Friday, August 29, 2008

Why Tampa City Public Works Traffic Staff Is No Friend To Bicyclists

I have lived in Tampa nearly five years and it's embarrassing how little the Tampa city government has done to improve bicyling on the streets of Tampa. The state DOT repaved Nebraska Avenue and Tampa Street and installed bike lanes. And the city put in a bike lane for about a mile on Manhattan Avenue by the library. Bayshore Blvd. is an absolute joke for bicyclists -- there supposedly is a "plan" to fix and improve Bayshore but I'll believe it when I see it when that road is repaved and bike lanes are striped on both sides of Bayshore.

St. Petersburg's bicycle and pedestrian program shames the city of Tampa, which is one of the worst cities to bike in. I've lived in and have biked across the country and seen a lot -- and when I stack up Tampa against other cities around the country, Tampa is at or near the bottom. Its public works traffic staff is nothing short of a joke when it comes to bicycling awareness. I personally spoke to three different staffers last year -- one said to bike on sidewalks, another complained about bicyclists going through red lights and the third asked me where he could buy "Trek tires."

In February, Mayor Pam Iorio joined the Seminole heights Bicycle Club on its maiden bike ride and during a break along the ride promised (we have it on video) to put in a bike lane along Platt Street to lead cyclists from South Tampa into downtown. Platt Street is wide and a one-way main road that leads into downtown.

But check out the response I got today from a city public works official about that bike lane that was promised by the mayor for Platt Street:


"Mayor Iorio asked me to respond to your latest e-mail re a bike lane on Platt street. The Public Works traffic staff have done a complete evaluation of Platt from Howard to Bayshore to determine if a bike lane could be installed. They discovered that the width of Platt varies sufficiently that a continuous bike lane, meeting established safety standards, could not be installed. While there are locations that would accommodate a bike lane, it would end up being intermittent and therefore not a safe installation.

"As you know the City does have greenways and trails initiatives that include bike lanes and new road construction like 40th street includes bike lanes and sidewalks. Additionally, we are about to begin planning for adding south bound bike lanes and doing other pedestrian intersection improvements on Bayshore. Connectivity is an important element when we evaluate roads for new bike lanes. Platt street does not have that connectivity at this time.Please know that we will continue to look for opportunities to include/install bike lanes in the City. Please contact me if you have any questions.


S. W. Daignault
Administrator of Public Works And Utility Services
City of Tampa
(813) 274-7883"


Dave said...

Extremely disappointing. I live one block from this (now-dead) proposed bike lane and would have been a frequent user. The mayor's handpicked (she fired everyone who was from a previous era) staff comes through again.

GhostRider said...

Alan, how do you really feel? ;)

I find it tremendously disappointing, too. And, given that Mayor Iorio is a cyclist (and her husband is a regular and passionate cyclist), I find it troubling that this wasn't the "magic bullet" to spur the City onto a comprehensive bicycling infrastructure...the way it has been in other cities where the Mayor is also a two-wheeler.