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City and county commissions declare a “traffic violence crisis”

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – At today’s Joint Meeting between the Alachua County Commission and Gainesville City Commission, the commissioners declared a “traffic violence crisis” after Mayor Harvey Ward brought up the topic during commission comment. 

Ward said that during the 19 days he’s been mayor, two cyclists and one pedestrian in the city limits have been killed in car crashes: “This is a crisis; this is an emergency.” He said the problem is increasing everywhere, but there have been five pedestrian or cyclist deaths since the beginning of the year and three in the past 19 days. 

Ward said, “That’s unacceptable. We also have other things going on. We have gun violence that must be addressed. We have homelessness that must be addressed. Lots of things going on, but we have reached a point of emergency on our roadways.

“I am ready for us to take some action. We have focused almost exclusively on engineering over the past few years… We need to find out what we can do differently and better, both at GPD and at UPD and at ASO to improve enforcement. But a piece we have done almost nothing about in the last several years is education… It’s only a matter of a brief break in your attentionality and your focus as a driver… and somebody dies.”

Ward said he would like to see some education and a targeted campaign on the idea that this isn’t somebody else’s problem: “It’s your problem if you cause an accident as a driver.” He said he would have asked for the topic to be on the agenda, but “over the weekend it reached a breaking point with me, personally.” He said he would like to see some “intentional action today to perhaps declare a–I saw a phrase for the first time earlier today–a traffic violence crisis in our community.”

County Commissioner Mary Alford agreed, “I also called this out as a crisis on Facebook, and it hit a nerve with the community… I was going to say something similar about education. I’d also like to see that linked to a no-tolerance policy on the part of both our police departments and Sheriff’s departments if we could get that cooperation.” She said she was going to suggest some sort of joint task force to deal with the issue.

City Commissioner Bryan Eastman said he “love[d] the idea of us claiming a traffic violence crisis.” He also liked the idea of a joint task force. Eastman said education often doesn’t make a difference in changing people’s behavior, and he thought engineering was more important, “that our roads are designed to keep people focused… and designed for safety.”

Eastman made a motion that they “claim a traffic violence crisis where we will be stepping up enforcement and education and engineering to make sure nobody is killed on our streets by cars.”

Ward asked Eastman if he would add direction to the City communication department to coordinate with the County and the university, and Eastman agreed. 

County Commission Chair Anna Prizzia said, “I’m happy that we’re addressing it… As we go forward with this, I hope we’ll actually take the time… to do the homework about people’s behaviors, why they are doing what they are doing, and how to influence that behavior and to target our marketing and communications… on that behavior change piece… I would hope we would incorporate that research piece.”

The city commission passed their motion unanimously.

The county commission’s motion mirrored the city commission’s motion except that they voted to send a Chair letter to the Sheriff, asking him to participate in the dialogue with GPD around speeds and traffic violations. That motion also passed unanimously.

In closing the meeting, Prizzia said, “We have a lot of wicked issues, the traffic issue, but we have deaths every day due to gun violence, as well. And we have people who aren’t able to take care of their own families and can’t find jobs–we have lots and lots of wicked issues.”

    • You are absolutely correct! Dems want and insist on having a crisis in order for citizens to rely on gov to save us. And to do that, they’ll need MORE SPENDING of course!

  • Time the lights so that traffic flows smoothly instead of trying to frustrate everyone into not driving at all or whatever they are thinking. Just be like a normal city with normal traffic light timing, if that’s possible. We have a homeless violence crisis if you read the news stories here.

  • What should be addressed is how that fat head of his causes his chair to lean back. He’s supposed to represent the mayorship of Gainesville but he looked like he was sitting in a Lazy-Boy recliner eating potato chips and drinking a beer during the meeting.
    What a joke.

  • This group of circle jerk hypocrites. Saw a motorcyclist last week bobbing & weaving through cars to avoid traffic. Where were the Gainesville Police Farce? People are texting while driving, running red lights & speeding through school zones… where’s the police farce? I could write 20 citations a day.
    These knuckleheads, through their “defund the police” ideas, have caused a reduction in traffic enforcement. Their “woke” policies have caused LEOs to rethink or at least limit their engagement of traffic violators because of how they may be portrayed. This is what they wanted and now they’re trying to play catch up.
    Sound familiar? The Fed is now trying to compensate for the current federal administration and the billions of free money they’ve given away.

    • The GPD is short 94 officers at the last report I saw. 50 were defunded by Ward and Poe in 2020 when it was the thing for Democrats. Currently, GPD is short 44 still funded positions, mostly due to the politicians. Low pay, mistreatment, failure to stand behind officers trying to do their job. Even cancelling the K-9 program for no VALID reason. And they are trying to replace the aviation program with three remote control drones.

  • Many accidents involving bike riders. At night? No surprise. I see many bike riders in dark clothing , with no light cutting through traffic frequently. While I am not normally out late, I have been recently as I am returning home from visiting at a healthcare facility. It is not unusual to see at least a rider wearing dark clothing, with no light on SW 34th. Riders must accept some of the blame.

