Around 15,000 pedestrians and bikers used the Pinellas Trail to cross Skinner Boulevard in May of 2021 alone. According to traffic consultant Jerry Dabkowski, “That’s a lot of folks.” He revealed this information to the City Commission on August 17, 2021.
The Commission met to discuss some of the inherent dangers the trial poses. As foot and bike traffic in the area increases, so do accidents. Since 2015, there have been 125 crashes along Skinner. Ninety-eight of these accidents involved vehicles, at least 71% of all reported.
The city now plans to redesign the area. According to Dabkowski, “We want to make it safer for the cyclists to cross over."
The entire area could be seeing a massive overhaul. Plans include roundabouts along Skinner, crossing at both Douglas Avenue and Highland Avenue. The speed limit is planned to drop to 25 mph. It is currently set at 35 and 40, depending on the area. The redesign will have only two driving lanes, reducing the current number by half. There are also plans for bus turnoffs, redirecting the large vehicles out of travel lanes.
Changes could be made for the bikers and pedestrians as well. The city wants to add seven-foot bicycle lanes to both sides of the corridors. Sidewalks, landscaping, and palm trees have been proposed, making walking more shaded and less strenuous.
Overall, the redesign will cost a projected $1 million. The city could pull funds from a variety of places. Potential sources include proceeds from the community redevelopment fund, money from the Penny for Pinellas, and funds pulled directly from the Florida Department of Transportation.
The city is also aware of current building projects and their future impact on traffic. Currently, there are five building projects along Milwaukee Ave., including the Artisan East Apartment Homes. These additions could bring an estimated 1,035 more cars to the area. The projected improvements propose a longer left turn on Skinner, helping reduce future congestion.
Design for the area should begin in July of 2022, and the city could start breaking ground in 2023. If all goes according to plan, the entire project could be finished by the end of 2024.
Liability in Bicycle and Pedestrian Accident
These improvements are good news for pedestrians and bicyclists. Bikers and pedestrians are vulnerable to accidents when motorized vehicles are involved. Catastrophic injuries can occur, leading to permanent disability or disfigurement. According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), at least 30% of all bicycle accidents in the U.S. involve an automobile.
If involved in a car accident, both pedestrians and bicyclists may receive benefits from the driver’s insurance. They may also be entitled to compensation beyond insurance benefits. Personal injury law revolves around “liability,” the legal term for responsibility. There are many ways a driver may be liable in an accident with a pedestrian or bicyclist.
Drivers can break traffic laws. Some common mistakes are speeding and driving through stops. Often, motorists get too comfortable on the road and drive distracted. Distracted drivers may be texting, eating, focusing on the radio, etc. Many Florida drivers are guilty of negligent or reckless driving when they zip through lanes, and take unnecessary risks. DUIs are still a common problem among drivers, too.
In court, you may be able to prove the driver’s negligence or reckless driving. By proving your case, you can be compensated for any expenses connected to your injury. You may have your medical bills covered along with repairs to your bicycle. Any income lost during recovery, including potential income, may be reimbursed to you as well. You may also be entitled to “non-economic” damages, where you receive money for your pain and suffering.
If you’ve been hurt in a pedestrian or bicycling accident, contact our office for a free consultation. We may be able to help you seek justice for your injuries. Our number is (727) 202-5499, and you can contact us online.