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Cross your fingers using crosswalks
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How many pedestrians need to be killed on Gulf Boulevard before we stop the illusion that a pedestrian is safer in a crosswalk?

North Redington Beach completed a $3.2 million project which included: “to enhance safety to the existing Gulf Boulevard crosswalks – changes will improve pedestrian safety,” February 2014. The following month three pedestrians were killed trying to cross Gulf Boulevard, March 2014.

The Department of Transportation concluded a seven-year study May 1, 2010, and reached this conclusion: “6 to 1 ratio a pedestrian is more likely to have an accident inside versus outside crosswalk.” “Mid-block crosswalks are dangerous” (Franklin County Traffic Safety Board) advises “four lane roads with 10,000 traffic or more mid-block crosswalks should not be considered even if a pedestrian safety median separates opposing traffic lanes.”

The North Redington Beach Gulf Boulevard traffic count is 14,551+/- (Pinellas County records) All being mid-block crosswalks. North Redington Beach has more crosswalks per linear feet on Gulf Boulevard in .9 mile of a 13.5-mile segment of BIG-C beach towns stretching from St. Pete Beach to Clearwater.

Beach Beacon article April 2 titled “BIG-C focuses on pedestrian safety” quoted “Indiana man who died would probably be still alive had he checked for cars.” I believe Jed Gettinger “Indiana Man” would probably be alive had there not been a mid-block crosswalk on Gulf Boulevard with a traffic count of 14,551 +/- giving him a false sense of security he was safe in a crosswalk.

I’ve been crossing Gulf Boulevard for over a half century, never having one problem crossing the way my mother taught me: “Look Both Ways.” I cross at places where it seems safest. I trust myself to determine when and where it’s safe to cross: not a sign, flashing light, paint on the pavement or waving a yellow flag. I believe officials make the best decisions with the references they have at the time. I’m here to offer some new references that will hopefully enable safer decisions for our community. Disagree? Then cross Gulf Boulevard using a crosswalk. My concern is you will not be around to offer rebuttal. My heart goes out to the families of Darrel Johnson, Patrick McClean and Jed Gettinger who lost their lives attempting to cross Gulf Boulevard safely.

John Messmore
North Redington Beach
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