TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. -
"I've almost been hit by a car on several occasions here. I think this is one of the worst intersections for pedestrians and bikes on the trail," recalled Margie Prichard, who was running the trail.
The Pinellas Trail serves the recreation needs for thousands of people every day. But it can be dangerous when it intersects with roadways. George Matzke rides the section of the trail in Tarpon Springs about four times a week. He says crossing Klosterman Rd. where it meets Alternate 19 can be challenging.
"One of the worst ones to cross. Probably the most dangerous because of the amount of traffic here," explained Matzke.
Most cars observe the crosswalk laws and give right of way to trail users. But some don't; and create a potentially life-threatening situation for walkers, runners and cyclists.
"The fact that the people are heading pretty quickly northbound and they make that right turn, and they don't even look into the crosswalk," said Prichard
Matzke has witnessed the scene unfold countless times.
"I haven't really seen any accidents here personally at this intersection, but I've seen a lot of near-misses," he said.
Now, in a letter to Pinellas officials, the Florida Department of Transportation is recommending some changes to make the intersection safer.
"Those include upgrading the signing. They have recommended a blank-out sign for the westbound right turn movement, and they've also suggested that we trim back some vegetation in the southeast corner of the intersection," said Pinellas County Traffic Engineer Tom Washburn.
Changing the six-word sign sign that reads: 'Turning Traffic MUST Yield to Pedestrians' to the more direct approach sign, that is part yellow and includes an actual 'Yield' sign and pedestrian symbol, is likely to have a greater impact on drivers.
And several miles down the road, the blank-out sign is already in use where the trail crosses Curlew Rd. Trail users, like Joan Roberson of Palm Harbor, activate the signal keeping motorists in place while they cross.
"If you can make people safe and give bike riders and walkers a safer venue to cross, I think that's great," said Roberson.
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