Sunday, October 10, 2010

Witnesses: Teen crossing Aloma struck by 2 vehicles, killed

Orlando Sentinel – Oct. 10, 2010.

Read the full article about 17 year old Kasön Bailey’s death here.

This is the second pedestrian death at this location since a crosswalk was installed in early 2008.  This accident is particularly upsetting to me since I advocated for the crosswalk knowing there was high pedestrian activity there and a high probability of accidents.  Obviously much more needs to be done.

The accident location is midway between the Forsyth and Palmetto intersections, both of which have signalized pedestrian crosswalks.  The distance between these two intersections is 2/3 mile, and this location has high pedestrian activity because there are apartments on one side of Aloma, and businesses on the other.  Strip shopping centers and a RaceTrac convenience store attract local residents day and night.  The crosswalk is not signalized and is unlighted, although there are occasional street lights and light from businesses along the street.

At this point I don’t know if the victim was in the crosswalk or not.  But regardless of whether or not he was, it is painfully obvious that pedestrians are not being adequately protected in this area and further steps need to be taken.  There are three areas in general that need to be addressed in order for pedestrians to be able to walk and cross streets safely:

  1. A sea change needs to happen to motorists’ perception of the pedestrian’s right to the roadway.
  2. Adequate pedestrian safety infrastructure needs to be approved, funded, designed and constructed.
  3. Pedestrians must be educated on the proper use of pedestrian infrastructure and exercise of their rights to use the roadways.
The accident at hand was probably precipitated by too little of each of the above being present. 

Motorists’ Perception of Pedestrian Rights:
Aided and abetted by the automotive industry and transportation officials, motorists have mistakenly gotten the impression that the streets and roads are for them only, and people on bikes or walking need to just stay out of their way.  Transportation officials reinforce this notion by providing all manner of restrictions on the movement of bicyclists and pedestrians to the point where motorists are led to believe they will have adequate notice or warning if one of these interlopers is on the road.  Otherwise it’s fine to maintain the speed limit and do any of the myriad other things people do while driving these days.  This attitude has led to dangerous inattention and frequently reckless driving for conditions on the part of motorists.  The motorist thinks, “If there’s anything I need to slow down for or be aware of, a sign or flashing light will tell me.”

Public officials also reinforce this notion by failing to enforce existing traffic laws designed to protect pedestrians.  There is virtually no enforcement of pedestrian crosswalks where motorists are required to yield.

The laws protecting the pedestrian are inadequate.  In accident after accident involving a motorist hitting a pedestrian, the motorist gets off Scot free, most of the time without so much as a ticket.  This entire section of the traffic code needs to be addressed to remedy this imbalance.

This perception of complete ownership of the road unless otherwise notified has to change.  It isn’t the case and never has been the case but it’s going to take a lot of re-education to change.

Adequate Pedestrian Infrastructure:
Not only do we need many more marked crosswalks where there are none today, those crosswalks need to be lighted and have user-activated beacon markers.  The Aloma crosswalk is a good example of an inadequate response to an accident risk situation.  The crosswalk is beautifully designed and signs erected just as specified in the latest FDOT documents, but it doesn’t do an adequate job of protecting pedestrians.  The only time I’ve seen a motorist yield to a pedestrian is if traffic is backed up and moving at a crawl.  If traffic is moving normally, pedestrians are ignored.  Once that pattern is established, then it is aberrant behavior to stop for a pedestrian, and no one does it.  Since yielding is not required, motorists cease to look for and see pedestrians getting ready or waiting to cross.

There are many innovative new devices and designs that will help protect pedestrians.  They need to be thoroughly researched and the promising ones implemented as soon as practical.  Public officials need to approve funding for these initiatives and give them a higher priority than road projects such as widening to six lanes which increase the risk to pedestrians.

Pedestrian Education on Infrastructure use and Proper Exercise of Rights:
Too often I hear that pedestrians disobey traffic laws and put themselves at risk.  If they obeyed the laws and used signalized crosswalks say these critics, accidents wouldn’t happen.  The problem with this thinking is that it ignores the reason the pedestrian is out there trying to use the streets in the first place:  They NEED to use the streets to get where they’re going.  And to do that they are going to take the shortest, most convenient way even if it involves some risk.  Traffic planners and designers must acknowledge this basic fact and design our roadways accordingly.  And people’s perceptions of pedestrians as outlaws putting themselves at risk must change to encompass this principal.  No pedestrian is deliberately putting themselves at risk of injury or death by choice.  They are just trying to get from point A to point B.

