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Opinion
Longboat Key Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019 4 months ago

Letters to the Editor: Readers go round and round about St. Armands speed humps

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Road changes are designed to slow traffic around pedestrians.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

We asked, and you answered. Boy, did you answer. Once the temporary speed humps were installed on St. Armands Circle, the opinions weren't too far behind.  Generally speaking, we heard from people who think speed humps on St. Armands Circle are ill-advised now and even more so during the high-traffic months and we heard from people who frequently walk through the area and say conditions can be downright dangerous for them. Necessary? Silly? Here's what your neighbors had to say:

Controlled crosswalks are better

I describe St. Armands Circle as a shopping center with a major road running through it.  The road happens to be the main route between Sarasota and Longboat Key.  As a result any actions taken at the circle to improve safety, need also to consider the impact on traffic.   The obstacle course (signs in the middle of the street, and speed humps) that has just been installed will slow traffic, but may not improve safety.  In addition, it will result in making a bad traffic problem worse.

The most significant traffic and safety problem at St. Armands Circle is people randomly crossing the street, not only at crosswalks, but also wherever it is convenient.  Accordingly, addressing pedestrian control can serve to improve both safety and traffic flow.  This can be accomplished by providing controlled crosswalks at appropriate locations, and barriers and rules to keep people from crossing between crosswalks.  This is done all over the world, and there is no reason to believe that with a professional design that it can’t work at the Circle. 

Another action that should be taken is to eliminate several parking spots around the circle to enhance traffic flow.  These locations are well known, however, even with the expanded parking provided by the new parking garage, there seems to be no willingness to consider getting rid of even one parking place.  The improved traffic flow will also improve safety as drivers will not be distracted by the need to change lanes in high pedestrian locations.

   Pedestrian control, and improved traffic flow have been advocated by me and my associates on the LBK Revitalization Task Force for years.  These are easy things to do, that will improve the St. Armands experience for all.

Lenny Landau

Longboat Key

 

Speed in the circle can be scary

My question is, why has the installation of these speed bumps taken so long?   If you sit for any time around the Circle, as my husband and I do, it is terrifying how fast some people drive.  

Nicki Bergin
Longboat Key

 

What data supports installation?

No matter what name these devices go by, they are an uncomfortable and unnecessary nuisance.  They essentially are stop signs, as vehicles stop before bumping over them.  What statistics about pedestrians injured by cars supported this “trial” installation?

There is currently a study, being conducted by FDOT, regarding mobility to and from the barrier islands to the mainland.  These devices were not a part of the study, or discussions.

My understanding is that current Longboat Key officials strongly objected to this installation.  But somehow, the city of Sarasota and FDOT (which can be mercurial in its decision making) made this decision on their own.  The two entities, through things like this and traffic circles inland, seem destined to paralyze traffic in-season.  Again, decisions are made despite a costly study underway to help determine such issues.

Terry Gans

Longboat Key

 

Often, pedestrians are the problem

Will a proliferation of speed bumps around St. Armands Circle accomplish the goals they are supposed to address?  I think not and here’s why:

  • Pedestrians are often the real problem. Numerous times I have experienced pedestrians coming out from between parked cars anywhere on and near the circle.
  • I have reprimanded the offending pedestrians, asking if they are aware that people have been killed crossing outside the boundaries of the official crosswalks.
  • An enforcement effort of some sort should be implemented for individuals who will not adhere to using the crosswalks.
  • Instead of learning what they should be doing, I have had invectives hurled at me.
  • I will go as far out of my way as I have to to cross at a crosswalk.
  • They are already slowing traffic a lot even when no one is in the crosswalks. Oh, just wait until season.
  • Lastly, among the enormous proliferation of signs (often seen duplicated every 10 feet or so), one sees throughout St. Armands but has no time or inclination to read, we now have to watch for signs that tell us to watch for pedestrians. These signs are sitting in the middle of the two lanes, a challenge to drivers to navigate around them. Incredible!

Carol L Basi

Longboat Key

 

Speed humps are needed

The speed humps that are being added to St Armands Circle are a desperately needed safety improvement.   We walk the Circle almost every day and have almost been killed by speeding cars on several occasions.  

We hope the speed humps are made permanent and additional ones are added so that every crosswalk, not just the ones on streets coming and going to LBK, have them.

LBK residents who complain should reflect on their own conduct — if they weren't speeding through the Circle, the speed humps would not have been necessary.  They have only themselves to blame.

