Tampa hopes new lights will make Bayshore crossings safer

- The City of Tampa turned on a series of new flashing crosswalk signs along Bayshore Boulevard Wednesday.

They are designed to make the roadway safer for everyone.

The large, yellow ‘pedestrian crossing’ signs feature flashing lights that can be activated by pedestrians.

"This is just drawing more attention to motorists that they do need to yield to pedestrians when a pedestrian chooses to step out and cross into the crosswalk," said Jean Duncan, the city's director of transportation. "We want to provide more safety for our bicyclists, pedestrians and certainly the motorists, everyone that uses Bayshore Boulevard."

The three new light locations are at South Dakota Avenue, South Delaware Avenue, and mid-block between South Brevard and West Swann Avenues.

The city says the plan for the lights has been in place for a while, but installation was accelerated after a mother and her 21-month-old daughter were killed while crossing the street earlier this year; police said two teenagers were street racing when the accident happened.

Immediately after the accident, the speed limit was lowered to 35 miles per hour.

Folks who live along Bayshore are hopeful the crosswalks will have the desired impact on drivers.

"I'm a big fan of them. I'm really happy that they're here," said Erin Doyle, who has lived in South Tampa for 12 years. "I live along this road and I walk it regularly and I'm thrilled to see safer places where pedestrians can cross the street."

Pedestrians have the right-of-way in any intersection so these newly-installed flashers will act as a warning for drivers that a pedestrian is about to enter the crosswalk and that they should prepare to stop. 

Tampa police officers have spent the morning making sure that happened, pulling over some motorists when necessary to make the point.

The light at Dakota was malfunctioning Wednesday morning, but city crews had it working properly by the afternoon.

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