Orlando’s Busy “Arterial” Roads Spell Danger for Pedestrians

Here’s a nice radio interview with my friend Billy Hattaway. He explains how our development patterns have lead to Orlando becoming the most dangerous metro area for pedestrians and clarifies where road funding comes from.

Billy Hattaway is Director of Transportation for the engineering consulting firm VHB MillerSellen. He’s a member of the Board of Directors of Bike/Walk Central Florida and was a roadway design engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation for 23 years. He’s also a CyclingSavvy Instructor.

11 replies
  1. Eric
    Eric says:

    Here is what our new FDOT Secretary had to say about this:

    Q: In May, a new report ranked four Florida metro areas, including Orlando at No. 1 and South Florida at No. 4, among the nation’s most dangerous for pedestrians. You recently testified before Congress that it might not make sense to build sidewalks, landscaping and bike trails. Can you elaborate?

    A: My point was we should not have pre-established goals. We need to make sure it’s needs-driven rather than a fixed amount of money or a percentage of the program spent on landscaping or sidewalks where they might not make sense.

    Florida has been doing very good. Our highways are the safest in their history. (In 2009, the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said traffic deaths in Florida dropped to a historic low. The state recorded 2,563 traffic fatalities in 2009, compared with 3,533 in 2005.)

    We’re committed to pedestrian safety. The numbers are trending downward. We recognize that one accident and one life taken is one too many. We’ve started a thorough review of our policies. We’re going to make sure any changes we need to make continue to make our roads safer for pedestrians, for people in automobiles and for bicyclists.


    • Keri
      Keri says:

      We need to make sure it’s needs-driven rather than a fixed amount of money or a percentage of the program spent on landscaping or sidewalks where they might not make sense.

      Can’t argue with that. The interpretation of Florida’s mandate to “accommodate” bike and ped has led to some asinine applications of bike lanes where they are connected to nothing, downright dangerous, have no intended user or all of the above. It’s a mindless policy which simply scatters paint everywhere and doesn’t seek to solve real needs for comfort and connectivity.

      As for ped safety, FDOT has been consistently unwilling to do the very thing needed to improve ped safety — slow cars and create protected mid-block crossings. Sidewalks and bike lanes are fine with them because they don’t hider the sacred, inviolable flow of car traffic.

      As Billy says in the interview, the biggest issue is getting across the roads.

      Bill Carpenter fought with FDOT to get this mid-block crossing on Aloma. He got a crosswalk and a median refuge. It’s an improvement over nothing, but you still have to wait for traffic to clear before you can use it because there is no beacon to stop the traffic. The humans driving cars feel entitled to blow through it, even if there’s a human on foot in the middle of one of the lanes. So, really, the only thing it offers is ADA access to the curbs and median (and the legal ability for your family to collect damages when some nice member of the community mows you down). As a result, most people on foot don’t even bother walking 10 feet out of their way to use it, they just cross wherever they are. Good infrastructure alone won’t solve this problem, but it would go a long way to improving safety.

      • NE2
        NE2 says:

        I wonder if removing tolls from part of 408 would make slowing Aloma more palatable for commuters heading to downtown Orlando. Would Winter Park be willing to chip in on the cost to pay off the OOCEA? Doubt it, but it’s a possible solution.

    • Mighk Wilson
      Mighk Wilson says:

      Prasad confuses a lower fatality rate with safety. Much of the reduction in fatalities is due to passenger restraint systems and better emergency medical services. People who would have died 10, 20 years ago are more likely to survive the same crash (some of them as invalids). The intersections with the highest rates of serious crashes tend to be built to the latest and “highest” standards.

      Florida’s fatality rate has been dropping slower than the rest of the nation.

      • Kevin Love
        Kevin Love says:

        I agree. Ignoring the soaring injury rate while only looking at deaths and calling that “safety” seems to me to fall into the category of telling deliberate lies.

        I also note that FDOT comprehensively and deliberately ignores the deaths and injures caused by car pollution. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, reports that car pollution kills 440 people every year in Toronto, and injures 1,700 so seriously that they have to be hospitalised. His report may be found at:

        Pollution “controls” are exactly the same on cars in Florida, so the same body count of deaths and injuries is happening in Orlando. It is just being systematically and deliberately ignored and whitewashed.

        Particularly disturbing and heart-rending are Dr. McKeown’s discriptions of the effects of car pollution upon innocent children. These deaths and injuries harm children and the elderly particularly seriously. Among other things, Dr. McKeown writes on page i of the Executive Summary:

        “Children experience more than
        1,200 acute bronchitis episodes per year as a result of air pollution
        from traffic. Children are also likely to experience the majority of asthma
        symptom days (about 68,000), given that asthma prevalence and asthma
        hospitalization rates are about twice as high in children as adults”

        Refraining from poisoning, injuring and killing innocent children seems to me to be a fairly basic principle that should be applied by any decent, civilised human being.

        I fail to understand what could possibly be going on in the head of a car driver whenever he turns the key in the ignition of a car. What are they saying to themselves? “Yes, I am right now choosing to poison innocent children, but I just don’t care because…”

        I am trying to figure out how a car driver finishes the rest of that sentence, but I am unable to do so.

        • Will
          Will says:

          Yes, I am right now choosing to poison innocent children, but I just don’t care because they shouldn’t be riding their bikes on sidepaths next to busy arterial roads. Vroom vroom.

        • Eric
          Eric says:

          I don’t know how vegans can live with themselves. All that fuel used to plant and harvest, and then all that methane gas produced from the consumed legumes.

        • Diana
          Diana says:

          You’ve made this same comment before, Mr. Love. I finally read through Dr. David McKeown’s report, which you refer to so frequently. He references a study in Italy (DeRosa, et al. 2003) of the sperm quality of men working at highway tollgates. “Total motility, forward progression, functional tests, and sperm kinetics were significantly lower in tollgate employees versus controls.” Talk about disturbing and heart-rending! Now I’ll have to live with that everytime I turn the key in the ignition.

        • Mighk Wilson
          Mighk Wilson says:

          I agree with Kevin that we ignore those serious impacts; we shouldn’t belittle his concern.

          But the problem is far more than personal automobiles. Large trucks, buses and construction equipment are responsible for significant amounts. Buy anything lately? It came by truck.

          Kevin (for once) made no mention of “proper Dutch cycling infrastructure, so let’s not bust his chops on it.

          The incentives to drive a car are huge. Everywhere they go, motorists are treated to a “free” parking space. Only 60% of the cost of building, widening and maintaining roads comes from gas taxes.

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