Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Public safety

Grant program aims to make Florida roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians

In the wake of a Wall Street Journal story tagging Pinellas County as the most dangerous place to ride a bike in America, the Tampa Bay area has once again drawn attention for its rate of cyclists and pedestrian fatalities.

Though a Tampa Bay Times report showed Pinellas is not even worst in Florida when looking at more recent data, the conversation had begun.

Long before the recent chatter, though, the Florida Department of Transportation and the University of North Florida had already started efforts to improve the Bay Area’s reputation.

Beginning in April, FDOT began accepting applications for law enforcement agencies to receive grant money for its High Visibility Enforcement for Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety program. Nearly every law enforcement agency in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties received grant money.

"The goal … is to increase awareness of pedestrian and bicycle-related traffic laws, educate road users on the laws by education and outreach, and enforce the laws," FDOT spokeswoman Kristen Carson said. "The ultimate goal is to reduce pedestrian and bicycle crashes, injuries and fatalities."

As part of program, law enforcement agencies have set up details along roads that are hot spots for crashes involving non-motorists. Officers in those locations pay special attention to traffic safety and enforcement, but focus on education.

"The goal of the program is to target the areas where crashes occur — to put officers in these areas more frequently to educate regarding the law and enforce the law," Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty said. "The emphasis will be on education."

The grant money from the state transportation department and university covers the period from July 2018 through May 2019. It is being used to cover the overtime costs of officers working the details.

The funding was made available to the top 25 counties in Florida with the highest combined number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries for the last three years. How much each agency got was determined based on the county’s numbers.

Bay-area communities received grants ranging from a few thousand to more than $100,000. Tarpon Springs got just more than $5,000, while the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office received $26,800. The Clearwater Police Department got $50,000 and St. Petersburg got $75,000. Tampa police received $82,000 while the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office took in $120,000.

Each agency is patrolling its highlighted areas during various times over the course of each week. At the end of the enforcement period, agencies hope to see a reduced number of crashes in the patrolled areas over previous years.

The transportation department and University of North Florida will keep track of the numbers.

Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected] Follow @danuscripts.

Comments
'The killing has to stop,' Midtown residents say after bodies found in alley

'The killing has to stop,' Midtown residents say after bodies found in alley

Midtown residents say it's hard to find someone in the neighborhood who hasn't been affected by violence.
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco Sheriff: Land O’ Lakes man arrested after stealing, selling $7,000 car tire rims online

Pasco Sheriff: Land O’ Lakes man arrested after stealing, selling $7,000 car tire rims online

Pasco County deputies have arrested a Land O’ Lakes man they say stole rare Japanese car tire rims shipped to the wrong address and attempted to sell them online. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Robert Martuszewski, 41, took a package containing t...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Largo woman chews, swallows crack pipe during arrest, police say

Largo woman chews, swallows crack pipe during arrest, police say

Dariel Hutton, 52, of Largo, was arrested Friday night after Largo police said she tried to destroy evidence by chewing and swallowing a glass crack pipe.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Hillsborough Sheriff's Office conducting joint nautical exercises in Port of Tampa

Hillsborough Sheriff's Office conducting joint nautical exercises in Port of Tampa

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will be hosting joint exercises in the Port of Tampa starting Tuesday as they train various units to deal with nautical threats.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Port Richey man faces eight felonies after fleeing police in drug-filled truck

Port Richey man faces eight felonies after fleeing police in drug-filled truck

A Port Richey man faces eight felony charges after fleeing from a Pasco County deputy before turning around to drive directly toward him and being found in possession of various drugs, according to the Sheriff’s Office.A deputy attempted to stop Jose...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pasco Sheriff releases body-cam video of fiery crash involving suspected kidnapper

Pasco Sheriff releases body-cam video of fiery crash involving suspected kidnapper

Pasco County officials have released details and a dramatic video of a fiery weekend crash that killed a man suspected of kidnapping his longtime girlfriend. The crash, which Sheriff Chris Nocco called the result of an "unfortunate cycle of domestic...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Spring Hill man, 22, killed in apparent home invasion

Spring Hill man, 22, killed in apparent home invasion

A Spring Hill man was killed early Tuesday morning in an apparent home invasion. Deputies say the incident does not appear to be random and may be drug related.
Updated: 5 hours ago
From 5-0 in favor to 5-0 against. How Brooksville council flipped on pot dispensary ban

From 5-0 in favor to 5-0 against. How Brooksville council flipped on pot dispensary ban

City councilors shot down a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries Monday night — two weeks after they had unanimously signaled support for the measure.
Updated: 5 hours ago
She dedicated her life to kids. She lost it trying to save them.

She dedicated her life to kids. She lost it trying to save them.

ST. PETE BEACH — Those who knew her said Samar Aboukhdair did everything for kids, and not just her own.So when they heard how the 36-year-old died this weekend, it was no surprise that it was while trying to save her children.The kids survived, but ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Family looks for missing St. Petersburg 16-year-old girl

Family looks for missing St. Petersburg 16-year-old girl

ST. PETERSBURG — A 16-year-old girl from St. Petersburg went missing Oct. 8 and her family has ramped up a social media campaign to find her.Nandi Rosero was last seen when her father dropped her off at Lakewood High School at about 6:30 a.m. The fam...
Published: 10/15/18