Sarasota County Takes Another Stab At Bicycle And Pedestrian Safety Plan

Aug 5, 2013

Credit NYCDOT / Flickr / Creative Commons

Sarasota County officials are taking another stab at creating a bicycle and pedestrian safety plan.

In six years, Sarasota County saw more than one thousand accidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians. Florida, and Sarasota County in particular, has some of the highest rates of accidents involving people biking or walking.

Mike Lasche, a bicycle safety advocate in Sarasota, said Southwest Florida is “ground zero in the country for bicycle crashes.”

Lasche also said Florida has consistently been an unsafe place for pedestrians for decades. He attributed much of this to the fact that cities in Florida have historically been planned to accommodate more car travel. He said that in Sarasota County’s case any progress to fix this problem has been hampered by inaction among county officials.

“Sarasota County in general has provided a tepid effort in terms of bicycle and pedestrian work,” he said. “I characterize a lot of it as benign neglect.”

In 1999, there was a plan to make Sarasota safer for people not traveling by car or bus, but it never got approved. However, Sarasota County officials are taking up another effort to fix the situation.

Beth Rozansky, a planner with Sarasota County, is working on the final safety plan.

“Hopefully we will see a lot of changes and a variety of programs being implemented,” she said. “The plan really identifies what issues we might have what areas of improvement need to be taken.”

Rozansky said having an approved plan will help the county seek funding for the project, which she says is a big motivation to move things forward this time.