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Cocoa Beach officials don’t want FDOT’s flashing-yellow mid-block crosswalks on SR A1A

Commission calls crossings ‘an unreasonable safety risk’

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Adding mid-block crossings with flashing-yellow lights along State Road A1A poses “an unreasonable safety risk” for pedestrians — because some drivers fail to stop when the lights are activated, the Cocoa Beach City Commission argues.

Last week, commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the Florida Department of Transportation’s plan to install four mid-block crossings between Cocoa Isle Boulevard and St. Lucie Lane, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

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The resolution comes ahead of Tuesday’s FDOT public presentation on the proposed $677,000 project. Transportation officials will collect comments during the event, which starts at 5:30 p.m. at Ocean Landings Resort. The address is 900 N. Atlantic Ave. in Cocoa Beach.

“We ought to make a very firm statement that we do not agree with the mid-block crossings. I think they’re going to make our community not safer — but more dangerous,” Commissioner Mike Miller said during Thursday’s regular meeting.

“And if FDOT decides not to put them in, I think we’re better off.” Miller said.

The proposed locations:

  • South of Tulip Avenue.
  • North of Antigua Avenue.
  • North of South Banana River Boulevard.
  • South of Pinellas Lane.

These crosswalks would be equipped with pedestrian-activated “rectangular rapid flashing beacons.”

Mayor Ben Malik said Cocoa Beach’s flashing lights at Fourth Street North on S.R. A1A give people a false sense of security. He recalled an instance in which he pulled to a stop at that crosswalk — fearing that he was going to get rear-ended by a motorist who stopped at the last minute.

Vice Mayor Karalyn Woulas also criticized the crossing.

“I watch people go in that Fourth Street North crosswalk — and while they’re walking, people are blowing by. Even one of my own family members did it. They pushed it and walked — I’m like, ‘Wait a minute!’ — without looking,” Woulas said.

“I just hate those (flashing light) things. I really don’t like those,” she said.

The stretch from Cocoa Isle Boulevard to St. Lucie Lane lies within one of Brevard County’s most dangerous pedestrian crash corridors, Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization data shows:

1. Cocoa Beach-Cape Canaveral — S.R. A1A from State Road 520 to North Atlantic Avenue (4.6 crashes per year).

2. Palm Bay — Palm Bay Road from Babcock Street to Robert J. Conlan Boulevard (4.2 crashes per year).

2. Port St. John-Titusville — U.S. 1 from State Road 528 to State Road 405 (4.2 crashes per year).

3. Cocoa Beach — S.R. A1A from the “one-way pair” near the Kelly Slater statue to S.R. 520 (3.4 crashes per year). This is where the four new crosswalks are proposed.

3. Beachside Melbourne — Eau Gallie Boulevard from the Eau Gallie Causeway to S.R. A1A (3.4 crashes per year).

Space Coast opposition to the flashing-yellow crosswalks galvanized after Surfside Elementary sixth grader Sophia Nelson was fatally struck by a vehicle in December 2019 in Satellite Beach.

The Florida House passed the Sophia Nelson Pedestrian Safety Act by a 118-1 vote — but the measure died in the Senate.

“Even after that young girl died in Satellite Beach, they still didn’t change the design. It’s remarkable that FDOT doesn’t do anything about this,” Cocoa Beach City Commissioner Ed Martinez said during last week’s meeting.

“What everybody knows: Yellow means caution — or to speed through it. If you’re a younger person, you’re going to hit the gas to try and get past it,” Martinez said.

“Now if they changed it, to where it actually was a red light that looked like a traffic light, people would stop. Because that’s inherently what we do,” he said.

Florida Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, introduced the Sophia Nelson Pedestrian Safety Act, which would only allow rectangular rapid flashing beacons at crosswalks on two-lane roads with speed limits up to 35 mph.

The Florida House passed the Sophia Nelson Pedestrian Safety Act by a 118-1 vote — but the measure died in the Senate.

“Even after that young girl died in Satellite Beach, they still didn’t change the design. It’s remarkable that FDOT doesn’t do anything about this,” Cocoa Beach City Commissioner Ed Martinez said during last week’s meeting.

“What everybody knows: Yellow means caution — or to speed through it. If you’re a younger person, you’re going to hit the gas to try and get past it,” Martinez said.

“Now if they changed it, to where it actually was a red light that looked like a traffic light, people would stop. Because that’s inherently what we do,” he said.

Rick Neale is the South Brevard Watchdog Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Neale at 321-242-3638 or rneale@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @RickNeale1.