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Bike sign reduction causes concern

‘I can’t understand why the existing signage would be considered unnecessary or superfluous.’


MELISSA REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

Last week’s Town Commission decision to move forward with bike sign removal on Longboat Key has caused yet more reaction from the public, including one bicycle advocate who advised the Planning and Zoning Board’s sign subcommittee on the topic.

The Town Commission decided at last week’s workshop to take the recommendation of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to reduce the number of bicycle signs from the current signage of one every half-mile to one every mile, with additional signs at dangerous “hot spots.”

The idea was to remove any unnecessary or superfluous signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive as part of beautifying the island. The project will include removing all types of signs that are unnecessary, not just bicycle signs. FDOT informed the town last fall that some of the signage could be reduced and some bike signs could be replaced with stenciled signs on the actual bike path. The discussion on whether to move forward with the sign reduction on the key will go before the Town Commission again, at a date to be determined.

A few non-cyclists have agreed with the commission’s recommendation to reduce the number of signs.

“As previously mentioned, I never paid much attention to all the bike signage. However, once I drove from work yesterday I agree with the many complaints that the bike signage is overkill, at almost every private entrance, the length of the key is not needed,” said Linda Cullen of Sarasota.

Local bicyclists attended the February workshop, as well as wrote to the Town Commission and to Longboat Key News, and most protested the idea of removing any bicycle signs.

“I guess I’m late to the game but I can’t understand why the existing signage would be considered unnecessary or superfluous. The argument of removing it to make it match signage on Sarasota bike lanes is seriously flawed. The vast majority of Sarasota streets with bike lanes carry nowhere near the auto traffic density seen on Gulf of Mexico Drive. Gulf of Mexico Drive has lots of cars and lots of bikers; neither group is going away. How could reducing safety enhancements in any way lead to improved conditions on the road? By this logic, additional safety for motorists and bikers alike could be achieved by removing the stop signs and traffic lights on Longboat Key,” said Dave Landsperger of Sarasota in letter to Longboat Key News.

One sign committee attendant, Paul Skversky, wrote a letter to Commissioner Phill Younger that the sign meetings were a “seriously flawed process” and that he felt the sign reduction was already decided even before the meetings took place.

“When Joe Moccia and I, as fellow cyclists, were asked to meet with two P&Z Board members Nov. 10, 2010, to discuss bike signage reduction on Longboat Key, we were eager to help. While the meeting went well, we were concerned that at a previous meeting Oct. 27, decisions had already been made. We left the meeting feeling that the town was committed to a one sign per mile option.

“Mr. Moccia and I suspected that we were somehow being exploited after the Nov. 10 meeting, which I addressed in writing Nov. 16, 2010. We were sure that was the case after the P&Z meeting Jan. 4, 2011, where we both felt we were being fed to the lions. We only continued on with this process because we have a commitment to do what we felt was correct for the town and public safety.

“Over the next three months we tried to start meaningful dialogue with P&Z and FDOT, only to fail. Even after we enlisted the assistance of the president of the Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club (450 members) and the owners of two major area bike stores, it was obvious that Mr. Moccia and my role at P&Z meetings was to be present, keep quiet and agree. This, for the sake of Longboat Key, cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, we were unwilling to do,” Skversky said (see Editor Letters for full letter).

Commissioner Younger responded to Skversky: “First and foremost, I understand the cyclists’ concerns and welcome them to our paradise, but I do not equate the magnitude of signs we have on Longboat with increased cyclist awareness and hence increased safety. Your summary of events leading to the commission’s decision regarding placement of bike signs along Gulf of Mexico Drive no doubt represents your (and probably the bicycle community’s) perspective. Other involved parties provided different perspectives.

“The commission ‘not knowing how to vote’ regarding two virtually identical sign reduction begs the issue.  What the Commission did know is that sign reduction appeared reasonable and could be done without compromising safety. Sometimes, too much of something can result in the opposite of its intention. In this case bike signs may have become ‘invisible’ because of their frequency, and judicious planning and sign placement may actually increase awareness.”

Skversky wrote back to Younger that he still stands by his original letter.

“I stand by every word in my letter. Please read it again. The town seemed committed to the one-mile option as early as Oct. 27, 2010. There was no valid reason to ask Joe Moccia and me to be involved. We knew we were being exploited, but the Feb. 15 P&Z meeting, in particular, was a disgrace. I wish you were there to observe.

“Joe and I stayed in the process only because we care deeply about Longboat Key and Bike Safety. We hoped to start a dialogue not only about Bike Signage, but rights and responsibilities of cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, plus addressing safety on our sidewalks. It may yet succeed.

“Because of what I considered a flawed process, I am concerned about my town. After each accident, we may be opening ourselves up for lawsuits. I spoke of this at the Commission Workshop Feb. 17, 2011. This is not about frustration but about caring for Longboat Key and its citizens. I thank you for all your assistance,” said Skversky.

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Longboat Key News

2 Responses for “Bike sign reduction causes concern”

  1. Jim Lucas says:

    I am glad that I do not live in Longboat Key, where the local leadership obviously does not care about bicycle safety. They present no data supporting their assertion, “that sign reduction appeared reasonable and could be done without compromising safety.” that reducing the signs will not compromise safety and may even enhance it, “Sometimes, too much of something can result in the opposite of its intention. In this case bike signs may have become ‘invisible’ because of their frequency, and judicious planning and sign placement may actually increase awareness.”

    Sounds similar to the kind of thing that Mubarak of Egypt and Kadaffi of Libia might say, demonstrating complete disregard for their people.

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