Plan "C" for Common Sense


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An alternative approach to pedestrian safety in the core area of Pensacola Beach instead of the proposed $25 million vehicular overpass.

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Plan "C" for Common Sense

  1. 1. Plan “C” – A Common Sense Approach to Pedestrian Safety in the Core Area of Pensacola BeachUrban design techniques should serve to enhance the human experience in the environment.The tenets of New Urbanism give primacy to the pedestrian over the automobile. Both of theseconcepts offer a sound foundation to creating a walkable, laid back, beach experience. If thegoal of core area improvements is to create a “Beach to Bay” experience, a raised roadwayseparating automobiles from pedestrians is the wrong way to go about it.A raised roadway would create an edge, a visual barrier, separating the Casino Beach area fromthe Boardwalk. No matter how enticing the pedestrian portion under the raised roadway may be,there is no getting around the fact that a horizontal slab of concrete approximately 1,125 feetlong will serve as a visual barrier to the observer. This barrier will make it less attractive to walkfrom beach to bay rather than enticing this kind of pedestrian activity. There is a better way.Urban design teaches us that people need to be excited and drawn from one place to another.Beach visitors are naturally drawn to the water’s edge whether it is to see the emerald bluewaters of a summer day or the grandeur of the waves during a winter storm. Think about thethings that draw you near – the edge of the Grand Canyon, the ocean’s shore, a beautifulgarden, a fountain, a street festival with sounds and colors and the aroma of good food. Thepaths to the Boardwalk can be that kind of attractor, but what if it is separated by a ribbon ofconcrete?There is a simple solution with three easily achievable components: more crosswalks, bettercrosswalks, and public safety enforcement.More CrosswalksCrosswalks are needed in additional locations. Many times pedestrians are observed crossingPensacola Beach Boulevard, Via De Luna, and Fort Pickens Road where there are nocrosswalks. Suggested places to add crosswalks include between the future Innerlight locationand Quietwater Beach, between the Visitor’s Center and the Boardwalk parking lot, and nearthe shopping center near Via De Luna and Avenida 10. This is not a complete list andpedestrian patterns should be studied to determine final locations and quantities.Crosswalk ImprovementsThe current crosswalks are pavers set at grade. They are attractive and durable, but they arenot effective at slowing down vehicles and increasing pedestrian safety. Replacing the currentcrosswalks with raised crosswalks and adopting this design for future additional crosswalkswould enhance pedestrian safety and promote beach to bay pedestrian traffic – two of the stategoals.Raised crosswalks are Speed Tables outfitted with crosswalk markings and signage tochannelize pedestrian crossings, providing pedestrians with a level street crossing. Also, byraising the level of the crossing, pedestrians are more visible to approaching motorists.
  2. 2. Raised crosswalks are good for locations where pedestrian crossings occur at haphazardlocations and vehicle speeds are excessive.Advantages: • Raised Crosswalks improve safety for both pedestrians and vehicles • If designed well, they can have positive aesthetic value • They are effective in reducing speeds, though not to the extent of speed humpsDisadvantages: • Textured materials, if used, can be expensive • Their impacts on drainage needs to be considered • They may increase noise and air pollutionEffectiveness: • For a 22-foot Speed Table (the most similar device for which data is available): o Average of 18% decrease in the 85th percentile travel speeds, or from an average of 36.7 to 30.1 miles per hour; (from a sample of 58 sites). o Average of 45% decrease in accidents, or from an average of 6.7 to 3.7 accidents per year (from a sample of 8 sites).Cost Estimate: • 10 current crosswalks, plus 6 additional crosswalks at $4,000 per crosswalk for a total estimated cost of $64,000.Public Safety EnforcementA public safety campaign should be enacted to educate both pedestrians and drivers aboutexisting laws. Reference to Florida Statutes 316 (see except below) are posted at the toll booth,but an enforcement campaign, including issuing citations and a greater law enforcementpresence during the education period, coupled with public service announcements and othermedia would serve to educate the public. Additionally, adding flashing lights to crosswalk signsas part of the crosswalk improvements discussed above would assist.316.130 Pedestrians; traffic regulations.—(1) A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic control device specificallyapplicable to the pedestrian unless otherwise directed by a police officer.(7)(a) The driver of a vehicle at an intersection that has a traffic control signal in place shallstop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permittedsignal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalkand is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian isapproaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.(b) The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remainstopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk orsteps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is travelingor when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to bein danger.