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Longboat Key Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 5 years ago

Man struck by car in crosswalk

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A pedestrian was hit by a car in the Country Club Shores crosswalk Friday morning.
by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A man attempting to cross the Gulf of Mexico Drive Country Club Shores crosswalk just north of Longboat Club Drive at the Country Club Shores beach access was struck by a car at 8 a.m. Feb. 5, according to the Longboat Key Police Department.

The man was taken by ambulance to Sarasota Memorial Hospital and stayed over night for observation.

Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi said the man was conscious after being struck by a driver who was heading southbound. The driver was cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian.

The news comes on the heels of strong comments from commissioners who are upset with what they perceive as unsafe crosswalks.

“I really feel these crosswalks we currently have in place are dangerous,” said Mayor Jack Duncan.

Commissioner Phill Younger told his fellow commissioners Feb. 1 that the crosswalks “are death traps.”

“If you think I’m going to try one of those crosswalks, you’re crazy,” Younger said. “People push buttons and think traffic is going to stop and step out in the road. And traffic isn’t going to stop.”

Commissioners have complained for weeks that cars aren’t stopping for pedestrians. They believe the signs are hard to read and the flashing yellow lights should be replaced with red lights.

At the request of the Town Commission Feb. 1, Town Manager Dave Bullock sent a letter to FDOT District 1 Secretary Billy Hattaway to urge for better signage and for improvements to the crosswalks that include different lights and more visible pavement markers.

But when Bullock received word of the accident at the crosswalk Feb. 5, he sent Hattaway an email at 8:30 a.m. that day demanding immediate action by FDOT.

“This morning a pedestrian was hit by a car at one of the crosswalks just as we feared,” Bullock wrote. “He apparently activated the warning sign correctly but the driver did not see the flashing lights and hit the person, resulting in serious injury.”

Bullock said the crosswalks need to be either be modified or removed.

“Secretary Hattaway, these crosswalks were to provide safe crossing of Gulf of Mexico Drive,” Bullock said. “Instead they have proven to be a dangerous place that causes our citizens to be fooled into a sense of safety at great personal risk.  FDOT needs to get on site TODAY and make corrections to these crosswalks so that our citizens can safely use them or if your staff doesn't know how to fix them remove them before anyone else is hurt or killed due to the poor design of these facilities.”

Bullock said he believes the crosswalks “have failed our citizens by not adequately designing, installing and monitoring these dangerous facilities.”

FDOT officials arrived on scene Feb. 5 and provided a layout for an additional sign to be placed at the crosswalks for pedestrians explaining how to use the crosswalks, which will be installed as soon as possible.

To speed up the bureaucratic process, Bullock informed commissioners Monday the town ordered and purchased the signs and Public Works employees will install them once they are received in a few days. Police officers on duty will also be stationed near the crosswalks whenever they are able to while on patrol to make the crosswalks more visible.

FDOT is also performing assessments on site this week for additional ways to warn drivers to stop at the crosswalks. Bullock and the town are continuing to push for additional modifications that include pavement warnings and more signs with different flashing red lights.

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