    • A couple of months ago, taking left (eastbound) on West University Ave., three or four guys on bikes, westbound, were going at least 100 mph. At least. At that speed, the come around the curve from Ballyhoo’s and are on a turning vehicle in an instant.

      • Did you see the TV-20 piece on the city’s hand wringing last night? The report had a backdrop of SW13th Street just north of SW 16th Ave. While the reporter was talking, one of the local motorcycle terrorists blasted up SW 13th in the back of the frame at about 80 mph.

    • Not to mention the constant jaywalking pedestrians everywhere creating unacceptable and totally avoidable danger for drivers

      • No worries, I was in California (LA) over the holidays and they made jaywalking legal as they considered it racists if it was not legal. Stay tuned.

  • Ah yes! Let’s waste more taxpayers money on educating drivers!

    What about the drivers that don’t speak English? Give them the City Language Hotline to call while they’re driving so they can have the rules of the road explained to them in their native language! Thanks GNV Commies!

    Text and drive! Text and drive! “No time for safety, gotta get caught up on gossip, close the deal! Other drivers will watch out for me! I can drive and text at the same time!” NO YOU CAN’T!!!!!! Get these A$$Holes off the streets and on the bus!

    Set up some speed traps daily, night and day! Ticket the stop sign runners, those who think it’s OK to run a stop sign if they slow down a little and cut off other drivers! Don’t forget to ticket the scooter drivers who think it’s OK to swerve in and out of lanes and cross the street wherever they want because they can!

    Stop the jaywalking! Two weeks ago, I watched a mother who had just picked up her child from Littlewood Elementary School jaywalk with her 2nd grader in hand, dashing in front of cars practically dragging her child along! Great example!

    If a pedestrian, or bike rider, can’t put on light clothing at night, they are asking for trouble with the dim streetlights in GNV! Bike riders who ride at night without lights front and back should be yanked off the road!

    What parent lets their child under 10 walk to school, or cross roads, alone? So many inattentive drivers and just plain sexual predators on our streets! What a parental failure! So sad!

  • Cyclists are meant to obey the same laws as motorists. No lights after dark? Offenders should be stopped, cited and have their bikes impounded. Of course, some activists may argue it is a violation of one’s rights to be stupid.
    And nothing will change.

    • Bicycles should have tags, registration, lights…if they are on the roads, they should have to pay for the bike lanes.

  • Their idea of “doing something” is yet another worthless public service announcement campaign. Until we get protected bike lanes and pedestrian overpasses (particularly in the Archer Road area) the commission will have just as much success as it has had with ghetto violence and with the bums – none.

  • You cannot simultaneously be an extremely tolerant “welcomer” of repeat criminals/border crossers AND expect vehicle related incidents to decline. The problem of incompetent drivers, illegal drivers is a direct result of that policy. That increases our auto insurance rates for starters. Thanks to our lawyer-loving law enforcement.

  • The Ethical Skeptic recently queried traffic accidents (injuries and deaths) from the CDC’s global health database and the curve looks exactly like what you would expect.

    TWITTER From Ethical Skeptic – “Citizens ‘forgot how to drive’ during the Covid sequestration. But then again, we never recovered from that – in fact such accidents are elevated by 90 deaths per week over historical…Neither Covid nor wane of skill any longer stand as the explanatory factors.”

    The Alachua County commission can share a bulk of the blame in excess mortality and morbidity since they were the first in Florida to implement the tyrannical mask mandates. LINK for you to assemble – tinyurl.(com/4esy9k48)

  • It’s drunk drivers like that bartender gal who hit the bike rider & left him to die or people like that girl who had “shrooms” or LSD in that vile the other day and did $20k worth of damage & a witness followed her….
    What does the city need to do? They need to close the bars down at 10pm! On NW 17th & University Ave
    A few weeks back, I saw 1000 students jam packed on the stairwell trying to get into those bars…where was the fire department making sure
    Those bars weren’t over capacity? There were so many people & so much weight on the stairs, I’m surprised they didn’t collapse. Is GPD
    Going in the bars and checking for fake ID’s and underage drinkers? There was that dude who had 3 or 4
    Shots the other day and was so sh!tfaced, he was trying to break into a home when he lived miles away….shut those breweries and bars down at 10pm until you get the problem under control. This is a college town! I live in a residential single family neighborhood and renters threw a party next door a few weeks ago…they were all underage and I could smell the stank of beer in the air….I was just about to call the cops but a
    Neighbor must have called before I did because the party ended…they need to bring back party patrol and give points to bad landlords who have bad tenants who have these frat underage parties…

      • Yeah…it’s out of control…we have a pandemic of Alcohol & drug related crimes…lights out at 10pm. They need to be superhero’s and stay home after 10pm before these drunks kill someone else on a bike or crosswalk…they shut the city down for Covid, they can shut the city down for this “traffic violence
        Crisis”…it’s poor city leadership and wokesters who think it’s cool
        To be drinking beer & booze and open container and panhandlers and bums sleeping in the woods…
        Time to do some public safety and protect the citizens and the college students….

