Photo:Divya Kumar, Tampa Bay Times

“The movement to make the city’s streets safer unveiled a new report outside Perkins Elementary School on Tuesday aimed at making the city’s roads safer, including the troublesome one outside the school, 18th Avenue S.

‘Our streets should be safe, whether you’re 8 or 80 years old,’ Lisa Frank of the Florida Consumer Action Network. ‘Many streets in St. Petersburg were designed decades ago for the fast movement of cars instead of the safe movement of people.’

The network and Frontier Group released the city’s ‘Complete Streets for St. Pete’ report on Tuesday, which is an initiative to redesign streets to make them safer for biking, walking and using transit, and that in turn will make the city’s populace healthier…

Mayor Rick Kriseman said the city has invested $1 million toward building complete streets this fiscal year by installing 103 flashing pedestrian lights at crosswalks and building 200 ‘bulb-outs,’ or curb extensions, to slow down vehicles and give pedestrians more safety space. The mayor said the city has more work to do and intends to invest the same amount next year.

‘Today, more than 15 percent of workers downtown walk or bike to work because we’ve invested in the infrastructure,’ he said. ‘We can improve the health and safety by expanding these streets to every neighborhood in St. Pete.’

The report, which will be presented to the City Council later this year, also recommended creating protected or buffered bike lanes, lowering speed limits and creating greenways in neighborhoods to calm the flow and speed of traffic.

Erin Adams, the mother of a 9-year-old girl, who lives in the Euclid-St. Paul neighborhood, said the idea of riding their bikes right now is dangerous.

‘We would love to be able to ride our bikes downtown or to all the wonderful parks around,’ she said. ‘But you can feel the wind from cars going by’…

Curtis Holloman, senior director of grants and programs for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, which awarded more than $170,000 to the complete streets project, said many cities are looking to street improvements to spur economic growth.

Kriseman said improved streets doesn’t just make the city safer and healthier. It also makes St. Petersburg more attractive to businesses and younger residents.

‘A lot of times the differences between where a company chooses to locate or not locate is based on quality of life,’ he said. ‘Having a city that is safe to walk in, safe to ride bikes in contributes to that quality of life.

‘Millennials, in particular, don’t want to own cars. They want to have good walking, and good bike paths and good mass transit. We’re working on all three of those things.'”

–Divya Kumar, Tampa Bay Times

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