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A bicycle came to rest in the southbound turn lanes of Rose Drive at Imperial Highway after its rider was struck by a Lexus ES 330. According to Placentia Police Sgt. Ken Alexander, the cyclist was riding east out of a driveway at the Rose Imperial Plaza, between a Del Taco and a Flame Broiler restaurant, and began to cross the street about 50 yards north of the crosswalk at Imperial Highway. He rode into the path of the Lexus which was traveling southbound on Rose Drive.

Tampa Bay

Next Tampa mayoral forum will tackle pedestrian, cyclist safety

The group Walk Bike Tampa is hosting a mayoral forum tackling one of the city and region’s top ticket issues — transportation safety.

The Dec. 11 forum will focus on candidates’ ideas on pedestrian and cyclist safety. That includes plans to create walkable spaces and improve neighborhood sidewalks.

Tampa Bay Times reporter and columnist Ernest Hooper is moderating the debate at Sparkman Wharf on Channelside Drive in downtown Tampa.

The debate is free and open to the public, but there is limited seating. The event starts at 6 p.m.

Tampa consistently ranks as one of the deadliest places for pedestrians and bike riders. Corridors like Busch Boulevard have proved deadly, and efforts to create safer mid-intersection crosswalks aren’t entirely solving the issue.

When a new Mayor takes office next May, he or she will have a unique opportunity to do something about it. After years of failed attempts, Hillsborough County will now have a dedicated revenue stream through the 1 percent sales tax voters approved Nov. 6 to tackle a variety of transportation and transit projects — including safety.

Through the successful All For Transportation referendum, Tampa’s new Mayor will be charged with including projects in the annual budget using the city’s portion of the $280 million annually the new tax will raise.

Of that funding, 12 percent must be for safety projects. Funds can also be used for pedestrian trails.

Candidates will likely all agree that the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety will be paramount. How that takes shape is the (multi) million dollar question.

Tampa could benefit from having better-connected sidewalks near schools. The city is still sorely lacking in safe road crossings along busy corridors. The city is still so car-centric that walking feels like a death sentence.

Solutions are likely to take the form of more than just the obvious. Bike lanes and sidewalks are just part of the solution. Better transit that takes cars off the road is part of the conversation. Traffic congestion relief is another.

Whatever their ideas are, the eight candidates running for Mayor — former police Chief Jane Castor, Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, philanthropist David Straz, small business consultant Topher Morrison, and community activists LaVaughn King and Michael Anthony Hazard — will be pressed over and over for details on how they’ll begin the arduous task of solving these problems.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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