To Whom it May Concern:
Sidewalk Stompers, a parent-led, Palma-Ceia-based organization focused on safe pedestrian pathways to school, is in strong support of a redesigned Bay to Bay Blvd that reduces the number of car lanes to incorporate dedicated bicycle lanes and a central turning lane. Improving Bay to Bay’s function is essential to the future success of our school-focused pedestrian project.
Sidewalk Stompers promotes walking/biking to school as a healthy, community-building activity for our neighborhood children. In concert with the Roosevelt Elementary School Parent Teacher Association, we hold monthly Walk to School Wednesday events, where we have seen a more than 2x increase in participation. Our school has been commended by the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the school board for our efforts to provide a responsible path for getting children to school.
However, outdated and non-existent road safety infrastructure has proven a major impediment. School pedestrian programs cannot grow if students cannot safely walk along school routes.
Bay to Bay Blvd. is a significant barrier, bisecting the neighborhood of Palma Ceia. Residents on the north side of Bay to Bay must cross four lanes of traffic to reach their children’s district-assigned elementary school, Roosevelt. The crossing is particularly daunting during morning rush hour, as sunrise dangerously limits eastbound traffic visibility.
Sidewalk Stompers has made every effort to increase safety at crossings on Bay to Bay Blvd. We have educated the children about pedestrian safety rules and laws as well as common sense efforts to reduce risk. We have instituted a “flag bucket program,” providing students with large, orange traffic flags to make them more visible crossing the street. We have requested that our decades out-of-date traffic lights be replaced with current approved models.
A three-lane approach that serves a similar volume of traffic, while better ensuring pedestrian and bicycle safety seems the obvious solution.
We are asking Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa to include the needs of Bay to Bay area school children in any planning. Reformatting this dangerous road as a three-lane route with bike access and well-marked and updated crosswalks is essential to our neighborhood and our children.