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Group promoting road safety out in force on 56th Street Monday

Volunteers in Temple Terrace temporarily paint the bike lanes on Bullard Parkway Bridge green at a past Vision Zero Hillsborough event. The green paint was an extra reminder for motorists to be aware of bicyclists and give them room.
Volunteers in Temple Terrace temporarily paint the bike lanes on Bullard Parkway Bridge green at a past Vision Zero Hillsborough event. The green paint was an extra reminder for motorists to be aware of bicyclists and give them room.
Published Apr. 18, 2018

TEMPLE TERRACE — If all goes as planned on Monday (April 23), at least 100 people will line the sides of one of the most dangerous stretches in Hillsborough County — 56th Street between Sligh Avenue and Busch Boulevard — in an effort to get motorists to slow down and pay attention.

From 3 to 5 p.m., volunteers will line the roadsides in several areas, wearing bright T-shirts and holding signs warning against speeding, texting while driving and other dangerous driving behaviors. A few will be wearing black T-shirts and standing at spots where fatalities and serious injuries occurred.

It's all part of Vision Zero Hillsborough's effort to increase awareness of one of the most dangerous corridors in the county.

The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) has led a city-county initiative around a long-term vision of reaching zero traffic fatalities. It has identified the county's top 20 roads for severe crashes and found that they make up just 4 percent of the major road system yet are responsible for 19 percent of severe crashes, ones that result in serious injury or death.

"All these top 20 high crash corridors have different things that make them dangerous,'' said Gena Torres, project manager with MPO.

Speeding and distracted driving — and the lack of proper crossings for pedestrians — appear to be the main problems along 56th Street, she said.

Vision Zero tries to focus attention on safety through a variety of methods. In the past, volunteers have temporarily painted bike lanes on Bullard Parkway bridge green in order to remind drivers to beware of bicyclists. It held a "Walk of Silence'' last fall in memory of Alexis Miranda, a Chamberlain High School student, who was struck by a car and killed while crossing Busch Boulevard on her way to school in 2015.

On Monday, participants will gather at three locations along the 56th Street corridor, and tents will be set up at those spots — one by King, one by Bullard Parkway and one in the middle, Torres said.

Students representing the King High Lions will hoist signs that warn, of "Lion Crossings'' ahead.

Temple Terrace City Manager Charles Stephenson said he hopes to join the sign bearers if he can break away from City Hall at that time.

"I think it's a great idea to slow people down. We need to slow people down. People drive way too blasted fast,'' he said.

The first 100 people to arrive get a free T-shirt. They can pick their location and sign up by going tovolunteersignup.org/LM497.

Vision Zero is an idea that started in Sweden more than 20 years ago. The movement believes that the deaths and injuries are preventable. These aren't "accidents,'' it suggests, because the crashes are the result of poor behaviors combined with unforgiving roadway designs.

For more information, contact Gena Torres at torresg@plancom.org or (813) 273-3774, ext. 357.

Contact Philip Morgan at pmorgan@tampabay.com.

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