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.