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Posted by on Feb 19, 2010 in Uncategorized | 12 comments

Metroplan Orlando Pedestrian Safety Workshop – 18Feb2010

Metroplan Orlando held a pedestrian safety workshop yesterday. The attendance and enthusiasm was very encouraging. The board room was filled to capacity with more attendees than expected. Many different disciplines and organizations were represented, all with the same goal of enhancing pedestrian safety in Metro Orlando.

Presenters included Bill Segal, Metroplan Orlando Board Chairman, Mighk Wilson, Metroplan Orlando, and Sara Issac, a strategist with Salter-Mitchell. After Mighk explained the need, Sara Issac gave a short presentation and led a discussion on what the key problems were, what behaviors were behind the problems, and who would be the target audience for any social media to change behavior.

There were many ideas volunteered by the attendees. Since most of the pedestrian crashes occur along Lynx transit routes, it was thought transit riders provided a good target audience for pedestrian behavior changes, such as using crosswalks properly and crossing streets carefully. In addition, there are many existing ways to reach this group through Lynx ads, signage and literature. The group identified transients as another target audience because of the high rate at which this group is involved in crashes. However, no good strategy for reaching this group and effecting behavior change was put forward. This group, however, will benefit from more pedestrian-friendly streets as they become more prevalent in the future.

This workshop and the subject it addressed represents one way our community can start to reduce pedestrian crashes and fatalities, by changing behavior and social norms to make our streets safer. There are many other things that can be done as well. I encourage each of you to become a pedestrian safety advocate if you aren’t already one, and come up with ways to make our streets safer. We need to get Metro Orlando out of the top ten most dangerous places in the country to walk. We don’t want a repeat of the number one ranking our community received in 2009 and 2004. Let’s make 2014 the year we’re out of the top ten. If you have ideas on how to make our streets safer, both short term and long term, get them to the people that can make those changes. Let’s make our streets safer to walk on, step by step. This blog is a good place to post your ideas. Do it today.

12 Comments

  1. Last November, I audited an Alternative Transportation Education (ATE) class presented by Mighk . The information in the ATE is a basic primer to cycling as an alternate mode or transport.

    Information regarding pedestrian mobility really opened my eyes. I had limited pedestrian knowledge , but left with a greater understanding.

    Perhaps the pedestrian information and videos presented during ATE, or of the like, could prime your target audience and they can depart with greater confidence and awareness of their surroundings.

    With my limited Lynx use, I can attest that such information/education is in great need of delivering and learning.

  2. Two things I found interesting:

    1) the presentation by the Orange County CTST chair focused on public outreach to educate children and adults to cross the street legally and safely. Anyone who has tried to use a crosswalk in this town knows pedestrians are not the primary problem in this equation. To me that reeked of “yeah, we’re trying to teach them to stay out of the way of the cars.”

    2) the discussion of the crash statistics remaining flat (while actual walking is decreasing) failed to firmly connect with the REAL problem. They’re quick to say that the primary victims are drunk transients, but that’s only because drunks are the only ones brave enough to try and cross the street. Sober people know the motorists aren’t going to yield to them, so they don’t assert their rights in a crosswalk. They mill around on the corner looking at their feet until all traffic clears. (Of course, that simply reinforces the problem because motorists know they can just keep coming and that ped won’t step off the sidewalk. If they’re paying attention at all, they totally take advantage of the lack of assertiveness.)

    • Keri,

      You echo my thoughts so well! I was getting a little frustrated during the discussions b/c of those attitudes. I did fill out the form provided that laid out a potential marketing campaign. Targeting peds isn’t really going to get the message out – targeting specific types of drivers will go a long way to making our streets more inviting to peds. Right now peds just aren’t seen even though they’re probably right in front of us, motorists just aren’t looking out for them. I believe that majority of motorists out there don’t want to hit a pedestrian, they’re just so surprised when one appears.

      I’m fond of saying ‘everyone walks’, and I’m glad that the group seemed to really embrace the idea of targeting transit riders. Thank you Mighk for all your work in putting this together and for pointing out that a lot of crashes occur along transit corridors.

  3. Labeling people “transients” is a way to make them an “out” group, just as cyclists are seen as an out group by motorists. So-called transients have no other way to get around except by foot and bus, and therefore, they will probably be over-represented in pedestrian crash statistics. [Not because they are unreachable, foreign, drunken scofflaws.]

    Catching a bus is one of the most annoying things in the world. You have to be there before the bus is scheduled to arrive. The bus might be late. The bus stop might not be near a crosswalk. Crossing the street to get the bus might not be easy [as Keri has demonstrated]. Why not make crossing easier for peds midblock? Why not have a “20 is Plenty” law in districts with high ped presence and bus routes?

  4. The focus on “drunks” and “transients” comes from a focus on fatalities. It is true that those two groups are over-represented in pedestrian fatalities. That is not the case with non-fatal crashes. But if we only focus on reducing fatalities it does an enormous disservice to everyone else who walks. The folks in law enforcement seem to be focused on reducing the high fatality rate, while Metroplan is concerned with reducing all pedestrian crashes AND making the Orlando metro area more walkable.

    If you’re going to just reduce fatals, then yes, perhaps you focus on drunks and transients (good luck with that), but if you want a pedestrian-friendly community you focus on the drivers.

    • Exactly! And teaching pedestrians to be vigilant doesn’t improve walkability.

    • EXACTLY!!!

  5. While this is a hardware solution, it would be a tool to physically make aware of pedestrian presence. This is a similar idea to the push button stop light configuration we have where the Cady Way Trail crosses Bennet Rd.

    http://www.streetfilms.org/seattle-crosswalk-tap-foot-lights-blink-cross-street/

    Yes, raising operator awareness and education will ultimately be the most effective way to better pedestrian safety, Orlando’s walkability, and increase quality of life for all citizens.

    Hope you enjoy this. Just an idea to keep the thread open.

  6. A crosswalk on Lake Underhill has the in-pavement lights. It’s button-activated. The yield rate there was definitely higher than Edgewater drive, but nowhere near acceptable for a walkable community. Even an OPD officer blew past me when we were doing video there.
    http://www.vimeo.com/7807941

    I’ve seen full traffic signal crossings on A1A in south Daytona Beach. And there is one at Rollins.

    One of the problems I’ve seen with those is that if the signal doesn’t activate within a few seconds, the pedestrians look for a gap and cross. Where the Cady Way trail crosses Tuscawilla is a good example. Unless traffic is heavy, a trail-user will often get tired of waiting for the light to change and cross with a gap, then when the light finally changes, no one is there to cross. OTOH, I think the one at Bennett is more effective because it changes instantly.

  7. “One of the problems I’ve seen with those is that if the signal doesn’t activate within a few seconds,”

    Why does it take upwards of five minutes to get a pedestrian change?

  8. The whole system is designed to push delays onto everyone else to keep motorists moving.

    • yes…and this is where I see a real issue in terms of roadway projects. The report was called ‘dangerous by design’ and it’s a very apt title. Considering the roadway plans I’ve reviewed recently by different agencies, and the rationale behind their designs, I remain rather glum about potential for improvement.