Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County says 'senior zones' ensure safer street crossings

John Rainey crosses Waters Avenue at Northbridge Boulevard where the county has created a “senior zone.” A special camera, aimed down at the painted pedestrian on the sidewalk, triggers the crossing signal when someone is stopped on the figure.

MARTHA RIAL | Times

John Rainey crosses Waters Avenue at Northbridge Boulevard where the county has created a “senior zone.” A special camera, aimed down at the painted pedestrian on the sidewalk, triggers the crossing signal when someone is stopped on the figure.

TOWN 'N COUNTRY — Crosswalks alone may not be enough to protect pedestrians, especially jaywalkers.

But two county "senior zones" that include several safety features may be doing their part.

Take the special senior zone on Waters Avenue, which stretches from just east of Sheldon Road to Pinehurst Drive.

There, the speed was reduced to 35 mph, down from 45. Also, the county installed blinking warning lights and speed detectors that show how fast a driver is going. There also is more road paint striping and high-tech crosswalks that have longer crossing times.

But as Ruth Holmes, 62, waited recently at the bus stop across the street from the Rocky Creek Retirement Village, a handful of bicyclists and walkers did not use the designated crosswalk at Northbridge Boulevard, just west of Pinehurst.

But Holmes did. She always pushes the button and uses the crosswalk. She does not understand the jaywalkers who don't.

"I think that's an idiot," Holmes said.

Hillsborough County officials say the experiment with senior zones is working. The first was created in 2006 on Fletcher Avenue, from Magnolia Drive to N 42nd Street, near the John Knox Village retirement community.

Speed and accidents near the senior zones have since decreased, said Buz Barbour, who manages traffic programs for Hillsborough County Traffic Services.

"We just can't control where the people can cross. We just can give them the best opportunity to cross," Barbour said.

Crashes near John Knox Village have decreased by 30 percent compared to before the zone was installed. Barbour said an accident comparison for the zone on Waters is not available because it is too new. Speeds on both of the busy roads have decreased 15 percent.

The county recently won a Best Practices Award from the Southern Gerontological Society for the senior zones.

Barbour said the criteria for a community to request a senior zone includes having a licensed assisted living facility on a high-volume road. About 40,000 cars travel daily on Fletcher Avenue and about 32,000 cars travel daily on Waters, according to a 2008 Hillsborough County Automobile Level of Service Report.

There is no county funding for more senior zones, Barbour said, although grants or other money for communities could be available.

The zone on Waters features some high-tech trinkets to bolster safety, including a special camera that triggers the crossing signal at Northbridge.

The camera eye is tripped when someone stands in a black painted box on the sidewalk. Pedestrians, bicyclists and motorized scooter users have about 38 seconds to cross the six-lane road.

Tara Christiani, 52, has lived around the corner from the crosswalk in Town 'N Country for 25 years. She walks down Waters to work at Target. She thinks the crossing time in the senior zone should be increased. However, she said further reducing the speed limit would be unnecessary.

The first zone was created three years ago in response to residents who wanted to make it safer to pull out onto busy Fletcher near John Knox Village, not far from the University of South Florida. It was too expensive to install a $300,000 light pole, so officials created the senior zone for about $36,000.

A similar zone was created for about $34,000 on Waters about a year later. The zone was a response to the death of Joseph A. Way who was hit in June 2006 while riding his scooter, which he called "Cadillac."

The 81-year old amputee was crossing Waters at Northbridge near where Holmes waits for the bus and watches jaywalkers.

Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 269-5314 or [email protected]

Hillsborough County says 'senior zones' ensure safer street crossings 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 11:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate

    Corporate

    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers

    Crime

    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)

    War

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.