Bicyclist hit by car was in spot recently labeled as dangerous

A group of citizens and local officials has compiled a list of the most dangerous places in Palm Beach County for bicyclists and pedestrians.

And it includes an area where a bicyclist on Wednesday morning was hit by a car and injured.

The Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Team commissioned a study with planning consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates to compile data and construct a heat map that details specific spots and corridors where incidents have occurred. The study looked at crash data involving pedestrians and bicyclists in Palm Beach County from 2010 to 2014.

One corridor is Military Trail from Melaleuca Lane to Community Drive — an area that encompasses the spot just east of Military Trail on Forest Hill Boulevard where Palm Beach County Fire Rescue said a person on a bicycle was struck just before 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The cyclist sustained minor injuries, but the incident highlights an issue local officials are working to resolve: How can bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers all exist peacefully and safely on the same roads?

“That central area of the county is the most intense for pedestrian crashes that have happened in the past five years,” said Kimley-Horn’s Stewart Robertson.

Robertson said that dense corridor of crashes through the middle of Palm Beach County — which includes the Military Trail corridor — was one of the most striking things to him in looking at the data. The heat map shows a large red area down Military Trail, and then west to east along Lake Worth Road from Jog Road almost to the Intracoastal.

Most notable there, he added, is that there has been a large number of nighttime crashes.

He also said Okeechobee Boulevard poses a unique challenge because “we basically have an eight-lane highway right through our downtown.”

Results of the study will be used to help craft ideas to help improve safety throughout Palm Beach County.

The group, which began meeting in April, had its final meeting Monday before it moves forward with presenting its ideas and a plan to the MPO’s board.

Members of the team include officials from West Palm Beach and Delray Beach, members of the county’s parks and traffic engineering departments, and residents.

Here is a look at some of the safety measures the group could propose:

Crossing islands: Raised medians that offer a “refuge” to pedestrians as they wait for cars to pass while navigating an intersection.

Limited right turn on red: Allowing motorists to turn right on red can create significant safety issues for pedestrians, the Federal Highway Administration has said. Drivers are so focused on trying to enter the flow of traffic that they may not pay attention to pedestrians and bicyclists, leading to a collision.

Lane reductions: In Delray Beach, the city took a stretch of U.S. 1 and reduced the number of lanes to add a designated bicycle lane. Eliminating a lane can give pedestrians and bicyclists more room to safely maneuver, Robertson said.

Lighting and illumination: The analysis shows certain spots could benefit from more on-street lighting, Robertson said. Among the places the group could propose need lighting: the central county area.

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