TAMPA, Fla. — People who walk and bike in Tampa will see changes designed to make them feel safer in 2021, including the addition of new rapid flashing beacons, protected bike lanes, and fixed sidewalks.
Rectangular rapid flashing beacons, or RFBs, are part of a City of Tampa initiative to make streets less dangerous for people who need to cross the street, particularly at mid-block crossings.
Rapid flashing beacons are push-button crosswalks, often-times with a voice command letting pedestrians and cyclists know when to cross, that light up with a flashing yellow light. They signal to drivers that someone is trying to use the crosswalk.
The City of Tampa has already installed 40 of these in recent years and city leaders say there are still more than a hundred other possible locations that they can go. City leaders also say that areas around schools will be prioritized as they consider future locations for RFB installation.
You may have already seen four new rapid flashing beacons being installed along Himes Avenue from Columbus Drive to Hillsborough Avenue.
Additionally, the City of Tampa is collaborating with Hillsborough County as county leaders are working to re-pave sections of both Armenia and Howard Avenues.
The City of Tampa is asking to install protected bike lanes, new pedestrian crossings and some rapid flashing beacons in those areas.
There have also been major efforts to add new protected bike lanes in busy areas. This includes Bayshore Boulevard, Azeele Street and Floribraska Avenue.
According to city leaders, the key is a recent pilot program where they are installing flexible bike delineators along cycle tracks. The project started in 2019.
These delineators not only provide a physical and visual barrier between drivers and cyclists, but they can withstand several impacts from cars. The delineators are also relatively inexpensive compared with guardrails and are easier to install, according to the City of Tampa.
City engineers have also found a way to address the problem of waste that can often get trapped in these protected bike lanes.
"We had some debris that our street sweeper was not able to get to within the bike lane," said Calvin Hardie with the City of Tampa Mobility Department at a recent virtual meeting of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization. "Since we wanted to expand this program, and since we have all the things like cycle tracks separated going in, we are actually looking to purchase a mini street sweeper. We've already had a few demonstrations."
Additionally, you can also expect to see brand-new signs for cyclists and pedestrians at certain crossings across Tampa that encourage you to look both ways before crossing.
This comes as Walk Bike Tampa is working to help get sidewalks fixed across the city by encouraging neighbors to report problem areas in their communities.