Summary: This is a proposal to adjust traffic on Bayshore Blvd. on Sundays so that vulnerable users, pedestrians and bicyclists, Tampa residents and visitors, dog owners and parents with strollers can enjoy Tampa’s most glorious asset, Bayshore Linear Park, without fear of death or injury. This is a celebration of Bayshore Linear Park.
Background: Tampa has no Central Park or Pinellas Trail. Bayshore Blvd. was originally conceived to make Hillsborough Bay accessible to all. Now, however, while many people enjoy walking and biking on Bayshore sidewalks, only intrepid bike riders use the existing, intermittent bike lanes. Cyclists with less confidence compete with walkers and skaters for sidewalk space. This is dangerous for them and for parents with strollers, small children, and dogs on leashes. Also, the steady flow of rapid automobile traffic and the almost complete lack of pedestrian crossings prevent the young, the elderly and the disabled from making their way to the 5-mile long sidewalk, Bayshore Linear Park’s main attraction. Plus, the lack of parking limits potential users to those who live within walking or biking distance.
Putting the Solution in Place: Let’s give this park back to all citizens of Tampa and Hillsborough County, not just the fit and fast living near Bayshore Linear Park and the less fit living near the four pedestrian crossings. Let’s redirect vehicular traffic on Bayshore one or more Sundays a month in order to enable more people and a greater diversity of people to enjoy the crown jewel of the Tampa park system, playing games and engaging in non-motorized activities.
This plan proposes that the northbound lanes be opened to pedestrian and other non-vehicular traffic. The inside, eastern, or median southbound lane would be used for parking. This would accommodate more than 1000 parked cars. The remaining outside or western southbound lane would be used for southbound traffic. This would enable non-residents to park on Bayshore Blvd. and enjoy walking and riding in Bayshore Linear Park. There would be minimal confusion among bicyclists and pedestrians wishing to cross over to the waterside as traffic on the southbound lanes would still be southbound. With only one lane of moving traffic and another lane of parked and parking cars, traffic would move more slowly, thus reducing the risk to those attempting to cross over to the water side. Residents, churchgoers, and visitors to commercial and other enterprises could still reach their destinations.
Connecting to the InVision Plan of Mayor Buckhorn: Bayshore Linear Park would connect to the downtown Riverwalk, Curtis Hixon Park, Cotanchobee Park, Channelside, Waterworks Park, Julian B. Lane Park, and, perhaps, to Harvey Perry Park and Plant Park, not to mention museums and other venues. The most successful such open streets connect multiple public spaces, neighborhoods, and activities.