SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Along a short stretch of U.S. 41 in Sarasota, drivers will notice orange barrels, barricades, and two roundabouts with a third under construction.
The City of Sarasota’s first two-lane roundabouts opened to traffic at 10th and 14th streets back in April this year. Since then, safety has been a growing concern.
Nick Mattheys works at The Reserve at U.S. 41 and 14th Street. He says he sees close calls almost every day.
“They really don’t yield. I am not sure if it is a lack of knowledge about roundabout rules but yeah, people will just fly through and if you are there, it’s pretty much up to you to save yourself because even if you have the right-of-way, they will still hit you which is terrifying,” Mattheys said.
The Sarasota Police Department says since the two roundabouts opened in April, officers have written 42 citations and given 40 warnings to drivers. There have been a total of eight crashes between the two roundabouts including two with injuries.
Officer Jason Frank with SPD’s Traffic Unit told 8 On Your Side speeding and people not knowing how to operate the roundabouts properly are the two biggest issues on a day to day basis.
“The speed limit going into the first roundabout is 25 miles per hour going north on U.S. 41 and then it changes to 30 as you get closer to the second one. The reason for those speeds is it keeps people safe. If you were to go into that roundabout at any higher of a speed, it makes it super dangerous,” Frank said.
Mattheys agrees speeding is a constant issue.
“No one follows the speed limit. I have seen people come through the circle at 50 miles an hour flying through and if someone is walking, they are dead. So yeah, it is just scary,” Mattheys said.
The City of Sarasota says roundabouts are much safer than traditional signalized intersections since there are fewer conflict points for vehicles and pedestrians. Since the two roundabouts are still getting their finishing touches, people need to slow down and yield to drivers who have the right of way.
“If you are in the roundabout, you have the right of way. If you are entering the roundabout, you yield to the person inside the roundabout,” Frank said.
There are two more roundabouts coming to the 1.5 mile stretch of U.S 41 including one at Fruitville Avenue which is expected to be completed this fall. Another will be constructed at Gulf Stream Avenue following the city’s busy season in 2021.
The City of Sarasota has video tutorials on how to navigate the roundabouts at 10th and 14th streets. To watch, click here.
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