That said, there are areas where pedestrians can be instructed in safe use of existing infrastructure with some benefits to be gained.  Particularly with school age children, safety skills can and should be taught.

However, the most important thing that pedestrians need to learn is the proper exercise of their rights as pedestrians.  Unfortunately, this skill has been mainly taken away by the relentless attack on these pedestrian rights by transportation industry and public officials.

Using the Aloma crosswalk, I will illustrate how regaining this skill can radically change things.

What if, immediately after the opening of the Aloma crosswalk while the signs are new and fresh in motorists’ minds, pedestrians wanting to use the crosswalk got motorists’ attention by placing one foot into the roadway and waiving their arm at the motorist?  When the motorist slowed, the pedestrian advanced carefully into the crosswalk forcing the motorist to slow and stop.  The pedestrian would then do the same thing in the next lane, which would be easier because one car in the adjacent lane had already stopped.  Motorists behind the lead vehicles would observe that cars were stopped to allow pedestrians to cross.  The next time those motorists in line came to the crosswalk they would expect to stop for pedestrians and look to see if there were any coming.  If this scenario is repeated time after time, motorists would adopt the habit of looking for and yielding to pedestrians.  All this because the pedestrians that have the right to use the crosswalk and have motorists yield to them exercised that right.

If a super majority of the pedestrians that use this crosswalk had been schooled in proper exercise of their rights before starting to use the crosswalk, the preceding scenario would have happened and the crosswalk would become a valuable safety feature.

Unfortunately, what happened was that pedestrians saw the traffic speeding by, were reluctant to enter the crosswalk and so waited patiently until it cleared.  The motorists saw the pedestrians waiting for them so they continued on their way.  Eventually the motorists came to ignore the crosswalk and any waiting pedestrians altogether, thus virtually negating the crosswalk’s effectiveness.  A corollary effect of this is that pedestrians observe that using the crosswalk doesn’t buy them any additional time or convenience, so they resume their patterns of crossing where convenient.  After all, it takes exactly the same amount of time, less if the crosswalk is out of their way.

Pedestrians can be taught the proper exercise of their rights again.  We can import instructors from Manhattan.  We’ll just have to make sure they know beating on motorists’ hoods is not permissible behavior in our more placid Greater Orlando metro area.

Over the next several days I hope to learn more about the accident that killed 17 year old Kasön Bailey.  I’ll report any new information I find that impacts pedestrian safety in general.  In the meantime I hope you’ll continue to fight for the rights of bicyclists and pedestrians to share our area streets and roads safely.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Downtown Orlando Stop for High Speed Rail

It is incredible to me that our local Greater Orlando political leaders have been silent on the issue of a downtown Orlando stop for high speed rail.   It appears as though they are placidly accepting the plans put forth by the engineers and technocrats without considering some very basic issues.  Political leaders need to have vision and make sure that vision is carried out.

Having high speed rail go to Disney, the convention center and the airport is not vision. It's a sub-optimal solution and smacks of catering to airport interests and the tourist industry at the expense of Greater Orlando and its citizen-taxpayers.

There are only two segments that can be called high speed rail, Tampa to Lakeland, and Lakeland to Orlando.  The remaining segments are too short to achieve any speed.  The Lakeland-Orlando segment should terminate in downtown Orlando.  The other segments will best be served by light rail.

A downtown station is the optimal solution for Orlando and Florida High Speed Rail because:

  • Downtown is the most likely destination, or at least the center of all possible destinations in Greater Orlando
  • Downtown is a logical place to connect to SunRail which will service the areas north and south of downtown
  • A downtown station will promote high quality renewal and growth in the downtown core
  • Very few passengers will have the airport as their final destination
  • Having a downtown station will reduce car traffic in the downtown core
  • A downtown station will minimize transfers and changes of transportation modes
  • Vehicle miles traveled, vehicle emissions, and congestion will be minimized by a downtown station
  • Finally, after all is said and done the regret of not having a downtown station will be far greater than regret over any extra cost

It may cost more for a downtown station, but innovative funding can be sought involving all stakeholders that will benefit.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Wake up Orlando!  Demand what's right.  Let’s make it happen!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Response to Orlando Sentinel Editorial – Make Our Roads Safer

After publishing a very salutatory article about Bike To Work Day and bicycling in general, the Orlando Sentinel chose to publish Make Our Roads Safer, an editorial condemning Florida bicyclist's objections to HB 971 which would require bicyclists to use bicycle lanes. In the Sentinel's editorial, local bike advocates Brad Kuhn and Might Wilson's views were dismissed as being trivial. The Sentinel cited Portland, Oregon's Bicycle Transportation Alliance as recommending the use of Portland's bicycle lanes.

