Pedestrian Crosswalk Needed – Semoran at Full Sail University

Crossing Semoran

Full Sail University has grown to a major, four year university with 8,800 students. Located at the southeast quadrant of Semoran Boulevard and University Boulevard in Winter Park, Full Sail, like other universities its size, has many students that live close by and walk or bike to class.

Unfortunately, the area around the university is typical Florida sprawl with little or no consideration given to walkablility and pedestrian safety. In fact both Semoran Boulevard and University Boulevard are major arterial roads, 6 to 8 lanes wide. This presents a clear and present danger to students who walk or bike to class and have to cross these roads. Semoran Boulevard carries 60,000 vehicles per day at 45 mph and higher. As a major arterial road it carries traffic from the suburbs to downtown Orlando and Orlando International Airport and back.

There are two signalized intersections on Semoran flanking the Full Sail campus, University Boulevard to the north and Banchory Road to the south. Students coming from or going to the campus from the west side of Semoran can cross at Banchory, University, or mid-block.

On April 1, 2010, the author counted the students crossing at each of the three possible locations. I also took many photographs of pedestrians as they crossed. You can see a slide show at the end of this post.  I observed from a location on the east side of Semoran midway between University and Banchory. From this point it was easy to count the mid-block crossings, but somewhat more difficult to count the crossings at University and Banchory. As a result, those crossing counts may not be as accurate as those of the mid-block crossings.

I spent a total of 3 hours and 40 minutes counting in three shifts: 8:05 AM to 9:30 AM; 11:55 AM to 1:15 PM; and 4:55 PM to 5:55 PM. The following table shows the counts that were made:

I was surprised to find the number of midblock crossings was more than double the number of crossings at the two signalized intersections at University and Banchory. Even if some of those intersection crossings were missed, the disparity is still very great. This indicates pedestrians have a preference for crossing mid-block as opposed to the signalized crossings. This preference can be explained as follows:

1. The distance between University and Banchory is ½ mile. A pedestrian starting at a point midway between the two intersections would have to walk an additional ½ mile to cross at one of the intersections, a walk which would take approximately 15 minutes.
2. Crossing mid-block is usually faster than crossing at a signalized intersection. Arterial roads like Semoran have long signal times especially at rush hours to enable large traffic volumes to move through the intersections. Crossing mid-block merely involves waiting until the traffic clears in one direction, crossing to the median, waiting until traffic clears in the opposite direction, then crossing the remaining lanes. The timing of adjacent signals virtually assures a significant traffic-clear interval to cross.

The following map shows the section of Semoran Boulevard being discussed as well as the location of the Full Sail University Campus.

Full Sail Crosswalk Map

Full Sail Crosswalk Map

A mid-block crosswalk at the location indicated would provide the pedestrians currently crossing Semoran in this general area a safe way to cross. The benefits of a crosswalk are several:

1. Allow pedestrians to cross at a highly visible, signed location where motorists will expect to have them cross.
2. By using a marked crosswalk, pedestrians are given the protection of Florida law which requires motorists to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
3. Without a crosswalk the pedestrian is at fault if he/she fails to yield to a vehicle. In other works crashes that occur outside a crosswalk are always the pedestrian’s fault.
4. The crosswalk can be signalized if desired.
5. As an effective alternate to signalization, flashing beacon lights can be utilized to signal to motorists when pedestrians are in the crosswalk. This type of crosswalk has proven highly effective in obtaining motorist yield compliance in other jurisdictions.
6. The cost of an un-signalized crosswalk with beacon lights is significantly lower than a signalized crosswalk and cost effective in providing pedestrian protection.

The three hour forty minute sample taken April 1 represents only a portion of the crossings each day. Multiply daily crossings by the number of school days in the year and the number of crossings annually is in the tens of thousands. How long will it take before someone is hit and injured or killed?

This is an appeal to the major stakeholders: Full Sail University, Orange County, Florida Department of Transportation, Parkview Village Apartments, and Metroplan Orlando to work together to approve and construct a crosswalk at the designated location. Let’s all work to make this area, and all of Metro Orlando a safer and more pleasant place to walk. It makes good sense both for safety and the economy.

Safe and comfortable places to walk make healthier and more prosperous communities.

10 replies
  1. Laura M
    Laura M says:

    Nice work Bill. FDOT is likely going to fight any additional signalization between Banchory and University. From your map it appears there ARE indeed ‘crosswalks’ at the unmarked intersections between Banchory & University, though this is often not acknowledged or really understood by law enforcement or lay people. Unless it’s a signalized intersection most folks don’t believe there’s a crosswalk. However, putting a marked cross walk between the two signalized intersections poses several concerns. The crossing distance is too wide, the speed is too high, there are too many lanes to cross and there isn’t a raised median. Also, the area is problematic from an ADA accessibility point of view.

    A webinar last week included some studies of pedestrian crosswalks, marked vs unmarked as well as other solutions. FDOT participated in the webinar and their presentation had this to say: Crosswalks at Intersections
    As volume, speed and number of travel lanes increase, marked crosswalks are best used in conjunction with other treatments:
    including signals, signs, beacons, curb extensions, raised medians, refuge islands, and enhanced overhead lighting.

