New pedestrian safety beacons have been installed along a one-mile stretch of 50th Street between Fowler and Fletcher Avenues in North Tampa. The goal is to help prevent accidents such as one that involved a University of South Florida student who was seriously injured in November 2014 while crossing the busy two-lane thoroughfare.
The flashing beacons were officially unveiled on Wednesday (Sept. 16, 2015), and transportation officials spent the morning along the road passing out educational cards to pedestrians to help teach them about the new safety measures. Deputies from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office were also out in force, pulling over speeding motorists.
“Speeding is one of the biggest problems we face when it comes to pedestrian safety,” says Julie Bond, a senior researcher at the Center for Urban Transportation Research
. “We don’t want people to be scared to walk. Walking is a healthy and enjoyable way to get around, and we want our community to enjoy these benefits and feel safe.”
The $70,000 pedestrian safety improvements along 50th Street are part of a larger initiative in the USF
area. In early 2015, $5 million in improvements were completed along the congested stretch of Fletcher Avenue between Nebraska Avenue and Bruce B. Downs, just west of the USF campus. Speed limits along that portion of Fletcher Avenue were also reduced from 45 miles per hour to as low as 35 miles per hour.
“This is really an extension of the pedestrian safety enhancements that were recently completed along Fletcher Avenue,” Bond says. The flashing beacons along 50th Street, which benefit students walking to and from several apartment communities just east of the campus, pave the way for further pedestrian safety improvements around USF. In the next year, similar pedestrian safety enhancements will be completed along 42nd Street and 56th Street.
These projects are funded and supported by a consortium of organizations, including the CUTR, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Transportation. Another major advocate is WalkWise Tampa Bay
, a grassroots initiative that aims to educate local citizens on pedestrian safety. The organization also offers free, personalized pedestrian safety presentations.
“We need to talk to more people,” Bond adds. “Education is the only way we can help pedestrian and motorists safely co-mingle on the roads.”