Concerns voiced about pedestrian safety at night

 

Concerns voiced about pedestrian safety at night

 

Date: January 5, 2012
by: Rachel Brown Hackney | Managing Editor

 
 

 

Some means should be employed to make the Village’s crosswalks more visible to drivers at night, members of the Siesta Key Village Association agreed during their monthly meeting Jan. 3.

“I have no problem with (the crosswalks) during the daytime, whatsoever,” said Peter van Roekens, a Terrace East resident who also serves as vice president of the Siesta Key Association. At night, however, van Roekens said, the crosswalks are dark, especially those south of the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Canal Road. That makes it dangerous for the pedestrians who use them, he added.

“I would like to see the county put in some sort of lighting that would illuminate the crosswalks,” he said.
Perhaps LED lights that would shine on the crosswalks would be the answer, van Roekens said. Pedestrians planning to cross from either side of Ocean Boulevard, he added, could operate those lights.

“There’s old people, like me, driving at night,” he said, “(and) the lighting in the Village isn’t that bright.”
The crosswalk that is most difficult to see, van Roekens said, is the one between Gilligan’s and the Daiquiri Deck.

“I agree,” SKVA President and Daiquiri Deck co-owner Russell Matthes said. “We’ve had some incidents in front of the Daiquiri Deck, going over to Gilligan’s and vice versa. We’ve expressed this to the county multiple times.”

Nonetheless, Matthes said he would work with van Roekens to address the issue again with county officials.

Jennifer Holland Smith, owner of LeLu Coffee Lounge, next to Gilligan’s, asked about the prospect of putting in a lighting system like the one used on Osprey Avenue in Southside Village, between Morton’s Gourmet Market and Libby’s Café + Bar.

Mark Smith said he was told those lights cost about $20,000 at the time they were installed. Moreover, Smith said, he had heard complaints that people standing and chatting on their cell phones in the vicinity of the lighting can cause problems with the system, “so (those lights are) a little unpredictable.”

Smith added that he was concerned about putting lighting at every crosswalk on Ocean Boulevard. “It would look like a disco floor through the Village,” he said, drawing laughter from most of the other 19 people present.

“It is the ‘Block that Roxx,’” responded Helene Hyland of Coldwell Banker, referring to the marketing campaign used by the Daiquiri Deck, the Siesta Key Oyster Bar and Gilligan’s. Her comment drew more laughter.

Smith pointed out that plans at one time called for the installation of bollards at the crosswalks, to make them more visible, “and that got cut out of the budget,” referring to the Village Beautification Project in 2008-09, for which the county paid.

Jennifer Smith and Michael Shay, another member of the SKA board, also pointed out that drivers often do not know the law requires them to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Matthes added that shadows created by business lights in the Village cause problems with visibility as well.

Wendell Jacobson of Beach Bazaar noted that since The Pita Shack closed about a month ago, that area of Ocean Boulevard is especially dark, because the nearby Jo-To’s Japanese Steakhouse has dim outside lighting.

Shay proposed putting paddle signs in the center of the crosswalks, as the Florida Department of Transportation has proposed for one of its pedestrian safety options on Midnight Pass Road; however, he said, those signs are expensive, too.

Van Roekens said he opposes the paddle signs, because big delivery trucks park in the middle lane of Ocean Boulevard while delivering supplies to restaurants and the trucks would knock down the signs repeatedly.

Glenn Cappetta, owner of Sun Ride Pedicab, suggested reflective paint as “a cheap alternative.” Such paint would make the crosswalks visible whenever headlights shone on them at night, he pointed out.
Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Café, responded, “That’s not bad at all.” Smith agreed.

Matthes said he and van Roekens would explore the options with county representatives.

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