A Tampa couple is using a novel method to show Tampa residents and tourists the history of the city.
Eric and Katie Turner began History Bike Tampa in 2013 as a way to educate residents about lesser-known historical events and people. Every two months, they take groups of up to 100 riders and zigzag along backstreets and alleyways to historically significant locations in Tampa.
Eric is a middle school history teacher who says that just because Tampa residents think they know their city, that doesn’t mean that they’re getting the most out of it.
“You might see something you’ve never seen before,” Turner said about exploring Tampa on bicycle. “And not only that, but it takes away some of the hesitancy of biking around the city.”
History Bike Tampa has covered a wide variety of topics since its inception.
Though many tourists may associate Tampa with Ybor City’s cigar factories, the Turners have made tours out of Tampa’s religious background and its role in women’s suffrage. They’ve taken looks at Tampa’s past ties to the mafia, public school desegregation, and have gone back over 2000 years to look at prehistoric sites that were situated in modern Tampa.
The Turners don’t get paid much for any of the work they do organizing or promoting the tours. They only suggest a $5 donation that sometimes goes to charity. This month, the Turners teamed up with Where Love Grows, a local nonprofit attempting to fight child hunger and food insecurity. Turner said that his work with children played a large role in starting the partnership.
Apart from helping out some of his favorite charities, Turner said that the real reward is helping fellow Tampa residents learn more about where they live.
“One of the things that I really enjoy about doing our rides are having the people that have lived in the city of Tampa for years, maybe their entire life, come out and do a ride with us and walk away going, ‘Oh my gosh, I never knew this.”
Turner said History Bike Tampa’s newest tour is Saturday, and spotlights the culinary history of Tampa. The group will explore everything from the classic Cuban sandwich to Civil Rights-era sit-ins in the area.
For more information, you can visit historybiketampa.com