Hotel cards promote safety on Gulf Boulevard

Treasure Island, Florida – At the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island, guest are getting an extra card along with their room key to promote pedestrian safety along Gulf Boulevard.

"This is information for you and your family so that will help you be safer as you use the crosswalk," said Clyde Smith, the resort's general manager.

The cards are provided through a program called Walk Wise and filled with advice for those who cross the busy road to the beaches. Visitors are urged to wear reflective clothing at night, stay off the phone, face traffic and use the crosswalk.

The Florida Department of Transportation, Center for Urban Transportation Research and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce partnered with hotels along the beach to hand out the cards.

Smith said the program was beta tested last year and now in full swing following years of pedestrian-related accident along the stretch of road.

FDOT data shows that from 2009 to 2013, there were 123 combined pedestrian and bicyclist crashes and five pedestrian fatalities along Gulf Boulevard..

Those who lives in the area say there is often confusion between drivers and those crossing the Gulf Blvd.

"What happens is a pedestrian starts to cross the street in a non-crosswalk area and somebody who's not from here I'm going to stop and let them go but the other lane doesn't and it creates a really hazardous situation, said resident Bruce Erbeck.

Over the years, FDOT has tried several different methods to make the stretch safer for pedestrians, which included installing flashing crosswalk signs, and flags which pedestrian wave to alert drivers as they cross the road.

According to Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, the Tampa-St. Petersburg area was ranked the 2nd most dangerous city for pedestrians.

In an area that thrives on tourism, organizations are working to keep the Bay area off that list.

"If you lose a life or even injure someone critically, it affects everybody," said Smith. "Those effects are going to go back home with them and they're going to talk about unfortunate circumstance."

Smith says there is talk of having these cards put in inside rental cars for tourist that visit that area.


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