Come on Sentinel. Rejecting local bicycling advocates' views as self-serving is ignoring the real message they are trying to get across, that motorists and police officers have to recognize that bicyclists have the right to use our roads too, and shouldn't be viewed only as obstructions. Every bicycle that is on the road is one less vehicle using a cup of gas for every mile traveled and perpetuating our dependence on Big O - Oil. The bicyclist is riding to work using his/her breakfast for fuel.

Come on Sentinel deux. Comparing Florida's bicycle infrastructure to Oregon's is like comparing buffalo trails to Los Angeles' freeway system. Oregon is light years ahead of Florida with their bicycle infrastructure. With few exceptions, Florida communities are just getting started with theirs. In too many cases, the initial attempts have been, to be kind, misdirected. These attempts at "bike lanes" are substandard and unsafe. It's too soon to force bicyclists onto bike lanes that are unproven at best and downright dangerous at worst. Serious bicyclists will use the lanes when they consider them safe, but in the meantime they need the freedom to act in their own best interest.

Finally, how does HB 971 make our roads safer as the Sentinel editorial suggests? Is there evidence that failure to use bike lanes has caused accidents? Or is this law for the convenience of motorists who want the slow bicyclists out of their way. Certainly none of the other provisions of HB 971 are concerned with safety: New vanity license plates including plates for the governor, senators and representatives; a provision for 3 wheeled vehicles (safe not); new fee structure for vehicle registrations; and a provision to get DUI drivers who've had their licenses revoked back on the road. And I think there's something about kitchen sinks in there too.

What about making it safer and more convenient to use a bicycle to commute to work? Isn't the long-term goal to increase bicycle ridership and use less hydrocarbon fuels? Anyone who uses a bicycle to commute to work deserves a little edge, and a lot of credit.

Come on Sentinel.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pedestrian Crosswalk Needed – Semoran at Full Sail University

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.

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, 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.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crist's Everglades Land Purchase: Boon or Boondoggle?

The New York Times ran an article Monday on Florida's $536 million deal to purchase 72,800 acres from United States Sugar.  The article highlights what critics of the deal are saying, that because of down-sizing the purchase Florida taxpayers will be paying too much for land United States Sugar has hand picked to get rid of, and Governor Charlie Crist is pushing the downsized deal to help save his chances in the U. S. Senate race this fall.  The fact that Senator George LeMieux's old law firm, Gunster, represents United States Sugar indicates the principal players have been cozy from the start.  Recall that Governor Crist appointed Mr. LeMieux to the senate seat Governor Crist is running for this fall.  Critics contend the original $1.75 billion deal was $400 million more than the market value of the property and downsizing it has not corrected this overpricing but exacerbated it.  The way the deal stands now, critics point out, the only parties that will profit are United States Sugar and its attorneys.

Environmental groups still support the purchase plan saying this a unique opportunity to purchase a significant amount of agricultural land to aid in Everglades restoration.  They want the deal to go through pointing out that Florida will have an option to purchase 107,000 additional acres in the future when the economy gets back on its feet.  Critics point out the problem with this is that the South Florida Water Management District will not have enough money to properly develop these parcels for Everglades restoration, and in fact has already stopped work on other restoration projects to divert funds to the purchase.  Have environmentalists focused too much on the end result and not on how we get there?

Everglades restoration should go ahead as fast as it can be done.  However we should be getting our money's worth and should be funding those projects that produce the highest return soonest.  I would love to have assurance that Governor Crist's land purchase from United States Sugar meets that criteria, but I don't get the feeling that it does.

