Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Carlton: Pedestrian death rate does not surprise Tampa crusader

Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick is “a strong advocate for his district,” the mayor says.


Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick is “a strong advocate for his district,” the mayor says.

The news, if you are Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick, is not news. Daily reality, and part of the job of representing the city's poorer neighborhoods, yes. But not news.

Already we knew about the Tampa Bay area's grim distinction as one of the deadliest places in America to try to cross the street. But the latest headline put some eyebrow-raising numbers to it: Pedestrian deaths are nearly three times as likely to happen in Hillsborough County's most impoverished communities (and nearly twice as likely in Pinellas), according to a study by Governing magazine.

Even if you already figured that the neediest neighborhoods tend to get the short end of the stick, they are numbers you notice.

Reddick notices. He's at an impromptu roadside press conference on busy Hillsborough Avenue where two sisters were hit, one of them killed, trying to get to their high school. He's pushing for amenities other neighborhoods can take for granted, like city pools, where kids have fewer options.

Those deadly pedestrian numbers? "It's not new," he said, "primarily because the poor neighborhoods have been neglected by government for so long."

Hometown headlines back up the numbers: A mother pushing a stroller is hit and killed while walking along darkened 43rd Street. An 8-year-old dies after trying to get to a convenience store on the other side of busy Busch Boulevard. Hillsborough Avenue is the scene of a spate of pedestrian and bicycle wrecks.

While other neighborhoods clamor for bike lanes, speed tables and parking for nearby restaurants — and this week, worry that public art will block their water views — Reddick ticks off a wish list: Crosswalks. Sidewalks. Better lighting. All for places where people walk.

The good news in this?

Anyone who has watched Tampa grow up has seen a trend. The crumbling, crime-ridden housing projects where no child should grow up disappear. Sulphur Springs, where blight has long been part of the landscape, has the mayor's full attention. Crosswalks are planned for deadly stretches of road — too late for the past, but necessary for the future. The "Bright Lights, Safe Nights" program adds thousands of streetlights.

"Over the last decade or so, East Tampa has gotten significantly more," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "Granted, the needs are greater. There have been some historical imbalances over time I am trying to mitigate."

Neighborhood amenities like safe, well-kept parks and city pools matter, too. Pools, as it turns out, have been a line in the sand for Reddick.

First it was a badly needed one in Williams Park, then the historic, shut-down Cuscaden Park pool in Ybor City. Both times, Reddick indicated he might not vote for the city budget unless money for those pools was included.

Today, Williams Park is open. And just as another historic pool was about to reopen on monied Davis Islands — and what a photo that would have made alongside the shuttered one in less affluent Ybor City — Cuscaden was in the budget.

"A strong advocate for his district," Buckhorn said of Reddick. A necessary thorn in the side, too.

Lately, it's a lack of sidewalks near a school off Chelsea Avenue on Reddick's mind — a place no one wants to hear about in the kind of headlines we've gotten too used to around here.

Carlton: Pedestrian death rate does not surprise Tampa crusader 08/14/14 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2014 6:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend Aug. 18-20: Elvis in concert, Jason Aldean, Monster Jam Triple Threat, Sing-Along Grease


    Plan your weekend

    The king

    Elvis: Live in Concert: This year marks the 40th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, and Ruth Eckerd Hall will have a Graceland-produced Elvis concert on a movie screen, accompanied by a full live orchestra. Graceland calls it the closest audiences …

    Handout photos of Elvis: Live in Concert, a tour spectacle featuring a live orchestra backing the voice of Elvis Presley, projected onto a movie screen. The tour comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on 8/18/17. Credit: Graceland.
  2. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term


    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  3. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges


    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?


    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  5. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination


    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.