On April 25, 2017, a group of public officials, employees, and committed citizens met at the Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church to paint a neon green bike lane on the Bullard Parkway Bridge. The event was part of a series of Vision Zero workshops hosted by the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO); Vision Zero is a policy that works to reduce the number of traffic deaths to zero.
The Vision Zero workshop was representative of the action track called “Paint Saves Lives,” which focuses on taking immediate action by constructing pop-up bicyclist and pedestrian facilities that do not exceed current budgetary constraints. “It’s amazing what we can do with a little neon green paint,” said Beth Alden, Director of the Hillsborough MPO, as she introduced the event to those in attendance. “Paint designates a place for bicyclists and creates predictability. How do we know where to expect bicyclists if we have no place for them?”
Temple Terrace Mayor Kim Leinbach also spoke before the group headed out to get to work. “I am proud of our residents for their support. We are acutely aware of the need for Vision Zero. We are a multi-modal community and the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists is vital to the health of that community.” The group applauded the mayor before walking down to the Bullard Parkway Bridge, putting on neon safety vests, and getting to work.
“I thought it was really meaningful to have a workshop that was a truly hands-on, immediate-gratification process to make a part of our community a little bit safer for cyclists and pedestrians,” says Jeff Johnson, State Director of AARP Florida and Bike/Walk Tampa Bay Board Member. “The workshop was an interactive way to move forward on the Vision Zero strategic plan. It was great to see the mix of painters that represented our community – young and old, local officials and regular residents – all chipping in to make the bike lane visible.”
Folks who came out to participate were given cans of spray paint to tackle sections of the bridge that were measured off with chalk prior to the event. In no time, a neon green bike lane appeared along the shoulder of the bridge. “I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the challenge of Vision Zero in a community as large as ours,” said Johnson, “but what Paint Saves Lives shows is that there are small and inexpensive steps that can make a concrete difference.”