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Bicyclist is struck, killed while using St. Petersburg crosswalk

The crash took place on a stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N the city has tried to make safer to bike and walk on.

ST. PETERSBURG — A 25-year-old woman riding a bicycle in a crosswalk was struck and killed just after noon Thursday, police said.

The bicyclist, Anne McLaughlin, was pronounced dead at the scene. The incident took place along the 2800 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Street N, where the city installed new bike lanes last year.

The roadway there has three lanes of traffic, a turn lane, and bike lanes in each direction separated from traffic with a two-foot buffer marked with white stripes.

The driver of the white Chevrolet that struck the bicyclist was Brian Doughty Jr., 44. He stopped after the collision and is cooperating with the investigation, police said.

After the crash, St. Petersburg police did not say who was at fault or if charges are pending. The crash report was not available Friday and the agency did not release any new information about the incident.

The bike lanes and crosswalks were part of St. Petersburg’s nearly $1 million repaving project completed about a year ago as part of its “complete streets” initiative — a nationwide effort to make roads safer for cars, bikes and pedestrians.

RELATED STORY: Is a bike lane backlash brewing over St. Pete’s MLK Jr. Street N?

St. Petersburg transportation officials decided to change the composition of King Street’s lanes as part of an already scheduled resurfacing project. The goal, city officials said, was to slow traffic and make the road safer for all who use it.

Instead of two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane, portions of the street between Fourth and 30th Avenues were reduced to one lane. The northbound section has one lane until 10th Avenue. Southbound traffic has one lane between 30th and Ninth avenues.

Bike lanes were added on each side, along with five enhanced crosswalks that feature extra signage, a median and flashing beacons to alert drivers.

McLaughlin was riding her bike in an enhanced crosswalk near Rollin’ Oats at 2842 King Street N when she was struck by the car.

“It’s unfortunate and it’s frustrating that you are installing a proven safety countermeasure and then the unexpected and tragic happens," city transportation director Evan Mory said. "You can’t get any more of a well-marked crosswalk than those five that are on MLK.”

RELATED STORY: St. Pete’s new bike lanes beckon riders, but many prefer the sidewalk

Mory said research shows enhanced crosswalks with flashing lights increases the likelihood that a driver will yield to 80 percent or more. A standard crosswalk without additional elements has a much lower compliance rate, well below 50 percent, Mory said.

“You give people a fighting chance," Mory said. "But with all the traffic that is out there and distracted driving and other factors, crashes are still going to happen, unfortunately.”

McLaughlin was the 10th bicyclist to die in St. Petersburg since 2011, according to city data. This was the first fatality on King Street during that time, and also the first to occur in a crosswalk. Only one of the 10 bicyclists who died was using a bike lane. That collision involved a drunk driver, Mory said.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Dennis Joyce contributed to this story.