Plant City joined the Vision Zero action plan to reduce traffic fatalities and Mayor Rick Lott will lead a Bike with the Mayor event this month as part of the city’s plans.
As Florida Bike Month hits full stride throughout March, the City Commission — with Mayor Rick Lott leading by example — is continuing a trend that prioritizes cycling awareness and safety.
The measures begin with actions both in City Hall and on the streets, kicking off with Plant City’s first-ever Bike with the Mayor event at 7 a.m. Wednesday, March 22. The three-mile cruise will begin and end at Gilchrist Park, 704 N. Pennsylvania Ave. The first 50 riders will receive a special shirt from the event, and kick stands will go up at 7:30 a.m.
It’s the first of its kind in Plant City, and one of many similar events that take place in cities across the state to promote bicycle safety. The event is expected to recur annually.
“I think it’s great to promote ... the safety of bike riding in our community,” Lott said.
He made sure to thank Mara Latorre, city planner, for her efforts in organizing the event at the City Commission meeting Monday, March 13.
“Mara, I want to thank you,” Lott said. “ You really, really ... are the one that locally here pushed to make this a reality.”
“I tried to ignore you for a few weeks,” he added, jokingly, “But you wouldn’t let me ignore you. We’ll make it a reality, and we’re going to have a good time.”
Citywide, commissioners have also pledged to make improvements. At the March 13 meeting, the City Commission voted to join the international Vision Zero movement to reduce traffic fatalities in Plant City to zero. Like her Bike with the Mayor initiative, Latorre voiced her support for Vision Zero at the meeting.
“As we continue to plan and advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, we must also note that when it comes to traffic related fatalities, one death is far too many,” she said.
The Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization and Plant City’s planning and zoning division are looking to enhance the rideability and walkability of Plant City. In early February, both organizations held an open house at Bruton Memorial Library to get public input on a proposed system of walk and bike trails to improve connectivity in Plant City.
Part of those plans include participation in Vision Zero, an action plan created and adopted by Sweden in 1997. Since then, the plan has been adopted by countries all across Europe and many cities and counties throughout the United States, including Florida.
According to Gena Torres, a planner with the Hillsborough MPO, there were 27 traffic fatalities in Plant City between 2012 and 2016. Hillsborough County is a state and national leader for traffic-related injuries and death, with nearly 100,000 instances of injury or death since 2005.
Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]