The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is working on road safety enhancements for pedestrians and bicyclists as the Tampa Bay area is ranked among the most dangerous metropolitan areas in the United States for pedestrians.
According to the 2019 “Dangerous by Design” report from Smart Growth America, Florida is the most dangerous state for walking in the United States with eight of the top ten worst metro areas.
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater is ranked ninth on that list with 900 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017.
“This study is a little misleading and not to our advantage. Yes, we rank number nine but if you look at the number of pedestrians and bicyclists that are killed, we rank number one,” said Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “We have more pedestrians and bicyclists killed in the Tampa Bay area than anywhere else in the state.”
Chronister said there are many different factors that are considered in this study, including the percentage of people who bike and walk to work.
“The sad reality is [Tampa] is one of the most dangerous areas in the state of Florida to be a pedestrian or a bicyclist,” said Chronister. “It’s going to take us, as a community, to change this pattern of unsafe behavior.”
The Sheriff’s Office is dedicating three days every week, from now through the month of May, to raise awareness for pedestrians and bicyclists about safe ways to travel.
In addition to education, their efforts include deputies manning busy intersections known for pedestrian and bicycle-related accidents, as well as handing out pamphlets, safety tips and bicycle lights to cyclists.
“This is something that’s going to take some time, but obviously we’re optimistic and we’re going to keep working hard because there’s nothing more important than safety when it comes to our roadways and pedestrians,” said Chronister. “There’s a lot more work that needs to be done.”
The Sheriff’s Office is targeting areas that contain more pedestrians and bicyclists, specifically Brandon, Town ‘n’ Country and the university area.
Metropolitan areas in Polk and Sarasota Counties are also included in the top ten most dangerous list. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area tops the list.