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Pinellas County working to make transportation easier, more equitable for drivers and pedestrians

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Posted at 4:06 AM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 07:22:04-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Forward Pinellas is working to close inequality gaps for people who walk and bike in Pinellas County. They say this will help make it easier and safer for people to get from place to place.

For years, Pinellas County has focused on building bigger and wider roads. However, that doesn't always help people without a car like Paul Wilson.

"Not everybody has a car," Wilson said on a walk to the store. "Like you see me, I walk."

Wilson is just one example of why Pinellas County is working to reevaluate how they approach transportation options.

"It does become a problem," Wilson said.

Whit Blanton, who serves as executive director for Forward Pinellas, says making it safer to leave your car behind, if you have one at all, is critical.

On average, he says a car is about $8.000-$10,000 to maintain, making it out of reach for many people in the Tampa Bay area.

"We've kind of made our society to where you have to have a car or to be successful, right? And that leaves a lot of people behind," Blanton said.

Now, Forward Pinellas is pushing for more accessible transit service and is working with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority.

"You see people walking long distances, because the bus is not available or on every street," Blanton said. "So we need to really look at better transit service, better coverage, more frequency,"

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Blanton said if you take a look at this map of Pinellas County from the U.S. Census, that's especially important in neighborhoods outlined in purple. That's where there are tracts of families without access to a vehicle and high levels of poverty.

Forward Pinellas recently completed a study on equity in transportation and are now working to put some of what they found out into new, workable options for the community.