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Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg City Hall and state government in Tallahassee. He's now assistant metro editor for the paper.

Phone: (727) 580-9650.

Email: mvansickler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

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  1. Maybe Jeff Brandes is right: Robot cars really are coming

    Blog

    Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, has had no hesitation to be the state's top cheerleader for "driverless cars." 

    When he served in the House in 2012, Brandes sponsored a law that helped make Florida one of three (at the time) states to serve as a testing ground for autonomous cars. Sure, it opened Brandes up to easy political attacks, but he didn't back away and now serves as the chair of the Senate's transportation committee, where he's made autonomous cars a top priority....

  2. VIDEO: Jeff Speck on road diets

    Blog

    If you don't know of Jeff Speck, hopefully you will.

    Earlier this year, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinick added Speck to his team that's designing and building his $1 billion redevelopment of downtown Tampa's waterfront.

    Speck is a city planner, author, TED talker and one of the leading proponents of "new urbanism". ...

  3. Tampa's Perfect Storm: A 36-foot storm surge

    Blog

    It's not probable, but, nevertheless, the latter-21st century scenario outlined in a new study by Nature.com is terrifying. ...

  4. In Florida, little Twitter love for tourists

    Blog

    Florida spends millions every year promoting the state as a tourist destination. That + sunshine has worked. When international tourists visit the U.S., the top three destinations are New York, Florida and California.

    But such success doesn't necessarily impress Florida's residents, or at least those who express themselves on Twitter.

    According to Stratos Jet Charters, Inc., Florida is one of the least welcoming states for tourists, according to the sentiments expressed on tourist-related tweets. The jet charter company geotagged tweets from June 1, 2014 to July 20, 2015 that contained #tourist, #tourists, tourist or tourists....

  5. Tampa Bay commuters mired in their cars as other cities find traveling alternatives

    Transportation

    For the first time in 50 years, the percentage of commuters who rely on the automobile, at least in urban areas, is dropping. "Although such shifts in travel behavior are slight, they have captured attention because they represent a disruption in an unequivocal, decades-long pattern of increased automobile travel," states a recent survey of travel habits by the U.S. Census Bureau. But Tampa Bay motorists aren't getting on board this trend. ...

    In 2010, out of the six intersections with traffic cameras, the intersection of Bruce B. Downs and Fletcher Ave had the most red light camera citations with 7,762. With three cameras, it also has the most cameras of the six intersections in Hillsborough County. [BRYAN THOMAS | Times]
  6. Interactive: Where does Tampa Bay rank in affordability?

    Blog

    It's been pretty clear for a pretty long time just how much of a joke the federal poverty line is.

    In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau had it at $24,008 for a two-parent, two-child family. Like the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (which earns a full-time annual wage of $15,080), this doesn't come close to covering real world expenses, nor does it take into account the wild variations in cost of living expenses for different cities....

  7. How very un-Tampa Bay: Light rail wins (again) in Phoenix election

    Blog

    Phoenix voters on Tuesday approved a sales tax increase that would pay for an expansion of its light rail system....

  8. Santa Rosa mulling the unthinkable in Hillsborough

    Blog

    It's interesting to watch Hillsborough County commissioners go back and forth on a sales tax referendum next year. Should it be a 1-cent increase or a half-cent?...

  9. Are you listening Tampa Bay? Rail a hit in Phoenix.

    Blog

    This is becoming a tired and depressing exercise.

    In yet another aftermath of a failed effort to get light rail approved in Tampa Bay, there's been much hand-wringing about what went wrong and why rail just won't work here. It's been five years since Hillsborough County even tried to get voters to approve light rail, and county leaders seem hesitant to renew the struggle. A new $3.5 billion plan to fund transportation projects over the next 30 years scrapped light rail altogether.*...

  10. Economic recovery could depend on where you live

    Blog

    The National League of Cities has released its annual economic conditions survey that concludes the recovery means different things for different cities.

    'There are two different storylines playing out in cities: economic conditions are improving for some, but worsening for others," states the report. "This is troubling both socially and economically, making an even stronger case for inclusive growth policies that move the needle towards equity in our nations' cities."...

  11. Is rise of high-poverty neighborhoods to blame for police tensions?

    Blog

    The NYC-based The Century Foundation, a non-partisan think tank founded in 1919, says the spate of police shootings that are drawing protests is no accident.

    It released a new report this week, Architecture of Segregation: Civil Unrest, the Concentration of Poverty, and Public Policy, that posits police-community tensions are worsening because poverty is getting more concentrated in the U.S....

  12. San Francisco considering hefty impact fees for developers

    Blog

    File this under "IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN HERE".

    San Francisco hasn't been requiring developers to pay impact fees for the congestion their projects create.

    So its planning department is proposing a "transportation sustainability fee" that city officials want to produce money to offset the costs new residential development has on public transit. ...

  13. The density paradox

    Blog

    In Tampa Bay, you'll often hear officials say that there's not enough density to support transit.

    It's such an abstract concept that it's a conversation ender. Not enough density? Ok. Back to our cars. We'll just wait another 10, 20, 30 years then.

    Gerhard W. Mayer, an architect who was part of Frank O. Gehry's office for eight years, tackles the subject of density in a column he wrote for Planetizen, an aggregation site for urban planners, architects, engineers and developers....

    The city of Muenster, Germany famously illustrates the concept of auto congestion.
  14. Raleigh, a model for Tampa Bay downtowns, passes new noise rules

    Blog

    As Katherine Snow Smith has recently pointed out, many Tampa Bay leaders are looking at Raleigh, N.C. for inspiration.

    Its downtown has become a "mecca for millenials" with its hip restaurants and clubs.

    So it's worth noting that Raleigh passed new rules this week that restrict the use of downtown sidewalks by bars and restaurants at night because patrons have been getting too noisy....

  15. A BRT cautionary tale

    Blog

    With rail referendums failing on both sides of the bay, our transit future seems destined for bus rapid transit, or BRT. St. Petersburg is scheduled for a pilot program soon.

    Pushed as the transit of choice by the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, local officials will often say that BRT is more cost effective and practical than rail....