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Tacks left on Courtney Campbell Trail ruin ride for cyclists

The Courtney Campbell Causeway's pedestrian trail is a 16-foot-wide bridge that spans the top of Tampa Bay next to the roadway bridge.

JIM DAMASKE | Times (2013)

The Courtney Campbell Causeway's pedestrian trail is a 16-foot-wide bridge that spans the top of Tampa Bay next to the roadway bridge.

TAMPA — The Courtney Campbell Trail opened in the fall as a scenic haven for bicyclists in a community known for the dangers of travel on two wheels.

But then cyclists first dodged fish hooks and guts until anglers were booted from the hump over upper Tampa Bay.

Now this: On Sunday, close to two dozen bicyclists had their rides on the new trail derailed after passing over dumped thumb and carpet tacks.

"I've never had anything happen like this and I ride all the time," said Scott Greenwood, 56, of Tampa, who saw both tires flattened Sunday morning. "It's just malicious."

Tampa police said five victims agreed to give their information and prosecute if the perpetrator is found. Damages to the bikes totaled more than $600.

The trail, built for $14.9 million with federal grant money alongside the Courtney Campbell Causeway, was christened in September as the only pedestrian bridge over Tampa Bay. The Friendship Trail Bridge running alongside the Gandy Bridge had been closed in 2008.

The new trail has proven popular with hikers and bicyclists across Tampa Bay, which has double the national average number of pedestrian deaths. In a city lacking an extensive bike path network, the bridge was designed to make passage over Tampa Bay safe for pedestrians and cyclists. Before it opened, cyclists on the Courtney Campbell Causeway were confined to 2-foot shoulders on the busy and fast-moving roadway.

Greenwood has been riding for 15 years and was looking forward to his first ride across the new bridge Sunday — he even posted about it on Facebook before his first flat struck. Luckily, he carried supplies on him to fix it.

About a mile down the road, he came across a fellow rider struggling with a flat. He handed him the second spare tube he carried.

"You know, I try to do the right thing," Greenwood said. "But then, further down, I had another flat tire. I was basically dead on the water there."

As he walked his bike down the other side of the bridge, he said about 18 or 19 people passed him who also had flat tires, even the big mountain bikes with high tread.

A police officer stationed at the end of the bridge informed him that numerous other cyclists reported the same problems.

"Somebody really did a number and dumped out a whole bunch of this these little tacks all over," Greenwood said. "If you're on a bike, you can't see them. They're so tiny."

Tampa police and Florida Department of Transportation responded to the scene and removed as many tacks as they could find using a tractor pulling a magnetic roller.

Greenwood said he was thankful he had a friend to call who could pick him up and drive him back to his car 8 miles away.

"You're out there kind of on your own," he said. "You just have what you can carry with you and it got the best of me today."

Tacks left on Courtney Campbell Trail ruin ride for cyclists 01/12/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 8:42am]

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