People On Foot

Can you see me now?

Here’s one solution to raise pedestrian visibility at night. Perhaps not the most practical, but you gotta admit, it’s darn effective.As we prepare to roll out our Best Foot Forward community coalition on pedestrian safety, we’d love to hear your ideas on ways we can get our message out into the community.

I think this one might actually work on I-Drive, or someplace where we’re looking to get our message across in a positive, but effective way. If nothing else, I think I’ve found my Halloween costume for this year.

Florida law says drivers must yield to pedestrians crossing with a walk signal, or trying to cross at an unsignalized intersection. In Orange County, the fine for failure to yield is $164 and 3 points on your drivers license. And yet, our baseline data shows that, on average, only about five percent of drivers obey this law.

OPD and the Orange County Sheriff are going to be looking for violators, starting this summer. Statistics show that in the Orlando Kissimmee Metro, we kill one pedestrian each week and injure two a day. Bike/Walk Central Florida, and our community partners — MetroPlan Orlando, Winter Park Health Foundation, Orlando Health, Lynx, Orange Cycle, David’s World Cycle, Track Shack, the mayors, police chiefs and engineering departments of the Cities of Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville, other cities, plus Orange County, are going to change that.

On May 30, we plan to launch a county-wide initiative in Orange County, aimed at increasing the percentage of drivers yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks and encouraging pedestrians to use those crosswalks. This so-called “Triple-E” approach combines low-cost engineering with education and high-visibility enforcement, to fundamentally change the crosswalk culture in support of ongoing efforts by cities, counties and the Florida Department of Transportation, to make our streets safer.

At our first law enforcement training operation, Orlando Police issued warning fliers to drivers failing to yield at problem crosswalks around the city. More than 400 drivers were stopped over the course of three hours. Research has shown that those drivers will tell at least six people each, for a total reach of 2,800 drivers. Orange County Sheriff training will begin in June.

The Orange County School Board plans to review our pedestrian education curriculum this summer for possible use, districtwide, in the fall. This is a significant development. Fingers crossed.

When was the last time you saved a life?  Your contributions of $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, or more, can make a big difference. Checks should be made out to the Florida Bicycle Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and mailed to: Betsy Holl at: P.O. Box 916715, Longwood, FL  32793-6715. Please specify that you are donating to Best Foot Forward.

One Comment

  1. There is no easy solution to better the visibility of pedestrians at night. It’s a problem everywhere, not just Florida. Drivers just need to be paying good attention (which they should be doing anyway!). If it’s a particularlly dark area, wear brighter colors or bring a flash light, they will be bound to see you then. I bike all the time at night and though I wear a bright vest, sometimes they can’t even see me! Florida is crazy though, I visit all the time and an accident almost happens every time. I tend to stay in Palm Bay since my parents live there now and it’s a great city! Palm Bay Hotel (www.palmbay-hotel.com) is cheap and close to trails in town that are much safer to take then the roads most of the time!

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