Email to Commissioner Woody Brown
I was quite interested in the campaign flyer mention of pedestrian safety efforts. I have been active in various pedestrian/transportation issues and committees since 1997, including serving for a little more than 10 years on the MPO Pedestrian Transportation Advisory Committee. Most efforts to improve pedestrian safety have involved penalizing mid block crossing with a citation and a fine, probably because it is easier to issue a citation to a slower moving pedestrian than to the driver of an automobile.
Recently I attempted to cross East Bay Drive at the intersection with Keene/Starkey Roads (Crossing northbound from Walgreens to CVS drug store.) The button was pushed and the long wait took place to obtain the "walk" signal (East Bay traffic is favored.) When the "walk" signal appeared, eleven (11) cars turned right on red without stopping-completely ignoring my signaling a desire to cross. One charming driver even acknowledged my presence with a hand signal of some kind. The "walk" sign was over by the time there were no more turning cars. I pushed the button again and waited in the hot sun for another opportunity to cross legally at this corner. On the second cycle only four (4) cars turned on red without stopping. The fifth one actually stopped and I was able to take advantage of the remaining seconds on the countdown signal to hurry across the street. It would have been easier, safer, and faster to cross mid-block using the median as a safety island and crossing eastbound and westbound lanes separately. But that would be illegal and might have resulted in my receiving one of Largo's $62.50 pedestrian citations!
It seems totally unfair that drivers are not issued citations when they do not honor the stop requirement before right turning on red. But the method for improved pedestrian safety through police efforts seems to only involve penalizing the pedestrians.
Thank you for your letter concerning pedestrian safety. I couldn't agree with you more. Until recently the "enforcement" efforts did seem to be primarily focused on mid block crossing and warning or citing pedestrians while ignoring drivers that stop across the cross walk, roll through red lights making right turns oblivious to pedestrians and bikes. Recently, traffic officers in Largo have been focusing more on drivers that make it unsafe for pedestrians. There is definitely room for improvement. The city is also working towards a signalized mid block crossing on Missouri near Wal-Mart (which is particularly dangerous.) The unfortunate reality is that Pinellas County (not just Largo) is built for cars and it is going to take a long time to remedy this problem. I will share your concerns with the city administration and officer Edmiston and get back to you.
I have been facilitating the Pedestrian Enforcement Grant since we received it in July. We began focusing the enforcement efforts on pedestrians crossing illegally at intersections and mid block. We utilized that time to educate pedestrians to utilize signalized intersections to cross the roadways safely. Enforcement during the past month was focused in two parts, vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and the pedestrians that continue to jaywalk or cross against the signalized intersections. We have also focused attention on vehicles that fail to yield to pedestrians at mid block, signalized intersections along Clearwater Largo Road. I understand the citizen's concern regarding the motorist failing to yield to pedestrians at the intersection of Keene and East Bay Drive. Unfortunately, this seems to occur far too often at our major intersections. This has been a problem for several years and that was part of the reason the grant was given to the Tampa Bay area. We will continue to monitor this intersection, as well as many others, and cite those vehicles found in violation. I am deploying our resources during the peak times of violations, however I must remain fiscally responsible with the grant money received and continue our enforcement efforts through the remainder of the year. I assure you this concern does not come lightly and we are doing our best to change motorist and pedestrian behavior. This problem will take time to change behaviors and I hope that the state receives a second round of funding next year so we can continue to make a difference in pedestrian related crash statistics.
Return to Current Edition