Law enforcement agencies in Manatee, Sarasota putting special focus on pedestrian safety

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 8:54 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 7:33 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Law enforcement agencies throughout the Suncoast are joining in a effort to protect pedestrians and bicyclists by focusing extra patrols in areas known to be hazardous, officials said.

Agencies have received funding for the High Visibility Enforcement initiative, to pay for overtime hours to conduct operations and special training on Florida’s bicycle and pedestrian laws, procedures, and best practices.

The special patrols will continue through May 2023.

“What we do is target a section or different multiple sections within the county,” said Matt Binkley with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. “We’ll go into that area, we’ll target that area and we’ll educate. We’ll enforce in order to eliminate the amount of incidents that are occurring.”

Many drivers ABC7 talked with say a lot of the roads are very dangerous, especially in high traffic areas. “Bad, really bad, everyone is in a big hurry,” said Michael Richards, a Sarasota resident.

One pedestrian, Steve, who walks on Bee Ridge Road everyday near Village Green Drive in Sarasota says it makes him nervous to walk there. “There’s no respect, a lot of blind spots,” he said. “Drivers really just don’t care, that’s the way it is.”

Law enforcement says the end goal of the new initiative is awareness, education, and to keep people safe.

“We really want people to see us there for that presence,” said Randy Warren, a spokesperson for the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. “We’re going to be able to write citations, it’s not that we want to but it’s going to be necessary, we want people to understand that there’s a reason there have been a lot of unfortunate crashes.”

Sarasota and Manatee counties rank in the top 25 counties in Florida for traffic crashes resulting in serious and fatal injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists. The goal of this enforcement effort is to increase awareness of and compliance with traffic laws that protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. Efforts will focus primarily on education to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

However, violations may result in warnings or citations depending on the circumstances.

Here are the locations in Manatee County that will be targeted.

  • 14th St. W. (63rd Ave. W. to 60th Ave. W.)
  • 14th St. W. (69th Ave. W. to 900 ft. north of 66th Ave. W.)
  • 14th St. W. (57th Ave. W. to 55th Ave. W.)
  • Cortez Rd. W. (28th St. W. to 17th St. W.)
  • 14th St. W. (53rd Ave. W. to Cortez Rd. W.)
  • 14th St. W. (Cortez Rd. W. to 28th Ave. W.)
  • 15th St. E. (63rd Ave. E. to 41 Ave. E.)
  • 15th St. E. (30th Ave. E. to 22nd Ave. E.)
  • Cortez Rd. W. (66th St. W. to Timber Lane)
  • 301 Blvd. E. (1st St. to 9th St. E.)
  • Lockwood Ridge Rd. (University Pkwy. to Glenbrooke Dr.)
  • 5th St. E. (61st Ave. E. to 59th Ave. E.)
  • 53rd Ave. E. (24th St. E. to 37th St. E.)
  • US 301 (60th Ave. E. to 100th Dr. E.)
  • US 301 (25th Dr. E. to 45 Ave. E.)
  • US 41 N. (20th St. E. to 27th Ave. E.)
  • US 19 (45th St. Ct. W. to Bayshore Dr.)
  • US 41 N. (33rd St. W. to 45 St. E.)

Locations in Sarasota County include:

• Bee Ridge Road from Village Green Drive to Maceachen Boulevard, Sawyer Road to Bond Place, and Maxfield Drive to I-75.

• Fruitville Road from Houle Avenue to Paramount Drive.

• South Tamiami Trail from Park Place to Jacaranda Boulevard, E. Seminole Drive to Sunset Beach Drive, Beneva Road to N. Lakepointe Boulevard, and Blackburn Point Road to E. Bay Street.

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