Issue: 24            

February 2017    

Walk Bike News banner

The Newsletter of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)

Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) & Livable Roadways Committee (LRC)


Trails Summit brings region together
Dozen of communities are coming together to create a continuous trail along the West Coast of Florida, which will connect to the new Coast-to-Coast Trail, and Hillsborough has an important role. As described by Hillsborough MPO Executive Planner Michele Ogilvie at the Gulf Coast Regional Trail Summit in Venice organized by the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority (TBARTA), "The feasibility study of a pedestrian bridge over Dale Mabry Highway is critically important to connect Tampa's Downtown Riverwalk and Green Spine to the beautiful Courtney Campbell Causeway trail at Cypress Point Park."
Michele also spoke of assisting Hillsborough County in applying for grants to fund the South Coast Greenway, and announced the great news that FDOT included funding for a segment of this trail in their work program (read more in the article below).

All in all, the
Summit was a huge success with close to 200 attendees, including Representative Joe Gruters, Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac, Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, Citrus County Commissioner Ronald Kitchen, Jr., other local elected officials, and representatives from health organizations, non-profits, citizen advocacy groups, private companies, transportation planners, government agencies, and many others. Accomplishments like this show how dynamic, strong, and influential our region is when working together towards a common goal. Thanks goes to TBARTA, FDOT, and the Office of Greenways and Trails for the opportunity to be part of this new statewide collaboration! Check out all of the excellent presentations from the Gulf Coast Regional Trail Summit.
Walk | Bike Plant City gets rolling

With a beautiful historic downtown, growing population, and newly developing areas, Plant City offers residents and visitors an abundance of activities. The MPO is working closely with the city to connect residents, businesses, and recreation areas with safe routes for pedestrians and cyclists.

The project team shared their initial analysis at a well-attended Open House on February 4th in Plant City. More than 30 participants described what Plant City means to them, where they like to go, and their top walk/bike priorities. The most common words to describe used Plant City were "friendly" and "community," and top walk/bike priorities included better lighting, crosswalks, and separated trails.

When completed, the Walk | Bike Plant City final report will provide:
  • a blueprint for a comprehensive system in Plant City that makes walking and bicycling for all purposes and by all users accessible, safe, and desirable
  • a phasing and implementation plan, and a starter project
  • recommendations for a strong, strategic funding plan for walking and bicycle facility expansion and improvement within the City
Contact Wade Reynolds, 813/273-3774 x361, to get involved.
FDOT funds walk/bike safety projects

At the beginning of January, FDOT District 7 unveiled its five year work program and it contained many of the priorities listed in the MPO's Imagine 2040 Transportation Plan. The MPO developed the long-range plan from listening to what people throughout the county see as our greatest transportation needs. Each year, after learning how much federal and state funding our area has to work with, the FDOT assigns the funds to MPO priorities and to other projects they see as important. Of interest to walking and cycling advocates, FDOT will provide money for: 
  • new sidewalks and crosswalks around eight elementary schools using Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes to Schools funds
  • transforming Floribraska Avenue into a roadway safe for bicycling, walking, and slower driving - welcoming news to residents in Tampa Heights who walk to transit, work, school, and shopping
  • extending the Cass Street Cycle Track from Doyle Carlton Drive to Willow Avenue benefiting cyclists in downtown Tampa and Hyde Park
  • planning, design, and environmental study of the Tampa Bypass Canal Trail
  • reconstructing the Maydell Drive Bridge to include a walking and cycling path
  • constructing a new trailhead for the Selmon Greenway
  • constructing the first segment of the South Coast Greenway in Ruskin
  • adding bike lanes and filling sidewalk gaps on segments of Morris Bridge Road, building new roundabouts at Davis Road, Primrose Street and 12th Avenue/Telecom Extension in Temple Terrace

Read more about these and other funded projects. Questions? Email Joe Price or call 813/273-3774 x362  

2016 Dangerous by Design released
Dangerous by Design Smart Growth America has released Dangerous by Design 2016. The research looks at the epidemic of pedestrian deaths across the United States and how changing the way we build our streets can help address it. The Tampa Bay Area (Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater), listed as the 2nd most dangerous place for walking in every previous report, has dropped to the 7th spot. MPO Executive Director Beth Alden shared these comments on the Vision Zero facebook, "We have our work cut out for us to be *less* dangerous by design! But the right people are working together, right now, to turn that around. Through complete street redesigns, targeted enforcement, educating seniors, children, and all ages in between, and developing a Vision Zero Action Plan, we are raising awareness of this issue which is so critical to our community. Please keep spreading the word that speeding is not OK!"

Workshop 2 of the Vision Zero Coalition included a walking tour of the downtown area of Town & Country. Solutions for safer travel were discussed that will help residents trying to get to the Senior Center and Webb Middle School, as well as empower visitors to the community center and library to travel without fearing for their lives.

