Sad to say that the awful series of fatal bike crashes in Tampa last year has carried over into the new year. Despite a gratifying response to the need for improved bike safety in the area – including the development of a Bike Safety Action Plan – yet another rider was killed last Sunday, this time by a driver who was likely racing and was certainly going way too fast for the roadway. No charges have yet been filed against the driver.
After reviewing this latest cyclist fatality, AND looking at the dreadful pedestrian crash story in this area AND the almost daily serious crashes involving just motorists throughout the Tampa Bay area, we figure it’s time to really challenge the community to tackle the scourge of careless, dangerous and reckless driving behavior that is making life miserable for everyone out there. We also realized that most of the action plan, and most of the pedestrian safety plans and programs in the area over the years have all focused on cyclists and pedestrians…and at some point that just isn’t ever going to be enough. Cyclists are getting hit while they are doing everything right – even when they are standing on the sidewalk with their bikes they are getting hit by cars.
Therefore, we are encouraging Tampa area residents to get out and support the bicycle safety action plan in the coming weeks but also to demand something more: that the police and court system hold drivers accountable, and get dangerous drivers off the road. The Florida Bicycle Association lobby day in Tallahassee is March 24 – maybe it’s time to get a vulnerable road user law on the books that gives the law enforcement community a tool they can use to charge dangerous drivers with something that carries a meaningful penalty and sends a message that this kind of criminal behavior isn’t acceptable.
Hillsborough County residents, send this action alert to your elected officials. Everyone, click on that link to read our letter to Tampa City Council and Hillsborough County Commissioners.
The three public meetings on the proposed bicycle safety action plan are:
February 24, 2011, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Pizzo elementary School (cafeteria), 11701 USF Bull Run Dr, Tampa
March 01, 2011, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Bloomingdale Regional Library, 1906 Bloomingdale Ave, Valrico
March 02, 2011, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Broward Elementary School (cafeteria), 400 W. Osborn Ave, Tampa
Andy Clarke was appointed to the position of Executive Director in April of 2004 after successfully leading efforts to create, interpret and implement the various transportation programs that are available to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as the League’s State and Local Advocacy Director. Before joining the League in February 2003, Clarke was on contract to provide technical assistance to the highly regarded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center on site at the Federal Highway Administration. He is on the Board of Directors for America Bikes, and a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals.