Troopers step up pedestrian, bicyclist patrols

Number of deaths has peaked in recent weeks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Highway Patrol says it has noticed an alarming number of pedestrians and bicyclists getting hit on northeast Florida roadways in recent weeks, many of whom have been killed.

There have been 712 crashes in Duval County this year involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Thirty-six were fatal. There were 39 fatalities last year out of 819 crashes, up from 27 deaths out of 641 crashes in 2011.

The latest pedestrian death happened Tuesday night at Butler Boulevard and Interstate 95.

"Not utilizing proper crosswalks, sidewalks, jaywalking, those type of violations," Sgt. Dylan Bryan said as reasons for the crashes.

Now, troopers are stepping up their patrols and keeping a close eye on pedestrians and bicyclists.

"We start with education," Bryan said. "Education, if it isn't sitting the problem properly, will increase to enforcement, and then after that we'll look at possibly engineering -- is there anything we can do with the roadway?"

Drivers see pedestrians taking risks every day in Jacksonville, crossing roads outside of crosswalks.

"It's safer to maintain the crosswalk," Bryan said. "I understand you're trying to cut corners and shorten that distance, but safety is paramount."

Bicyclists also dangerously maneuver through traffic. Bryan witnessed one man cut in front of his marked SUV and several other cars Wednesday. Bryan stopped the bicyclist, who told him he was late for class.

"Today we'll just considered a verbal warning, and just try to be more observant and pay attention to what you're doing, OK?" Bryan told him.

While not everyone is happy to be pulled over by the law, some like Willie Brown, who got a warning for jaywalking, say they welcome the reminders.

"I was just trying to get to my destination. I wasn't thinking about the crosswalks," he said, adding that he learned his lesson.

FHP says besides obeying the rules of the road, pedestrians and bicyclists should wear bright clothing, get off their phones and turn off their music.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.