'Complete Streets' aims to make St. Pete safer for everyone

Wednesday is National Bike to School Day
Posted at 5:13 AM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 19:38:09-04

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 is "National Bike to School Day" but officials in St. Petersburg say many kids won't do it because they don't feel safe.

9-year-old Jocelyn Bruner rarely rides but says if she does, it's with her parents in case she gets hurt. She also always wears her helmet.

"There's a lot of people in this neighborhood that don't know where they're going or haven't been here very much," said Christie Bruner, Jocelyn's mother.

ABC Action News followed behind Jocelyn and Christie on their way to school - there were plenty of cars but no other bicyclists. The two sometimes had to jump off the sidewalk because it was blocked by cars.

Plus, just a street over from the Bruner's house, there are zero sidewalks. Christie says while they are smaller streets, they're still very busy with cars, and not everyone obeys the 25 MPH speed limit.

"It's hard to bike because there's all the cars in the road and you can't buy through it so usually have to bike in the grass which is really hard," said Jocelyn.

Their concerns are heard by the city - its already invested $1M into making St. Pete streets safer for everyone and plans on investing that amount again next year.

A new report by the Florida Consumer Action Network Foundation shows transportation is responsible for the vast majority of air pollution in Pinellas County. Emissions from transportation in 2014, were 3.4 times higher than all other sources combined. Children are at increased risk of respiratory illness since 16% of schools and daycares in Pinellas County are within 500 feet of a busy road.

The "complete streets" initiative is working to:

  • Reduce speed on certain roads
  • Make travel lanes smaller and make bike lanes and sidewalks wider
  • Create a barrier between the bike lanes and cars
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle for everyone
  • Reduce air pollution

Bruner says getting her 3 kids to remain active is important and believes it will create a healthy habit as they become adults.

"If they're not used to walking and biking to school, they are going to be doing that in high school or when they are on their own because that's not something they grew up doing - establishing that at a young age is very important," said Bruner.

The initiative so far has reduced crashes across the country by 19%.