There are many great reasons to pay attention to walking, cycling, and experiential considerations in planning our transportation system. As we look at options to accommodate growing traffic, bicycling and walking are air-pollution-free, healthy, and common-sense for short trips. Consistently, surveys reveal the public’s desire for more bike lanes, trails, and continuous sidewalks. Tampa Bay enjoys beautiful weather, which is conducive to non-vehicular travel. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay experiences some of the nation’s highest crash and fatality rates for bicyclists and pedestrians.
All trips begin and end with walking. Providing access for a pedestrian to walk to stores, schools, parks,and bus stops is crucial. Sidewalks need to be constructed, connected, and well maintained. In addition, benches, shade trees, and curb-cut ramps are important.
Many of the trips people make are shorter than five miles, and cycling is an option for these trips, if there are safe facilities available. One of the biggest impediments to bicycling is the lack of marked bicycle lanes with signs. Identifying a space specifically for bicycling increases safety and reduces uncertainty, letting both the cyclist and the motorist know where to expect a cyclist to be on the road.
Another type of facility for bicycling, walking, skating, and a host of other non-motorized travel forms is the multi-use trail. Trails serve many purposes: recreation, exercise, and travel. Recent studies have confirmed that many people on trails are making utilitarian trips, not just recreating. Trails also play a role in teaching cycling skills; once skills are refined on a trail, cyclists may feel comfortable taking shorttrips on roads.
The experience of being on a roadway affects walking and cycling, as well as driving and other modes of transport. The design of the road, and the landscaping, lighting, signage, overhead wires, barriers and buffers, benches and bus shelters and trash receptacles — in combination with the buildings that line the road — are elements of an outdoor room that is the greatest single public space in our communities. More publicly-owned land is devoted to road rights-of-way than to parks, schools, or any other type of community facility. The design of this space enforces a lasting image of our community. This image can be linked to economic vitality and community pride.
Bike and Pedestrian Plans
The MPO is committed to providing a multi-modal transportation system. Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plans are updated side-by-side with the MPO’s Long Range Transportation Plan. The Plans seek to make Hillsborough County a place where walking and riding a bicycle are safe, convenient, enjoyable and accepted modes of travel. To integrate walking and bicycling into the existing transportation network requires a mixture of engineering and infrastructure, education for motorists and non-motorists, law enforcement, and outreach and encouragement. Plans include prioritized corridors for trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, and pedestrian safety and comfort improvements.
Livable Roadways Planning
The MPO maintains and updates a Livable Roadways document that was originally published in 1990. The document provides guidelines for roadway design for safe, functional and attractive roadways. Its goal is to be flexible enough to take into account the context of the road, but specific enough to be implemented as new roads are constructed and existing roads are improved. The MPO also conducts detailed studies of specific roadway corridors and districts.