short film noir, The Convert; an artsy fart approach to a PSA production meant to encourage the community to get involved with Jacksonville’s Bike Month.

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.

Katie has fulfilled more than her fair share of volunteer work concerning the Jacksonville cycling community – from SAGing for the MS 150 to booth-running at cycling events; from promotional footwork to pro bono photography; and simply by conversing with non-cyclists about our rights, our reasons for why we do what we do, and, in general, how much fun bike riding can be.

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Bike Day at RAM, 2011

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Katie was the genius behind these cookies with their fondant “cement” icing and food coloring “skid mark” embellishments.

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Photography for the Duval Dirty Bike Olympics Fundraiser

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Photography for the 2011 MS 150

Katie Smith’s absence will be a great loss to Jacksonville’s cycling community. We’re gonna miss you, lady.

With heavy heart but irrefutable understanding , I wish you and Matt safe travels as you embark on this next great journey… RIDE BIKES™!

Sincerely, Jenny Kubicki

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Group bike ride for my 31st birthday

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Team Bubba Burger: The motliest crew at the MS 150

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Spectating the Duval Dirty Bike Olympics

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Forget Planking! All the cool kids are into Owling!

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Dirty Duval 4-Lyfe!

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