Florida troopers target pedestrians, cyclists amid highway safety concerns

For two hours on Thursday morning as drivers on their work commutes flooded US 41 and State Road 70 in Bradenton, state troopers at the busy intersection handed out neon traffic vests to pedestrians and headlights for bicyclists, along with safety information.

While Florida Highway Patrol did not immediately announce the number of people who were provided information and safety gear, a FOX 13 crew watched as dozens of them were approached by troopers, who could be heard talking to pedestrians about crossing the street at marked crosswalks and telling them to watch for turning cars. 

A report released in early 2019 found that there were at least 235 pedestrian deaths between 2008 and 2017 in the Sarasota-Bradenton-North Port area, making it one of Florida's top-ten most dangerous places for pedestrians. Additionally, according to AAA, Florida leads the nation in bicycle fatalities with 125 deaths in Florida alone. 

"This is one of the most dangerous intersections I ever go into," said Todd Purcell, commuting to work on his bicycle. "There's a lot of fatalities here."

When asked whether he'd had any close calls with getting hit while riding his bike, he said that he has. "Just people running lights, you know? It's my right to go, and you can't just cut in front of me." 

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The intersection of US-41 and State Road 70 is considered one of the more dangerous intersections in the area for crashes involving people on foot and on bikes. During the operation, troopers also patrolled the highways, ready to issue warnings to any drivers seen violating the law.