    Marked crosswalks on an uncontrolled leg of an intersection (without signals, stop or yield signs) shall be supplemented:
    Where posted speeds are greater than 40 mph.
    On a roadway with 4 or more lanes without a raised median or raised traffic island that has an ADT of 12,000 or greater.

    On a roadway with 4 or more lanes with a raised median or raised traffic island that has or is projected to have (within 5 years) an ADT of 15,000 or greater.

    I interpret that to mean that for Semoran Blvd, any marked crosswalk would have to be supplemented with raised curbs, beacons, markings, signals, etc. FDOT would weigh all this against traffic flow.

  2. Columbusite
    Columbusite says:

    Though not specifically cycling related it always pays to remember that by and large pedestrian-friendly roads are cyclist-friendly roads. FDOT should already know that expecting pedestrians to cross 1/2 between traffic signals is ridiculous and that they’re responsible for encouraging pedestrians to cross where no crosswalk exists on a high-speed arterial. State DOTs, regardless if they’re (D) or (R) promote the same “car is king” agenda and block progress that is being made by cities on the pedestrian and cyclist front.

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    University is an especially annoying and treacherous intersection with the free-flowing right turn lanes. I can definitely see the appeal for crossing mid block rather than walking out of one’s way to use that crosswalk!

    • Jesse
      Jesse says:


      There is an elementary school on that corner, too. A lot of kids on the other side of 436 are walking and riding to school. But it should be mentioned that the Cady Way bridge is really close to University and 436.

      • Keri
        Keri says:

        The Cady Way bridge serves Aloma Elementary. It doesn’t serve Full Sail as well because students still have to cross University.

  4. Eric
    Eric says:

    The “throughput” guys will want to know why you think that it is important to stop 6 lanes of traffic a minimum of 88 more times a day.

    What will you tell them?

  5. Bill
    Bill says:

    All good comments and questions. Thanks!

    Laura: There are no public roads creating “crosswalks” that can be utilized in this area, and you’re right that most people don’t recognize these anyhow unless they’re marked. Fortunately there is a raised median at this location. I would advocate for a reduced speed between Banchory and University, think “school zone”. Also flashing beacons, signage and enhanced lighting. For a wide road like this two independent beacon systems would be used one for each traffic direction.

    Columbusite: OSU? Go Bucks! You’re correct in stating that FDOT has got to start designing roads for all, not just motorists. The designs are going to get better. But we have to address all the bad designs out there now.

    Keri: Those continuous right turn lanes at University are absolutely awful. Even if a motorist would like to yield, by the time the motorist sees there is a pedestrian it is too late to stop without having that F-150 on your butt go up your tailpipe. I noticed they improved the signage somewhat and there is slightly more yielding going on. Still a bad design. I think a mid-block crosswalk would raise awareness and help that situation.

    Eric: When pedestrians use a crosswalk, they don’t always stop traffic. Florida Law requires the pedestrian wait until traffic clears such that drivers can stop safely. When a “platoon” of cars comes from a light that just changed, there is a period of time when a pedestrian can’t/won’t step out into the crosswalk because there is one car after another coming. After the road clears so that drivers can see and yield to the pedestrian, then the pedestrian will cross. This is the behavior they use now, so it is already learned. If a flashing beacon is used, it can be programmed to go on only when traffic has cleared to a pre-set degree, and that can be augmented by recorded instructions to the pedestrian. The crosswalk can also be integrated into the traffic management system for that section of Semoran. I frankly think the whole thing can be done so as not to impede traffic at all.

    The crosswalk that was installed on Aloma between Palmetto and Forsyth is signed and marked but has no beacons or enhanced lighting. There is a refuge median. Pedestrians wait and cross one set of lanes and then wait and cross the second set. Drivers rarely if ever stop but pedestrians routinely use the crosswalk to cross safely. They have stopped crossing at random locations and drivers know where to expect them. Not ideal but much better than before.

    No one is saying we won’t be plowing new ground here. But Metro Orlando has the worst pedestrian safety rating in the nation and we have to start hacking away at that somewhere. A high visibility crosswalk in this location on Semoran will be experienced by 60,000 drivers daily and is a high impact way to start to get the word “safety” out.

  6. Terry O'Donohue
    Terry O'Donohue says:

    Would a Walk-Over structure be possible? This would enable pedestrian traffic to safely walk over the highway and the traffic underneath would not be hindered. Just a thought.

  7. Bill
    Bill says:

    Terry: Pedestrian flyovers as they’re called are extremely expensive costing millions of dollars. It’s highly unlikely the number of pedestrians crossing at this location would constitute justification for such an expenditure by FDOT. That said, there are much less expensive solutions. See my previous comment. So far FDOT and the traffic engineering community as a whole have shown no interest in my suggestion. I plan to keep pushing. Unfortunately it will probably take the death of a student before something is done. Not asking for volunteers, yet.

    • MikeOnBike
      MikeOnBike says:

      Aside from being expensive, a pedestrian bridge requires a bunch of extra space for the ramps. It also means pedestrians have to use more energy to get up to the bridge deck and back down again. And they likely have to travel farther, depending where the ramps touch down.

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