Anne Greenfield 

Lido Key

 

Both drivers and pedestrians could do better

I think there are three problems. Yes, cars need to be cautious, but so do people. I find that too many people just saunter out many times without even looking. Then there is parking on the circle where often a car will wait for the occupant to get into the car  and leave the space all the while holding up half of the flow of traffic.

Why not install traffic signals for pedestrians that would allow people to cross in groups allowing a greater flow of traffic and pedestrians. Then there is parking on the circle, maybe if there was parking on just one side of the road it could ease congestion. As for the speed bumps I guess we will see.

While traffic is light now the true test will be in season January–April.

Jeffrey Heath

Sarasota

 

Imagine the traffic in season

The speed humps, which we encountered for the first time upon our return to LBK this week, were a shock.  Is there really a need for so many of them?  We cannot imagine what they will do to the traffic during the season, which is bad enough as it is.

James and Susan Murphy

Bethesda, Md.

 

Speed humps can be dangerous

Please put me down for being against the speed bumps. All they do is jam up traffic and may contribute to making a less-than-stellar driver lose control and hurt someone. 

They are not good for the car's suspension, either.

Police officers or a lesser-paid version of them could direct traffic and pedestrians much more efficiently and safely during rush hour times.

Donald Dimmick

Sarasota

 

Keep the speed humps

I am a full time resident of Lido Key and have walked St. Armands Circle twice a day for years.  Prior to the speed humps going in, I would nearly get hit almost every day by cars that just don't feel the need to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks.

The two worst spots have always been on North Boulevard of the Presidents and Madison Drive and on John Ringling Boulevard and North Adams Drive. At both these locations, prior to the speed humps, you would take your life in your hands from cars going in both directions.

The new speed humps should definitely be kept in place until FDOT can install "raised crosswalks."

Jimmy Ross

Lido Beach

 

Speed bumps on Circle are a good idea?

Make a list of the top 10 roadway improvements to speed up traffic from Longboat Key to downtown Sarasota. Would speed bumps on St. Armands Circle be on that list?

Yet, some clever, unnamed bureaucrat has determined that it’s a good idea. So now we have speed bumps.  

Rounding St. Armands Circle in season could be a 15-minute exercise. Now with speed bumps, there’s a reason to take even more time.

I’ve lived on Longboat Key almost 20 years and ride into Sarasota almost every day. I’ve never heard of an issue where the traffic around the Circle is moving too fast.

Tim Clarke

Longboat Key

 

Speed humps are not appropriate

We already had enough hazards on St. Armands Circle — people jaywalking between cars, drivers who don’t know how to parallel park on the left side and leave cars jutting into the driving lanes, and walkers who step into the crosswalk without looking at oncoming traffic. Now, we have unnecessary speed humps. I can’t call them speed bumps because they are much higher than bumps elsewhere. In fact, I’m afraid that unless I’m driving with someone in an SUV, my car will “bottom out.” I am forced to avoid the humps by going on the residential streets nearby where there are smaller bumps.

The speed humps are redundant. Coming into the circle from the bridge, there are flashing lights, signs of caution, and stop signs around the circle. In the six years I’ve been going to and from Longboat Key, I’ve never seen anyone speeding around the circle. It’s more a challenge to the driver to avoid jaywalkers, door openers, cars over the white line for parking, and being prepared to stop at the crosswalks and again at the stop sign after the crosswalk. 

I have two bigger concerns, both involve emergencies. Regular commuters know that the humps already add minutes to their commute. Imagine how the humps will slow emergency vehicles and how they will affect patients in an ambulance with an IV or other emergency aid being administered. Minutes could be the difference between life and death. Residents of Longboat and Lido are also concerned about evacuating the islands in case of storms or other mandatory evacuations. There, too, minutes could make the difference between life and death.

The speed humps are not only unneeded and a waste of taxpayer money, but present a deliberate hazard. They need to be taken out!

 J. Lasman

Sarasota

 

Something needed to be done

It is remarkably unfortunate that we have had to resort to the inconvenience of speed bumps in St. Armand's circle. It is also remarkably necessary. On two separate occasions my husband and I have seen a car nearly hit two children.  This happened even with our car stopped at the cross walk. The speeding car in the other lane didn't see the people walking in front of our car, he was just going to fast. 

There is concern  regarding evacuation and emergency vehicles.  There is no way to get to Longboat Key without going on a road with no speed bumps or speed tables.

