Pedestrians, drivers clash over right of way in Punta Gorda

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PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- Punta Gorda police are sending out a reminder that pedestrians are required to stop at all crosswalks that do not have a traffic light/crosswalk control.

The City of Punta Gorda doesn’t have an ordinance requiring motor vehicles to stop for pedestrians waiting to enter a crosswalk, authorities said.

The confusion about who has the right of way is visible on the  Linear Path crosswalks on Marion and Olympia Avenue.

“People have actually stopped in one lane to let us go out and a car has come around the other side and buzzed by us almost hit us,” said Bill McGovern.

At crosswalks without a traffic light, pedestrians often have the stop sign, not drivers.

“Vehicles are permitted to travel through the cross walk and pedestrians should wait until it is clear to cross,” said Katie Heck with the Punta Gorda Police Department. “Here in the City of Punta Gorda, we actually have stop signs up for the pedestrians to remind them you are required to wait until traffic is cleared to cross the road safely.”

Police say the mix up is causing near-accidents with people slamming on brakes and swerving around each other.

“Pedestrians are yelling at the driver to stop and then they slam on their breaks and doing you a favor to cross and then people behind them are honking them and it’s kind of a cluster,” said Jane Smith.

Visitors to the city are now asking for a clearer message.

“A giant sign with big letters,” Smith said.

“‘Traffic does not stop for pedestrians,’ then we would know,” agreed Kathy Wehmeyer.

Punta Gorda police say despite the issues, there have not been any accidents near the Linear Park crosswalks.

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