Pedestrian safety continues to be a major issue for our Florida beach communities. In a recent fatality, in 2016, a 64-year old woman in Treasure Island was struck by a truck driven by a 42-year old man accompanied by his wife and children. It was 2:00pm on a sunny Saturday and there was no speed or impairment involved. Gulf Boulevard has an average of two pedestrian-related deaths each year, a dozen pedestrian injuries, and numerous pedestrian-related vehicle collisions.
Moved to action by these crashes, members of Gulf Beaches Rotary conferred widely to learn about safety-related activities in the area communities. We concluded that the only way to reduce or eliminate these tragic deaths and injuries is for pedestrians and for drivers to be more aware of the dangers and to be more careful in avoiding them.
The Club has launched a public awareness campaign with the active support of Jane Castor (Bike/Walk of Tampa Bay), Bob Gualtieri (Sheriff of Pinellas County) and Armand Boudreau, (Chief of Treasure Island Police Department). All of them have signed a letter that is part of the Pedestrian Safety Campaign.
This Campaign initially targets all those who walk, bike and drive on Gulf Boulevard in St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, and North Redington Beach. Businesses along Gulf Boulevard in these towns have been asked to prominently display a large sign stating: Safety—A Shared Responsibility--“Walk with Care, Drive Aware”. The responses have been enthusiastic.
As our residents and visitors continually see these signs over a sustained period of time, we are hopeful that the message will impact behavior. Repetition is the key. Businesses will be revisited and signs reposted. Documentation on the campaign has been provided to other area Rotary clubs with an invitation to join in the public awareness campaign.