I’m a walker. Most mornings I see some of you as I head to the Ocean Ridge Natural Area or to the beach. Often you wave — which is lovely. Often you slow down or stop at the A1A crosswalks and let me cross. That’s what you are supposed to do, and I appreciate it.
    The relatively recent installation of in-the-crosswalk signs has greatly improved the frequency at which motorists slow to let pedestrians cross.
    But since these signs are in the middle of the roadway, they often fall victim to tight passage around bicycles or to general careless and distracted driving. Hundreds of them have been damaged and replaced.
    Although the signage is created by Florida’s Department of Transportation (A1A is a state road), the state supplies only a limited number each year.
    As a result, our coastal towns absorb the cost of replacement signs.
    As a coastal resident, this seems like a good use of my taxpayer dollars. Not only does it make my morning walks safer and more enjoyable, but it does the same for many, many others.
    And it’s not just the local residents who benefit. The entire A1A experience is improved when drivers slow down and take notice of their environment.
    There is a certain mindfulness about watching a wagon filled with toddlers and their beach toys cross the highway, or teenagers with their surfboards or seniors out walking their dogs.
    Slowing down allows us to think about where we are. And when we take the time to look around, it’s hard not to see that we are in a very special place.
    Safety, however, is the highest priority, and no matter how well-installed these signs are and how alert the drivers of automobiles and bicyclists are, it’s up to pedestrians to make sure they are in a safe environment. Police advise that you make eye contact with the driver of an approaching vehicle before stepping into a crosswalk. And if you are out at night, remember that you simply may not be visible in the dark.
    If John Boden, an activist in Highland Beach, is successful in his campaign to have flashing LED lights installed around pedestrian crosswalk signs [story: click here], it may improve night safety. The idea has merit and should be explored.
    Still, pedestrians are responsible for their own safety and should not take chances. At the same time, drivers of automobiles and bicyclists should always be prepared to stop at marked crosswalks. Slow down, enjoy the moment and let’s all be safe out there.



Mary Kate Leming,
Editor

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  • I agree with what you wrote.  I personally would suggest a 5 - 10 mile per hour speed limit reduction along A1A in Highland Beach.  The current 35mph is too fast for a road that is constantly being traversed by pedestrians and cyclists.  While everyone must be accountable for their own safety, a slower speed limit would help.

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