The low-speed electric buggies that zip around Siesta Key may have soon have more territory they legally can travel.
The Sarasota County Traffic Advisory Council Dec. 10 recommended lowering the speed limit of a half-mile stretch of Midnight Pass Road from 40 mph to 25 mph, which would allow low-speed vehicles, such as the golf carts used by Johnny’s Free Beach Rides, to use the road.
Siesta resident Sarah Cooper and her husband, Bill, petitioned for the change so they could have direct access to Midnight Pass with their golf cart, but, after some neighborhood polling, they decided to pitch the fact that it would make safer intersections between Sanderling Road and Vista Hermosa Circle.
“When trying to pull out onto Midnight Pass Road, you’re meeting people who are beginning to accelerate,” Cooper said during the meeting.
That’s after southbound cars pass the commercial section on Midnight Pass just south of Stickney Point Road, which currently has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.
That route leads to Turtle Beach Park, a restaurant, a pub and a marina.
Drivers leaving intersections at Crescent Street and Point of Rocks Road also face a curve that can obstruct the view of traffic in that direction.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s manual on traffic-control devices states that a posted speed limit should be within 5 mph of the “average” driver’s speed with free-flowing traffic. “Average” is defined as the speed at least 85% of drivers in an analysis traveled.
Sarasota County staff placed radars on Midnight Pass for a few days earlier this year to collect the traffic data, which showed that vehicles take 6,700 trips on the road through the day in the middle of the week, and 85% of drivers traveled at 49 miles per hour or below.
The Traffic Advisory Council also recommended lowering the speed limit of Beechwood Avenue, which connects Tamiami Trail and Stickney Point Road, from 30 mph to 20 mph, and adding stop signs at one of its intersections.
County commissioners will consider the petition early next year.
“As cars go by it sounds like you’re sitting at the Indianapolis 500,” said resident Tom Crites.