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Florida Today: Brevard pedestrian crashes soar 27% since 2012

BWCF joined the Space Coast TPO last week to talk about pedestrian safety and what we can do to work towards safer streets for all road users. BWCF Executive Director Amanda Day shared that safety is a two-way street between drivers and pedestrians, and danger rises when walkers fail to yield and start “running out into traffic and trying to dodge it like Frogger.”

A cyclist rides his bike along A1A in Cocoa Beach north of Shepard Drive. Space Coast TPO to discuss bike-pedestrian safety on State Road A1A from Shepard Drive north to the North Atlantic Avenue split in Cape Canaveral. (Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)

“There is common sense of the person walking to not just dart out in front of a car and expect everyone to stop. What we hear a lot when we’re talking is, ‘If I’m driving and I see someone that walks right out in front of me, and I slam on my brakes, then everyone else is going to slam on their brakes too,'” Day told the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization on Thursday.

“And then it goes into the speed of the road, design of the road, the crosswalk. There’s so many challenges — or even possible solutions — to that scenario,” she said.

This big problem is on Brevard’s radar. Read the Florida Today’s article below for more details.


Brevard pedestrian crashes soar 27% since 2012

By Rick Neale (Florida Today)

Vehicle-vs.-pedestrian crashes resulting in injury or death climbed 27 percent across Brevard County the past five years, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles records show.

That sobering statistic — 209 crashes in 2012, jumping to 266 in 2016 — isn’t news to Amanda Day, executive director of Bike/Walk Central Florida. She said safety is a two-way street between drivers and pedestrians, and danger rises when walkers fail to yield and start “running out into traffic and trying to dodge it like Frogger.”

“There is common sense of the person walking to not just dart out in front of a car and expect everyone to stop. What we hear a lot when we’re talking is, ‘If I’m driving and I see someone that walks right out in front of me, and I slam on my brakes, then everyone else is going to slam on their brakes too,'” Day told the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization on Thursday.

“And then it goes into the speed of the road, design of the road, the crosswalk. There’s so many challenges — or even possible solutions — to that scenario,” she said.

The Space Coast TPO discussed Brevard’s dismal safety ranking as the nation’s second-most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in “Dangerous by Design,” a biennial report compiled by Smart Growth America. Brevard politicians and planners continue examining ways to design and retrofit roads to help protect “vulnerable users” like walkers and bicyclists, but cost restraints hamper these efforts.

Travis Hills, senior engineer with Kittelson & Associates, listed Brevard’s Top 3 major corridors with the highest pedestrian-bicycle crash frequencies:

• Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral: State Road A1A (from Shepard Drive north to the North Atlantic Avenue split)

 Melbourne: Wickham Road (from Sarno Road north to Aurora Road)

• Palm Bay: Babcock Street (from Palm Bay Road south to Charles Boulevard)

“I think this comes down to a change in culture. We grew up in, ‘roads are only for cars.’ This is the change in the culture. Roads are a multi-modal form of transportation for bicycles and cars,” Cape Canaveral Mayor Pro Tem Brendan McMillin said.

“And I know it’s inconvenient to have a bicycle in front of you going 12, 15 miles an hour, and you’re in your car like, ‘The speed limit’s 35.’ This is the culture shift that we need to impose. Because if not, we’re going to keep running over bicycle people,” McMillin said.

The Space Coast TPO may join Bike/Walk Central Florida, a nonprofit safety-minded coalition based in Winter Park.

Sixteen pedestrians were killed by vehicles in Brevard last year, Space Coast TPO records show. Muddling matters, 10 of these crashes involved alcohol and four crashes involved drugs, said Sarah Kraum, multi-modal program specialist.

On Monday, 38-year-old Rockledge bicyclist Christopher Holton was killed by a motorist on Barnes Boulevard near U.S. 1, Rockledge police reported. The fatal crash spurred Twigg to invite Becky Afonso, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, to speak Feb. 21 at Revolutions Cyclery about road safety hazards.

“There’s some people that want to ride on the sidewalk. They’re recreational riders. They’re enjoying being outside, enjoying the air, the beauty of our community. There’s some of us that want to exercise. There’s some of us that want to commute to work,” Twigg told Space Coast TPO members.

“We have a problem with Northrop Grumman: These people want to commute (on bicycles) to work because there’s no parking there. It’s a recent issue that came up on our sales floor. And we don’t have very good, safe routes for them to get there,” Twigg said.

Contact Neale at 321-242-3638, rneale@floridatoday.com or follow @RickNeale1 on Twitter

Read the originally published article on the Florida Today website.

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