With motor vehicle speeds as one of the main concerns of the Vision Zero Coalition, you can imagine how reassuring is was to read the words of  former President of the International Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Paula Flores (Benway) in her outgoing message. Her inspiring letter included these highlights:
  • The number of fatalities and severe injuries is staggering. Numerically, the death toll in the United States is equivalent to multiple jetliners crashing each week.
  • It's nearly three times the number of Americans killed annually in homicides by guns. Yet there is no corresponding sustained outrage at the persistence of needless and preventable deaths.
  • Every road user places trust in both fellow road users and those who plan, design, construct, maintain, operate, enforce, and support transportation systems.
  • Many crashes could be eliminated simply by the drivers slowing down, paying attention, and staying sober.
  • If you are not talking about controlling speeds, you are not talking about Vision Zero.
  • Vision Zero requires a new way of thinking about safety. We have applauded recent efforts of cities successfully lowering city-wide speeds to those appropriate to the context of the community
Tampa nationally recognized x2
PeopleForBikes recently released their list of America's best new bike lanes. And Tampa made it onto the top 10 list! There were several factors, including the  "Green Spine" project which is planned to give walkers, skaters, and cyclists a protected path to travel east-west across the City of Tampa. For now, cyclists can use the first phase along Cass Street from the Riverwalk and Arts District to the north end of the Channel District. Following the City of Tampa's lead, FDOT has planned a protected bike lane on the parallel Jackson Street.
USF recieves Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Award
On November 29, 2016, the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) designated the University of South Florida Tampa campus as a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University. Some of the programs and amenities that impressed LAB about USF's campus was on-site bicycle registration, a network of bicycle repair stations, bicycle safety classes, a campus-wide speed limit of 25 miles per hour, a bike share program for students and staff called Share-a-Bull, ample bicycle parking (including 350 racks recently purchased with a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation), and a new pilot bike locker program that was unveiled at the event.  
Bringing healthy food to the desert
Fresh Famers Market at Local Transit Stop
While it's true that temperatures have been unusually high lately,  Florida has not been reclassified as a desert. Rather, "food deserts" are areas in cities where neighborhoods are a mile or more away from accessing healthy foods. You may not know that it takes some of our residents two hours to travel for groceries, but that's the reality for thousands of people who don't have cars.

A compelling story from ABC Action news has a direct connection to the work of local planners to make sure people have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  A simple trip to a nearby Walmart is anything but, according to University Square resident Sylvia Blaxton, who relies on public transit.

Residents of the Terrace Park | University Square neighborhoods are being asked to take a survey on access to healthy foods and are invited to a community meeting on February 21st at 6pm at the Copeland Park Community Center.  The Planning Commission and the Department of Health will discuss research findings and a potential community garden for this community. This work is supported by a $25,000 grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The MPO's grant
(announced in a previous issue) from the American Public Health Association is also helping with the effort, adding attention to creating safe walk and bike connections to community gardens. Hope you'll join us!  
Gearing up for Florida Bike Month in March
FL bike month

We know National Bike Month is May, and there will be bicycle events during that month too.  But the weather in Florida is perfection for riding in March. So the Florida Bicycle Association encourages everyone to ride!

Locally, there will be many activities, like the 4th Annual Bike with the Mayor in Temple Terrace on March 17. Friends and neighbors are invited to meet at 7:30 for coffee, bagels, free bike lights, and safety information. The ride, led by Mayor Kim Leinbach, begins at 8:00a. The first 100 adults will get this year's "I rode with the Mayor" t-shirt. Look for more Florida Bike Month activities to be shared at Bike/Walk Tampa Bay. 
Hillsborough County wants you to take a hike! 

Literally. We are happy to share the Hiking Spree 2017 announcement from Hillsborough County News. To entice the public to get outside and explore the beautiful parks right in our backyard, Friends of the County Parks are sponsoring the Spree to encourage people to hike at least 8 out of 20 designated trails and receive an annual medallion. See how many medallions you can collect. All that is required is filling out a free online registration and participation form... and then get on out there to the trail.
Introducing the Biking Expert 'spokes'person 

As part of the MPO's Public Participation Plan, we strive to share news on local, state, and national transportation innovations, highlighting our successes and learning from others. It's always satisfying to get positive feedback on our newsletters and that happened recently after Diane Cummings read a recent article posted on our website. Ms. Cummings reached out to compliment a story on Tampa's bicycle infrastructure improvements. In turn, we would like to share her amazing bicycling blog, Biking Expert. Recent blog posts include:
A bike share revolution around the world
Bike Sharing programs that close the first mile/last mile gap in public transit is a fast emerging market around the world. According to EcoWatch, China has three of the world's top bike share programs. After abandoning bikes in favor of automobiles, the former "bike kingdom" is again turning to bikes as a healthy, affordable, and environmentally responsible alternative to driving. In China many of the bike share locations are co-located with transit stations while others are free-floating similar to USF's highly successful Share-A-Bull and Tampa's Coast Bike Share. The program has the distinction of being the most used bike share in the world.  USF Professor Yu Zhang shares insights into China's Bike Share revolution which is attracting millions of dollars from private investors.
Enlisting bikes in the fight against inequality 

From the Atlantic CITYLAB, Bicycle Advocate, Liz Cornish talks about the culture-changing power of bike lanes, and how to and how not to convince citizens and lawmakers to build them. Their conversation offers insight into many issues facing cities cultures beyond the implication of new bike lanes.
New audible alert standards for quiet cars will help prevent 2,400 pedestrian injuries a year
Having peace and quiet isn't always as good as it seems. That is the logic behind the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new sound requirement for all newly-manufactured hybrid and electric vehicles. This new federal safety standard will help pedestrians detect the presence, direction and location of these vehicles when they are traveling at low speeds. "This is a common-sense tool to help pedestrians - especially folks who are blind or have low vision - make their way safely," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. "With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, it is vitally important we take every action to protect the most vulnerable road users."
In This Issue
Regional trails
Walk | Bike Plant City
Major walk-bike projects funded
Dangerous by Design
Tampa Makes the Top 10!
Fighting local food deserts
FL Bike Month in March
Take a hike!
Biking Expert blog
A bike share revolution
Bikes fight inequality
New audible alerts