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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.


Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

  1. It just got easier to add bike lanes on Tampa Bay roads


    The U.S. DOT is easing regulations for federal roads with speeds of less than 50 mph that would allow for more design options, such as introducing bike lanes. 

    “This proposed policy change will give states and communities the opportunity to be more innovative in designing their local projects,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It will help us to build more quality projects that will not only provide more travel options for people, but also support and unite communities across America.”...

  2. Deaths in auto crashes decline, but not for everyone, study says


    It's been deadly out there on Hillsborough County roads the last couple of days.

    A 17-year-old Chamberlain High Student died Tuesday when she was hit crossing Busch Boulevard. A 43-year-old Brandon man was killed on U.S. 301 when his pickup truck crashed into a light pole. On Monday, a 67-year-old Riverview man was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Orient Road. ...

    Accident investigators gather at the scene of an accident that killed a Chamberlain High student on her way to school Tuesday morning on Busch Boulevard in Tampa.
  3. Shocker: Tampa Bay shut out of "Great Places in America" awards


    The American Planning Association announced its 15 great places for 2015 and not a single neighborhood, street or public space in Tampa Bay made the list.

    Since 2007, the APA has recognized 246 places, with Tampa Bay getting recognized a grand total of once (7th Avenue in Ybor City was recognized in 2008). ...

    Where the sidewalk ends
  4. 2007 recession still haunts cities


    The National League of Cities had mostly good economic news in its annual survey of city finance officers.

    Of those surveyed, 82 percent said they were optimistic about meeting their city's financial needs, while 18 percent said they were "less able" to do so. Revenues have grown for three consecutive years. Ending balances are now at pre-recession levels. ...

  5. Healthy design in Jeff Vinik's project a hot West Coast trend


    The healthy design that Jeff Vinik plans for his big development project near downtown might sound inventive.

    And that's certainly how the project is touted by Vinik.

    "We foresee our Tampa urban district setting a new standard for wellness and sustainability,” Vinik said in a Delos statement....

  6. Maybe Darryl LeClair was on to something: San Diego considers gondolas


    When the details of Darryl LeClair's plans to develop Toytown were released last week, there was no mention of gondolas in the 258-page proposal.

    There had been speculation that the Carillon office park developer would lace the flying cable cars throughout the Toytown proposal. It was just last year that LeClair shopped around his idea for using gondolas for transit, approaching everyone from the Florida Department of Transportation, the Tampa Bay Partnership and Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill, according to the Tampa Tribune. ...

    Artist rendering of aerial gondola over San Diego
  7. FiveThirtyEight: Lack of hurricanes lulling Florida (but not Tampa Bay!)


    Good news: Florida hasn't been hit by a hurricane in 10 years, more than double the state's previous record for longest streak without a hurricane.

    Bad news: That's giving way too many people false comfort, according to Matt Lanza at FiveThirtyEight.

    "There’s a downside to those years of good weather," Lanza writes. "While the big storms have stayed away, the coastal population in the U.S. has continued to increase, and in a few cases it has been surging. When a major hurricane next strikes — and it will — it will very likely hit an area that is even more vulnerable to destruction, with a large group of new residents who might have no experience with extremes of high winds and water."...

    Surprise! It's peak hurricane season right now
  8. Video: Miracle cure for Tampa Bay's flooding woes?


    St. Petersburg and Tampa officials sure have received a lot of attention over their sewage systems recently.

    Heavy summer rains overwhelmed each city's ability to hold its sewage without spilling it.

    The latest revelation: Eckerd College's soil tested high for bacteria associated with feces after 15 million gallons overflowed from a nearby St. Petersburg sewage plan, swamping the campus....

  9. Public housing gets a bad rap, but why?


    If you get HBO, you may have watched Show Me a Hero, an adaptation of Lisa Belkin's non-fiction book about the struggle for public housing in Yonkers, N.Y.

    And as newspaper readers are aware, public housing scandals are quite common. 

    Recently, the Bradenton Herald has detailed how the former executive director of the Bradenton Housing Authority will spend the next year in jail for stealing money from the federal government. And the Miami Herald has been all over a scam in South Florida involving four prominent Miami developers and a Fort Lauderdale contractor that cost taxpayers $36 million. ...

  10. Brookings: Tampa Bay poverty on the rise


    Yet another indicator shows Tampa Bay lagging behind the rest of the nation.

    This one is a biggie.

    The latest poverty data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Tampa Bay's poverty rate continues to climb while other areas are bouncing back.

    According to an analysis by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, the poverty rate in the nation's 100 largest metro areas dipped 0.3 percent between 2013 and 2014, while the overall poor population declined by 1.2 percent....

  11. Why car-crazy cities (not so fast, Tampa) are riding light rail


    Hey, have you noticed all the Sun Belt cities building or expanding their light rail lines?

    Well, William Fulton and Kyle Shelton at Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research have. In a piece they wrote for Zócalo Public Square, the two note that light rail is growing in popularity in the most unlikely places....

    DART trains in Dallas
  12. Interactive: The minimum wage gap exists in every county in America


    It was just last month that Bay Buzz highlighted the major discrepancy between the federal poverty line and costs of living in the major metropolitan areas in the U.S., as estimated by the Economic Policy Institute.

    MIT and Professor Amy Glasmeier take it a step further, by contrasting minimum wage with the cost of living in each of the nation's counties and metro areas. ...

    This interactive map by MIT of every county in the U.S. estimates the cost of living and the gap between the minimum wage. Red and orange, sadly, means the minimum wage isn't cutting it.
  13. FiveThirtyEight: U.S. crime wave exaggerated — except in Tampa


    Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight decided to crunch crime stats to determine if the media has been exaggerating the rise in homicides.

    Sure enough, 2015 homicide data for nearly all of the 60 biggest cities in the U.S. show there has been an average increase in homicides of about 16 percent, hardly an epidemic that reverses the long-term decline in homicides. ...

    Community activist Ali Muhammed, 26, mourns Richard Newton at a makeshift memorial where the 14-year-old was shot. Newton, 14, was killed when someone fired a gun at a birthday party.
  14. Another American city getting federal dollars that Tampa Bay won't be getting


    This time, it's Dallas, which is securing $400 million in federal funds to help build its second set of light rail tracks.

    The Dallas City Council approved the project, D2, earlier this week, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    Dallas already has 90 miles of light rail, a system which uses the downtown as a hub. That means all four light-rail lines use the same downtown track. D2 provides another light-rail line track, which will increase the number of trains the transit agency can run while mitigating problems, such as car wrecks that can shut down a line....

  15. If Tampa Bay Rays ever bridge City Council impasse...then what?


    It has been deadlocked for so long between the Tampa Bay Rays and the St. Pete city council, that it's easy to forget how much harder it is to build a stadium these days.

    So even if the District 7 breaks the club's way on Nov. 3, giving it the vote on council it needs to look elsewhere for a new home, the Rays still need to convince the public, somewhere, to finance it....