City council considers closing lane on Bayshore

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa City Council is in the midst of discussing a new effort to make Bayshore Boulevard safer after a series of pedestrian deaths.

In a virtual city council meeting on Thursday, Tampa City Councilmembers will discuss the possibility of shutting down the two northbound lanes on Bayshore Boulevard in an effort to make the road safer. In the past two years, five pedestrians have been killed while exercising along the popular strip. The most recent death was a month ago when motorcyclist hit and killed a bicyclist.

“One death is one too many,” City Council Chairman Guido Maniscalco said.

Maniscalco is in favor of the plan. He thinks the way the city can approach it is by shutting down the lanes on Sundays for a month to see how traffic flows, how emergency vehicles can adapt and to see how residents feel.

“We try, we experiment, we explore all different avenue and try to find solutions,” Maniscalco said. “Maybe we’ll come to the conclusion that it’s just not going to work and we will have to look at other traffic safety measures, or maybe it would work. At least we have that data to move forward to make more permanent decisions.”

Maniscalco understands that traffic may be a concern, but he believes someone’s life is far greater than a traffic issue.

“Some people will say, well if you are taking away lanes from Bayshore it’ll push traffic onto Macdill, Himes and other streets, Bay to Bay, whatever connections you would have as alternates to the roads, but if we don’t do something we are going to continue to see these kinds of deaths,” he said.

City staff supports the shutdown idea saying it aligns with Mayor Jane Castor’s Vision Zero initiative. Maniscalco agrees and believes this effort is exactly what the city needs.

“I want us to at least try. If we don’t try we don’t know. As we see, people who should be alive and well today have died going for a bike ride or going for a walk. That’s not right. People should be able to feel safe and us a city should take those steps or at least explore ideas trying to do that.”

Council will discuss this idea during their virtual council meeting on Thursday.

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