After initially focusing on education, Sarasota Police officers turning to enforcement in campaign focusing on safety of bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers

Grant paying for special initiative through May, with results to be provided to FDOT

Siesta Key Association directors have been interested in obtaining grant funds to model an island bicycle safety program on the current campaign of the Sarasota Police Department. Rachel Hackney photo

Using grant funding it won late last year, the Sarasota Police Department is putting a focus through May on enforcing laws to ensure safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, the department has announced.

Each situation is handled on the basis of its own specific circumstances, the department points out in a news release, but officers “will have full discretion” to issue warnings and citations or provide education when they observe a violation.

In December 2016, the department received a grant for a High Visibility Enforcement program for pedestrian and bicycle safety, the release explains.

The first stage of the program focused on education, the release points out. Officers spent time explaining traffic laws to members of the public in areas chosen for the campaign, “in an attempt to reduce the number of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle crashes,” the release adds. As a result, 237 warnings and 17 citations were issued, the release says. “Officers spent 137.5 hours in those educational efforts, the release notes.

The department campaign, which began in January, is a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, the release notes.

“We continue to make the safety of our community our No. 1 priority,” Sgt. Bruce King of the department’s Traffic Unit said in the release. “We want every single driver, pedestrian and bicyclist to understand and know the rules of our roads,” he added. “Safety doesn’t happen by accident.”

All contacts with the public are being documented, the release points out; the results will be sent to FDOT for evaluation at the conclusion of the safety campaign.