Dear Mayor Pam Iorio,
At today's Livable Roadways Committee meeting, I saw your letter to Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena regarding your decision to kill the staff-proposed bicycle lanes on Euclid Avenue and I must say your decision is very disappointing and out of touch with national bicycle and pedestrian policy declared last month by U.S. Secretary of Transportaion Ray LaHood. As you know, the city of Tampa has been deemed one of the most dangerous cities for bicyclists and pedestrians in the country in national reports and national media stories so I would think that you would want to invest in infrastructure to reverse that trend.
I don't understand how killing bike lanes on a road that serves as an bicyclist alternative to biking on Gandy is part of your plan to make Tampa more bicycle-friendly. Only a few weeks ago I praised the city plan for bike lanes on Euclid Avenue in a bicycle column I wrote for the Tampa Tribune not thinking that you would actually kill the idea.
Mayors of cities of all sizes across the country have embraced bicycle lanes as part of a practical strategy to allow bicyclists to safely pedal from place to place and as a way to relieve vehicular traffic on congested roadways. But your decision to value parking of residents on a transportation public right-of-way over the safety of bicyclists shows that you have a blind spot in your policy-making. Once news gets around the country that the mayor of Tampa believes the parking convenience of people visiting homes for book club meetings (an actual example cited by a Euclid resident, according your city's transportation dept.) is more important than the safety of bicyclists, the city will receive yet another black eye for being a dangerous and unfriendly place for bicyclists
The city's alternative of "sharrows" on Euclid are appropriate for bicycle-savvy cities such as Seattle where local drivers and bicycles are educated about sharing the road together. But we're not there here in Tampa, where motorists believe they own the road and harass bicyclists who have a legal right to bike in the traffic lane. Will the city be engaging in an education program for vehicular drivers to inform them that they must be courteous to bicyclists on roads with sharrows?
For a person who supports light rail, your bicycle policy is very disappointing and baffling. Both light rail and bicycling are forms of transportation that get people out of cars and get people around the city. The city of Tampa does not even have a bicycle plan -- which is why so few roads in Tampa have bicycle lanes. I understand that your transportation manager, Jean Dorzback, planned to make Euclid Avenue as a prime example of "complete streets" policy, which is sweeping the country. You'll have to explain to me how cutting bike lanes from a street makes it "complete."
I had higher expectations for your support of bicycling in Tampa. Your decision is very disappointing and is opposed by bicyclists and others in Tampa.
Director of SWFBUD -- South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers
9 bicycle retailers growing bicycling in Tampa Bay
Alan, we have a difference of opinion on this. As mayor I have to take all factors into consideration and I believe this is a good compromise.