Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Tampa Bay

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By Marcus Fernandez

Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa are set to receive federal grants totaling $39.7 million to make their streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. The accident statistics from a year ago explain why safety improvements are essential. 

Hillsborough County had 28,356 vehicle crashes on its streets in 2022, and its 219 fatalities gave it the highest per capita rate of traffic deaths nationwide. The 219 fatalities included 18 bicyclists and 58 pedestrians. The 58 pedestrian deaths do not tell the whole story of how hazardous walking is in Tampa and Hillsborough County. 

Last year, the county had 657 crashes involving pedestrians and 476 bicycle crashes. So far this year, 476 pedestrian accidents claimed the lives of 46 people, while 374 bike crashes caused five deaths. This article explains some causes of accidents involving bicycle riders, pedestrians, and other vehicles. It also looks at local officials’ plans to make safety improvements to county and city roads. 

State and local officials working to make streets safer

Bicycle riders and pedestrians are no match for a car, SUV, or other type of motor vehicle in a crash. Community organizations have sprung up throughout Florida to work closely with state government officials to develop safe routes for bicycle riders and pedestrians.

For example, city officials in Tampa have worked with county officials to create an interconnected network of routes with sidewalks, crosswalks, and other safety features, making it easier and safer for cyclists and pedestrians to get around the city. The federal grant money Tampa received will be used for the following:

  • Installation of new sidewalks
  • Upgraded streetlights
  • Separate bike lanes on roads and streets
  • Flashing lights warning motorists of school-zone speed restrictions

Hillsborough County plans to use the almost $20 million grant it received for several safety enhancements, including installing sidewalks and bike lanes. Officials also plan to develop methods for controlling traffic speed at locations they have identified needing such measures.

What can pedestrians and bike riders do to avoid accidents?

When walking or riding a bike, there are things that you can do to protect yourself from becoming the victim of an accident. Pedestrians increase their chances of staying safe by doing the following:

  • Whenever sidewalks are available, use them instead of walking on the road.
  • If no sidewalks are available, walk facing oncoming traffic and stay as close to the side of the road as possible.
  • Wear bright clothing to make you visible to motorists. Wear reflective clothing or a reflective vest over your clothes, and use a flashlight to be seen.
  • Pedestrians impaired by alcohol or drugs increase the likelihood of becoming an accident victim.
  • Cross streets at intersections and preferably at ones with marked crosswalks.
  • When crossing the street, do not assume drivers will stop for you even though you are in a crosswalk. Wait for motorists to stop before stepping into the street.

If you ride a bicycle to get around town, the following safety tips may help you avoid becoming an accident victim:

  • Ride on designated bike lanes or as close to the right side of the road as possible. Always travel in the same direction as traffic. Only ride on sidewalks designated explicitly for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Wear bright clothing during daytime rides and reflective clothing or a vest at night to enhance the ability of motorists to see you.
  • When riding in the evening and at night, equip your bike with reflectors, a headlight, and a red taillight. 
  • Wear a helmet specifically made for bicycle riding to protect your head in case of a fall or a collision with a motor vehicle.
  • Periodically check your bike’s gears, tires, and brakes to ensure they are in proper working order and ready for sudden stops or maneuvers in an emergency.
  • Use hand signals to alert drivers whenever you plan to stop or make a turn.

Do your part to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries, whether as a pedestrian or bicyclist.

Consult a Tampa personal injury lawyer

If you or a loved one is injured in a crash while riding a bicycle or walking, you may be entitled to recover compensation from the motorist responsible for causing the accident. A free consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney at KFB Law gives you advice and guidance about your rights and how to enforce them. Contact us today to schedule a free claim evaluation and consultation.