Hillsborough Commissioners approve $3,000 for bike safety

Gena Torres with the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization came before the board with an even more modest request of just $1,500. (Commissioner Les Miller suggested the dollar figure be doubled.)


She said that purchasing lights for cyclists to place on their bikes could be critical in saving lives, as 70 percent of recent bike fatalities have occurred at night. She said that many people are riding to their night shift jobs, and they're not necessarily the type to be watching county commission meetings. She suggested that brochures promoting bike safety be distributed at bike shelters, at break rooms in employment centers, and perhaps as screen savers at county libraries.


A package of light sets costs just $3, which is one reason Torres says she didn't request more funds. Also, she said the MPO wanted to determine the level of interest among riders in using them.


The lights and vests will be distributed by Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies and Tampa police department officers in the evening hours.


The MPO's Gena Torres says she intends to make a similar pitch to the Tampa City Council as well.


Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a strong ally of local cyclists, brought up the matter. He said that when Hillsborough County was planned, bicyclists weren't taken into consideration, though he spoke optimistically about how improvements along Nebraska Avenue had created a dramatic reduction in accidents on that thoroughfare.

Back in the fall of 2010, Hillsborough County commissioners created a bicycle safety action plan. Unfortunately, the plan hasn't achieved its goal of making the roads safer for local cyclists. After just the first three months of 2012, there have already been six cycling fatalities.

Trying to be proactive, the commisioners approved a motion on Wednesday for a modest $3,000 to be spent on distributing posters promoting bike safety, as well as purchasing light sets and reflective vests.

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