TAMPA — Tampa's showpiece boulevard is getting more bike lanes to make it safer for both cyclists and motorists.
The City Council this week approved spending $505,882 to create a bike lane on Bayshore Boulevard from south of Rome Avenue to just south of Howard Avenue.
Watch for construction to start in October and be done by April. That means the contractor, Florida Safety Contractors of Tampa, will have to coordinate its work with Gasparilla planners.
The work will narrow Bayshore's median in spots, making room for a 5-foot-wide bike lane going south. (There's already a bike lane going north, so the northbound lanes are not expected to be affected.)
The work will not affect landscaping or irrigation in the median, said Jean Duncan, the city's director of transportation and stormwater services. But it will include resetting the granite curbs along Bayshore to help the road drain better, working on the traffic signal at Howard and adding a section of sidewalk.
Florida Safety Contractors submitted the lowest of four bids for the project. Money for the work is coming from the Florida Department of Transportation.
This is the second phase of a multiyear effort to add bike lanes to the entire length of Bayshore.
The first, done in 2011 and 2012 at a cost of $2.4 million, covered the 1.5 miles from Platt Street to Rome. That phase entailed narrowing Bayshore from six lanes to four to make room for a bike lane because, unlike this next phase, there wasn't a median to work with, Duncan said.
A third phase going all the way to Gandy Boulevard and expected to cost $2.9 million is anticipated in 2017.
Council member Harry Cohen, who has lobbied for improvements to Bayshore, said that by creating more room for cycling, drivers shouldn't have to swing into the next lane over to avoid a biker as they do now.
"That really creates a safety hazard, not just for the cyclists, but for the cars," he said.
While Bayshore is a main thoroughfare used by more than 33,000 vehicles a day, officials said the community increasingly wants more spaces for cycling — hence, the new bike lanes planned not only along Bayshore but on streets such as Platt.
The added lanes, plus programs like Coast Bike Share, which is bringing 300 rental bikes to Tampa's urban center this fall, are expected to help change the city's car-centric culture.
"The more infrastructure we provide over time, the more users we'll see in these bike lanes," Duncan said.
"It does have a traffic-calming aspect to it," she said. Even if it's not being used, the bike lane puts "that message out to the drivers that there's other users out there."
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times