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Citations issued to people after they’ve been hit by cars

[Eds. Note: SFGN has been following this issue for months. Here’s a reprint from our June 4 issue.]

After another pedestrian was hit by a car while crossing Wilton Drive, residents reiterated their demands for improved safety on Wilton Drive and other roadways.

Chief Paul O’Connell said the good news is that the pedestrian, who was hit around 10 p.m. on May 24, sent to Broward General Medical Center and later released, sustained only minor injuries. “The bad news is he’s not the only one.”

The pedestrian was hit in front of The Venue at 2345 Wilton Drive and cited for not using a crosswalk. Police found no fault with the motorist and did not issue a citation. Recently, two men were also hit crossing Wilton Drive at Northeast 20 Street. Because they were not using a crosswalk, they were issued a jaywalking ticket by police. The driver of the automobile was also issued a citation for an improper left hand turn.

In an attempt to prevent future accidents, police here will begin a campaign this month to educate the public on pedestrian safety. Commander Gary Blocker said the first phase would involve educating pedestrians as well as businesses located on the major roadways.

“The second phase would be that enforcement aspect where we would start issuing citations,” Blocker said.

O’Connell implored residents and visitors to use the crosswalks. “Use them. Use them.”

But the residents who spoke at the May 26 commission meeting said the existing crosswalks are not enough. More crosswalks, they said, needed to be added on Wilton Drive as well as Andrews Avenue and Powerline Road.

“This is a conversation we need to have. This is not a walk friendly city,” said resident Jake Valentine. “How many more lives or potential lives are going to be lost?” asked resident Doug Blevins. “Don’t abdicate your duty, folks,” he told commissioners.

Paul Rolli, president of the Central Area Neighborhood Association, suggested increased police patrols, temporary signs, and that more jaywalking and speeding tickets be issued. “It’s not one. It’s both [pedestrians and drivers].”

Commissioner Tom Green said city officials would be meeting with Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] officials in a couple weeks to address concerns. Wilton Manors officials say they are also working with Fort Lauderdale to reduce the number of lanes on Powerline Road from four to two as well as add bikes lanes and improve landscaping.

Among the items discussed with FDOT will be the possible narrowing of Wilton Drive from four lanes to two, painting the speed limit directly on the street and moving the crosswalk signal in front of city hall a few feet south to Northeast 20 Street. According to FDOT officials, the signal in front of city hall was not placed at Northeast 20 Street because engineers believed it would be used more frequently at its current location.

Resident Kate Donohue said when she’s used it the signal takes too long to work. “No wonder people jaywalk.”

But while commissioners promised more action, they also said people need to take personal responsibility and use the crosswalks. “If we put 10 more [crosswalks] in it’s not going to make a difference,” said Vice Mayor Scott Newton. Mayor Gary Resnick said people will continue to jaywalk, no matter where the signal is placed, if it’s more convenient. “You cannot change human behavior,” Resnick said.