Tampa mayor opposes closing lanes on Bayshore Blvd during COVID-19 pandemic

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There are renewed calls for changes to Bayshore Boulevard after two lives were lost following a crash involving a motorcyclist and bicyclist on Saturday, but Mayor Jane Castor is opposed to lanes of traffic during the coronavirus pandemic.

8 On Your Side spotted a Tampa Police Officer with a radar gun Monday afternoon checking for speeders by Bayshore and South Rome Avenue, near the scene of the deadly collision that took the life of attorney and 50-year-old father of four, Hal Flowers.

A witness told 8 On Your Side a speeding motorcycle struck Flowers on his bicycle as he tried turning into a crosswalk.

“He was also riding very close to the bicycle lane,” Russel Olinger said. “It was almost like he was straddling it so there was no space to see anything. It just happened so fast.”

The identity of the motorcyclist who hit Flowers and died at the scene has not been released. Olinger said he was traveling northbound with two other motorcyclists who in his view were going far above the 35 mile per hour speed limit.

“These idiots were racing,” he said, “taking advantage of an open road thinking there’s no cars, but acting like there’s not a million people on the sidewalks crossing the streets.”

The Walk Bike Tampa advocacy group sent a letter to Mayor Castor urging her to either close all northbound lanes of vehicular traffic or close the outer lane in each direction on Bayshore.

“While on a normal weekend you can brush right past somebody with no problem, right now we need to be six feet apart so we need more space for walkers and bikers,” Emily Hinsdale from Walk Bike Tampa told 8 On Your Side. “Right now during this pandemic, we are asking to rebalance this road.”

Mayor Castor has directed the Tampa Police Department to crackdown on speeding and dangerous driving citywide.

“While closing certain streets for recreation purposes was considered, it has become clear that doing so would make these streets an attraction for large groups of people at a time when it is more important than ever for all of us to exercise social distancing,” Mayor Castor said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“I really admire the mayor’s leadership during this time period,” Hinsdale said.

But she told 8 On Your Side she thinks structural changes are needed now on Bayshore to keep pedestrians, joggers and cyclists safe.

“I think it is very important that we be preparing our hospitals to take care of coronavirus victims and not to be taking care of traffic accident victims,” Hinsdale said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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