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Port St. Lucie police officers work to slow down dangerous drivers, save lives

'We want to educate the drivers, the pedestrians and the bike riders,' Police Chief John Bolduc says
Posted at 3:57 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 21:28:51-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Every year, 800 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed in Florida.

The state's ultimate goal is to lower those numbers down to zero.

Police officers in Port St. Lucie are engaged in a program to keep everyone aware of the rules of the road.

A mile-long stretch of Port St. Lucie Boulevard is what had Louis Patterelli nervous.

"I would commute to work once in a while, and I would take back streets," Patterelli said. "I avoided Port St. Lucie Boulevard at all costs."

Louis Patterelli, Port St. Lucie cyclist
Louis Patterelli shares his fears about riding his bicycle in Port St. Lucie.

He is talking about biking, not driving.

Patterelli's bike shop, Sprockets Adventures, was located along the boulevard for 20 years before moving west to Tradition, which he said is bike "friendlier."

"The way the community is developing, they've put bike lanes throughout," Patterelli said.

Back in the heart of the city, statistics show the number of fatal bicycle and pedestrian incidents on the stretch of Port St. Lucie Boulevard near the city hall is above average.

"There's a lot of businesses along the roadway, but there's a pretty long stretch with no lights," said Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc.

Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc
Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc discusses what they are doing to reduce traffic fatalities in the city.

Port St. Lucie police are currently engaged in a high visibility traffic enforcement effort, funded through a grant provided by the Florida Department of Transportation and the University of North Florida.

"The idea is we want to educate the drivers, the pedestrians and the bike riders about the traffic laws and try to reduce the number of crashes and serious injuries," Bolduc said.

The officers work during the evening hours when the risks go up.

They said it's not about giving tickets but about education.

Officer Ian Harris, Port St. Lucie Police Department
Officer Ian Harris explains how he is educating drivers about what they can do to prevent fatal crashes with pedestrians and bicyclists.

"Some of them may be a little stand-offish at first until we explain what we're trying to do. We have some literature that we hand out," said Officer Ian Harris. "It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong. A bicycle versus a car or a pedestrian versus a car, the car is always going to win."

That's a concept Patterelli is on board with.

"When you ride your bike, you're a vehicle, you should move with traffic, follow all the same rules," Patterelli said.

According to preliminary data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, below are the bicycle, motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities in 2021 for Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast:

  • Palm Beach County: 7 bicycle deaths, 23 motorcycle deaths, 51 pedestrian deaths
  • Martin County: 1 bicycle death, 5 motorcycle deaths, 2 pedestrian deaths
  • St. Lucie County: 3 bicycle deaths, 7 motorcycle deaths, 11 pedestrian deaths
  • Indian River County: 2 bicycle deaths, 2 motorcycle deaths, 3 pedestrian deaths
  • Okeechobee County: 0 bicycle deaths, 2 motorcycle deaths, 0 pedestrian deaths