Engineering stupidity on Longboat Key

Editor & Publisher

What do Vietnam, plastic surgery and crosswalks on Longboat Key all have in common? You have to know when to quit.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our new crosswalks, we are going to “stay the course” and allow FDOT to “try and improve them.”

That is an error in judgment. It makes sense procedurally in government to try and fix what is not working, but as every rational resident knows, these crosswalks will soon claim a life. And like the proverbial fat man flailing in a swamp, any attempt to get out of the mess will just make you sink deeper and deeper.


When the medicated drive…

Gulf of Mexico Drive has thousands of cars each day driven by tourists, workers, the elderly and everyone in between. Many are impatient to be stuck behind an endless convoy careening along at 35 to 45 MPH. Some have had prescription drugs mixed with the evening Grey Goose before dinner. Some are simply how shall we say it —past the age of reacting like a Top Gun fighter pilot and drive with their spouses yelling, “Be careful, you almost ran over that bicyclist.”

So when you add up the tourists, the tired and hungry, the aged and the medicated, you cannot then present a driving anomaly and expect anything but horrifying results..

Driving anomalies present the greatest chance of an accident. They are things you do not expect. The drunk driver swerving in front of you is an unexpected anomaly. The person who slams on their brakes is another as is the driver that pulls out in front when you thought he would wait. Then there is the motorcyclist on the crotch rocket who treats traffic like a personal slalom course. These are all unexpected hazards and must be dealt with.

Then there are what can best be called institutionalized hazards — the ones government has created.

The most egregious is perhaps the SCAT bus, which is an ever-present danger because it and no one else can stop suddenly and with little warning in the middle of a 45 MPH road and then lurch back into traffic.

Drivers go through an inner debate: Do I swing around the SCAT bus and risk hitting a pedestrian? Do I wait and watch the machinations of the bus and the workers exiting and the airbrakes being applied and released? Do I want to be stuck behind the SCAT bus the entire length of the island?

Then when you go to pass the SCAT bus, you realize the driver gets competitive and races ahead. I have seen SCAT buses accelerate at a startling speed through St. Armands putting the fear of death into driver, bicyclist and pedestrians alike.


Where Darwinism meets the road

But we now have on Longboat Key a freshly constructed driver hazard — the crosswalks.

Let’s be clear because our Commission — Lynn Larson perhaps most vigorously — pushed and pushed the FDOT to install them.

The Town asked for the traffic studies and the pedestrian counts and FDOT said we barely met the minimum requirements for a crosswalk. Well, we wanted them and it has become a case of not being careful of what we wished for.

And so here we are. We have created not a safer way to cross GMD. Just the opposite: In fact, if you want to commit suicide, you do not have to drive to the Skyway to jump, just use the crosswalks on Longboat Key.

But let’s not beat up on the Commission. Let’s just ask them to be brazen and forceful in protecting our residents.

We must insist they suspend working to make the crosswalks effective; they must take them down immediately. Put bags over the signage and paint over them needs to be the marching orders. Do not try and improve them and teach people how to be more cautious. Do not try and educate nor ticket drivers.

Crossing Gulf of Mexico Drive ought remain an act of Darwinism mixed with common sense. It is all of 25 feet to make it to safety. And if we have had two deaths in two decades, I do not see how crosswalks would save anyone.

Remember, Vice Mayor Terry Gans hit Commission candidate Ray Rajewski with his Lexus in a crosswalk next to Publix. A man was thrown last week after being hit by a car in the new crosswalks. They give the sense of safety all the while lining people up to be run over.

If the Town leaves the crosswalks, they might as well paint the pavement red to cut the cost of cleanup when residents continue to be hit.


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3 Responses for “Engineering stupidity on Longboat Key”

  1. Dan Screet says:

    “Engineering stupidity on Longboat Key”?? Oh the so woefully uneducated about engineering commenting. (you also obviously want to protect his own ego by negating a comment I made on this weeks ago, I suppose it is acceptable to print “Journalistic stupidity on Longboat Key” but not to offer a rebuttal to it.)
    As to the fact these crosswalks will “claim a life’, you are so incorrect sir. There has been fatal incidents without the crosswalks and thus what prompted the commission to look into them. In another article it is stated that there were multiple analysis studies done along the corridor and folks a lot more engineering knowledgeable than yourself deemed the chosen locations to warrant them. I am sure if you looked into the criteria set forth in MULTPLE publications both Federal and State you would find the engineering in these crosswalks to be proper and in some instances above what the minimum standard would require. I am also sure if you had bothered to be less of a sarcastic writer and more of an educated writer then you would have pointed out the fact that pedestrians within a marked crosswalk are protected by Florida law that states a driver must stop to allow safe passage of the pedestrian. The flashing lights are a courtesy to the drivers which should regardless of the law allow pedestrians safe passage. Though in today’s society Darwinism has not weeded out the not so bright nor the “I shouldn’t be bothered with others in my way”. If Darwinism worked properly then the mentally incompetent drivers would be no one’s concern as they would be eliminated first.
    Why should a transit system be, in yours words, ‘The most egregious is perhaps the SCAT bus, which is an ever-present danger because it and no one else can stop suddenly and with little warning in the middle of a 45 MPH road and then lurch back into traffic”. Guess what? A transit system is both efficient and eco friendly. The more riders on the bus means less cars traveling the crowded roads. The bus “lurching” back into traffic, well here again it is a bus and not a sports car squealing tires to pull out in front of oncoming traffic. Let me educate you on this little fact, it is a state law to allow the bus back into traffic regardless of how “Egregious” you think buses are. Get over the fact that there are legitimate reasons to inconvenience your “so important” life. Other folks deserve courtesy and the ability to travel safely. There are a lot more folks than currently ride the public transportation that have no reason to be driving, either for age related issues, impairment issues, or purely for “stupidity” issues. (there is the real stupidity to look out for)
    So next time you want to fuss about an issue, please educate yourself. This entire article is just a show if “stupidity in journalism” from the point of an uneducated individual on the items they are writing about. Please look into actual engineering standards and practices before you write another commentary on them and you might not come of with “stupidity”.

  2. Nito Incog says:

    Lynn Larson needs to own this problem and let’s face it, there hasn’t been a whole lot of intelligence emanating from this commissioner on numerous matters, especially those involving public safety. One glance at the state of the police department and fire department in regards to a declining level of service and employee attrition proves that. When you put people like this in power, there’s going to be collateral damage. If anyone is to blame, it’s the voters who elected this ridiculous lot.

  3. e.snow martin ,jr says:

    we have been summer residents on lbk for close to 50 years– little gull-casa del mar -laplaya– the best way to control the matter is to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph and enforce it

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