Pedestrian struck in the Shoppes of Avondale

Pedestrian struck in the Shoppes of Avondale
pedistrian hit main

Paramedics work on a woman who was struck by a car while crossing St. Johns Avenue on Mar. 8, Riverside Avondale Trolley Night

Incident highlights vulnerability, need for plans –

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

That sentiment applies equally to drivers and to pedestrians who traverse the Historic District’s retail corridors on busy streets. Unfortunately, two individuals did not take heed on the night of Mar. 8, when a pedestrian crossing St. John’s Avenue in the block between Talbot and Ingleside was struck by a southbound motorist.

St. John’s Avenue, or State Route 211, has a 30 mile per hour speed limit by law; however, thanks to District 14 Councilman Jim Love, a few years ago the Florida Department of Transportation agreed to post signs for 25 mph through the two-block stretch that defines that retail corridor.

But, just because you can drive 25 miles an hour on St. John’s Avenue through the Shoppes of Avondale, doesn’t mean you should. Likewise, just because you are accustomed to crossing the middle of the road from one shop to another or to your car, doesn’t mean you should avoid using the crosswalk.

Since a crash report record was unavailable, The Resident cannot confirm whether speeding was a factor. However, it was known that the pedestrian was not crossing the street in a designated crosswalk, instead stepping out from between cars in front of Blue Fish Restaurant and Oyster Bar between 9 and 9:30 p.m.

Residents and customers of the Shoppes of Avondale have traditionally enjoyed crossing St. John’s Avenue from any point along the corridor. With the opening of Mellow Mushroom, and the creation of a special zone to provide liquor licenses for Biscottis and the Casbah Café,  the area will only continue to see more people patronizing the Shoppes. Ultimately, this means more pedestrian traffic out and about in the streets.

Issue pervasive in urban areas

It’s not just Avondale that struggles with the issues of unwelcome speeding. “You hear it over and over again,” said Lori Boyer, District 5 Councilwoman and sponsor of the Context Sensitive Streets Ordinance which went into effect a year ago. “One of the ideas with Context Sensitive Streets was that we were supposed to be able to have different speed limits, perhaps different design standards, for different streets in different areas.”

According to Boyer, there needs to be a conversation to come up with parking solutions and traffic calming for the urban residential streets because there is capacity to have more cars drive down urban streets, just not at fast speeds through residential areas.

“We have to do something,” said Boyer. “Speed humps are not the answer on every street, but we have to get a lower speed limit that is enforceable…stop signs, narrowing the streets…something.”

Regarding Avondale, Love said that small speed humps would create too much noise, larger ones would reduce the speed limit too much, and anything proposed would have to go through the State of Florida.

In fact, three entities would have to be involved to make changes: FDOT, City of Jacksonville Public Works and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, according to Kevin Kuzel, executive assistant to Councilman Love.

In Boyer’s online newsletter, she noted “the number of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities in Jacksonville, and our rating as one of the least bicycle and pedestrian friendly communities in the country, is a major impediment to recruiting young adults to our City and impacts our business climate and workforce. We are lagging behind most other urban areas in this shift, to our competitive detriment and at a cost to our quality of life.”

“From a mindset, if we’re going to recognize we have more urban areas, we have to acknowledge that pedestrians are going to be walking back and forth,” Boyer concluded. “This is going to continue to intensify and come to a head soon.”

Do you think this issue deserves more consideration? Are your elected officials working to correct this problem? Share your thoughts with [email protected] or call (904) 388-8839 x103.
By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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