Initiative Launched to Improve Pedestrian Safety
Bike/Walk Central Florida, MetroPlan Orlando, and the Winter Park Health Foundation are launching an 18-month education and enforcement program to help make Metro Orlando safer for pedestrians. Funding for the effort will be provided by MetroPlan Orlando and the Winter Park Health Foundation.
In 2010, there were 59 pedestrians killed in Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties. A 2011 study titled Dangerous by Design identified the greater Orlando area as the leader in pedestrian fatalities, nationwide, over the past decade. In response to findings in the report, the Bike/Walk Central Florida “Triple E” initiative will combine aggressive law Enforcement with Education and low-cost Engineering to get more drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, increase civility and create a more livable, walkable community.
“We all need to work together, as a community, to make our streets safe for children and families,” said former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin, co-chair of Bike/Walk Central Florida. “Our goal, quite simply, is to get Metro Orlando off that Top 10 list.”
Bike/Walk Central Florida will conduct the study under the direction of the Center for Education and Research in Safety, a private consulting firm with more than 20 years’ experience and documented successes around the world, including Gainesville and St. Petersburg. The Winter Park Health Foundation has agreed to provide $108,250 of the project’s $150,000 budget, with the balance of $41,750 coming from MetroPlan Orlando, as part of the transportation planning organization’s commitment to improving pedestrian safety.
Principal researchers Dr. Ron Van Houten and Dr. Louis Malenfant will work with MetroPlan Orlando, law enforcement agencies and traffic planners to identify locations ideal for engineering improvements and enhanced enforcement. The partnership will also include developing education and outreach materials.
“An effective safety program involves much more than just educating pedestrians,” says Mighk Wilson, smart growth planner for MetroPlan Orlando. “This three-prong approach reflects what is necessary to make our transportation system accessible and safe for those who drive, ride, and walk throughout our region.”
Previous Triple E projects around the country have shown dramatic results, with the percentage of cars yielding to pedestrians in targeted crosswalks increasing from single digits to 80 percent and even 90 percent. Follow-up studies have shown the results to be sustainable over time, with enforcement and education being key.
“In all it does, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) is dedicated to helping develop the healthiest community in the country, so it made perfect sense to lend our support to this collaborative project,” said Lisa Portelli, WPHF Program Director. “It is our hope that improved pedestrian safety will result in a community environment that helps people –young and old–become more active and stay that way.”
Work on the project is expected to begin immediately. Data collection and enforcement are scheduled to start in January. A final report is expected in the second quarter of 2013. Outreach and education will begin in Orange County and expand to cover surrounding areas in future years, as resources permit.