Walking and bicycling are essential modes of transportation for many people in New North. An environment that enables people to safely and easily walk and bicycle from home to work, school and shopping is the hallmark of a livable community. As part of New North Transportation Alliance’s mission “…to improve transportation to the highest level for all travelers in New North…,” making walking and bicycling a safe and effective mode of choice for more commuters is a high priority.
Several efforts are underway in New North to achieve this goal. For example, secure bicycle parking encourages more bicycling. Under the Bicycles Facilities for Businesses Program, NNTA purchases new bike racks for area businesses who request them. NNTA staff have also investigated public domain locations for bike racks as part of the Tampa BayCycle program, described below. For example, a proposal to provide one or two bike racks at HART bus stops could support bicycling for transportation and make riding HART public transit more effective and convenient.
For the past three years, in partnership with the Tampa Downtown Partnership, NNTA celebrated Florida’s Bike Month with the Tampa BayCycle Campaign. Tampa BayCycle encourages comradery and mutual support for bicycle commuters in the Tampa Bay area through the Commuter Challenge, in which participants log their trips and miles on the Tampa BayCycle website and become eligible for valuable prizes. Bicyclists can become a member of the 1,001 Friends of Cycling and Tampa BayCycle Ambassadors. Tampa BayCycle encourages bicyclists to sign up for the free Emergency Ride Home program, offers bicycle safety workshops, distributes Hillsborough Bicycle Maps, and hosts contests, such as last year’s “Words for Wheels” essay contest for school students. For more information about the upcoming March 2010 Tampa BayCycle, visit www.tampabaycycle.com.
An important issue in New North is pedestrian safety. Many residents and employees in New North do not walk due to safety issues. A study, sponsored by the Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Safety Office, is presently underway to develop a blue print for the implementation of pedestrian improvements throughout the County. Called the Hillsborough County Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, the study identified the area west of Bruce B. Downs Blvd and south of Bearss Avenue as having the most pedestrian activity as well as the most accidents involving pedestrians. There is strong interest to devote initial efforts of the Plan to the New North service area west of the campus and along Fletcher Avenue between 22nd Street and 50th Street. NNTA hosted the first stakeholders meeting for the Plan on June 16th. More Information
In addition, a proposed Multi Modal Transportation District in the New North area, is currently under study by Hillsborough County. Multi-Modal Transportation Districts prioritize the safety and comfort of pedestrian travel over highway traffic throughput.
Facilities for safe walking in New North must also be addressed by several planning initiatives underway, including the proposed widening of Bruce B. Downs Blvd., the proposed widening of Fletcher Avenue, and pedestrian access to the planned HART MetroRapid Bus Rapid Transit North/South Corridor that is planned along Fletcher Avenue. See Pedestrian and Bicycle Integration with BRT, page 3-44, of the “North/South Corridor Bus Rapid Transit Traffic and Signal Analysis,” final draft, October 2009. The planning process for allocating Federal funding for capital improvements for safe pedestrian travel is addressed in the Long Range Transportation Planning process of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization.
USF Tampa Campus Initiatives
The USF Tampa Campus, Facilities Planning and Construction office is presently gearing up for the next update of the Campus Master Plan. The Transportation Element of the Campus Master Plan contains objectives to improve facilities to support better bicycle and pedestrian circulation throughout the campus. NNTA staff are also investigating university campus bike sharing programs with a possible application for the USF Tampa campus. Such a program could potentially reduce the need for students and staff to drive to the campus as well as reduce the movement of their cars from one location to another within the campus. The transportation component of the USF Climate Action Plan, currently under development, will also emphasize campus improvements to make walking and bicycling safer and easier. Most recently, the USF Bicycle Club has been reestablished.