Symposium Aims to Curb Vehicle/Pedestrian Accidents

As residents blame city officials for pedestrian accidents on Wilton Drive and city officials tell residents and visitors to use the crosswalks, both sides look for ways to improve safety.

To improve the safety of Wilton Drive, which has experienced at least two pedestrian accidents, city officials have been communicating with the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT]. But at the June 23 commission meeting, Assistant City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson said all the city’s proposals, including painting the speed limit onto the street, have been rejected by FDOT.

Commissioners said they haven’t given up yet and will continue to press their case to state officials.

The panel discussion, organized by Central Area Neighborhood Association President Paul Rolli, will include a panel discussion with an FDOT representative.

It will be held on Wednesday, July 15 at 7 p.m. at Hagen Park, 2020 Wilton Drive.

Commissioner Tom Green cited 595, A1A and SR 84 as examples of state roads that already have the speed limit painted right onto them.

“These things are not unheard of,” said Green at the June 23 commission meeting. Two weeks earlier, Green, while expressing support for trying to make Wilton Drive safer, pointed to Las Olas Boulevard, a street where pedestrians are also injured and killed by motorists. Las Olas, he said, is much more pedestrian-friendly than Wilton Drive, with its higher number of crosswalks and narrower lanes.

“People still get hit. But it helps,” Green said.

Two options still open to the city include the relocation of the traffic signal in front of city hall a few feet south to Northeast 20 Street. Proponents say the move will encourage more people to cross the street safely.

In response to being accused of not doing enough to make Wilton Drive safer, officials have said pedestrians should only cross at crosswalks. “[Safety is] everyone’s responsibility,” Newton said.

According to the Wilton Manors Police Department, there have been two fatalities on Wilton Drive since 2009. One in 2009 and the other in 2014. Three occurred on Oakland Park Blvd. – 2009, 2011 and 2013. Oakland Park Blvd. had the most accidents, fatal and non-fatal, with 32 since 2009. Wilton Drive had 18, Andrews Avenue had 21, Northwest 9 Avenue had 14 and Northeast 6 Avenue had 12. According to FDOT, pedestrians are more likely to get hit by a vehicle if they don’t use an intersection than if they do.

Unable to get any changes to the roadway yet, the police department has begun issuing jaywalking tickets to pedestrians who don’t use crosswalks.

 

“It’s a start,” said Mayor Gary Resnick at the June 9 commission meeting. Green said he supports handing out tickets but “I don’t want a major portion of our police force ticketing.”


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