The City of Winter Park has a lot of great things going for it when it comes to the biking and walking scene – just look at its SunRail station, bustling Park Avenue and Cady Way Trail. The city is committed to continuing its pursuit of safer streets by creating a “mobility plan” that will be designed to favor pedestrians and cyclists, according to planning director Dori Stone. On the list? Better traffic-control technology, adding new and wider sidewalks and improved intersections. Officials expect to begin ironing out details this month, with discussions of specific projects and costs taking place throughout the year.
Winter Park’s plans are just the latest in a local and statewide push for streets that are safe and accessible for all road users. “It’s at the point now where it’s kind of a movement,” said Amanda Day, who runs Bike/Walk Central Florida, in a recent interview with the Orlando Sentinel. “Everyone is talking about it within the cities and the counties and the transportation agencies. The next step is what are we going to do about it?”
Check out more details on the project in the following article from the Orlando Sentinel.
Pedestrians, bicyclists could soon see safer conditions in Winter Park
WINTER PARK — Jorge Buss, 11, can be found Friday mornings pedaling his new bicycle on the oak-lined streets and trails of Winter Park.
The fifth-grader has been known to sleep in his cycling garb the night before his 25-mile rides with his mother or an adult neighbor. They leave before sunrise from the family’s home near Lakemont Elementary, returning in plenty of time to get to school. But his mother worries about Jorge’s safety.
“I don’t like him riding on the roads,” said Jill Hamilton Buss, also executive director of Healthy Central Florida. “He’s not an expert cyclist yet.”
City officials will soon begin work on a plan to address such concerns with a so-called “mobility plan” that will be designed to favor pedestrians and cyclists, planning director Dori Stone said.
“The city has always been automobile-centric,” Stone said. “They were interested in … making Winter Park a walking, bicycle-friendly community. It doesn’t mean we don’t spend valuable resources on cars, but it also means those valuable resources are spent on all modes [of transportation].”
City officials hope to reach that goal by using better traffic-control technology, creating additional and wider sidewalks and improving intersections. Officials expect to begin ironing out details this month, with discussion of specific projects and costs taking place throughout the year.
Winter Park is joining Orlando and other Central Florida cities trying to make their streets more bicycle and pedestrian safe.
The work begins on the heels of a study released earlier this month, which labeled Florida the nation’s most-dangerous state for pedestrians. The Dangerous by Design report said Metro Orlando — encompassing Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties — is the third-riskiest among more than 100 areas.
Winter Park traffic manager Butch Margraf said the city will add to its network of 138 miles of sidewalks.
“I would say we’re always looking at becoming more mobile and more safe,” Margraf said. “You can bicycle in Winter Park safely. It just depends on the route you decide to take.”
He pointed to a current project along Denning Drive as an example of the city’s focus on safety. The project will add a 10-foot wide, bicycle-friendly sidewalk. Additionally, bicycle lanes were added to Fairbanks Avenue and Lee Road in recent repaving projects by the Florida Department of Transportation.
In the case of some of Winter Park’s most-crowded roads, such as Aloma Avenue, the city is limited in what it can do because they are controlled by FDOT.
Officials said the plan could help open up new connections to the popular Cady Way Trail, a 7.2-mile paved path that averages about 250,000 annual visitors.
“Connecting to that would be a big deal for our residents. It’s a great trail,” Margraf said. “You can relax a little bit more on that trail.”
The plan is the latest example of municipalities embracing the “complete streets” concept, which aims to address the needs of all users of a road.
Metroplan Orlando, which leads transportation planning in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, is developing the policy, agency spokeswoman Cynthia Lambert said.
The city of Orlando passed its initiative in 2015, with plans to widen sidewalks and improve crosswalks. The city also is exploring “road diets,” or reducing the number of lanes on some roads to reduce traffic speed.
Pedestrian and cycling advocates also named Casselberry and Kissimmee as municipalities making major gains in safety.
“It’s at the point now where it’s kind of a movement,” said Amanda Day, who runs Bike/Walk Central Florida. “Everyone is talking about it within the cities and the counties and the transportation agencies. The next step is what are we going to do about it?”
Winter Park’s mobility plan was welcome news to Jill Hamilton Buss. Her family will cycle plenty of miles in the coming months as they train for an April triathlon with Jorge, who has been bicycling for three years but has ramped up his trips over the past year.
Jill Hamilton Buss, who sits on the city’s Transportation Advisory Board, said she’ll help however she can to keep pedestrians, cyclists and her son safe.
“I think Winter Park is moving in the right direction,” she said. “It’s not where we want it to be, but it’s certainly moving in the right direction.”
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