There has been a lot of disagreement in recent years on “road diets,” narrowing or reducing lanes on a roadway to make room for bicyclists and pedestrians and provide safer crossings for people walking. While I think everyone pretty much agrees anymore that streets are for all people- whether walking, biking, driving, scooter, wheelchairs, etc.- some people speak out against road diets for a variety of reasons. Many business owners worry it will reduce the number of people who visit their store, restaurant or service. Others are concerned about delays caused by buses on roads that have one lane in each direction. And others say some roads are needed to be multiple lanes to move a large amount of traffic.
So while we often hear a lot from the people against reformatting a roadway, the people who support it usually aren’t as vocal- until now. Advocates for a road diet project in Tampa Bay, Florida came out in force this past weekend to “protest” the decision not to transform a busy four lane road to a narrower street with a turn lane and bike lanes.
The plan to re-stripe Bay to Bay Boulevard was axed recently by Tampa’s mayor due to neighborhood opposition. Others in the neighborhood were upset about that decision and organized a protest last Sunday. About 150 people- from residents of the street to members of bicycling and walking groups- walked the sidewalk, including children and signs, to bring attention to safety issues and lack of walkability of the street.
No word yet if the protest had any impact on reversing the mayor’s decision.