Region Moves Ahead to Protect Pedestrians

Posted on: July 12, 2022 in Complete Streets, Safety, Transportation News

Report Highlights Safety Issues

For more than a decade, Central Florida government and transportation partners have worked relentlessly to improve pedestrian safety, using a variety of tools – from engineering and design to public education.

Walking can be dangerous in the United States, and the problem persists in every region, according to Smart Growth America, which has released the 2022 version of its Dangerous by Design report. The report says more than 6,500 people – nearly 18 every day – were struck and killed while walking in 2020, a 4.7 percent increase over 2019.

Pedestrian fatalities across the U.S. are up 62 percent since 2009, and the report notes that during the pandemic, fatalities rose even as fewer people were driving. Higher speeds, road design, and larger vehicles were cited as contributing factors.

Fatalities in Central Florida

From 2016-2020, Central Florida’s pedestrian fatality rate per 100,000 residents was 3.37, with a total of 431 deaths. (Note: The report uses the urbanized area, which includes Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties.) The regional pedestrian fatality rate went down in 2020 during the pandemic. The 2021 data show we’re still on an overall downward trend from pre-pandemic rates in 2016-19.

In this year’s report, Central Florida no longer tops the list of most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians – now ranked #8. Florida ranks as the second most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians (behind New Mexico), and seven of the 20 most dangerous metros are in Florida.

Regional Safety Efforts

MetroPlan Orlando is committed to prioritizing pedestrian safety, as we and our partners work toward eliminating pedestrian fatalities in the region. We are pursuing a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program to help create a regional vision zero plan with specific local actions for the communities in our three counties. While some of this pedestrian safety work has already begun across the region, this initiative would advance the process significantly.

Other efforts include:

  • In the past decade, MetroPlan Orlando has spent more than $1 million to support Best Foot Forward, the largest grassroots coalition for pedestrian safety in the nation. This group of government, law enforcement, and volunteers coordinates pedestrian safety activities across Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.
  • MetroPlan Orlando has worked with partners across the region to develop a Complete Streets approach to planning, which emphasizes making transportation projects safe and comfortable for all users. In the past five years, our board has increased the amount of federal funding spent on Complete Streets and safety projects by about 75%.
  • The 2045 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, a 25-year vision for the region, includes a target of ZERO fatalities and serious injuries on all roads among its safety performance measures. Safety measures are also used in our prioritization process and weighted so that projects with a greater safety need are funded first.
  • Our Vulnerable Users Safety Working Group, made up of members of MetroPlan Orlando advisory committees, examines opportunities across the region to address unsafe conditions for pedestrians, working with state and local transportation experts.
  • MetroPlan Orlando is completing a Speed Management Network Screening Study across Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties to identify roads where speed is a potential safety issue and to suggest new target speeds. This effort coordinates with the Florida Department of Transportation’s recent evaluation of speeds.

Dangerous by Design

Dangerous by Design reports were released by Smart Growth America in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2021 and 2022. The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Metro Area has been repeatedly named among the most dangerous metro areas for pedestrians in the nation in this report. This year, the metro area ranks 8th, the lowest rating in the history of the report.

You can access the report here:

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