Monday, June 18, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Should Tampa shut down Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays?

Should Tampa’s iconic Bayshore Boulevard close on Sundays?

A group of supporters of the "Open Streets" concept think so. They told City Council members Thursday that closing down the waterfront street would allow families, bicyclists, the elderly, the disabled and children to enjoy a communal space free of the often busy traffic whizzing past.

"Many other cities have this program. Tampa cannot be left behind," said Danielle Joyce, a private-sector traffic engineer and a member of Walk Bike Tampa, a non-profit that seeks to widen opportunities for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The group has submitted plans to city staff and asked for the city to name a liaison and determine regularly scheduled days where the street would be closed to cars and trucks.

A six-mile stretch of Bayshore would be ideal as it would connect to the Riverwalk, said Christine Acosta, the group's executive director.

"This is what we feel is most sustainable," added Joyce.

About a half-dozen speakers spoke in support of the plan.

But council members weren't thrilled with closing down Bayshore, even on Sundays.

"If you close Bayshore you're going to hear from our South Tampa people, Have some common sense," said Council chairwoman Yvonne "Yolie" Capin.

Capin suggested West Cypress Street in West Tampa, which she said would be a more “diverse’ stretch for the idea.

Supporters said Bayshore's high-profile location is ideal for the closure to draw attention to the Open Streets concept.  The boulevard's current traffic volume makes it hard for the elderly and children to enjoy the wide sidewalk along the water. A key concept of the Open Streets movement is that streets should be accessible and enjoyed by anyone between ages 8 and 80.

Open Streets, an international movement championed by Gil Penalosa, a former parks commissioner in Bogota, Colombia, advocates closing busy thoroughfares, typically on Sundays to help bring residents out into the streets for exercise, fresh air and community bonding.

The movement has spread around the world in recent years. San Francisco closes streets in various neighborhoods on different Sundays, noted council member Mike Suarez.

Closer to home, St. Petersburg has experimented with the concept, closing off part of downtown last year. Penalosa spoke to the St. Petersburg City Council in 2016.

Council member Harry Cohen said he was enthusiastic about creating more space for bikers and pedestrians, but said he wanted to hear more from staff about the viability of shutting down Bayshore.

And he told the activists to be patient, changes are coming to Bayshore. The city is planning to reduce the speed limit to 35 miles-per-hour when an additional bike lane is added between South Howard Avenue and Gandy Boulevard. The city is also planning for three or four more pedestrian-friendly mid-block crossings between Howard Avenue and downtown, he said.
Comments
Democrat who hopes to challenge Gus Bilirakis put on New Democrat Coalition Watch List

Democrat who hopes to challenge Gus Bilirakis put on New Democrat Coalition Watch List

A major Democratic group just put one of Gus Bilirakis' potential challengers on its list of candidates to watch.The New Democrat Coalition, 68 congressional Democrats who emphasize economic issues and "finding pragmatic solutions to policy challenge...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Valdes fires back, and draws a blistering response from Alvarez

Valdes fires back, and draws a blistering response from Alvarez

[SEE UPDATE AT THE END FOR FIGHTING WORDS FROM ALVAREZ]Victor DiMaio on Thursday released this announcement on behalf of Florida State House hopeful and Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes:"Susan Valdes hoped the race between Democra...
Published: 06/14/18
Tampa City Council hears cautious optimism in Buckhorn’s modest last budget

Tampa City Council hears cautious optimism in Buckhorn’s modest last budget

Tampa City Council members reacted to Mayor Bob Buckhorn's cautious last budget Thursday with their own hedge, saying the city's economic forecast could change on a dime if the national and regional economy goes south in the next few months.Buckhorn ...
Published: 06/14/18
Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes’ resignation letter raises objections

Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes’ resignation letter raises objections

Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes, who is running for the Florida House District 62 seat, sent in her legally required resignation letter hours before last Friday's deadline. On Monday, Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer announ...
Published: 06/13/18
Jane Castor takes early fundraising lead in Tampa mayor’s race

Jane Castor takes early fundraising lead in Tampa mayor’s race

Election Day is still more than eight months away, but former police chief Jane Castor, who dominated the field in a recent local poll, is also breaking ahead in the money race.And Castor has much more money remaining in the bank than her opponents f...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
What quorum? Pat Kemp left TBARTA meeting, scuttling planned vote

What quorum? Pat Kemp left TBARTA meeting, scuttling planned vote

TAMPA — The regional transit authority will schedule an emergency board meeting after a member, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, said she fell ill and abruptly left Friday’s meeting.The problem with that is Kemp’s sudden&#...
Published: 06/12/18
Executive director of TBARTA runs for Hillsborough County Commission

Executive director of TBARTA runs for Hillsborough County Commission

TAMPA – Ray Chiaramonte, the executive director of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority, has entered the race for the Hillsborough County Commission District 7 seat.Chiaramonte filed papers Monday with the Hillsborough County Superviso...
Published: 06/11/18
Murman decision to withdraw from District 7 race shakes up county commission race

Murman decision to withdraw from District 7 race shakes up county commission race

TAMPA — In the year since County Commission Chairwoman Sandy Murman filed to switch to commission District 7, she raised more than $180,000 to fund a race for the countywide seat.But in a surprise move Friday, Murman let a deadline pass without...
Published: 06/08/18
Harry Cohen’s message to Tampa: ‘You know me’

Harry Cohen’s message to Tampa: ‘You know me’

TAMPA — Harry Cohen stood before several hundred people at the Tampa Museum of Art on Wednesday evening with a simple message: He's a proven quantity that residents can rely on to take the city to the next level — and do it fairly.Co...
Published: 06/06/18
Updated: 06/07/18
Ed Narain is still making up his mind about a run for Tampa mayor

Ed Narain is still making up his mind about a run for Tampa mayor

People ask Ed Narain all the time if he's going to run for mayor of Tampa.Narain admitted as much after being contacted Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Times about a flurry of rumors that he was about to jump in the race.“A lot of people...
Published: 06/05/18