A clogged St. Armands Circle in season, combined with the frustration of drivers stuck in traffic, has St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District (BID) worried about the safety of the Circle’s pedestrians.
At the BID’s Tuesday, March 12 regular meeting, BID board members identified a few strategies to alleviate congestion and make the Circle safer. The strategies include reducing signage, implementing lighted crosswalks and designating parking spaces for lower vehicles.
Mark Lyons, the city of Sarasota’s parking division manager, addressed the Circle’s sign-pollution issue.
“There are too many clusters of signs,” he said, explaining that the current configuration distracts, rather than properly directs drivers. “There are people who don’t know where they’re going, so they keep looping around (the Circle) until they figure it out.”
BID Chairman Marty Rappaport told Lyons he was “preaching to the choir” and agreed fewer signs on taller stands with larger print could make traffic flow more efficiently.
Diana Corrigan, executive director of the St. Armands Circle Association, pointed out there are “two or three” blind spots for motorists on the Circle. She cited the intersection of Madison Drive and Boulevard of the Presidents as an example of where it’s dangerous to pull out of parking spaces.
To increase visibility, Corrigan and Lyons recommended designating a few spaces for low vehicles so drivers could see over and around them as they back out.
Michael Valentino, BID board member and owner of Island Pursuit, brought up crosswalks as areas that cause confusion. “Some people stop at every crosswalk, even if no one’s crossing the street, which annoys people behind them,” he said. Other times, a motorist will stop in the right lane, while the left-lane driver will drive through, Valentino said.
Gavin Meshad, BID board member and vice president of JWM Management Inc., mentioned motion-activated lights, such as those found on Siesta Key crosswalks, as a possible solution.
“It would be an extra alert to drivers indicating it’s necessary to stop or slow down,” he said.
St. Armands Circle Association Executive Director Diana Corrigan announced at a March 12 St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District (BID) meeting the city of Sarasota has lifted a seasonal blackout for Circle Park, which prohibited people from scheduling events from January through Easter without first getting permission from the BID and the St. Armands Landowners, Merchants and Residents (LMR) Association. She called the removal of a rule that’s been in place for 15 years “very troubling.”
“I see this spinning out of control,” she said, explaining the BID and the St. Armands Circle Association have lobbied to get residents’ approval for events. “This may upset residents so they forbid all events.”
BID Chairman Marty Rappaport suggested the BID discuss the issue with city of Sarasota officials.