Cyclist says while Tampa Bay’s infrastructure isn’t great, it’s not the worst

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TAMPA, Florida – Florida is one of the most dangerous states for bicyclists, according to the US Department of Transportation.

But that doesn’t stop Ross Holcombe from biking through Tampa Bay three to five times a week.

“I bike … about 100 to 200 miles a week,” Holcombe said.

Holcombe cycled the streets of Boston, Seattle and Vancouver.

“I think Tampa has average bike infrastructure from what I’ve traveled around the country,” explained Holcombe.

He said dedicated suburban-to-city bike lanes could be an advantage here in Tampa Bay.

“One city that really sticks in my mind as perhaps the most bike-friendly city I’ve ever visited is Vancouver, British Columbia. They even went so far as to turn certain neighborhood streets into bike lanes only. You’ll have these like concrete barricades wide enough for bikes to get through but not cars,” added Holcombe.

According to the US Department of TransportationThe Tampa Bay area has one of the highest pedestrian fatality rates of any metropolitan area in the country.

On average, one pedestrian and one cyclist are involved in an accident every day.

“Here in Bayshore, the bike lane is maybe a meter wide, and then there’s this narrow stripe of color. So when cars go right on the paint stripe, they’re right next to you on the bike,” Holcombe said. “It’s not necessarily that we don’t have the infrastructure here, it’s the drivers that do that. They don’t feel like they want to use the infrastructure,” Holcombe said.

Changing attitudes between drivers and cyclists here in the Bay Area is something researchers at the Center for Urban Transportation Research told ABC Action News.

“It’s quite a big effort that’s been going on for several years now… Realize that they have a responsibility to make sure they are mindful of the vulnerable users, the pedestrians and the cyclists. It’s kind of a culture shift for Americans, but it’s something that people in the transportation industry recognize as really important,” said Sara Hendricks, senior research associate at CUTR.

These efforts include increasing the number of protected bike lanes across the city, as well as adding sidewalks and signage for shared lanes.

“I think maybe there’s an aspect of building it and they’re going to come… If more people were cycling and motorists were more used to it, I don’t think it would be that rare,” added Holcombe.

Tampa and Hillsborough County are members of the Vision Zero Network.

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