Edgewater Drive Highlighted as National Model for Complete Streets

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Orlando’s own Edgewater Drive is a national model for Complete Streets, according to a new report released by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition.

A Complete Street accommodates people of all ages and abilities traveling on foot, on bicycle, in transit, and in cars. Complete Streets legislation and policies are a huge step towards increasing bicycling and walking and decreasing bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities.
So why are Complete Streets such a big deal? Edgewater Drive is a prime example. The City of Orlando took an opportunity to turn a simple resurfacing into a four to three lane conversion project, adding bicycle lanes, a center turn lane, and wider on-street parking. The results were phenomenal.

Total collisions dropped 40 percent. The crash rate was cut in half. Injuries fell by 71 percent. And that’s all the more impressive considering reducing the lanes only decreased automobile traffic by 12 percent, while bicycle counts increased by 30 percent and pedestrians by 23 percent. More bicyclists and pedestrians – less crashes? It really works. Drivers are more likely to operate carefully and safely around cyclists and walkers when they’re used to seeing them.

Congratulations to the City of Orlando – Edgewater Drive is just the beginning for the City’s goal of a comprehensive network of streets accommodating all users.

Read the full Smart Growth America report by clicking here.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.26.45 PMThe newly improved street was clearly safer than before. Total collisions dropped 40 percent, from 146 to 87 annually. The crash rate was nearly cut in half, from 1 crash every 2.5 days to 1 crash every 4.2 days. Injuries fell by 71 percent, from 41 per year to 12 per year, and instead of 1 injury every 9 days, the reconfigured street saw 1 injury every 30 days.

These safety findings are particularly impressive considering that automobile traffic only decreased 12 percent within a year following the redesign, while bicycle counts surged by 30 percent and pedestrian counts by 23 percent.

As a result, more people want to be on Edgewater Drive. The corridor has seen 77 net new businesses open and 560 new jobs created since 2008. Average daily automobile traffic, which saw a slight dip following project completion, has returned to its original pre-project level and on-street parking use has gone up 41 percent.

The most dramatic results, however, were in long-term real-estate and business investment.

Since the project was first proposed, the value of property adjacent to Edgewater Drive has risen 80 percent, and the value of property within half a mile of the road has risen 70 percent.

Having a City with just one Complete Street is not sufficient to our network. Realizing it would be next to impossible to try to make each street perfect for every traveler, we instead use the national Complete Street standards to aim for a comprehensive network of streets that emphasize different modes while still providing quality access for each one.

As our City continues to grow it’s important for us as a City to continue to engage with our neighborhoods and Main Streets to ensure that we maintain and enhance our walkable communities.

– Buddy Dyer, Mayor

You can read the full findings of the Smart Growth America report by clicking here

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  1. This is great to see, though when it comes to biking, Edgewater Drive will only be “complete” when that bike lane is congrous across Smith and Princeton.

  2. Chris Grammier says:

    I find this article very interesting, particularly since I work on Edgewater Drive, and I do find the roadway generally easy to navigate and the parallel parking convenient.

    However, I would add that the pedestrian experience is very difficult with the varying surfaces, and narrow sidewalk width. Most particularly, the tree wells are terrible and need to be completely removed. Many of them are empty, as the trees died. The tress that remain are largely cabbage palms and crepe myrtles. I understand that trees are critical to streetscapes, these simply aren’t working. The fronds and branches of the trees still living constantly require me to avoid getting hit in the face and head. This is even more unpleasant if they’re wet.

    I understand that the overhead power lines prevent canopy trees from being planted, but the trees and tree wells presently in the pedestrian right-of-way are more than a nuisance, they’re actually a potential cause for injury when one is trying to observe their surroundings for anything other than navigating the pedestrian tree gauntlet.

    I believe the City did a wonderful on the Edgewater Drive corridor overall, but the sidewalk design needs to be revised for a truly pleasant multi-modal experience.

  3. Amanda Day says:

    Thank you for your comments.

    One cannot deny the economic benefits seen after the retrofit of Edgewater Drive, nor can one challenge the decreased collision rates. The City’s implementation of a road diet is moving College Park’s Main Street in the right direction. Bike lanes serve as traffic calming tools, but also raise awareness that cycling is normal. Even if there is no cyclist in the lane, it draws the driver’s attention that there could be a cyclist sharing the road and that should be expected.

    That being said, when a person is walking down the sidewalk, it can seem a bit bare. The vegetation could use a spruce up, and the trees need maintenance. These attributes would certainly contribute to a better pedestrian experience and perhaps even draw a larger crowd for the shops in College Park. When used correctly, trees should be a tool for slowing traffic and providing shade for people walking. Cities with the best practices are even using all edible landscapes to promote local, organic food production, encourage community engagement, and provide curb appeal to people walking.

    These characteristics, however, fall second in line to right-of-way redesigns. Perhaps there will be a phase two for amplifying the pedestrian landscape. But for now, we thank the City of Orlando for taking a huge first step towards safer design for bicyclists and pedestrians.

  4. Ned Popkins says:

    Edgewater Drive is a “Complete Street” — but with one glaring exception: The block between Princeton and Smith streets, which happens to be in the very heart of College Park’s business district and is the single busiest stretch of Edgewater in the neighborhood. The Princeton-to-Smith block lacks the bicycle lanes that exist along the rest of the Drive through the business district, forcing cyclists into motor-vehicle lanes at the very moment when bike lanes are most needed. That same block happens to be where an Atlanta developer wants to build a 206-unit apartment complex — yet the Orlando City Council approved that project without mandating that bike lanes be accommodated or that the substandard sidewalk along the block be upgraded to the specifications outlined by the neighborhood’s Edgewater Drive Vision Plan. A group of neighbors has appealed the council’s decision in court.

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