The family of a woman who was hit on her bicycle while riding the Ft. Frasier Trail wants changes made to a dangerous crossing. Bay News 9 reported the crash happened this month when the cyclist was in the crosswalk and struck by a car at the intersection of U.S. 98 and Ernest Smith Blvd, in Bartow.
David Bryant said a couple of things were responsible for the dangerous situation that caused his wife’s accident. He wants the county to look into this so the crossing is safer. Bay News 9 reported the county has partnered with state transportation officials to increase safety on the recreational trail to avoid a similar incident.
Bryant said the problem is traffic going west on Ernest Smith Blvd. that turns north onto U.S. 98. Drivers in the area aren’t aware of cyclists riding on the trail. This situation is made worse because many cyclists fail to stop at the stop sign on the trail before the crossing.
He suggested a redirection of the trail or the creation of a pedestrian overpass. Bill Skelton, with Polk County Transportation, believes moving the crossing makes the situation more dangerous for cyclists because traffic is accustomed to stopping at the intersection. Moving the trail crossing to a mid-block intersection would add an additional stop point, one that traffic is not used to making.
Several years ago, residents asked for a pedestrian and bike bridge over the roadway but costs may have been too prohibitive. The county has stayed with the at-grade crossing on the trail. Seven years ago, the costs were estimated at $1.3 million.
To be safe, county officials have asked bicyclists to get off their bikes before the crossing and walk their bikes across Ernest Smith Blvd.
Attorney Jim Dodson, an avid cyclist, is committed to raising driver awareness to share the road and watch for cyclists.