1. Transportation

Pasco seeks to make rural roads safer for bicyclists

Large groups of bicyclists routinely ride the hilly roads in northeast Pasco. The county Metropolitan Planning Organization is considering ways to make the area safer for cyclsits and motorists. Here, a group of riders returns to Pasco County on Myers Road in southern Hernando. Times Staff
Published Mar. 9, 2018

DADE CITY — Upgrading the narrow roads around San Antonio that attract scores of weekend bicyclists could cost as much as $37 million.

Or adding warning signs and flashers and whacking road-side vegetation to improve sight lines could total less than $100,000.

Last week, the Metropolitan Planning Organization — county commissioners and elected city officials sitting as the transportation board — agreed the less costly alternatives are the place to begin.

"It's something to at least start to make it more evident that 'Hey, they're on site here,''' said Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez.

The rural roads, like Bellamy Brothers Boulevard and Prospect, Curley, St. Joe, Lake Iola and Blanton roads, are popular among bicyclists for the changing terrains and scenic vistas.

"It's a tremendous amount of fun,'' said Lance Smith, cycling enthusiast and Zephyrhills City Council member. "The hills are what everybody's there for.''

But the narrow, hilly roads, blind spots, speeding motorists and bicyclists who sometimes ride more than two abreast make for a dangerous combination.

In 2016, Joseph Neal Hancock, 57, a well-known hobby cyclist and citrus grove owner, died after he was struck from behind while riding his bicycle on Lake Iola Road. The driver, also eastbound, crested a hill and didn't see Hancock, troopers said at the time.

The death helped galvanize the need for safety improvements in the area, and last week the MPO learned the results of a safety study conducted by AECOM of Tampa.

Among the findings:

• Three pedestrians were killed and 20 more were injured within the study area in a four-year period ending in 2016.

• Nine bicyclists were injured and one (Hancock) died.

• Resurfacing portions of 14 roads could cost more than $8 million;

• Widening and adding shoulders to 21 roads carried a price tag of $37.4 million.

• Adding five safety flashers, six signs at blind spots and clearing vegetation from four locations had an expense of $99,000.

The study also recommended the county seek a state Department of Transportation grant to finance so-called high visibility enforcement by law enforcement officers.

"It's all publicized. There's no gotcha,'' said Paul Kurtz of AECOM.

Commissioner Ron Oakley wondered if the county should encourage use of its bike trails to curb the number of road cyclists. But the hilly terrain attracts high-performance athletes in training, said Hernandez.

"They're going to ride anyway,'' said Hernandez. "At the very least, we can try to make it as safe as we can.''

Contact C.T. Bowen at or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2

RELATED: Bicyclist killed.


  1. Florida had 381,300 jobs in the manufacturing sector in September. [Times 2016]
    No matter how many times you hear that the country doesn’t make anything anymore, don’t believe it.
  2. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is lit up in patriotic red white and blue colors in honor of Veteran's Day 2019. This view is shot from Skyway Beach looking south. Shot with a 400mm f4.0 lens with an ISO of 100 at F11 with a 10 second exposure. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Tampa Bay Times
    FDOT engineers switched on a patriotic theme in a colorful tribute to veterans.
  3. The Falcon 9 rocket sits on Kennedy Space Center's historic Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral on Thursday.[SpaceX via AP]
    The company deployed a second batch of 60 satellites for its Starlink communications constellation.
  4. Northwood Plams Boulevard in Wesley Chapel has been closed for six months for sewer repair, and residents are ready for it to reopen. After a couple delays, Pasco County expects the project to be complete by the end of the week. Times File
    A Wesley Chapel reader wants to know when Northwood Palms Boulevard will reopen.
  5. Shown here are photographs of damaged parking meters along Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. Those responsible for the damage were arrested Friday evening, according to city police. Times
    Three times in two weeks, police found city parking meters damaged with foam. Now a man and woman are in custody on felony charges.
  6. Metered parking spots like these along the 200 block of First Avenue S in St. Petersburg, along with spots in surrounding areas, have been changed to include weekend and more evening hours. DANIEL FIGUEROA IV  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The city recently extended metered hours to include nights and weekends and is working to phase out most free parking downtown.
  7. Pat and Harvey Partridge visit Waiheke Island in New Zealand in April. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board shows Partridge struggled to find the runway on approach to Raleigh-Durham International Airport last month before the Piper he was flying struck a pine tree and crashed. Both of them were killed. Courtesy of David Partridge
    Harvey Partridge told a tower controller he had the runway in sight just before crashing into a 100-foot tall pine tree, according to the NTSB.
  8. Nov. 5• Transportation
    Tampa traffic backs up at a familiar spot: near the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts before a show. Where's that transportation tax we voted in to soothe our traffic woes? URSO, CHRIS  |  Tampa Bay Times
    With the transportation tax in legal limbo, maybe not so much. But public officials give some hope.
  9. Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority CEO Ben Limmer, center, talks with Stephen Simon, president of Tampa's Amalgamated Transit Union, and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister while riding a county bus last month. Limmer was placed on paid leave Monday by the agency board as they investigate claims against him related to procurement irregularities. CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Caitlin  Johnston
    Ben Limmer became CEO of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority this spring after working in Atlanta and Phoenix.
  10. When Terminal A at PortMiami opened in late 2018, it accommodated Royal Caribbean's massive Oasis-class ships. The $247 million project created one of the world's biggest cruise terminals and increased Royal Caribbean's passenger count at the port by a projected 1 million.
    Florida will finally be home to Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class of ships when Odyssey of the Seas debuts in slightly more than a year.