Gulf Boulevard is one of the most scenic roads along the coast in Pinellas County. It is used extensively by tourists and locals alike because it gives access to our beautiful beaches, and because there are many restaurants and attractions situated along its route. As a result, it is frequented by a vast number of tourists who are unfamiliar with the local area. Not only are they driving along Gulf Boulevard, many of them cross it on foot, thereby creating conflict with vehicles along this congested stretch.
Pedestrian Dangers on Gulf Boulevard
A particularly narrow and congested section of the road is the stretch south of Walsingham Boulevard. In recent years, the county has spent millions of dollars in an attempt to improve pedestrian and cycling safety by adding designated pedestrian and bike lanes along either side of the road. However, these lanes are unprotected. That means drivers, attempting to pass a slower moving vehicle ahead of them, frequently leave their lane and drive into these unprotected bicycle and pedestrian lanes, exposing pedestrians and cyclists to an unexpected danger. The problem has become so acute the county plans to re-design this roadway by adding protected bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
Another issue common along Gulf Boulevard is the great distances between signaled intersections with marked crosswalks. Human nature tempts people to take the shortest path across this multi-lane road. Although such crossings used to be referred to as jaywalking, the correct term today is “mid-block crossing.” Mid-block crossings present a significant danger to pedestrians who simply want to get to a restaurant, hotel or to the beach.
In an effort to help pedestrians safely cross Gulf Boulevard, numerous marked and signaled mid-block crosswalks have been added along Gulf Boulevard through such cities as North Redington Beach, Redington Beach, and Indian Rocks Beach. Regardless, many pedestrians still don’t use them and, when they do, too many drivers ignore the flashing lights and drive into pedestrians who are otherwise crossing legally and with the right-of-way.
The speed limit along Gulf Boulevard is commonly 35 mph. Even when vehicles obey the posted limit, and many don’t, a collision with a pedestrian is often fatal or results in horrific injuries.
We have found that when a pedestrian accident case is investigated by law enforcement, the pedestrian is frequently found to have been at fault when crossing at mid-block without a signal, or crossing at a signal without waiting for the light to give them the right of way. Bear in mind, the investigating officer’s conclusion is not the final say and may not be admissible at all in a civil case. We have successfully represented many pedestrians found to have been partially at fault , or even fully at fault, because of what they did leading up to their injury.