Crossing concerns

Letter to the Editor

Anna Maria Commissioner Amy Tripp made a good point last week when she suggested the $150,000 it would cost to install an automated license plate recognition system might be money better spent on lighted crosswalks.

Automated plate readers may or may not be a good idea, but most folks would agree that safe crosswalks are a great idea.

Tourists love to walk to the beach to enjoy the sunsets, but if they linger long enough they find themselves walking home in darkness, often with children in tow. The growing fear is that someday a large group of visitors is going to get struck by a motorist who doesn’t see them crossing.

City commissioners in all three Island cities spend a great deal of time funding projects. Perhaps the time has come for lighted sidewalks to become a greater funding priority – an endeavor that will require FDOT cooperation for crosswalks located on the state-owned portions of Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach.

Perhaps the finest example of a lighted Gulf Drive crosswalk is in front of the Runaway Bay condominiums in Bradenton Beach. Pedestrians push a button to activate the signal lighting, and it’s nearly impossible for a motorist not to see that a crossing’s imminent. There’s another lighted crosswalk near the Gulf Drive Cafe, but folks tend to cross there in a more willy-nilly fashion rather than using the designated crossing area.

Public safety is a responsibility shared by elected officials, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike.

Pedestrians: Walk defensively, be aware of your surroundings and cross at marked crossings when possible. When crossing, look into the eyes of the approaching driver to see if they see you and plan to stop.

Bicyclists: Follow the rules of the road and obey traffic signals – including stop signs that may slow your roll but save your life. And put lights on your bike if riding at night, even if it’s a rented bike.

Motorists: Be constantly alert for pedestrians crossing anywhere at any time and pay close attention to the yellow pedestrian crossing signs at which you are required by law to stop when pedestrians are present.

This isn’t rocket science. We’re all in this together; let’s all do our part so we all get home safe.