City gets serious about pedestrian crashes

City gets serious about pedestrian crashes

“Enough is enough,” said Jim Robinson, Public Works Director for the City of Jacksonville. That comment was part of Robinson’s remarks last month to a group of concerned individuals who convened for the kickoff of the Crosswalk Coalition.

Robinson was referring to the spate of bicycle and pedestrian accidents that have occurred in recent years to make Jacksonville number three in the nation for pedestrian accidents or fatalities. He is part of a group challenged by Mayor Alvin Brown to develop and launch a campaign that looks at a broad set of factors to create an initiative in engineering, education and enforcement that will “make a dent in solving this public problem.”

At the same time, District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer has initiated legislation to address speed on local roads (Bill 2014-666) and to create a process that enables a City Council member to request the installation of a marked crosswalk (2014-667).

She also recently launched a crosswalk coalition with the goal to identify locations where pedestrian accidents have occurred, where there are bus stops, and where there are concentrations of senior citizens or middle schools.

“The rising number of fatalities is unacceptable and we have to provide safe ways for citizens to cross a street. Education will certainly be part of the process, for pedestrians as well as drivers,” Boyer noted.

Crosswalk Coalition
At the kickoff meeting on Oct. 23, attended by about 35 people, mostly from a variety of health, safety and senior services agencies, Boyer said that her initial focus was on seniors and middle schools, not on an all-purpose comprehensive solution.

“In Jacksonville, middle schools do not have crosswalks or crossing guards. Students come out of duPont Middle like a shotgun across St. Augustine Road and there have been some near accidents as a result,” Boyer said. “If they don’t have a good place to cross, it’s hard to fault them for crossing wherever they choose.”

She noted that when it comes to the senior population, “we have circumstances where they’re not quite as quick crossing the road, maybe don’t hear or see as well.”

After a presentation of statistics on pedestrian crashes and fatalities by Denise Chaplick, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the City, Boyer asked the audience to help her broaden the base of individuals knowledgeable about the concentration of middle schools and senior centers and facilities, the destinations to and from which they are walking, the locations or absences of bus stops and crosswalks.

Boyer hopes that one result of this coalition is to get funding from civic organizations, PTAs and senior facilities to “adopt a road for safety” and pay for the installed of an appropriate crosswalk. She provided a range of costs from $1500 to $5500, depending on the location of the intersection, the type of road, volume and speed of traffic, and the type of crosswalk required.

Public education will be a large part of both the Mayor’s initiative and Boyer’s coalition. “Motorists need to know that they have an obligation to yield to the pedestrian. It’s not a normal mode of driving in Jacksonville where they yield every time a pedestrian steps into a crosswalk,” she remarked. It is a state law that drivers are required to stop when a pedestrian begins to cross a street within a designated crosswalk, noted at a minimum with striped pavement or inclusive of flashing signs or in-pavement warning lights.

Teresa Barton, CEO of Aging True, was one of the participants and shared that safety is the most important thing for seniors, especially seniors living Downtown. “There is a real concern that they feel that in order to take advantage of the services, they have to have better assurances of safety from the city in terms of crosswalks,” she said. “We’re in the community at large and we see the senior population; unfortunately some of them become homebound through no fault of their own, simply because they are fearful of even getting to a bus stop.”

Barton stated that without appropriate crosswalks and adequate crossing times, it’s a complete barrier to independence for seniors.
“It will take us all; not one group can do it alone. This is truly a group effort to be effective,” said Robinson. “We applaud Council Member Boyer’s efforts to take this on as a personal initiative and to focus on doing something quickly.”

If you think you can contribute to the conversation about pedestrian safety and adequate crosswalks, contact Councilwoman Boyer at

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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