Town residents and town officials are winning the battle over a request to reduce state signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive. But avid bicyclists believe the reduced sign count affects their safety.
At a Gulf of Mexico Drive Signage Committee meeting Tuesday, Jan. 4, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials agreed to remove 69 signposts and 53 state road signs the department deemed unnecessary.
In total, the state is reducing the number of signposts from 249 to 180 and the number of signs from 299 to 246. (Some signposts hold more than one sign.)
Joe Moccia, chairman of the Longboat Key division of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, expressed concern, however, with the department’s plan to originally remove 32 bicycle signs and said he doesn’t want to see any of the bicycle signs removed.
“Longboat Key is one of the most popular places to ride a bicycle, but it’s also one of the most dangerous,” said Moccia, who asked the department if it were certain the removal of the signs would keep bicyclists safe.
Although FDOT officials said their decision would not harm bicyclists, they agreed to keep and/or add bicycle signs near the entrances and exits of congested areas such as the The Centre Shops, Bay Isles Parkway and other locations.
In total, FDOT added approximately 18 bike signs back into the mix near entrances of congested hot spots and will be spacing the rest of the bicycle signs in one-mile increments along the Key. Those signs are included as part of the 246 signs.
The announcement comes four months after FDOT agreed to work with town staff and Planning and Zoning Board members to see if the number of road signs placed along Gulf of Mexico Drive could be reduced.
FDOT engineer L.K. Nandam told the committee it worked hard to come up with the appropriate number of signs that could be eliminated without jeopardizing public safety for both motorists and bicyclists. The bicycle lanes will also be marked with bicycle lane symbols on the pavement.
“We didn’t take the approach we would base decisions on the town saying there are too many signs,” Nandam said. “We took into consideration our standards and the advice of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee.”
FDOT traffic operations engineer Keith Slater agreed.
“This is a compromise between safety and what is actually needed on Longboat Key,” Nandam said.
Nandam said the sign changes will be performed in June and July, once the Town Commission reviews the new sign count and accepts it.
To view a table displaying the number of proposed and existing road signs, click here.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]