From the Orange County Board of County Commissioners
Last week, Operation Best Foot Forward, the Orlando Police Department (OPD), and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) had its quarterly high-visibility crosswalk enforcement action for Florida’s driver-yield law beginning in the early morning hours on Wednesday. During the operation, the OCSO issued 66 warnings and tickets, and the OPD issued 15.
Since the establishment of this operation in 2012, the OPD and OCSO conduct joint enforcement actions 3-4 times a year with the purpose of reminding drivers that failure to yield to pedestrians crossing the street in a marked crosswalk can result in a $164 tickets as well as 3 points on their motorist’s license. To carry out the operation, undercover officers dress like civilians and cross the street at each marked crosswalk, giving motorists enough time to yield.
These high visibility enforcement actions are part of a more comprehensive effort to educate both drivers and pedestrians about the importance of obeying the law. Studies show that when you combine Engineering, Education, and Enforcement over a long period of time, the behavior of drivers changes; if left unaddressed, the adversarial nature of drivers and pedestrians thrives. Since Operation Best Foot Forward was first established, driver-yield rates rose sharply by 38%, from 12% to around 50%, at marked crosswalks located on roads limited at 35 mph and less. For roads posted at 40 mph and higher, only 1.2% of drivers were stopping for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk; today, this number is reaching close to 20%.
In addition to the positive impacts Operation Best Foot Forward has had on safety, it has also been perceived well in the media: For last week’s operation, the total estimated impressions (point in which an ad or story is viewed by one person) was 851,372 and the earned media ad value was $80,171 (6 TV Stations, 3 digital/print outlets, and 2 radio stations). The intent of Operation of Best Foot Forward’s outreach is not only to reach drivers and pedestrians who came across the monitored crosswalks but all Orange County residents through media outlets.
To date, following its 19th round last week, the operation has made significant progress in Orange County and the City of Orlando. On the Enforcement side, 7,566 total citations and warnings have been issued and 368 enforcement details have taken place. Additionally, for Engineering, 60 marked crosswalks have been monitored. Furthermore, in terms of Education, 339 presentations and events have been created to educate drivers and pedestrians on Operation Best Foot Forward as well as Florida’s pedestrian and driver yield laws.
The rapid growth of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in what had formerly been a rural area created some issues among pedestrians and drivers. With the rise of pedestrian-involved accidents, several studies have been conducted on adjacent corridors as a result, generating reports and recommendations on how to address these issues of safety. The study corridors are Alafaya Trail from Challenger Parkway to McCulloch Road, University Boulevard from Rouse Road to Alafaya Trail and McCulloch Road from Alafaya Trail to North Orion Boulevard. As part of Orange County’s Walk Ride Thrive! Program (working with Best Foot Forward), the purpose of the UCF Area Pedestrian Safety is to identify the pedestrian and bicycle crossing needs and safety issues along Alafaya Trail, McCulloch Road, and University Boulevard, and develop plans for improvements, followed by Preliminary Engineering projects; approximately 4.6 miles of roadway near the UCF Area will be covered. The study includes an expanded and updated data collection, stakeholder interviews, field observations, and recommendations.
The first phase of implementing the recommendations from the study is underway and is currently in the stage of design preparation. This phase of the project’s limits include Alafaya trail from Challenger Parkway to McCulloch Road and University Boulevard from Quadrangle Boulevard to Alafaya Trail; additional phases will be developed as funding becomes available. The purpose of this design will be to take the recommendations from the study and transfer those concepts into engineered construction plans; Orange Public Works Engineering Staff will work closely with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and UCF during the development of the construction plans. The Phase I design will consist of the following: Additional guideway signage; new pedestrian channelization in medians; new landscaping, intersection improvements with curb modifications and enhanced crosswalks; new pedestrian-scale lighting, a wider sidewalk along the UCF frontage; and 2 new signalized mid-block crosswalks.
In Pine Hills, there is a variety of land uses along the corridor, including residential, commercial, retail, schools, and office uses. Over time, Pine Hills has experienced an increase in residential-to-commercial land use conversions, which has contributed to pedestrian and bicycle safety issues along the corridor. As a result, the Pine Hills Road Pedestrian/Bicycle Safety Study was prompted, serving the purpose of identifying opportunities for the implementation of safety improvements for residents walking, bicycling, driving or riding the bus. The study area covers Pine Hills Road from State Road 50/West Colonial Drive to Bonnie Brae Circle (approximately 3.6 miles total) and is scheduled to last about 1 year.