We Demand a Safer West Cervantes St., Now
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Pensacola’s West Cervantes St. is a chronic hotspot of pedestrian and cyclist deaths and injuries. The recent deaths of two pedestrians—a young woman and child—are the latest tragedies in a long history of deaths and injuries along this dangerous corridor. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) constructed and continues to maintain a W. Cervantes St. corridor that is an immediate threat to public health and safety.
While we commend the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners for requesting that the FDOT immediately install the “short-term recommendations” outlined in the 2016 West Cervantes Street Corridor Management Plan, we must do more, right now, to prevent another tragedy in our community.
As the long-term plans and short-term recommendations to redesign the Corridor are being implemented, we demand that FDOT, in conjunction with the City of Pensacola and Escambia County, swiftly act on the following safety measures that are relatively inexpensive, simple, and proven to enhance public safety:
Reduce the speed limit to 30 miles per hour
Reduced speeds are vital to preventing death and serious injury along West Cervantes Street, due to the direct relationship between vehicle speed and severity of injury. Every increment of reduction in vehicle speed—especially in the critical zone between 25 mph and 40 mph—significantly increases the reaction time for both the driver and the pedestrian, decreases the chances for impact, and reduces the severity of damage if impact occurs.
Narrow the travel lanes to 10 foot or 10.5 foot widths
For the minimal cost of the paint and labor to apply it, narrow the travel lanes on Cervantes St.—a proven strategy to reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety. Currently, the street has 11 foot wide travel lanes, which increases traffic speeds and the risk and severity of crashes. Annual crash rates per vehicle-mile tend to be lowest for relatively narrow lane widths, and are highest on wider, straight streets.
Increase police enforcement & presence
We recommend the immediate use of digital radar trailers to monitor traffic and to provide drivers a constant display of speed that reinforces the reduced speed limit. These trailers should be strategically parked in center turn lanes, to further reduce traffic speeds by providing a physical and visual barrier. Police officers should also increase their presence on Cervantes Street, to additionally reinforce drivers to either slow down, or receive a speeding ticket.
Add designated crosswalks, push button signals, and large planters
Despite this corridor having some of the highest pedestrian activity in the region, crosswalks are nearly non-existent, and too far apart to be utilized effectively. For example, the stretch of West Cervantes Street between A Street and Pace Boulevard, has nearly ¾ of a mile between crosswalks—an unreasonable distance to allow for safe pedestrian use. When combined with designated push button signals and large planters in the center turn lanes, traffic will slow down, and result in vehicles giving pedestrians the right-of-way.
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