New flashing signs appear to help at SW 62nd Blvd. crosswalk

Pedestrians use a crosswalk featuring a new flashing sign on SW 62 Blvd. in Gainesville on Friday. The city has installed new flashing crosswalk signs to help pedestrians cross the boulevard in an area that has seen several accidents, some serious.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8:41 p.m.

The Southwest 62nd Boulevard crosswalk is about 37 steps end to end. Until recently, they were 37 dangerous steps.

In February, two people were hospitalized with broken bones after being hit by a driver while they were using this crosswalk, and police say there have been numerous other incidents involving endangered pedestrians.

But today the crosswalk, where some 70 drivers were issued traffic citations recently, appears to be distinctly less dangerous since the city has put in place several traffic safety devices over the past week.

Now about 80 feet before the crosswalk, a flashing sign about 10 feet high reads, “Motorist yield to ped in crosswalk.” At the crosswalk, three neon yellow signs tell drivers to slow down and stop for pedestrians.

When pedestrians want to cross Southwest 62nd, they now push a button to activate orange flashing lights. A similar flashing neon sign is stationed farther down in the road.

On Friday, most drivers waited until all pedestrians had finished crossing the entire road before proceeding. Others waited until there weren’t any people in the way, while a few drivers sped through, even after pedestrians had begun to cross.

According to Gainesville Police Department spokesman Officer Ben Tobias, after all the pedestrian incidents and dozens of traffic tickets had been issued, several city agencies decided to take action.

“Out of all the crosswalks in Gainesville, this one just seems to be a center for incidents,” he said. “We tested the situation, and in even in broad daylight, with pedestrians wearing brightly colored clothing or in groups of five, the drivers would not yield.”

Since the different signs and lights have been installed, the number of incidents has decreased, Tobias said.

Ryan Evans, 22, a University of Florida finance major, uses the crosswalk every day to get to his bus. Although some drivers are more cautious, others don’t notice the signs, especially at night, he said.

“It’s amazing how with all those lights flashing and signs, some people still don’t stop,” he said.

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