Pinellas planning group wants to narrow lanes of West Bay Drive for pedestrian safety

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Pedestrian deaths in Pinellas County are double the national average according to Forward Pinellas, a group trying to make roads safer for people walking and bicycling.

The group wants to make changes to West Bay Drive between the Pinellas Trail and the Courtney Campbell Causeway, a stretch they say is heavy with accidents.

The speed limit in the area is 30 miles per hour, but many driver go even faster.

"For pedestrians, it certainly dangerous," said Paul Cardone, who drives West Bay drive everyday to work and back home to Spring Hill. "All I do is see accidents."

Cardone says West Bay, "just certainly feels like a wide-open road." He thinks narrowing the lanes is a good idea.

Forward Pinellas says making the roads tighter naturally forces drivers to go a little slower. All they want to see is more drivers obeying the speed limit. 

"Narrowing the [thoroughfare] would make it easier to realize what’s going on peripherally," said Cardone.

The proposed plan, which is just in the talking phase right now, would be to cut the 12-foot-wide outer lanes down to eleven feet and the inner lanes to ten feet.

Either bike lanes would then be added to the road or the sidewalks widened for cyclists. The cost would be minimal, because proposal would group the road project into the Pinellas County's resurfacing project, which happens every 10 or 15 years.

Bob Servetter is a avid cyclist. He wants the lanes to stay the same.

"When I drive on it the lanes are already narrow enough. There’s enough congestion," said Servetter. "It’s a tough situation there whether not to put the bicycle lanes in or not."

Servetter would like to see West Bay Drive become more bicycle friendly. He says turning an entire lane into a bike lane would be a better alternative.

"I’m all for having some sort of bike access down there," said Servetter. "I would like to see it go all the way down Indian Rocks Road because Indian Rocks doesn’t have a bike lane either and we live on Indian Rocks."

Forward Pinellas says because of pushback the resurfacing project is temporarily on hold as they come up with a plan everyone can jump on board with.

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