Make us your home page

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. As Kriseman pushes for bike share, Seattle offers up a cautionary tale


    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has struggled to get City Council members to support his bike-share program. 

    They resisted the idea of using BP settlement money for the program last year. After raising a series of questions about the viability of the program last week, Council members decided to bring it up again next month....

  2. GE brings to light just how far Tampa Bay is slipping behind top tier cities


    It's hard to imagine, but there was a time during the 00's that Tampa Bay leaders really believed suburban office parks would be the future.

    They planned to make Interstate 4 a "High Tech Corridor" lined with massive office parks, from Tampa to Orlando.

    "Economic developers and corridor promoters agree that the coming decade will be the critical time to position Florida's High-Tech Corridor as more high-tech companies nationwide seek out a home base," Florida Trend wrote in 2001. "While not yet on par with the big-league regions, central Florida's manufacturing and high-tech companies have gained real momentum. Says Guy Hagen, assistant director for economic development at USF: 'The (growth) curve is beginning to be visible.'"  ...

  3. New census data reveals economic picture for bay area after collapse of housing market


    We're still making sense of how the Great Recession changed Tampa Bay.

    But make no mistake. This region will never be the same.

    Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released data that provides one of the best glimpses yet of how the the 2008 housing crash transformed a nation.

    Since 2005, the bureau conducts an ongoing survey that samples about 3.5 million addresses per year.

    The American Community Survey collects data on a wide range of demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics over a 60-month period that are designed to produce critical information previously collected in the decennial (every 10 years) census. ...

    [STEVE MADDEN | Times]
  4. Peak-hour myopia: Why we're doomed by rush hour traffic


    Larding up any Department of Transportation work plan are projects that cost millions, but do little to improve our quality of life. (Exhibit A: The $100 million + Bruce B. Downs expansion project -- all that money and it won't even ease congestion). ...

  5. Rick Scott appoints Green Bench owner and Bill Foster to St. Pete College board


    Gov. Rick Scott on Friday appointed former St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who lost a re-election bid despite winning Scott's endorsement two years ago, and growler champion Nathan Stonecipher, the owner of Green Bench Brewing Co., to serve on the District Board of Trustees for St. Petersburg College....

  6. The New Yorker: As sea levels rise, disaster scenario unfolding in Miami Beach


    If you thought The New Yorker's story about what would happen if an earthquake were to rattle the Northwest was unsettling (and it was), wait until you read this week's story about Miami Beach.

    In "The Siege of Miami", staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert writes about a problem that we know all too well: The daily high water mark has been rising almost an inch a year in the Miami area. To compensate, the city of Miami Beach has spent a hundred million dollars, with many more planned. Hal Wanless, the chairman of the University of Miami's geological-sciences department, dismissed the city's efforts, according to Kolbert....

  7. Shocker: I-4 near Tampa's downtown one of 50 worst bottlenecks


    As anyone who's driven Interstate 4 near downtown Tampa knows, it's pretty bad.

    How bad?

    According to a study by the American Highway Users Alliance of America's urban freeways, it's one of the nation's worst bottlenecks, which are portions of highways that are routinely and consistently congested. ...

    Looking east from the Interstate 275 junction with Interstate 4 during a particularly bad rush hour in 2006.
  8. Single women with cats flock to Tampa Bay


    Yes, believe it. Nielsen Scarborough, the market research firm, has ranked the cities with the highest percentage of single women who live alone with at least one cat.

    No, really. 

    And Tampa/St. Petersburg ranks ninth at 7.5 percent, just a wee bit behind Minneapolis/St. Paul and Harrisburg, PA, with 7.7 percent. No. 1 is, of course, Portland, with 9.9 percent....

  9. Study: Minor increase in bike use would save U.S. trillions


    As the 25th anniversary of the Pinellas Trail approaches, it's important to remember that when it debuted, only three other locales had something like it. Now, more than 1,000 cities do.

    With bike share programs now provided by Tampa, and perhaps soon in St. Petersburg, bike use should only go up, here and nationally....

  10. VIDEO: All aboard Brightline! (No, not you, Tampa Bay)


    Renderings were unveiled Monday of the privately owned and operated passenger rail service between Miami and Orlando that's set to debut in mid-2017.
    The company building it, All Aboard Florida, also unveiled the name: Brightline.

    So glory in all the possibilities express rail (it's not high-speed rail) will bring to Central and South Florida. The Miami New Times has a pretty good summary of the project here. The Sun-Sentinel's review ("bold look!") is here. ...

    This won't be stopping in Tampa Bay
  11. High-speed rail hangover: Tampa Bay continues to miss out on U.S. DOT money


    It sure was a bitter setback last month when Pinellas County learned it was denied a $19.1 million federal grant for the Pinellas Trail.

    The 47-mile bike trail seems like just the type of project the U.S. Department of Transportation likes to finance through a program started in 2009 to provide support for transit, bike, pedestrian, rail, ports and other type of infrastructure not typically funded through regular work plans (read roads)....

  12. Interactive: Mapping traffic fatalities (Tampa Bay stands out)


    We know all about how Tampa Bay ranks No. 2 in the number of pedestrian fatalities

    Ever wonder what all that mayhem in the streets looks like from space?

    The planning website Planetizen has found this: Max Galka at Metrocosm, a website that analyzes data and statistics, has mapped 373,377 points on a map of the United States. Each point represents a person who died in a vehicle crash between 2004 and 2013. It's interactive, so information about each crash will appear as you zoom closer. (Here's a guide)....

  13. Here's something that Tampa does better than Charlotte


    It can become tiresome to continually write about how Charlotte is growing in ways that Tampa is not.

    There are all those car-free options. During big events, it can show itself off better than Tampa. There have been all of those Chamber of Commerce field trips, too....

  14. Check it out Tampa Bay: Here's how federal rail money is being spent in Denver


    It's been more than four years since Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal money to build a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando.

    Not only is it maddening to imagine where the project would be (near completion? another six months? already open?) if Scott hadn't killed the project. But it feels like a gut punch, every few weeks or so, to read about another city reaping the rewards that easily could have been spent right here in Tampa Bay....

    Denver Union Station
  15. Rising sea levels: Now playing in Miami Beach


    New studies showing how rising sea levels will wash across Florida have gained a lot of attention lately.

    "The potential magnitude of sea level rise is staggering," said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate researcher who is on the board of Climate Central and says he offered comment on a version of a recent study. "In the short term, it risks serious disruption of life along the coast while in the long term, it could lead to obliteration of a large and priceless amount of our cultural heritage, worldwide."...