By Brian Jones


    Orlando, FL – The Avalon Park Neighborhood Watch announced today a community bicycle event to honor the memory of cyclist and Avalon Park resident Forrest Flaniken, Jr. The 1st Annual Forrest Flaniken Bike Festival will take place November 2, from 12 pm to 2 pm at Avalon Elementary School. Other event sponsors are Avalon Elementary School, the Kiwanis of Avalon Park and the Rotary Club of Avalon Park.


    On October 14, 2012, news about the death of Flaniken spread fast among the Avalon Park community. He was on a routine training ride for an upcoming marathon when a car struck and killed him.  That day Flaniken traveled on what he thought was a safe course with a good bike lane, and he wore a helmet. 


    The event will feature a children’s bicycle parade on the Avalon Elementary track. Before the parade, children can decorate their bicycles and enter a contest to win prizes. Free children’s helmets are available on a first come, first served basis. Informational booths at the event will promote bicycling and safety.  


    The Avalon Park community is full of bicyclists – those who enjoy leisure bike rides with their family, children riding to school, and avid cyclists who are part of the East Side Cycling Club. Orange County Commissioner Jennifer Thompson said, “While my office is working to improve overall roadway signage, traffic calming and pedestrian safety, it is important that each and every one of us realize that we are not the only ones on the road.  It’s important that we continually work to educate drivers and cyclists alike about the importance of sharing the road and having a mutual respect for those individuals trying to get around within our community.”


    The East Side Cycling Club (ESCC) will lead a dedication ride the morning of the event. James Perry of the ESCC is passionate about cycling.  “As a cyclist who has pedaled literally thousands of miles a year for the last 8 years, in and around Central Florida, I am continually amazed at the aggression shown by motorists, and the ignorance they have of cyclists’ rights (and responsibilities) to ride on the road.  Cyclists are a legitimate form of traffic, and motorists should slow down and show some respect. Cycling is not just a sport; it is for many a means of transportation, and possibly the most universal and environmentally friendly mode of transportation.  However, as long as there is a disregard for cyclists’ safety, or antagonism between drivers and cyclists, incidents like the one on Avalon Park Blvd which claimed the life of Forrest Flanniken will continue to increase. “


    This event, dedicated to Flaniken, is a celebration of the passion he had for cycling and to provide awareness in the community that promotes a place where you can live, learn, work and play.  “Forrest loved biking in the Avalon Park area.  We are so thankful for the prayers and support of Avalon Park residents and all of the East Orlando community,” said Kristen Flaniken, Forrest’s wife.