PBS: Dangerous Crossing

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

This is an excellent look at the issues of pedestrian safety in the suburbs. It could just as easily be about Orlando. They covered all the elements of destructive car-centric design: distance between crosswalks; 7 lane arterials; 85th percentile; no sidewalks, changing demographics. We have been rushing headlong on an unsustainable path.

For more on Florida issues and solutions, see Bill’s Case for a Six Lane Moratorium and St Pete and the RRFB.

9 replies
  1. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    I see this kind of behavior all the time on Semoran between Lake Margaret and the airport. On one side of the Semoran is a shopping center with a Walmart and Publix. On the other side are several apartment complexes.

    I can’t tell you how nerve wracking it is to watch a young mother wheel a stroller laden with shopping bags or 10-year-old kids running across six lanes where the speed limit is 50 mph. There’s a crosswalk at the corner of Lake Margaret and Semoran, but I rarely see it pedestrians use it. Those who do must watch for cars headed northbound on Semoran making u-turns to access the shopping plaza AND for cars turning right from Lake Margaret onto Semoran.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      “On the other side are several apartment complexes.”

      If people live in the vicinity, why is the speed limit 50?

      In my neighborhood where lots of pedestrians use the streets, the speed limit is 25. Around the commercial districts it is 30 in most places, 35 tops.

      And on the 4-lane streets where the speed limit is only 30, the owners have trouble finding tenants. Who wants to live where you can’t have a kid or a dog or a cat since it is likely that they will get flattened out?

      • Keri
        Keri says:

        “If people live in the vicinity, why is the speed limit 50?”

        85th percentile. It’s a state highway. The speed limit is determined by the motorists.

        • Eric
          Eric says:

          I know.
          But there was no 85th percentile on my street when they set the speed limit. It was set low because , hey!, people live in the vicinity.

          The 85th percentile rational makes sense on country roads, but it would be a stretch to call SR-436 country anymore.

          So unless FDOT wants to assume zoning responsibilities and ban R1 through R-3 zoning within a mile of their highways, it’s time to start taking sprawl into account.

          This business about FDOT assuming control over zoning along highways is not as outlandish as it sounds because they tried to do it on SR-441 up in Lake County. For many years they had a “rule” that said they would keep commercial building reduced so that 441 didn’t turn into another 436. FDOT finally gave up their “green highway” initiative in the ’90’s and now they look pretty much the same.

          • Keri
            Keri says:

            “It was set low because , hey!, people live in the vicinity.”

            Homeowners live in the vicinity of your street. More specifically, homeowners in a relatively high tax base.

            Apartment-renters live in the vicinity of 436.

        • Eric
          Eric says:

          Yes, I know. Tenants aren’t people.
          They are things to complain about when they get in the way.

          Every time one of them gets run over, you can read the comments section of the article in the newspaper about the crash and you will see this very idea.

  2. Keri
    Keri says:

    People cross mid-block even when crosswalks are close because they only have to watch for traffic from one direction at a time. What they don’t comprehend is the fact that cars are moving fast and changing lanes. By the time they get to the inside lane, it may not be clear anymore.

    In a lot of places along Semoran, the crosswalks are not close. The DOT expects people to walk as much as a mile out of their way to use a crosswalk where they have to contend with turning traffic and more lanes (because of added turn lanes). There’s no incentive.

  3. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    This stretch of Semoran is part of my commute to work. 50 mph appears to only be a suggestion. 55-60 mph is more common.

  4. Lyle
    Lyle says:

    Are cyclists and pedestrians included in the 85th %ile? Why not? They’re also road users! (not that it would make a big difference, I know).

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