Man struck by car in crosswalk

Editor & Publisher

A man was struck by a car at about 8 a.m. Friday morning while using the newly-installed crosswalk in front of Country Club Shores on Longboat Key.

The Fire Department responded immediately and he was taken by ambulance to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said the man was conscious after being struck by a driver who was heading south and was cited by Longboat Key Police for failure to yield.

The latest accident was foreshadowed in recent weeks by numerous residents’ concerns and complaints as well as through the words of Commissioner Phill Younger who referred to the newly constructed crosswalks as a “deathtrap.”

Following the accident, Town Manager Dave Bullock sent a stronger, more urgent letter to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District Secretary Bill Hattaway.

In the letter, Bullock referenced the letter he sent earlier in the week where he expressed “serious concern about the safety of the crosswalks, as installed.”

Bullock continued in saying that “This morning a pedestrian was hit by a car at one of the crosswalks, just as we feared. He apparently activated the warning sign correctly, but the driver did not see the flashing lights and hit the person, resulting in serious injury…These crosswalks were to provide safe crossing of Gulf of Mexico Drive. 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.”

Bullock then stressed to Hattaway that the town has repeatedly expressed its concern for weeks about the inadequate signage, the lack of sufficient pavement markers and the difficulty drivers have in seeing the small flashing lights. He then characterized the crosswalks in his letter the “wrong design for a 45 m.p.h. road.”

Bullock became more strident in his letter and told the secretary that FDOT needs to make corrections “Today.”

The letter emphasized this urgency by saying that if FDOT staff does not know how to fix the crosswalks, then they need to remove them “before anyone else is hurt or killed due to the poor design of these facilities.”

The letter concludes in stating, “I believe we have failed our citizens by not adequately designing, installing and monitoring these dangerous facilities.”


History of crosswalks

The desire for the crosswalks came in 2012 to the town commission after a pedestrian was killed in front of the Islander Club after crossing Gulf of Mexico Drive at night. Bullock said part of the idea was instead of having citizens crossing in random locations, designated areas could have crosswalks to make crossing safer.

FDOT performed a pedestrian crossing analysis in 2013 and another in 2014 and found that there was enough pedestrian traffic to warrant the installation of four crosswalks. They showed the commission examples and subsequently the crosswalks were installed and became active earlier this year.

Bullock said if the commission decides it wants to get rid of the crosswalks altogether, it may not be so simple since it is a state-owned road. But if that is the direction given, he will pursue it. His current emphasis is to push the FDOT to make them effective and noticeable.

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3 Responses for “Man struck by car in crosswalk”

  1. Nito Incog says:

    The problem isn’t so much the design of the crosswalks but rather, the severely impaired status of drivers around here. This means, the overall Sarasota/Bradenton area. Impaired has a sliding scale, from severely unskilled drivers to drug and age impairment. People are just lousy drivers, low skill levels abound. Just because someone has been driving for 40 years doesn’t mean they’re blessed with that much experience, but rather, one-year repeated 40 times. They don’t take classes to enhance skills, don’t think about situational awareness, don’t concern themselves with other vehicles or pedestrians around them. It’s unfortunate, however, it would be better to remove these crossings and also, abandon any plans for traffic circles, because they can’t handle those, either. How these lousy drivers will handle the new Diverging Diamond at University Pkwy and I-75 will be interesting. This writer predicts that will be a disaster, for these reasons cited here.

  2. Even though I had prior knowledge that these traffic devises were being installed, opon my first encounter with them I was less than impressed by their scale and almost drove right through the protected area. The lighting and the signs were so inadequate that instead of informing, they served simply to delay my braking response. I am proud of my safe driving record and I’m not in a hurry or otherwise distracted when driving. But, at 45 mph there is little room for error when you have to be right on these things to see them well enough to figure them out. They need enough presence to inform drivers in time so we can honor the pedestrian with a safe crossing.

  3. Pat Calabrese says:

    The man hit by the car in crosswalk was my brother! He is lucky to be alive. You had better fix this dangerous situation. The next person may not be as fortunate as my brother.

    Pat Calabrese
    West Simsbury, Ct

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