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Seashore driving is Volusia’s in no way-ending political argument

We are in for one more period of arguing about beach driving — Volusia County’s most loved political workout.

text: An ad for Daytona Beach in 1930 sells the beach to families by touting the "protected area set aside for them at the beach where no driving is permitted."

© News-Journal file photo
An advert for Daytona Seaside in 1930 sells the seashore to households by touting the “protected region set apart for them at the beach exactly where no driving is permitted.”

This season was kicked off by the election of Jeff Brower as Volusia County Council chair. Brower is a staunch advocate for seashore driving. In business for only a month, he snubbed a assembly at the Tricky Rock since of the no-push zone at the rear of the lodge.


This is a matter anyone has an feeling about as witnessed by the assortment of letters in Sunday’s News-Journal.

I have been masking this controversy considering that 1981, when I very first noted on the City of Ponce Inlet’s transfer to impose a seaside toll along with a targeted traffic-cost-free zone. There was litigation and outrage, but other beachside towns before long moved to do the exact point — beach tolls with traffic-cost-free zones at the town limitations.

The seashore turned a patchwork of clashing procedures with tollbooths, website traffic cones and drums at just about every metropolis line. It was a mess that would be resolved just after voters handed beach front administration to the county in 1986.

The handover was a relief to the metropolitan areas because wrestling with seaside driving was a no-earn situation.

In 1983, the Florida Supreme Court docket handed down a ruling that sent chills down the collective spines of coastal city legal departments.

The case involved Orla Ralph, a British vacationer who was strike on the seashore in Daytona Beach front in 1977. The high court docket dominated that “the lethal combination of cars and trucks and reclining persons” was so harmful and the city’s safety measures were so lax that the regular protections metropolitan areas delight in from lawsuits did not apply.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Mark Lane

Mark Lane

It wasn’t like the dangers inherent with mixing cars and beachgoers hadn’t been talked about just before.

Back when the dominant motor vehicle on the seaside was the Model T Ford, some previously ended up contacting for site visitors-free of charge zones. In 1924 the regional League of Women Voters declared that Daytona Seaside wanted a “safety zone” near the pier. And the metropolis listened. “An enclosure will be roped in on the beach front right now just under the pier to give a security zone for bathers and small children to engage in on in the sand,” the News-Journal noted in August 1925.

Fearing that car or truck traffic was scaring absent spouse and children vacationers, the nearby chamber of commerce ran advertisements in out-of-point out newspapers highlighting targeted traffic-free of charge zones. “Let your young children bathe in the shielded place set aside for them at the seaside in which no driving is permitted,” a 1930 advertisement recommended. (“Daytona Beach — the seashore and how!” was its snappy headline.)

Right after the Ralph ruling, Daytona Beach front and other towns banned night driving on the beach to excellent public blowback. The go produced for some villagers-with-torches-and-pitchforks commission meetings and unsuccessful lawful challenges, but seashore-driving mishaps dropped by 38% the up coming year.

So from the 1980s and even prior to, the cars and trucks-on-the-seaside discussion has been ongoing. It’s our very own community without end war. Depending on who’s talking, beach driving is possibly our most significant vacationer draw and portion of our community identity or a baffling local custom no sane position would go on for the reason that it is so clearly risky, environmentally harmful and tends to make for an unsightly beach.

a group of people walking down a street next to a car: Cars and beachgoers on the beach north of Andy Romano Park, Wednesday February 3, 2021,

© David Tucker/News Journal
Automobiles and beachgoers on the beach north of Andy Romano Park, Wednesday February 3, 2021,

Personally, I rarely travel on the beach. I’m on the sand to rest, and driving, specifically driving with individuals strolling all over, does not take it easy me, rather the reverse. Moreover, it’s not great for the motor vehicle. And when I’m seashore walking, I really don’t want to do it wherever I’m dodging the drivers who typically disregard the beach’s speed restrict — 10 mph — swerve from the website traffic lanes, and are taking in the landscapes as an alternative of the street in advance.  

But I know that conversing about either a car or truck-absolutely free beach or returning to a whole-out sandy highway is a squander of breath due to the fact neither point will transpire.

Without the need of driving, big stretches of seaside would be inaccessible to locals or holidaymakers. But opening to driving almost everywhere would suggest tearing up painstakingly negotiated agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that limit driving to secure sea turtles and other wildlife. In the meantime, sea-amount increase and beach erosion are steadily at get the job done closing major swaths of seaside to cars and trucks regardless of everything the county decides. Mother nature favors a long-assortment traffic phaseout.

Thankfully this is a large seashore — 47 miles — with home for driving in some places and targeted traffic-free of charge stretches in other individuals. The present compromise is an uneasy 1 but accommodates all beachgoers. And it will remain that way even nevertheless the argument is once additional getting heated.

This posting initially appeared on The Daytona Seaside Information-Journal: Mark Lane: Seaside driving is Volusia’s never-ending political argument

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