Tampa Prioritizes Pedestrians and Bicyclists with Citywide Walk Signal

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By Marcus Fernandez

Three to seven seconds may not seem like much time, but it could be the difference between making it safely across the street or becoming an accident statistic. Extending the walk signal time so that residents can safely cross a busy intersection is part of a safety initiative unveiled by the City of Tampa.

The focus on making crosswalks safer comes on the heels of a study that named Florida the second most dangerous state for pedestrians based on fatality rates. Tampa was identified as one of the top five most dangerous metro areas in the country.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 741 pedestrians and 198 bicyclists died as a result of crashes in 2022. Hillsborough county alone accounted for 57 fatalities and 560 pedestrian injuries. The county reported 18 deaths and 432 people injured while riding bicycles.

As you continue reading through this article to learn more about the measures being taken to make Tampa roads safer, keep in mind that you have the right to recover compensation when a negligent motorist causes an accident.

An expansion of the Leading Pedestrian Interval system

You may have never heard of a leading pedestrian interval before, but it may be responsible for getting you safely across the street at more than 263 intersections in Tampa. The LPI system, or walk signal, at those intersections adds three to seven seconds from when you enter the crosswalk until vehicles making right or left turns may enter the intersection.

A few seconds may not seem like much, but the FHA found that LPIs offered the following safety benefits:

  • The delay allows people to clearly show motorists their intention to cross the street.
  • People in the crosswalk become more visible to drivers.
  • Increases the likelihood that drivers will yield to a person whose presence in a crosswalk has been established.
  • The extra time can be particularly useful for people using mobility devices. Those who use wheelchairs, walkers and canes can be seen by drivers before their vehicles turn into an intersection.

Tampa city officials plan to extend LPI walk signals to every intersection within the city by the end of 2023.

How does an LPI system affect motorists?

The LPI system slightly delays the entry of vehicles into an intersection. This small adjustment will probably go unnoticed by drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Once the system is fully operational at all crosswalks, city officials expect to see a a decline in accidents. Specifically, city officials expect the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities to decrease.

The city expects to see as much as a 20% drop in the number crosswalk collisions between people and vehicles. The goal is to make the streets a safer place for non-motorists. This may encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and bike or walk to get around the city.

Everyone becomes a pedestrian

Making roads safer for walkers and bicycle riders should be important to everyone, including motorists. Even if you start out as a driver or passenger, upon arrival at your destination you may become a pedestrian.

The following adjustments in driving behavior can make the roads a safer place for everyone:

  • Stay alert and look out for bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Reduce your speed and be extra mindful of non-motorists when weather conditions or nighttime make it difficult to see.
  • Yield to pedestrians in or entering crosswalks.
  • Do not pass other vehicles that have stopped at a crosswalk.
  • Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol when driving. 
  • Slow down when approaching a crosswalk in case you do not see someone who may be slow to enter it.

A vehicle backing up can be as dangerous for a pedestrian or bike rider as one that is moving forward. Do not back up unless you are certain that no one is standing or walking behind your vehicle.

As a pedestrian or bicyclist, it is your responsibility to keep safe by using crosswalks at intersections. Engage the walk signal if there is one present. If you must cross the street at an intersection without a crosswalk, watch out for approaching and turning vehicles. It is better to wait until there is a break in traffic before crossing.

Get help when injured in a pedestrian or bicycle accident 

Help is available from an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney if you are a bicyclist injured or struck by a motor vehicle. Call KFB Law or book online today for a free consultation and case evaluation.