A May 2 pedestrian accident on Wilton Drive has one man promising an act of civil disobedience.
“The Drive will be blocked,” said Fort Lauderdale resident Andrew Brett at the May 12 commission meeting. He declined to provide details on when he would try and block the street.
Brett said he was prompted to speak out because of the May 2 accident. According to the police report, two men were struck by a vehicle at the corner of Northeast 20 Street and Wilton Drive at 11:39 p.m. They were sent to Broward General Hospital but have since been released. The driver was given a ticket for an improper turn. Each pedestrian was given a ticket for failing to use a crosswalk.
At the commission meeting, Brett accused commissioners of not doing enough to make Wilton Drive safer. Specifically, he criticized the commission for placing the traffic crosswalk signal in front of city hall instead of at Northeast 20 Street. He also stated this was the second time he has been before the commission to talk about safety on Wilton Drive. The first was after a pedestrian accident involving three of his friends.
In a rare response to a public speaker from the dais, commissioners defended their past efforts.
Mayor Gary Resnick and Vice Mayor Scott Newton said the city tried to get the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] to place the pedestrian traffic signal at Wilton Drive and Northeast 20 Street but FDOT chose the other location. The street is owned and controlled by FDOT.
Mark Plass, district traffic operations engineer for FDOT’s Fort Lauderdale office, said FDOT chose the location in front of city hall because it estimated that location would be used more by pedestrians.
“Northeast 20 Street did not meet our standards. We thought it would be more useful in front of city hall,” Plass said.
Newton defended the placement though. “It may not be the most convenient but it is a safe place [to cross],” Newton said.
Other crosswalks have been added to the street in recent years and city officials were also successful in getting FDOT to lower the Wilton Drive speed limit from 35 to 30. Commissioners also voted recently to make it illegal for pedestrians to panhandle within 200 feet of intersections along Wilton Drive and other major streets in the city. The move was decried by some as targeting homeless individuals. Commissioners defended the move as a pedestrian safety measure.
“We’ve done a tremendous amount,” Resnick said. On Walkscore.com, a site that rates how pedestrian-friendly cities are, Wilton Manors got a 71, one of the highest in Florida. Oakland Park got a 52 and Fort Lauderdale got a 54.
Resnick suggested the city may go back to issuing jaywalking tickets. The city, he said, tried that strategy a few years ago but stopped after receiving a lot of complaints.