Everything started with Danny Rogers, an avid runner, and cyclist who moved to New Tampa eight years ago with his wife. Standing at a busy intersection he noticed a significant safety issue for pedestrians.
Specifically, the intersection of New Tampa Boulevard and Highwoods Preserve Parkway. While there is a crosswalk marked across the Parkway, there are no crosswalk markings on the Boulevard. This inadequate protection of pedestrians could lead to future car accidents, a situation Rogers is fighting to avoid.
Lots of Traffic, Little Safety
The main issue centers around two busy streets: New Tampa Boulevard and Highwoods Preserve Parkway. The south end of this intersection is packed full of businesses, while the northern end hosts several residential neighborhoods. Because of this divide, pedestrians often cross these streets to move from their homes to local businesses and back.
The major pedestrian safety issue lies in where the pedestrian pathway falls relative to where the cars stop. For such a busy intersection, extra protective measures would protect pedestrians, especially if they were crossing at night.
Currently, the pedestrian path line is behind the traffic line, so pedestrians are blocked from crossing the street safely when cars pull up to the traffic line. The pedestrian path is not marked on the road either, meaning drivers have no visual cues from a distance that someone may be crossing the road until they already see the person.
These sidewalks are very busy, with dozens of pedestrians and trail runners crossing at peak times. Oftentimes, drivers will still ignore those waiting and pull up to the traffic line forcing people to walk through the cars. Drivers ignoring the crosswalk not only inconveniences pedestrians but could lead to future car accidents.
Beyond that, this is also illegal according to Florida State Law. Under Title XXIII, Chapter 316.130 part 7c, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians even if there is no signage indicating otherwise, such as in this example where the crosswalk is not adequately marked. The drivers are not entirely at fault, as the traffic line that shows where they should pull up extends past an invisible crosswalk.
The City of Tampa has already implemented some safety measures, but Rogers has labeled these as inadequate. New Tampa Boulevard has been equipped with several crosswalks featuring flashing beacons telling cars to stop to correct these issues. However, Rogers states that this is not enough: by flashing constantly, cars usually drive through the intersection, assuming no one is crossing the street.
Rogers has recommended several added safety measures to compensate for this. Firstly, he believes stop signs should be moved before trail crossings, so cars have to stop a decent distance before the crosswalk. He also thinks that the flashing lights should only be engaged when someone is actively crossing the street rather than on at all times. Putting these measures in place will not only protect pedestrians but also hold drivers more accountable.
Mike Hancock, a lawyer from Hancock Injury Attorneys in Tampa, FL, states, “If a car hits a bike or a person even at a slow speed, due to weight disparity, the pedestrian is likely to face severe injuries. Pedestrian safety needs to come first to protect those most vulnerable.”
These new propositions have been issued to the City of Tampa, and there is already a promising sign of progress. The Mobility Department Manager has begun an evaluation of the area. It has yet to be seen when the City of Tampa will implement these new measures.