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From the boardroom to the classroom – data collector Tony Calabro talks crosswalk safety

Meet superstar, Best Foot Forward data collector (and retired school crossing guard) Tony Calabro – if you haven’t already.

The past month and a half have been busy for Tony. He visited both the BFF Steering Committee and the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club to talk all things crosswalks.

First, Tony attended the BFF Steering Committee meeting on March 24. The steering committee is a coalition of planners, engineers, law enforcement officers, healthcare professionals, and public school administrators from the City of Orlando and Orange County that meets monthly to engage pedestrian safety issues in the community.

Tony, who has been with BFF since its 2012 launch, shared his insights on crosswalk conditions and commuter behaviors (both motorists and people walking) that he observed during our February data collection period. Tony is the BFF Steering Committee’s eyes on the street.  He monitors and collects data at marked crosswalks throughout Orlando and Orange County (click here for a refresher on how the data collection process works).

What gets measured gets better and Tony has measured A LOT of crosswalks.

BFF uses the data Tony collects to calculate our driver yield rates. You know – the driver yield rates that measure how often drivers yield to people walking in marked crosswalks. The same rates that have jumped from 12 percent (35 mph and lower) and 1.2 percent (40 mph and higher) to 44 percent and 28 percent respectively.

Driver yield rates jump to 79 percent after RRFB installed at Lake Underhill Road & Palmer Street crosswalk – up 30 percent.

Tony mentioned he saw a huge improvement at the Lake Underhill Road and Palmer Street crosswalk since a flashing beacon was installed in December 2015 (also called an RRFB). BFF measured a 79 percent driver yield rate in February 2016 – a 30 percent increase from 2015 rates measured before the flasher was installed!

Drivers not yielding at mid-block crosswalk on OBT – 3 percent driver yield rate measured in February 2016.

While driver yield rates have gone up and drastically improved at some crosswalks like on Lake Underhill Road, Tony did also have some concerns. He mentioned shrubbery blocking the view of motorists at the Universal Boulevard and UCF Rosen College of Hospitality crosswalk. He also said that people have an extremely difficult time crossing the mid-block crosswalk just north of Holden Avenue on Orange Blossom Trail. He observed very few motorists yielding there. BFF measured a 3 percent driver yield rate at this crosswalk in February.

Orange County and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) heard Tony’s feedback and have taken action. The shrubbery by the UCF Rosen campus crosswalk has been cut back and FDOT is currently studying the OBT crosswalk to make it safer to cross.

Teaching walking safety at the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club.

More recently on April 28- Tony spent the afternoon with students from the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club teaching them about crosswalk safety. Students ranged in age from kindergarten to 8th grade. Part of a Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Day event, Tony taught the students step-by-step how to safely use a crosswalk and then conducted a safe crossing demonstration outside at a crosswalk in front of the community center.

Thank you Tony for all of your hard work. You are truly an asset to Best Foot Forward and our mission to make Central Florida a safer, more walkable place for everyone.

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