        • Where? No one really goes downtown anymore. The only ones boozing it up are by campus–the students themselves. Maybe the university should hire crossing guards to help the drunkards cross University Ave without getting hit on the arse. The rest of us prefer to drink at home and avoid dodging gang bullets.

    • I agree with your statement but will the city back law enforcement if they do shut down bars for over crowding or just give them another reason to defund law enforcement

  • GPD overworked investigating traffic homicides… Traffic unit can’t get out and write tickets like they used to especially with 44 officer vacancies. The city is 30% larger than it was 10 years ago due to annexation yet has 1/2 of the people in the traffic unit it did under Chief Botsford. Traffic hasnt been a priority for years now. The new priorities are buzzword items like de escalation, defunding, co responders, mental health, homelessness, get along with you neighbors…. Gainesville went soft and now everyone is crying about the problems.

    • TBF, there are A LOT of homeless with mental health issues wandering around Gainesville. It’s reached the point that it’s a nuisance, if not outright dangerous, to visit downtown (not that there is much left of it these days since restaurants and bars fold left and right and there is no shopping to speak of–it’s a sad place) because of the walking dead zombies meandering downtown looking for money, drugs, food, booze, etc. Then we have a government that welcomes even more without having any damn clue about how to actually produce enough resources to properly care for these people, or for those who refuse care, send them on their way.

      • The cops who haven’t already quit have been stretched even more thin by constantly being dispatched to disGRACE marketplace for all sorts of problems that should probably be handled by men in white coats. And they probably respond to twice as many calls from the disGRACE vagrants causing problems downtown and other places. Harvey Ward, Jr. needs to take his head out of his bucket of KFC and do something about it.

  • One of the problems with traffic enforcement is there are “too many chiefs & not enough indians.”
    Some think they are “above” writing that citation now. Need proof? Look how many officers are patrolling, both GPD & ASO, compared to the number of officers on the payroll.

  • While I definitely support making the roads safer for all, I still say we have an idiot crisis in our local government.

  • “Wickedness” is downstream from culture. “Education” is just going to add another ineffectual drain on the public till, undoubtedly mostly into the pockets of professional grifters.

  • Crisis! Task force! Mayor looks bad after only 19 days in office! Poor Mayor Ward.
    Instead of all the useless talk about the problem, maybe do something about it.
    Get UPD involved. The majority of the fatalities are inside the city. ASO has their own problems to deal with.
    GPD once had a powerhouse of a traffic unit. Fatalities were at a record low. Time to bring that back commissioners.

  • Dang! Gun violence AND motor vehicle violence. Should we now all be afraid of ‘violent’ inanimate objects?

  • Get a bad week of traffic accidents and a few fatalities they declare it a traffic violence crisis, have 3 years of rising statistics of ghetto thugs with guns committing murders, robberies, home invasions, and drugs and it’s just another day in Gainesville’s affordable ghetto housing equality land.

    • They can’t ever criticize the homeless or people of color doing anything wrong; that would be against their woke religion. But a white woman hits a daredevil bicyclist coming around a curve on a highway in the dark, and it’s “wickedness.” Maybe someone intentionally ran down the bicyclist off SE 4th Ave since they don’t know otherwise. People drive like jerks over by Home Depot, close to where the lady and dog got killed. Ticket the many people cutting through the Home Depot parking lot to avoid the light. It sounds like Harvey plans to use this ‘crisis’ to ram through the proposed changes to 13th and University. I can’t help but picture a little Poe living inside his belly, like Kuato in Total Recall.

      • Four speed humps and University cut down to one lane on both sides of the street for over a couple of years doesn’t count as changes to University?

        • Don’t forget all of the one way street signs, do not enters, bike only lanes, no turns on red, no turn lanes changes to midtown too. I think that was done just to frustrate drivers so they think twice about coming back.

  • Ward calls for education and uses the word “attentionality” in the same meeting. Sign him up first, I guess

  • These failed Commsisioners are in way over their head and paygrade. Crisis management cab be avoided by competence. Gainesville downward spiral continues and Gainesvilles debtchart looks like Pikes Peak. Go Harvey

  • Polytics take big money from Developers who they can’t say no to. So you get to much building and to little roads. Now Gainesville is hosed and there is no fixing it. Tree City indeed.

  • I was traveling westbound on university Ave at 6:30am, had a homeless guy in the middle of the road at w 3rd, I had green light, I couldn’t see him until last second had to lock up the brakes and swerve to keep from hitting him. Had I crashed because him who pays? Gainesville sets all the traffic lights so you get nowhere, set the to flow, every one is frustrated because we stare at empty intersections at red lights and when cross traffic does arrive they get to stop and watch us go and then an empty intersection until the next set of traffic gets to the light. They are wasting your gas on purpose so you pay more at pump, pay for speeding tickets trying to beat the stupid lights, or spur the economy with an accident where the city can collect a fine, an impound, then lawyers get paid the body shop gets paid etc. Gainesville traffic planners should be held accountable for half of the problems in Gainesville. If police enforced bicycle and pedestrian laws more often they wouldn’t be in the street illegally as often. Tickets aren’t cheap.

    • Gainesville makes every effort to stop you as much as possible to “keep” you in town, spending your money here.

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