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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Letter of the Day

An easy way to fix parking problems

How to solve the parking problems on South Howard Avenue in Tampa? First, do the easy stuff.

New bike lanes would provide alternative transportation options not on main roads. The dangerous Swann Avenue bike lanes (just paint) could be returned to car parking. New bike lanes, not on dangerous main streets but on the edges of existing parks — just move a fence 15 feet — and along the Selmon Expressway corridor, or down little-used residential streets and alleys, would allow people to walk or ride bicycles rather than drive to or between nightspots.

Why funnel bike traffic down busy Howard and Swann avenues as they do now? Use the edges of abutting parks! Biking shorter distances through parks is preferable to bike riding shoulder to shoulder with people showing off their race cars on Howard and Swann. The huge new apartment complex at Howard and Swann needs bike lane access to the grocery store. The Epicurian Hotel needs to be on a bike lane, not hunkered next to an expressway.

And, hello — there’s an unused rail corridor, too, on the west side of the expressway. If the city would license a light electric pedal/battery electric tram to use the unused railway along the Selmon to downtown, parking problems would evaporate. The sad thing is that there are already stations in place under the Selmon Expressway overpasses. One is at Howard and Watrous; another is on Swann just west of Hyde Park. The concrete and rail access stations and fancy switchgear were put in for the old heavy diesel-powered, long-distance rail car demonstration a few years ago that failed. Those stations could be repurposed for use as an ultralight electric tram that could be built locally for a few thousand dollars — less than a single parking space.

Rent-a-bike points at the stations could be accommodated easily, too.

New off-street bike lanes on land the city already owns and doesn’t use, plus a new solar electric rail tram (tourist attraction) for our area, would be spectacular and diminish parking problems on South Howard and Swan Avenues the easy way.

Bubba Nicholson


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