MIKE FIELD | Sun
Slowing down traffic on Pine Avenue by removing the yellow lines and narrowing the lanes is the goal of the city's environmental committee members.
"We're trying to unpave paradise and reclaim the ambiance of our city," member Jane Coleman said.
The suggestions on how to do that came from Dan Burden, a nationally known planner who helps towns become walkable communities. He has told city commissioners that enhancements to Pine Avenue could go a long way toward achieving that goal.
"I think we need to have a clear understanding of what we're trying to achieve," Jane Coleman said.
She added that she asked her husband, Micheal, to present a synopsis of Burden's suggestions to other Environmental Education and Enhancement Committee members and noted, "He spent time with Dan Burden and understands the minor tweaks we can make to change people's attitude and thinking."
"It starts with removing those yellow lines," Coleman said. "He said yellow lines say, 'Highway' and 'Go fast.' He said the speed should be about 20 mph, and he clocked them at 30 to 32 mph.
"It's all psychological," Jane added. "When they turn the corner on Pine to first come into Anna Maria, they have to think, 'I slow down now. There's bikes; there's children; there's walkers.' It has to be automatic."
Narrow the street
"The second thing is to narrow the street, not by narrowing the pavement, but by narrowing the (distance between) the white lines, so the street would be 20 feet wide instead of 25 feet wide," Coleman said.
Another Burden suggestion is for vehicles to share the road with bicycles rather than having a separate bicycle lane.
"As we get older and we get out of our cars, at some point, we stop going anywhere," Coleman continued. "People get isolated inside their houses because they don't want to drive or can't drive.
"By creating a walkable community, you give those people more longevity. They can go out and walk around and visit each other on the street corners. When we get them there, it has to be safe."
Coleman said the message to drivers is, 'You don't own the road. You're sharing this road with everybody.'
Jane added, "We need to create a situation where the people riding their bicycles and the kids riding their skateboards are safe doing that.
"The bottom line is the visual, the experience that the visitors have needs to say, 'Slow down,' and they have to see that. We could even be cute and say it's a no wake zone."
EEEC members agreed to invite Mayor Mike Selby and Public Works Supervisor George McKay to their next meeting to discuss removing the yellow lines as the first step in calming traffic.