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The last meeting of 2022 for Wilton Manors City Commissioners was unique for two reasons: it was exceptionally brief and, as noted by Mayor Scott Newton, all public comments had a positive tone. 

The first part of the meeting was spent learning about a new, hopefully safer way for bicyclists to get around busy intersections. Commissioners liked the idea of trying something new, but weren’t ready to sign off. FDOT sent a representative to unveil how a Protected Intersection Crosswalk (PIC) would work. The idea is proposed for Wilton Drive and NE 20th St.

If you’ve never heard of a PIC, that’s understandable. This would be the first one in Florida. A video explaining how to use one was shown and then a diagram was put up. This one intersection would involve changing the way pedestrians, bike lanes, auto lanes, and street-side parking interact. It would also create an apron on some corners for trucks to have extra space while turning.

Commissioner Chris Caputo, an avid bike rider and bike safety proponent, had a lot of questions about how bike lanes would function for “Warrior Riders” versus your average leisure bike rider. Another concern of the commission is that, due to structural issues on the Richardson Park corner, only three points of the intersection would be truly affected.

It would also take a lot of education to get people to re-learn how to drive/park/walk/bike in that area. Commissioners also wanted to know would this intersection be one-and-done? Or would this be a pilot program in Wilton Manors with more intersections to come? The FDOT representative said she would look into many of the questions and meet further with city officials.

Vice Mayor Mike Bracchi asked perhaps the most pertinent question: What problem is being solved? He asked Police Chief Gary Blocker to research traffic issues in that area.

Get It To Go

Commissioners also spent time addressing a traffic safety issue in front of Ethos and Chef Nate’s restaurants. Ethos has offered to pay $220 per month for one dedicated parking space in front of their restaurant ($420 per month for two spaces during the season). This would be a reduced rate for a meter spot, only about seven dollars per day.

The reason behind the request is that there is extremely limited parking for restaurants in that building, and many get their orders to go or use delivery services. That forces drivers to park illegally and dangerously, often during peak times. This would allow drivers a safe space to do their jobs. 

Commissioners' concerns were about treating Ethos differently and setting a precedent for future dedicated parking space rentals. To the last point, it was noted that most restaurants along Wilton Drive have access to at least some lot parking so future requests are expected to be few, though no criteria were established for future requests. Newton was concerned that other restaurants by Ethos would be put at a disadvantage. It was decided that the signage wouldn’t be specific for any restaurant, even though Ethos is paying for it.

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