Daniel Ruth: Why it’s dumb to close Bayshore for fun (hint: a lot of reasons)

Published February 7 2018
Updated February 7 2018

This one of those ideas that might be best described as "Kumbay-duh!"

A few days ago a group of supporters associated with the "Open Streets" movement proposed to the Tampa City Council what a bully concept it would be to close off a huge chuck of Bayshore Boulevard every Sunday to allow families, bicyclists, joggers and the like to better commune with one another in the absence of vehicular traffic flying by.

Apparently "Open Streets" disciples have pushed the concept authored by Bike Walk Tampa to blocking off sections of Bayshore, following the example of other places like San Francisco and various communities around the world. How nice for them.

To be sure, on the face of it, the portrait that’s depicted when envisioning Bayshore Boulevard closed on Sundays to allow all this neighborliness engenders images of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island La Grande Jette, which features an assembly of sedate French folks in all their finery enjoying a park.

It is certainly true Bayshore does get shut down from time to time to accommodate Gasparilla festivities. And other city streets, too, occasionally are blocked off for stuff like parades and races.

But this current suggestion would shut down Bayshore every Sunday. That’s every Sunday. Good luck with that.

Bayshore Boulevard as a park has several problems, not the least of which is that people who live on Bayshore and the surrounding South Tampa neighborhoods such as Hyde Park would like to be able to get in and out of their property. Too selfish?

As well, Bayshore is a major Tampa artery that connects to MacDill Air Force Base and Tampa General Hospital on Davis Islands. And people are sort of fussy about getting to an emergency room when they are in the midst of an emergency. Too self-centered?

Shutting down a swath of Bayshore, advocates argue, would open up the opportunity for the public to exercise, get some fresh air and — oh, dear — bond. There will probably be food trucks showing up selling kale du jour.

Please. There are ample opportunities for the Bike Walk Tampa folks to exercise, suck down some fresh air and hug each other, without disrupting a major byway of the city in the name of We Are The World.

Bayshore already has a broad space between the roadway and Hillsborough Bay for people to run, walk, cycle and discuss Marcel Proust, if that’s your thing.

You can more than get your exercise along Bayshore, or you can join a YMCA. Fresh air already is available and if you want to "bond," that’s why God created saloons.

At the same time, let’s be honest. Nature abhors a vacuum. And so do morons. While the Bayshore sidewalk is indeed a lovely place to stroll and enjoy the scenery, the area also has no small number of obnoxious oafs who feel they own the place.

Shutting down Bayshore will only exponentially increase the number of roller-bladers and cyclists, not to mention your other all-purpose jerks crowding the street.

The Bike Walk Tampa folks got a master class in Tampa politics when they made their pitch to City Council. Several council members praised the group for coming up with such a wonderful proposal. And then they agreed to ponder all this stuff at a later March 22 workshop, at which time, someone will suggest this such an incredible idea, it merits further study and perhaps even a blue ribbon panel, or a committee or even a commission to think about it even more.

Meanwhile Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn indicated that closing down Bayshore Boulevard on Sundays will never happen on his watch. In technical political science terms, that means turning Bayshore Boulevard into Central Park is — d-e-a-d.

But let’s have a workshop just for the fun of it.

It will give everybody a chance to bond.