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UCF needs more crosswalks, better lighting, study says

UCF BikePed Study 1Roads around the University of Central Florida need a major makeover, according to a UCF Area Pedestrian Safety Study from the Orange County Transportation Planning Division.

UCF area more walking and biking friendly for the 61,000 include the standard – more crosswalks, lightening, shrubbery, and making turn lanes sharper – all of which encourage people who walk or drive to reevaluate their behavior.

The good news is Orange County has pledged nearly $5 million towards these design changes. They are currently waiting on UCF and FDOT to determine how much they’ll pay to cover the remaining costs. At least four of the 10 people were killed crossing the street near UCF – and the studied found more than 200 crashes over eight years. That’s about 2 per month.

On July 21, Orange County has scheduled the UCF/Alafaya Trail Pedestrian Study to be presented to the LPA Commission for its approval.

The following link takes you to the full report from the Orange County Transportation Planning Division:

UCF/Alafaya Trail Pedestrian Safety Study

Below is Kassab’s article recapping the Pedestrian Safety Study:

It’s incredibly dangerous to have big, high-speed roads separate a college campus of 61,000 people from pubs, burger joints and thousands of student apartments.

This isn’t rocket science, though its possible some future rocket scientists are risking life and limb to walk or bike home from class at the University of Central Florida.

Still, the Orange County Commission and other folks are studying this issue to death.

When commissioners hear the results of a 114-page report on pedestrian safety near UCF on Tuesday, it will be the fourth such tome on the subject in the last six years.

At least four of the 10 people killed crossing streets near UCF in recent years lost their lives after one of these studies began.

The latest report — the one county commissioners will talk about Tuesday — uses bright red versions of the ubiquitous crosswalk figure of a man striding forward to mark maps where people have died.

Two on Alafaya Trail near Knights Landing and Campus Crossing apartment complexes.

Two more on Alafaya near Gemini Boulevard not far from the fraternity and sorority houses.

Another on University Boulevard near a cluster of restaurants. More on McCulloch Road, not far from the football stadium.

Little green men and purple bicycles on the study maps represent the spots where people on foot or bike were injured, but survived.

The study tallied more than 200 such crashes in eight years or an average of about 2 per month.

I would like to think that this study will be the one that finally makes a difference.

I’ve written hopefully since the study started nearly two years ago that this deadly issue was finally getting some real attention.

And the new report details some good recommendations. Among them:

  • Adding two mid-block crosswalks. This is an acknowledgment that there are too few crosswalks in the area, which prompts people to make a run for it outside of a crosswalk.
  • Re-do of turn lanes. Some turn lanes at big intersections could be changed so that cars must make sharper turns, requiring them to slow down and reduce risk of crash and injury.
  • Wider sidewalks, more shrubs and trees, better lighting. This is aesthetic stuff, but it’s intended to make people on foot feel like the sidewalk is safer distance from traffic and send a signal to drivers to watch for pedestrians.
  • Better “branding” of the UCF area. Right now, UCF’s main entrance at University and Alafaya isn’t much more distinct than the front of an average office park. If you didn’t know you were about to pass the second-largest campus in the nation in terms of undergraduates, you might just miss it at 45 mph — the speed limit near the entrance.

The county has pledged to pay nearly $5 million toward designing the changes, buying right-of-way and construction costs. But county officials say there’s still no deal with the university administration or the state Department of Transportation to cover the cost of maintenance on the changes.

For its part, a UCF spokesman says the university has offered to pay for two mid-block crossings on Alafaya Trail as well as a pedestrian “landing pad” or median on University Boulevard. UCF also says it will install new lighting on campus property and pay the utility costs as well as make other improvements. UCF would contribute about $500,000 of $4 million in construction costs under that scenario, according to the county.

But a pedestrian bridge, one of the improvements students and others who work on campus had advocated for, was deemed a bad investment by the study group.

Of course, a nearly $10 million pedestrian bridge is under construction near the convention center. Another on International Drive and Sand Lake Road is still in the planning stages.

But students don’t spend money like tourists.

We’ll find out Tuesday how seriously the County Commission takes up the problem of student safety.

After all, the report does a good job of summing up how we got here in the first place.

“UCF has grown significantly since 1963,” the introduction notes. “Recent growth at UCF has increased enrollment from about 34,000 students in year 2000 to its present level [61,000].”

It’s far past time for the sidewalks, crosswalks and roads to catch up.

View the original story here on the Orlando Sentinel‘s website.

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