We could eliminate the speed bumps by having crossing guards. This would keep the traffic moving smoothly AND keep people safe.

Nancy Wood McElmeel

Longboat Key

 

Speed bumps are the final straw

A traffic circle is generally used to facilitate cars from different streets to meet and continue without the use of traffic lights. St. Armands Circle stops cars except early in the morning when tourists are not yet up. With parking on this circle, people open their car doors and emerge in front of traffic. Many people just walk when and where they want to. The speed bumps force cars to stop and allow people to cross. They are another obstacle to drivers.

Most locals stay away from this circle on the weekends when the tourists are gathered for a special event. The use of police to direct cars on these weekends is essential if cars are to move because it is too chaotic.

Speed bumps are another way to stop traffic, the final straw for me. What should be a circle for driving is now a place for tourists to walk. Living in the north end, I now avoid the circle and drive through Bradenton.

Anne G. Arsenault

Longboat Key

 

Speed humps not the answer

I live on Longboat and traverse the GMD almost daily-often through the Circle.

I do not see that speed bumps do anything but irritate drivers even more.

I believe pedestrians are the lifeblood of St. Armands Circle and deserve their own space.

Placing a speed bump at a stop sign seems that not enough study was done.

Speed bumps exiting the Circle might slow the frustrated driver, OK.

Seems the absolute best solution is to have traffic control people at the three major crosswalks. Drivers would understand and pedestrians would appreciate the positive control of a human.

Neil Blume

Longboat Key

 

There doesn't seem to be a safety issue

We are totally against the speed bumps because they would make cars nearly stop at the crosswalks, which would slow down and/or backup the traffic around the circle.  We have never observed a safety issue. When there is no one waiting at the crosswalks we can drive without stopping. Can you imagine if every car has to nearly stop at all the crosswalks (even when no one is there), how this will impact the traffic now and especially during the season? 

A suggestion to help with the seasonal traffic. One year the traffic during the season seemed to move better than other years. That year there were two off duty police or traffic police that monitored the crosswalks. During the hours when the traffic becomes impossible, two off duty police could direct the pedestrians to stop and wait while 10 cars passed through the crosswalks, then the pedestrians could cross.  The 10 cars is an arbitrary number that the police could decide upon at the moment. 

Lynne Heuston

Longboat Key

 

Maybe a crossing guard would help

We are totally against the speed bumps because they would make cars nearly stop at the crosswalks, which would slow down and/or backup the traffic around the circle.  We have never observed a safety issue. When there is no one waiting at the crosswalks we can drive without stopping. Can you imagine if every car has to nearly stop at all the crosswalks (even when no one is there), how this will impact the traffic now and especially during the season? 

A suggestion to help with the seasonal traffic. One year the traffic during the season seemed to move better than other years. That year there were two off duty police or traffic police that monitored the crosswalks. During the hours when the traffic becomes impossible, two off duty police could direct the pedestrians to stop and wait while 10 cars passed through the crosswalks, then the pedestrians could cross.  The 10 cars is an arbitrary number that the police could decide upon at the moment. 

Beverly & Cliff Root

Longboat Key

 

"What were they thinking?"

I believe I will be in the majority when I says "What were they thinking?" This idea will rank up with the plan for ferry service across the bay.

If this is not fixed before high season, you can kiss travel to Sarasota goodbye.

It is bad enough that the parking meters will cause massive tie-ups of people trying to figure out where to park. Now we have cars stopping for speed bumps and then again for a crosswalk 10 feet away. Is the town going to do anything about this?

Thomas Jendrysik

Longboat Key

 

What problem are we solving?

Having been a an LBK resident on and off for 28 years and now permanently, I only recall one incident of an injury on the Circle.  So are the tables the answer to a question that hasn't been really asked?

We found over the past few days that even with the very sparse summer traffic that they are causing more traffic back up at the circle and could in fact create other unforeseen dangers.

I can only imagine what season traffic would be like.

We have found that people are traversing them at 2-3 mph and then accelerating.  Would it make more sense to place added signage and possible speed reminders prior to entering the circle to slow people down?

Personally I think that the signs that are in the crosswalks probably serve that purpose as well.

Finally I would think that there could be potential exposure to the City if someone with an exotic car experienced damage due to the table. The current ones as installed are pretty severe in nature.

Wylie Royce

East Rutherford, NJ

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