The timing of the Tampa mayor and city council election on March 22 is crucial for local bicyclists because a consultant will be presenting a bicycle and pedestrian plan after the new mayor and council is elected. The consultant, Demian Miller of Tindale Oliver, updated the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee yesterday. It proposes more bike lanes and sharrows -- but it will be up to the new council to adopt it to make it happen. And bicyclists will also need the new mayor to back bicycling.
Plus, a bicycle safety action plan will likely be adopted by the Hillsborough County Commissioners in the next few months, which will hoepfully mean more bicycle awareness in Tampa as well. The plan is being developed in response to all the bicyclist deaths in the Tampa area.
Here are the Snel Bicycle Endorsements for the March 22 Election. I believe these candidates are the best candidates to help bicyclists in Tampa:
Mayor: Bob Buckhorn over Rose Ferlita.
Buckhorn believes bicycling conditions need to be improved in Tampa because bicycling is needed to "attract the intellectual capital" valued by an improved city Buckhorn is envisioning. Here are some of Buckhorn highlights from my interview of him four months ago:
-- Buckhorn said he wants to "attract intellectual capital" to Tampa to create and staff the kind of jobs that make a city strong. To do so means making bicycling attractive by buildings trails, bike lanes and using markings on existing roads as part of the quality of life that would attract that intellectual capital.
-- He said the recent "(bicyclist) deaths have attracted attention, but it's been a systematic problem." He admitted Tampa "has not done a very good job" at making its city hospitable to bicyclists.
-- Buckhorn said the bicycle improvements in St. Petersburg are due to former Mayor Rick Baker's commitment to bicycling. Buckhorn said Baker recently told him that turning around St. Pete from an unfriendly bike city to a city with bike infrastructure was one of his highlights as mayor:
During my interview of Ferlita, she expressed her general support of bicycling but did not identify bicycling problems as a specific issue that needed to be addressed and said bicycling will be included as part of the transportation policy. That's already being done now. Here are some of the Ferlita highlights:
-- "Educating has to be done. Bicyclists and drivers have to respect each other. Bicycles are smaller but they should not be intimidated by motorists. This can't be the case."
-- We have to do traffic calming.
-- Bicycling will be incorporated as transportation policy.
-- "It's embarassing there are so many (car-bike) accidents. And it's not just happenstance."
I found Ferlita a warm and passionate candidate, but believe Buckhorn will be more committed and will do more to improving bicycling conditions
City Council Races
District 1 (citywide): Mike Suarez over Curtis Stokes. Neither Suarez or Stokes are bicyclists, but Suarez gets bicycling more than Stokes. Stokes, as an appointed city councilman, has not contributed any comments or perspectives on bicycling on council.
District 3 (citywide): Yolie Capin over Chris Hart. This one is easy. Capin supports sharrows and said the sharrows on Euclid Avenue are a good idea that allow tell motorists to be on the lookout for bicyclists. Capin supports bicycling. Hart has not mentioned bicycling as an issue.
District 4 (south Tampa and Davis Islands): Julie Jenkins over Harry Cohen. Jenkins is a bicyclist who used to bike-commute in Washington, DC and believes bicycling needs to be addressed in Tampa. Cohen hasn't discussed bicycling, but he he appears open to address bicycling if elected.
District 7 (new Tampa and north Tampa): Lisa Montelione over Charlie Parkins. Montelione is the green candidate and supports bicycling. She gets it. I have not heard Perkins, who played the "White Chocolate" pimp character on a local cable TV show, mention bicycling as an important issue.