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 ramped-up educational effort about Gulf of Mexico Drive crosswalks assuage concerns from residents and Longboat Key commissioners?
Only time will tell.
But the Florida Department of Transportation believes those two measures will address concerns that intensified after a man was seriously injured by a car in the crosswalk north of Longboat Club Road Feb. 5.
After the accident, Town Manager Dave Bullock emailed FDOT District One Secretary Billy Hattaway, demanding the crosswalks be re-evaluated immediately or removed.
FDOT officials arrived on-scene later that day to observe the crosswalks and approved an additional sign at the crosswalks that explain how to use them. The town purchased the signs and installed them Feb. 10 to speed up the process.
Hattaway and two other FDOT officials then met at 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 led FDOT to authorize additional flashing lights in the opposite direction to make them easier for motorists to see.
FDOT will also supply the town with educational cards explaining how to use the crosswalks to both pedestrians and motorists.
FDOT will also promote its WalkWise program, which offers free 20-minute interactive presentations 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.”
For information about WalkWise, visit walkwiseflorida.com.