Las Olas Boulevard: Pedestrian Death Trap? Light-Up LED Crosswalk May Slow Traffic

Categories: Broward

crosswalk_faded_las_olas_13th_3.jpg
Las Olas Village courtesy photo
The intersection at Las Olas Blvd. and SE 13th Ave. where the new crosswalk will be built.
Sixty-five year-old Carolyn Bianco was crossing Las Olas Boulevard at Southeast 11th Avenue on her way to an evening jazz concert when a person driving a black SUV struck her and kept going. Bianco was rushed to Broward General Medical Center, but the head injury she sustained was too severe. She died seven days later.

Exactly two weeks after her death, 53 year-old Douglas Allen de Boer was crossing Las Olas Boulevard at Southeast Second Avenue (less than a mile away from Bianco's accident) when a pick-up truck hit him. He sustained a severe head injury, broke multiple bones, and punctured a lung. De Boer was also rushed to Broward General Medical Center. He died five hours later.

That was almost four years ago, and while two pedestrian deaths in two weeks is uncommon, merchants along that stretch of Las Olas Boulevard have been protesting to implement crosswalks for years before those tragedies occurred. Today there are still no official crosswalks between 11th and 15th Avenue but a first-of-its-kind $62,000 LED-lit crosswalk is going to be installed in the next few months with the intention of saving lives.

Robin Merrill carries a bag full of rocks whenever she crosses Las Olas Boulevard. At the time of Bianco's accident, Merrill was inside her shop less than a block away when she rushed outside to help. After witnessing an alarming disregard towards pedestrian safety from drivers and county officials, Merrill claims a bag full of rocks is the only thing she has to protect herself as she walks the the four lanes across Las Olas Boulevard. She swings her homemade nunchuck at cars that whiz past her at dangerous speeds and actually strikes the ones that come within arm's length. "I know it isn't right, whacking a car with a bag of rocks, but it shouldn't have come to this," Merrill concedes bitterly.

Merrill runs the Upper Room Art Gallery that was once located at 1200 Las Olas Boulevard. A year after the March 2010 accidents, she crossed Las Olas Boulevard on her way to the deli across the street for dinner one evening. Since there is no light or crosswalk, Merrill had to cross the old fashioned way: looking left, right, left. She was already in the middle of the street when she noticed the bus driver revving up and speeding towards her. In the other two lanes, cars zipped by in a whoosh. She was trapped in the center of the road playing a game that must have looked like human Frogger from above. At that moment the adrenaline pulsed through her, and her first thought she remembers was of her then 14- and eight year-old sons and how they were at home eating the dinner she left for them in the fridge completely unaware that their mother was almost run over by a bus. ("I hit that bus with the bag [of rocks] and it made a loud noise, I know people on that bus heard it and saw it," Merrill adds.)

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12 comments
frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

.............................THE SIMPLY fix is to make the RED LIGHT duration LONGER

observing the traffic flow during certain times of day will determine when the RED LIGHT duration should be set at a LONGer time interval

this will SLOW and STOP traffic to a limit acceptable to people WALking and crossing AND will foster a large enough delay whereby the road-runners will find an alternative route !

as for the BCT public BUS infractions, i personally have followed this issue going on three years now and the drivers are simply always LATE on their route which in turn eats into their union negotiated break-time on the turn-around so they depart LATE and stay LATE so aggressive driving is the NORM = period

as i myself MUST have my fix satisfied regularly at GRAN FORNO i am often on LOB and i must say the pedestrians can be a disorganized lot crossing where they shouldn't and many times hidden behind the trees and signs on the middle median come wobbling out like zombies into oncoming traffic - however i am ususally driving at a speed designed to want to hit the red light so i can eat my peach tart

as of yet only rapper RICK ROSS has been shot at on LOB but no pedestrians were charged although the FLORIDIAN did get some publicity out of it and as i heard ROSS was personally told by neighbors to cut it out or move out = period

Doglette Wright
Doglette Wright

Um, hello? How is this new? They installed these at University of Louisville over 4 years ago, and that's here in KENTUCKY!!!

RealityChecker
RealityChecker

L.E.D. lights won't stop speeders. People driving don't stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, everyone is in a rush to the next stop light that they may or may not run through!


Walking on Las Olas, A1A and other city streets is Extremely hazardous. 


Police don't care, City officials don't care and the Mayor doesn't care.


If they had any interest in solving the problem they would have been lowering speed limits in high pedestrian areas and would launch an ongoing aggressive enforcement of traffic laws and speed limits. 


Funny how people school zones have a 15 mph speed limit, yet areas that are consistently richer in pedestrian concentration have speed limits of 25-35 mph (of which people drive 40-45 mph regularly without fear of getting a ticket)


AIA and Las Olas blvd are a hazard to anyone walking, bicycling, jogging (and even driving for that matter)



SethPlatt
SethPlatt topcommenter

There is also no crosswalk between SE 15th Ave and SE 25th Ave, which has high pedestrian traffic of people walking to the beach or exercising.  There are also bus stops on both sides of streets. The only way to get to the bus stops is to travel blocks out of the way or to cross at your own risk. Cars often speed along that stretch of Las Olas.

evoo.market
evoo.market

The fact that we are finally getting a crosswalk, late as it may be, is because local  merchants and Village residents have gotten together in the Las Olas Village Association to voice our concerns over traffic safety for our section of East Las Olas from 11th  to 17th Avenues. The more of yo who join us the greater the impact and the positive changes we can bring to our community. If you would like to know more about what we are doing or us in our efforts to improve our community, click on the link.  http://www.lasolasvillage.com/

freddd
freddd

speed humps and speed enforcement.


-when have you ever seen a FLPD motorcycle cop giving tickets?



robin_haines_merrill
robin_haines_merrill

Thanks for the article, Jess.  Just clarifying, there are paver block crosswalks throughout Las Olas that are not at lit intersections, and that is what I was in when nearly hit by the bus.  The same crosswalk that Carolyn Bianco was killed in a year earlier. It's uncertain what the legal status of those paver block crosswalks are, because one police investigation report I heard after Carolyn's death said that drivers cannot see the crosswalk properly, therefore drivers wouldnt be cited! I no longer carry a bag of rocks--I stopped crossing the street!  Like others, I realize that crossing the street is taking my life into my own hands, so i try not to do it, or unfortunately feel safer getting into my car to do it.

robin_haines_merrill
robin_haines_merrill

@SethPlatt thank you for mentioning this.  I am also trying to get a crosswalk at SE17th ave, which is the eastern most border of the Village district, but recently was told that will not happen any time soon.  My rationale is that there is a hospital there, residents trying to cross the street, a 7-11, and cars barrelling in from the beach.  Nobody is going to walk back all the way to the light at 15th just to cross the street.  

RealityChecker
RealityChecker

@freddd your 100% right. You NEVER see speed enforcement on Las Olas or on A1A. It's a "free-for-all", people speed because they KNOW they can. There is never any police presence or Traffic enforcement. 

robin_haines_merrill
robin_haines_merrill

@freddd when we specially request for them, they come to Las Olas, and do stake outs for awhile.  they handed out on average 20 tickets, for speeding, during approx. 3 hour stay.  but without the police presence, it all goes back to madness.  we need 'self policing' signs!  like posting how much the fine will be and how many points on your license.  but the city and county wont allow such signs.  


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