Watch CBS News

Big Changes Could Be Coming to Downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Advocates for pedestrian safety are looking to make considerable changes to St. Petersburg's infrastructure in hopes it will bring pedestrian injury and fatality numbers down.

"We want to make sure that the people of Pinellas County have a safe way to get around," said Chelsea Favero who serves as Planning Manager for Forward Pinellas.

A group there called Car-Free St. Pete is looking to eliminate cars from the road by transforming the downtown into a plaza. The group is proposing a more comfortable environment for people to walk, stroll, and play. They say this would be accomplished by removing curbs, expanding sidewalks, adding landscaping, and slowing car speeds.

According to a 2019 research study, Florida ranked number one among the top twenty most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the U.S.

"Pinellas county was developed primarily in the 1940s/1950s and it was very automobile-centric as it was put together," said Favero. "The roads are really wide. Stop lights are spaced pretty far apart."

Advocates with Forward Pinellas are looking to change that by advancing transportation improvements and prioritizing pedestrians.

"We have what's called those rapid flashing beacons. The first one, actually, in the United States started here in Pinellas County - it was actually the city of St. Petersburg. And Pinellas County has more of those signalized crosswalks than any other county in the state of Florida. So we do continue to encourage those on roadways," said Favero. "Being seen is a big deal because the drivers are often looking out for other cars and not necessarily for those pedestrians. At Forward Pinellas, we are responsible for prioritizing state and federal funding for transportation projects, and in the last two years, we've been prioritizing more and more of that funding towards projects that help improve safety for all uses of the roadways, and not just vehicles but pedestrians and bicyclists.

Click here for more information on pedestrian safety reports and information in Florida.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.