Sheriff’s Office gets state grant to focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety in high-crash areas

Educational efforts to be top priority at four county intersections

Image courtesy FDOT

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has received a grant for a High Visibility Enforcement (HVE) initiative targeting pedestrian and bicycle safety, the agency has announced.

“Sarasota County ranks in the top 25 counties in Florida for traffic crashes resulting in serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists,” a news release explains. “In an effort to protect the safety of these most vulnerable road users,” the release continues, the Sheriff’s Office has begun conducting HVE details. The initiative will continue through May 2019, the release adds, with the Sheriff’s Office putting its focus on the following locations, as a result of statistical crash data:

• State Road 72 (Clark Road) from Bronx Avenue to South Tamiami Trail.
• U.S. 41 from Business U.S. 41 to Jacaranda Boulevard in Venice.
• The intersection of Bee Ridge and Beneva roads in Sarasota.
• The intersection of Beneva Road and Bahia Vista Street in Sarasota, which is in the Amish and Mennonite community of Pinecraft.

HVE details are funded through a contract with the University of North Florida’s Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM), in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, the release says.

“The goal of the enforcement effort is to increase awareness of and compliance with traffic laws that protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists,” it adds. The primary focus will to educate drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists; however, violations may result in warnings or citations, the release notes.

“Drivers are encouraged to always obey speed limits, never drive impaired, and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists,” the release says. “Bicyclists should obey traffic laws, ride in the direction of traffic, and use lights when riding at night,” it continues. “Finally, pedestrians are asked to cross in crosswalks or at intersections, obey pedestrian signals, and make sure they are visible to drivers when walking at night,” the release adds.