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Local group pushes for open street programs in Tampa

With people taking advantage of Florida reopening, there’s a push to create more open spaces in Tampa Bay. Walk Bike Tampa hopes residents can enjoy the benefits.

TAMPA, Fla. — With Florida reopening and more people getting out, there’s a local push for something called “open streets” across Tampa Bay.

You may be asking, what is an open street? It’s exactly what it sounds like. Shut the street down to cars, and open it up for people, bringing more of a community feel to the area.

In cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco open streets are common. In videos like this one, you’ll see examples of people having a great time outdoors in the middle of what normally would be a busy road that is instead closed to cars so people can enjoy the activities.

Local community advocacy group, Walk Bike Tampa is pushing for similar options right here in our area.

“Now more than ever, people are saying they need to get out to get that stress release,” board member April Ingram said.

In this video posted on Twitter, the non-profit citizens-based advocacy group said they’re working to make Tampa Street, from W. Columbus Drive in Tampa Heights, south to downtown Tampa an open street. Ingram says a neighbor brought it to their attention.

“She envisioned food trucks and a fresh market and opportunity for neighbors to get out and socialize and play. We think that’s a great idea.”

The goal is to create more of a community atmosphere while also promoting pedestrian safety.

“In order to do that we need to make it safe for them, which means we need to create opportunities for them to be able to be outside safely; create opportunities for them to be outside,” Ingram said.

 Walk Bike Tampa made a similar request to the Tampa City Council for Bayshore Boulevard over the summer, but that plan was put on hold.

Now city transportation engineers are developing a study to see the potential impact an open street format would have.

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