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FDOT responds to comments calling LBK crosswalks unsafe

BILLY HATTAWAY
District Secretary Florida Department of Transportation
Guest Columnist
FDOT@lbknews.com

Over the past couple of weeks, this publication published opinions from a few individuals regarding the recently installed pedestrian crosswalks along Gulf of Mexico Drive.  The opinions referenced the crosswalks as unsafe and not applicable to the conditions on this segment of Gulf of Mexico Drive.

FDOT determines location and treatment of marked crosswalks based on thorough engineering review of roadway conditions, crossing demand along the roadway, and the surrounding origins/destinations.  Motorists and pedestrians generally go through an adjustment period any time a change in traffic control occurs on the roadway.  Marking a crosswalk does not take the responsibility out of the pedestrian and driver’s hands.

The department selected Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons (RRFB’s) as a warning device at the crosswalks.  The RRFB’s are warning beacons intended to act as warning devices to alert motorists of a pedestrian crossing the roadway, not as stop control.  It is the responsibility of the pedestrian to make sure traffic stops prior to stepping into the roadway. Motorists are responsible to stop for the pedestrian in the crosswalk. The behavior of the users makes a roadway safe or unsafe not the roadway. In fact, when the department met with the Town Manager at one of the crosswalks, pedestrians using the crosswalk mentioned they were happy to have a crosswalk and discussed the importance of ensuring traffic stops before proceeding to cross the roadway.

The Federal Highway Administration recommends this treatment for pedestrian crosswalks based on their success in implementation to-date. This treatment is used at numerous locations around the country and proven effective with more than an 80% motorist compliance rate. The design of the crosswalks also includes advance warning signs placed appropriately for the 45 mph posted speed along Gulf of Mexico Drive, a crossing sign with the RRFB’s at the crossing, and high emphasis markings at the location.

We achieve safety along the roadways when we follow engineering solutions with education and enforcement to emphasize defensive driving and walking behaviors. The Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), with the University of South Florida, was hired by the department to implement their Walk Wise education campaign in the town, particularly adjacent to the crosswalks to educate users on the correct ways to use them and will continue until all residents in the vicinity of the crosswalks have been informed of their correct and safe use. This campaign will continue until we inform all residents in the area of the correct and safe use of the crosswalks.  Approximately 1,000 tip cards detailing the proper use of RRFB’s to City of Longboat Key for distribution. FDOT requested the Town of Longboat Key Police to step up enforcement at the crosswalks to improve safe driving and crossing practices.

Our request is the community focus on the behavior aspect of motorist and pedestrians, and on how to make these implementations successful like they are at other locations.  The key is for motorists to remember they are pedestrians at some point, and for pedestrians to think they drive at some time.  When placing ourselves in other’s shoes, it becomes easier to anticipate and use defensive mechanisms to ensure safety of everyone.
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1 Response for “FDOT responds to comments calling LBK crosswalks unsafe”

  1. Dan Screet says:

    Very nice article, points out well the actual safety needs and not just the inflammatory, incorrect statement that the crosswalks are unsafe. When used correctly by all they are wonderful and safe.
    The law does state that motorists are required to stop for all pedestrians within a marked crosswalk. The point should also be made that both the motorists and pedestrians must use their own head and think. We all are vulnerable to distractions whether we are driving and walking. Stay alert, stay safe.

    I have found the crosswalks a wonderful help crossing GMD. Thanks!

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