Tampa ranked a ‘Best Bike City’ despite deaths

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Last year, Florida was the deadliest state for bicyclists.  The city of Tampa had a bad reputation too, being called one of the worst areas for bicyclists and pedestrians.  Now, things are looking different. The city went from being the worst to the best; it’s just been named a top 50 “Best Bike City” by Bicycling Magazine.

But, many bicyclers aren’t buying it.

“I feel scared if the cars are going really fast, I’ll definitely be scared, I won’t ride with the traffic in that case,” said bicyclist John Scott.

“I actually have seen several bikers getting hit by cars. My father-in-law was actually hit twice by cars back in 2014,” said bicyclist Michael Baum. “People from all over the country flock to Florida so you have a mix of people here so you always have to watch out for crazy drivers.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn is proud to make the top 50.

“In the six years that I’ve been the mayor, we’ve added 155 miles of bike paths, bike lanes.”

But he too agrees, drivers are the problem.

“Just like we did with motorcycles 25 years ago, you got to be observant, you’ve got to be aware; you’ve got to recognize that bikes will be in the lane with you, you have to recalculate how you drive,” said Buckhorn.

The Florida Department of Transportation reports four bicyclist deaths in Tampa in 2016. That’s two more than last year. In Hillsborough County, twelve people died in bicycle crashes.

Mayor Buckhorn says one death is too many and he still has work to do.

“I’m never satisfied. I want to get to the top ten.”

That’s something bikers here can appreciate. But before the top 10 happens, bikers ask drivers to be more considerate.

“I’m a father. I definitely need to get home safely.  I urge people to drive safely. Watch out for bikers and don’t text and drive,” said John Scott.

Learn more tonight at 6 on WFLA News Channel 8.

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