The Story Of Bay To Bay Blvd.: Cars First, Kids Last

This is what a kindergartener sees walking to school across Bay to Bay Blvd. 

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If this looks scary, remember what’s coming from the other direction.

Not to mention northbound cars turning right through the walk signal and southbound cars turning left through the walk signal. (Florida laws permit cars to drive through crosswalks unless there is a pedestrian in the portion of the crosswalk the car is crossing.)

If this set up seems to you like a dangerous design for children, too bad – Mayor Buckhorn is all for it.

With the Mayor’s decision to cancel his own traffic engineers’ proposed redesign of Bay to Bay Blvd., children’s safety is placed at risk.

But the Mayor’s announcement goes further. He doesn’t just insist on four lanes of traffic for children to cross instead of the two-lane plus turn lane “Complete Street” project. He plans to narrow each lane, packing cars closer in together while also extending turn lanes to allow cars to drive even faster on a road already known for excessive speeding.

Children from four different public schools must cross Bay to Bay daily to go to and from school. Two of these schools, Roosevelt Elementary and Plant High, will be impacted by the failure of the redesign effort. Had Bay to Bay plans moved forward, the project’s designers (City employees) intended to extend the safer road design further, improving safety for Mabry Elementary and Coleman Middle School students. Now that won’t happen either.

Most parents and students crossing Bay to Bay will tell you: this is a risky crossing, either by car or on foot. So why has Buckhorn refused to consider children’s needs in the neighborhood traffic plans? Why put cars first, kids last?

Tampa is consistently one of the most dangerous places to be on the roads. When Buckhorn himself asked the community, over 80% of those surveyed said fixing our transportation problems was the project they most wanted to see his waning administration take on. But Buckhorn has repeatedly blocked efforts to include pedestrians and cyclists – and especially children – in any development plans.

Buckhorn should take notes from other cities that have navigated rapid growth. Complete Streets, bike lanes, pedestrian pathways – these are all methods other communities have used to alleviate traffic woes.

Mayor Buckhorn, your unilateral decision to abandon months of planning and research puts our children at risk getting to school. Showing up at public marches talking about student safety is a great photo op but does nothing to address the time when children are most in danger in our community: on the road to school.

Mayor Buckhorn, please hold a public hearing to address your brand new, untested, unresearched plan for Bay to Bay. Allow the people who actually live here to offer their opinion on how their neighborhood will work.

Mayor Buckhorn, children are more important than fast cars.