Tampa, FL -- Residents who live near University Mall are pushing for a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists. They claim Fowler Avenue is not safe to walk across, even though the road has significant foot traffic with both University Mall and the University of South Florida in the area.
"It's really scary taking my life into my own hands trying to cross," said Mark Starr, a disabled veteran who lives behind the mall. He is unable to drive, so he rides his bike everywhere.
10News WTSP accompanied Starr on one of his daily trips across the intersection of Fowler Avenue and 22nd Street. His daily race across the eight lanes of traffic is no easy task.
"All the sudden [the walk signal] will start blinking and you just got a few seconds to cross," he said as he waited for the pedestrian walk signal. It finally changed to "walk" and Starr began his speedy dash of walking his bike across the busy intersection. The "walk" signal was active for only about 8 seconds. Then, the countdown began and Starr had 42 seconds to finish his trek. He made it to the other side with 10 seconds to spare.
"I might be in the middle of the crosswalk and somebody comes and turns right into me," he said.
The intersection of Fowler Avenue and 22nd Street has several traffic issues. Drivers frequently speed and do not pay attention to pedestrians. 10 News watched as a driver in a truck sat in the middle of the intersection waiting to turn left into the mall. She realized her mistake and proceeded to reverse through fast moving traffic all the way back to where she should be waiting.
The Tampa Police Department patrols the intersection, but the problem does not seem to be getting any better. With construction underway to redevelop University Mall, the area will only get busier. Both Hillsborough County Public Works and the Tampa Police Department are working to find more ways to make the intersection safer for everyone.