Modifications to Gulf of Mexico Drive crosswalks are coming as some commissioners question whether the modifications will address safety concerns.
Will a light modification and a ramped up education effort about Gulf of Mexico Drive crosswalks do enough to assuage concerns from residents and Longboat Key commissioners?
Only time will tell.
But the Florida Department of Transportation believes those two measures will significantly address concerns that were justified when a man was struck by a car in the crosswalk just north of Longboat Club Road Feb. 5, flying 38.7-feet in the air and sustaining serious injuries.
After the incident on Feb. 5, Town Manager Dave Bullock sent an email to FDOT District One Secretary Billy Hattaway, demanding the crosswalks be re-evaluated immediately or be taken out.
FDOT officials arrived on the scene later that day to observe the crosswalks, which led to their approval for an additional sign at the crosswalks that explain how to use the crosswalks. The town purchased the signs and installed them Feb. 10 to speed up the bureaucratic process.
Hattaway and two other FDOT officials then met at the site of a Key crosswalk Feb. 10 to observe them in use with Bullock and Public Works Director Juan Florensa.
District One FDOT Spokesman Robin Stublen said the Feb. 10 on-site meeting has led FDOT to authorize the approval of additional flashing lights in the opposite direction to make it easier for motorists to see the flashing lights.
FDOT is also going to supply the town with educational cards that alert both pedestrians and motorists how to use the crosswalks and help the town foster a relationship with its WalkWise program.
WalkWise is a grassroots program funded by FDOT. It offers a free 20-minute interactive presentation focusing on pedestrian and bicyclist safety. WalkWise staff are flexible with scheduling and will come to your location at any time with all necessary equipment.
“People just need to learn how to use them the right way,” Stublen said. “And drivers need to learn to pay attention be cautious in the vicinity of a crosswalk and stop when the crosswalk is activated and pedestrians are using them.”