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Tampa unveils first ‘Crosswalks to Classrooms’ intersection as part of its Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities

The brightly painted crosswalks are meant to make drivers pay attention to pedestrians.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor unveiled the first of many colorful crosswalks throughout the city aimed at keeping kids safe as they walk to and from school.

The city painted its first Crosswalks to Classrooms intersection over the weekend and unveiled it and details of the program Thursday as attendees were arriving in Tampa for the Safe Routes to Schools conference taking place at the nearby Tampa Convention Center.

The crosswalk is at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Washington Street in downtown Tampa near the Rampello Magnet School.

“We have the distinction, the unfortunate distinction of being one of the worst communities in the nation for bicycle, pedestrian and vehicle fatalities,” Castor said. “We are here today to put an end for that.”

The crosswalk improvements include brightly colored markings aimed at drawing motorists’ attention to the intersection and making them look out for crossing children and families.

The improvements cost about $2,000 per intersection and take just a day to complete.

The city is strategically evaluating intersections to determine where to next improve sidewalks.

The effort is part of the city’s Vision Zero plan that aims to eliminate pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular deaths. Tampa is among the worst in the nation for its fatality rates.

“There are just so many ways that we can make a difference,” Castor said.

She said on a recent trip to New York City she saw a sticker underneath a driver’s rearview mirror that served as a reminder to be on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists crossing at intersections.

Tampa averages about 200 traffic-related fatalities per year, a number Castor vowed to eradicate as part of her campaign promises when she ran for Mayor last year.

The Vision Zero plan includes a multifaceted approached to road safety that seeks to eliminate fatalities by combining safe transportation planning, speed management, education and strategic planning and goal-setting. Castor said the city is already working on establishing its Vision Zero goals.

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 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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