Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Small fix on Temple Terrace bike lane heralds big effort to stop traffic deaths

Josephine Winiarz, left, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp help make a bike lane along Temple Terrace’s Bullard Parkway Bridge easier to see Tuesday as part of the Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic deaths.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Josephine Winiarz, left, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp help make a bike lane along Temple Terrace’s Bullard Parkway Bridge easier to see Tuesday as part of the Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic deaths.

TEMPLE TERRACE

Several dozen volunteers gathered Tuesday morning along Bullard Parkway Bridge in Temple Terrace for an experiment in safety.

Last year, 12 people died while riding their bikes in Hillsborough County. How many lives, the volunteers wanted to know, could they save with some cans of spray paint?

They shook their cans, the little ball inside rattling, and slowly covered a worn and cracked bike lane with neon green paint.

Clink-clink-clink. Hissssss.

The paint sprayed out one stripe at a time. When the volunteers finished, it was impossible to miss the designated path along the bridge.

"The whole point is to draw attention and help drivers know when they're expected to share the lane," said Beth Alden, executive director of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization. "How do we know where to expect bicyclists if we don't make a place for them?"

The project was part of Hillsborough County's third workshop for its Vision Zero initiative, an attempt to reduce all traffic deaths — drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians — to zero.

More than 220 people died in traffic crashes in Hillsborough County last year, according to data maintained by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Hillsborough is not the only county struggling with this issue. Tampa Bay as a whole faces high numbers of traffic deaths, particularly for pedestrians.

A 2016 national study by Smart Growth America ranked Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater as the seventh most dangerous metro area in the country for people who are walking. More than 820 pedestrians died in Tampa Bay between 2005 and 2014, the study showed.

The goal of the Vision Zero workshops is to identify ways to help reduce those deaths, preferably through low-cost projects that can be accomplished within a year or two.

After they finished painting the bike lane, volunteers reviewed a draft of the Vision Zero action plan that listed potential solutions in four categories: education, enforcement, design and policy. Each lists specific action items that can be accomplished within the next few years, such as building new bike and pedestrian facilities in areas with high crash rates and installing murals at high-crash intersections near schools to help educate students.

Similar initiatives are taking place throughout Tampa Bay. Pinellas County and the city of St. Petersburg are focusing on building complete streets — a term for roads that include bike lanes, sidewalks, lighting and other elements that make them safe for everyone, not just drivers.

"They're essentially addressing the same sorts of goals (as Hillsborough), but just using different messaging," said Lisa Frank, campaign organizer of the Florida Consumer Action Network. "It's about investing in safer streets. Too many people are dying on our roads."

The city of St. Petersburg is compiling a list of complete streets projects and priorities and is expected to release a draft plan in late summer or fall, Frank said.

In Hillsborough, a final version of the Vision Zero action plan will be presented in August. It will include some projects that are as simple and cost-effective as Tuesday's bike lane painting.

"Let's see what we can do with low-cost strategies, working within the budgets we have, to reduce our traffic fatalities," Alden said.

Amanda Douglas of Renaissance Planning, a consultant group hired by the county for Vision Zero, said Tuesday's project was an example of an easy way to show people what can be done to improve safety without spending a lot of money.

Ultimately, Douglas said, the safer a street is, the more people will be comfortable with walking or biking somewhere instead of always getting in their cars.

"As a region, all of us are sick of sitting in traffic," Douglas said. "The more people we can get out of their cars, the more we can reduce congestion, provide options, and make our roads safer."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.

Small fix on Temple Terrace bike lane heralds big effort to stop traffic deaths 04/25/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 25, 2017 9:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh

    Soccer

    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  2. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  3. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case

    Crime

    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.