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Sign removal idea cranks up bikers

‘For those to whom the signs become ‘white noise,’ perhaps these individuals are no longer responsible enough to continue driving and should have their licenses revoked.’


MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

With an upcoming subcommittee meeting regarding sign removal on Longboat Key taking place Tuesday, Feb. 15, many residents and bicyclists are weighing in on the issue through e-mails to the Town Commission.

The subcommittee has been meeting to discuss the Florida Department of Transportation’s proposal “to relocate and possibly reduce the number of bicycle lane related signs along the Longboat Key portion of SR 789 also known as Gulf of Mexico Drive to ensure proper placement of the signs in order to increase the consistency in and effectiveness of the message,” wrote Planning, Building and Zoning Director Monica Simpson in an e-mail to Longboat Key News.

“During FDOT’s recent survey of the approximately 9.9-mile stretch of roadway, it was realized that there are several bicycle lane related signs that should not be placed due to the fact that a fully developed right turn lane does not exist. It was also identified that through the three separate state roadway projects, sign placement by the three individual engineers of record was not consistent. Additionally, the rules governing bicycle lane signage changed effective Jan. 1,” explained Simpson.

At the upcoming February Town Commission workshop, commissioners will be asked to consider two options regarding the bicycle lane signs in the FDOT right-of-way, which will allow FDOT to complete a full Gulf of Mexico Drive signage plan.

Planning and Zoning Board member BJ Webb attended the subcommittee meetings and stated in an e-mail to Longboat Key News that, “There was extensive discussion on all signs on the island, not just bike signs. The members of the Bike Committee agreed with the consensus of opinions on signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive, and it was through those discussions with all parties at the table participating on the frequency of bike signage along the road that the decision was made. It was not done solely by the town.”

Liability, anyone?
Some bicyclists are still concerned, however, that reduced bicycle signage may lead to more accidents and perhaps more liability.

One visitor, Al Janssens from Berlin, Germany, wrote in a letter to the editor: “If it was once deemed by the town that there was a need to place warning signs to motorists, instructing them to yield to bicyclists, and these signs are taken down by the town, the town will have to show, in a civil law suit, that the one time need to warn motorists no longer existed when the signs were taken down. It will cost you millions.”

One bicyclist who travels on Longboat’s bike lane, Deborah L. Von Cannon, made the point in a letter to the editor that she thinks Longboat Key is beautiful as it is, and if the bike signs are ‘white noise’ to motorists and therefore should be removed, then they are most likely not noticed as an eyesore either and do not need to be taken out to beautify Longboat Key.

“I like these signs as a reminder to stay aware for the cyclists. To remove them because they become ‘white noise’ is an insult to all of those who drive on the islands. For those to whom the signs become ‘white noise,’ perhaps these individuals are no longer responsible enough to continue driving and should have their licenses revoked. Do the stop signs become ‘white noise?’ How about the speed limit signs? The ‘white noise’ defense is irresponsible and absurd! Besides, if they are ‘white noise’ to drivers, then surely they are not an eyesore to the pedestrians who consider them ‘white noise’ and unnoticed as well; if that is the logic chosen to follow,” said Von Cannon in her letter.

Additional concerns regarding the removal of bicycle signs expressed by some residents include the increased risk to bicyclists on Longboat because of aging drivers and because of tourists, who may be less familiar with the island and may need more signage to notice the bike lane.

Other solutions
Residents Paul Skversky and Joe Moccia have provided their input at the sign subcommittee meetings, with the result of a recommendation to place signs at eight particular ‘hot spots’ on the island, according to Simpson. The main discussion is whether to reduce the number of bicycle-related signs from one every half-mile to one every mile.

According to FDOT’s assessment, there are currently 126 bicycle-related sign faces on 99 separate posts, with some posts displaying more than one type of bicycle sign. Initially proposed by FDOT was the idea of 94 bicycle-related sign faces (on 55 separate posts), at one-mile increments, with an additional maximum of 16 signs to address the eight ‘hot spot’ concerns raised by Skversky and Moccia.

The subcommittee meeting regarding sign removal is open to the public and will be held at 8:30 a.m., Feb. 15 in the Planning, Building and Zoning Department.Call 316-1966 for more information.

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Longboat Key News

2 Responses for “Sign removal idea cranks up bikers”

  1. Im wrking w/ city of St Pete, to ad signs on Central Ave. I ride to wrk every day 5x a week and I ride
    30 mi on Sundays…I love our Signs not the MOTORISTS.
    ric castro st pete

  2. Jude Moonshade says:

    One problem, Florida already has the most car/bicycle accident fatalities of any state in the nation. If we remove the signs, and a cyclist gets killed, the state will be responsible for the death.

    I have ridden a bicycle in Florida, and some of the motorists seem to be clueless and arrogant. Just for their information, I would like to state that 1) People ride bicycles because it’s five times faster than walking, and a person on a bicycle can cover five times the distance that he or she could walk. and 2) Most bicyclists also have a car or light truck.

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