On March 9, the first Operation Blindspot event was held in Treasure Island and Madeira Beach. Participants walked from the Treasure Island Community Center to the St. Petersburg Lions Club Beach House to raise awareness about pedestrian safety, especially regarding pedestrians who are blind.
Steve Yost is a retired civil engineer and a member of the Lions Club. After hearing of the Rotary Club’s involvement in an FDOT study along Gulf Boulevard, Yost proposed that the Lions Club get involved with bicycle and pedestrian safety issues as well. Yost contacted Police Chief Armand Boudreau and they met to talk about what the Lions Club could do with the support of the Treasure Island Police Department; it was in this meeting that “Operation Blindspot” was born. “We were interested in unique ways to get the word out that safety is a shared responsibility between motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, and other roadway users,” said Yost.
Those who attended the event walked in small groups so that possible obstacles for people who are blind—for instance, driveways, mailboxes, curbs, or other impediments—could be discussed along the way. WalkWise staff assisted with the walk and provided pedestrian safety education, and the event ended with a WalkWise safety presentation. “Overall, the event was a success,” said Yost. “As drivers, we all have blind spots that we have to be aware of, said Yost. “And—if a driver doesn’t see us—we too can become a blind spot.”