Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa must do more to protect bicyclists, as evidenced by LeRoy Collins' death

Sixteen months before a 27-year-old in an SUV mortally wounded a 75-year-old bicyclist pedaling through a crosswalk, South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers sounded the alarm about bicyclist fatalities in Tampa Bay and Florida.

Federal stats showed that Florida had the most bicyclist fatalities in the country in 2007, and bicyclists are killed at such a high rate in Florida that their deaths on the roads usually mean only a few paragraphs in the local newspaper.

SWFBUD asked everyone from Tampa city officials to transportation planners to launch a public awareness campaign to alert drivers that bicycles are vehicles and that cars, trucks and buses must pass bicyclists by a space of at least 3 feet in compliance with state law.

The 75-year-old bicyclist was no ordinary bike rider. LeRoy Collins was a retired Navy admiral who was the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and the son of a former Florida governor.

He was also the dad of my bicycle friend Ed Collins.

A few years ago I told Gena Torres, a local transportation planner for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, that the public will only pay attention to bicyclists' deaths when someone prominent dies.

Which is why a local newspaper published a story on bicycling safety when ordinarily it would run a short story after a bicyclist dies.

Even before Mr. Collins tragically lost his life, SWFBUD had partnered with local police agencies and the HART public bus service to display signs advising motorists to pass cyclists with a berth of at least 3 feet and respect a bicyclist's right to be on the road.

But Margaux Manuel, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at the University of South Florida, may not have seen those bike safety messages. She was on her way to work at Tampa General Hospital when she turned her SUV left at the intersection at Brorein Street and S Hyde Park Avenue and T-boned Mr. Collins.

His death was ruled an accident.

I spoke with Ed Collins a day after his dad was killed. He said he did not want vengeance against Manuel.

But he did want justice. In a post on the SWFBUD blog, he said he thinks Manuel should be cited.

• • •

Tampa is not kind to bicyclists.

Mayor Pam Iorio claims she supports bicycling. But while dozens of cities around the nation are adding bike lanes, Iorio killed a city transportation manager's plan to stripe bike lanes on a 2.2-mile stretch of Euclid Avenue.

Why? Apparently our so-called alternative-transportation mayor thought the convenience of people who wanted to park on Euclid was of more importance than the safety of bicyclists who pedal along Euclid.

There is a culture in Tampa city government that talks about helping bicyclists and actually does very little in the way of on-road infrastructure for bicyclists. Thank goodness the Florida Department of Transportation — not the city — striped bike lanes on Nebraska Avenue and Tampa Street.

Like Tampa, other Florida cities such as Miami and St. Petersburg had horrific reputations for being unfriendly to bicyclists. But former mayors in those cities applied resources to make their cities more hospitable to bicyclists. Now St. Pete and Miami are seen as model turn-around bike cities.

Even nontraditional bike cities like Boston and Long Beach have launched bicycle programs to stripe bike lanes.

As for Tampa, we need a city mayor who will support bicycling as she does light rail and the arts.

We need our public officials to rally support to educate drivers about bicyclist safety in the same way they did to fight drunken driving and get people to wear seat belts.

Perhaps if Ms. Manuel was informed through public service announcements and messages to look out for bicyclists, Ed would still have his dad around to talk bicycling.

Alan Snel is a Tampa resident and the director of the South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, an alliance of bicycle stores.

Tampa must do more to protect bicyclists, as evidenced by LeRoy Collins' death 08/19/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 19, 2010 12:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut

    Blogs

    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview

    Hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]