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Tampa Installs Its First Green Bike Lane

10:53 AM CDT on May 28, 2015

Tampa recently added a buffered green bike lane. Photo: Tampa Tribune
Tampa recently painted its first buffered green bike lanes. Photo: Tampa Tribune
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There are splashes of green appearing in downtown Tampa, as the city installs its first buffered bike lanes on Platt, Cleveland, and Brorein streets, complete with green intersections.

The Platt Street redesign trimmed the one-way, three-lane road down to a two car lanes plus a buffered bike lane. (The bike lane on Cleveland will offer a travel option for cyclists heading in the other direction.) The city also lowered the speed limit from 40 mph to 35 mph.

The new bike lanes are part of a wider city effort to change Tampa's record as a dangerous place for walking and biking, says Karen Kresf of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, a business association.

"Our mayor understands the fact that Tampa Bay is rated number two in the country in the Dangerous by Design report," says Kresf, referring to the Transportation for America report that ranked the most dangerous cities for walking. "Our local governments are finally taking that seriously."

In order to create better conditions for walking and biking, about three years ago the city developed a plan for downtown called InvisionTampa. Kresf describes it as "basically a complete streets document."

The next project for the city is a fully protected bike lane --Tampa's first -- on Cass Street downtown. Crews have already broken ground. However, because the project includes utility replacements as well as a street rebuild, it will be about 18 months before it wraps up, Kresf said.

There are other signs of progress toward more people-friendly streets. Tampa recently completed the missing link in its Riverwalk trail, thanks to a TIGER grant. "That's been kind of a game-changer," says Kresf. Meanwhile, the Downtown Partnership introduced a bike-friendly business program; 26 local businesses have received the certification.

"There’s a lot of pent up demand for safe cycling conditions here -- we’ve got the weather," Kresf said. "It’s a pretty exciting time."

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