by Nabhanya Morarji
In order to make Bayshore safer for pedestrians, beacons with flashing lights are now being mounted at three different intersections. They can be used by people crossing the street, in order to signal on-coming traffic to slow down.
The city of Tampa introduced these safety measures following the death of Jessica Raubenolt and her 21 month-old daughter, Lillia Raubenolt. Jessica was pushing Lillia in a stroller when the pair was struck by Cameron Herrin, 18, who was racing John Barrineau, 17, in his Mustang late May.
“Pedestrian safety is a top priority,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn to the Tampa Bay Times in an article titled “Flashing beacons go up on Bayshore Blvd so traffic will stop for crossing pedestrians.” “These beacons will serve as a visual reminder that pedestrians are present while also slowing traffic.”
The beacons can be found on South Dakota Avenue, South Delaware Avenue and between West Swann and South Brevard Avenue. They will be available for use starting Oct. 24.
“Having the light, specially during the night when it’s difficult to see, would really help alert the coming cars from a long distance, so they have enough time to slow down,” says Sofia Suzao, senior marketing major. “I think it’s much better and safer for people, specially with kids. They can go to Bayshore and spend time in the area without being scared of an accident.”
Suazo also stated that as a commuter, she frequently drives down Bayshore to get to UT, and has been nervous to take this route back to her apartment at night because of how dark it is. She added that she is relieved that the beacons can now provide sufficient lighting for the safety of drivers as well as pedestrians.
In addition to the installment of pedestrian beacons, the city of Tampa is also nearing the final phase of its Bayshore Boulevard Enhancement Project. This project includes widening the bicycle lane from Howard Avenue to Rome Avenue, in order to provide a 5-foot bicycle lane.
The estimated cost of this phase is set at $660,000, according to the Bayshore Enhancement Project website. The widening of the bicycle lanes is an attempt to control the speed of traffic.
The city has taken additional steps to monitor the traffic along Bayshore Boulevard. The speed limit has been reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph. New signs with the updated speed limit have been placed along Bayshore.
“I have seen a lot of people slow down as a result of the speed limit change,” said Abby Nerogic, who is a junior psychology major. “But during the rush hour traffic not a lot of people seem to follow the speed limit. Once when I drove down Bayshore around 5 p.m., I saw a cop car sitting in the middle of Bayshore in the median and that definitely caught drivers’ attention and they slowed down. I also don’t see too many police cars on Bayshore so I’m not sure how exactly they are enforcing the speed limit.”
Nerogic further mentioned that while she thinks the flashing lights will help with the safety of the pedestrians, she has observed that cars typically don’t stop at them to allow pedestrians to cross.
Kathleen Ochshorn, professor of English in the department of English and writing, has also voiced her appreciation with regards to the reduced speed limit.
“The tragedy highlighted the need to make Bayshore safer,” Ochshorn said. “These improvements should help. I’d love to see the speed reduced further, say to 30 mph or even 25 mph, but that might not be possible given the volume of cars during rush hours.”
While city officials have made attempts to improve the safety conditions for pedestrians along Bayshore Boulevard, citizens that frequent this area must remain vigilant. By waiting for traffic to pass first, citizens can avoid the risk of an accident. Instead of trusting drivers to stop, look both ways first before crossing, to ensure that there are no cars around.
Nabhanya Morarji can be reached at Nabhanya.firstname.lastname@example.org