Bradenton ranks among worst in nation for pedestrian accidents, police are stepping up

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Bradenton ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the country for drivers, and now the police department is stepping up. Officers are going to increase patrols to cut down the number of deadly accidents.

When Jennifer Glidden walks through Bradenton with her five-month old daughter, she is extremely careful.

“It can be tricky,” Glidden said.

Some drivers don’t care and have nearly hit them.

“If they’re turning when the [pedestrian signal] is going and I’m caught in the middle, I’m like ‘whoa!’ It’s happened twice in the last week,” Glidden remarked.

But, she’s among the lucky ones.

A study found Bradenton-Sarasota ranks as the 10th most dangerous region in the country for pedestrian accidents. On average, 20 people die every year in Sarasota and Manatee counties in bicycle and pedestrian deaths.

“There are some cars that don’t stop,” said Glidden.

So Bradenton police will be working overtime. Officers are increasing enforcement at four key intersections: Manatee Avenue at 9th Street West, 14th Street West at 21st Avenue, 1st Street and 13th Avenue and Manatee Avenue & 43rd Street West.

Dave Hutchinson with the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization says older drivers and tourists bear a lot of the blame. One in three crashes in Sarasota and Manatee counties include a senior citizen.

“Downtown Bradenton has a lot of turning movements, a lot of traffic, and it is a hotspot for congestion and for accidents,” said Hutchinson.

His team is working with FDOT to reduce the problem, proposing ideas like signal enhancements, narrower lanes and more sidewalks. FDOT is also exploring the possibility of lowering speed limits.

“We do know that lower speeds reduces severity of accidents and injuries,” explained Hutchinson.

MPO does extensive research on crashes in the area. For example, on an eight mile stretch of Manatee Avenue from East Bay Drive to 15th Street West, there were a total of 993 crashes and eight fatalities from 2010 to 2015.

Hutchinson praises the new police program. He also says bicyclists should ride with traffic on the right side of the road and pedestrians should walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. But, some folks say everyone bears some personal responsibility.

“If you pay attention, you should be able to walk across the street without getting hit by a car,” said Juan Torres as he strolled through Bradenton.

The public is invited to a workshop with community and federal leaders to address the road issues in the region. It will be held November 2 from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex in Sarasota.

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