JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Walking or riding a bicycle across Beach Boulevard can be a risky situation.
The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization discussed plans with the community on how it can make Beach Boulevard safer for pedestrians during a meeting Monday night at the Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.
According to TPO officials, the most pedestrian accidents have happened on the stretch of Beach Boulevard between Southside Boulevard and Interstate 295.
The meeting gave Southside Jacksonville residents the opportunity to weigh on what they think needs to be done to make the area safer.
"Well, DOT (Florida Department of Transportation) needs to take a survey of leading red lights and green lights in our neighborhood," said Donnie Oulton, the president of the Glynlea Park Neighborhood Association, who attended the meeting. "The one at Walmart is the same way. People just want to cross the road as fast as they can without watching for pedestrians. There's a lot of pedestrians that walk across there."
Recent studies show 66 crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles have occurred on Beach Boulevard between Southside Boulevard and I-295. Four of those crashes were fatal, and all of them happened at night.
"I drive this area a lot. I see a lot of people cutting across the road without marked intersections and crosswalks," Jacksonville City Councilman Scott Wilson said. "It's a scary situation."
According to TPO officials, the common causes for pedestrian crashes include crossing when there's a "Don't Walk" signal, failing to yield right of way and people not being visible at night.
"I think education is one of the main components because you see these pedestrians just darting across Beach Boulevard with five or six lanes of traffic and it's really scary," Wilson said.
Oulton said improving the red lights in his neighborhood would help, especially for those accessing the boat ramp.
“People are want to come across without stopping, without looking for pedestrians," he said. "They’re either walking across there, they’re wanting to do their kayaking and canoe, and we’re all about public safety in this neighborhood here.”
The TPO has plans for a safety campaign, which will include passing out bracelets that reflect, and putting up LED lights so drivers can see pedestrians crossing the road.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office also weighed in during Monday night's meeting.
According to the Sheriff's Office, most of the people who died in pedestrian crashes were over the age of 40. It also said the crashes typically involved the use of drugs or alcohol.