Crosswalk sensors aim to make Pinellas Trail safer

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The Pinellas Trail is a favorite destination for active locals like Paul Lloyd.

"I ride this trail from here down to the causeway and back every day," Lloyd said.

With biking the trail each day, he knows how dangerous crossing State Road 580 in Dunedin can be.

"You really got to slow down and watch. Even the local sheriff put one of his spare vehicles here to stop and slow people down, but it's still an issue," Lloyd said.

Since 2011, records show at least 17 people have been hit by a car while walking or biking across SR 580 on the trail. This figure made it the ideal location to test out the latest technology that might help eliminate the accidents altogether.

New thermal sensors were installed at SR 580, right off the Pinellas Trail, to detect bicyclists crossing the street. The sensors are able to detect pedestrians before they've even reached the crosswalk, signaling the pedestrian warning beacons before the crosswalk button has been pushed.

"We received reports from the City of Dunedin about crashes at this location, as well as several close calls, so this was definitely a good spot where added safety measures and enhancements were needed," said Alexis Sergeant with Pinellas County Public Works.

The added safety measures come as a welcome surprise for bicyclists like Lloyd.

"This is a great idea, and I'm really happy to see it," Lloyd said.

But as the sensors are still in a trial phase, those on the trail are encouraged to slow down and press the crosswalk button.

"Most people take off and take a chance, and people usually slow down, but all it takes is one time," Lloyd said.