PS:  Here's another NY Times article.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

St Pete and the RRFB

Color me green, with envy, that is.  Tuesday I visited St. Petersburg with Mighk Wilson and Keri Caffrey.  Keri and I were tagging along with Mighk whose purpose was to check out installations of the RRFB, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon, on pedestrian crosswalks.  The envy part came about when I saw just how pedestrian friendly St. Pete is, and the level of commitment the Sunshine City has to becoming even friendlier to the lowly pedestrian, the lowest member of the transportation food chain.

I knew St. Pete had a reputation for being pedestrian and bicycle friendly, and I had experienced some of it first hand, but after spending time with our friendly host, Michael Frederick, I learned the breadth and depth of the city’s commitment.  Michael is the Manager, Neighborhood Transportation, and has been instrumental in formulating and implementing the city’s bicycle and pedestrian plan,  Since the start of implementation in 2003, bicycle and pedestrian crashes have declined steadily while usage increased.  St. Pete has installed pedestrian crosswalks, created bike lanes, and rebuilt streets incorporating traffic calming in hundreds of locations throughout the city.  Crosswalk enforcement was funded and has been key to obtaining high driver compliance with un-signalized crosswalks.  Each city neighborhood has its own traffic plan that is approved by the residents.  The city’s proactive approach and thorough planning process have enabled it to obtain funding to move ahead aggressively with its plan which is near completion.  Overall very impressive and envy inducing for a Metro Orlandian living in the most dangerous place to walk in the country.

But back to the purpose of today’s visit.  As you can see from the photograph, the RRFB is a rapidly flashing amber strobe crosswalk signal placed just above driver eye level.  The signal is activated by a pedestrian pressing a button at the crosswalk entrance.  With most installations the signal begins immediately, although it can be coordinated with adjacent traffic signals if desired.  Driver compliance levels, that is drivers yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks with the RRFB, is high.  The installations we observed were very impressive.  I couldn’t suppress a big grin when traffic actually slowed and stopped after I pressed the button and stepped into the crosswalk at the installation on 4th Street.  You can see a video of me skipping across the street here.  This device looks very promising for use in Metro Orlando.

We’ll be discussing pedestrian safety Wednesday morning at the Citizen’s Advisory Committee at Metroplan Orlando, and it will be discussed also at the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting in the afternoon.  I hope to have more stuff and progress to report on this important subject in the future.  In the meantime, become a pedestrian safety advocate and let us know your ideas for making Metro Orlando a safer place to walk.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Metroplan Orlando Pedestrian Safety Workshop – February 18, 2010

Metroplan Orlando held a pedestrian safety workshop yesterday. The attendance and enthusiasm was very encouraging. The board room was filled to capacity with more attendees than expected. Many different disciplines and organizations were represented, all with the same goal of enhancing pedestrian safety in Metro Orlando.

Presenters included Bill Segal, Metroplan Orlando Board Chairman, Mighk Wilson, Metroplan Orlando, and Sara Issac, a strategist with Salter-Mitchell. After Mighk explained the need, Sara Issac gave a short presentation and led a discussion on what the key problems were, what behaviors were behind the problems, and who would be the target audience for any social media to change behavior.

There were many ideas volunteered by the attendees. Since most of the pedestrian crashes occur along Lynx transit routes, it was thought transit riders provided a good target audience for pedestrian behavior changes, such as using crosswalks properly and crossing streets carefully. In addition, there are many existing ways to reach this group through Lynx ads, signage and literature. The group identified transients as another target audience because of the high rate at which this group is involved in crashes. However, no good strategy for reaching this group and effecting behavior change was put forward. This group, however, will benefit from more pedestrian-friendly streets as they become more prevalent in the future.

This workshop and the subject it addressed represents one way our community can start to reduce pedestrian crashes and fatalities, by changing behavior and social norms to make our streets safer. There are many other things that can be done as well. I encourage each of you to become a pedestrian safety advocate if you aren't already one, and come up with ways to make our streets safer. We need to get Metro Orlando out of the top ten most dangerous places in the country to walk. We don't want a repeat of the number one ranking our community received in 2009 and 2004. Let's make 2014 the year we're out of the top ten. If you have ideas on how to make our streets safer, both short term and long term, get them to the people that can make those changes. Let's make our streets safer to walk on, step by step. This blog is a good place to post your ideas. Do it today.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Case for a Six Lane Moratorium

The last two years have brought unprecedented change to the nation and to Central Florida. The financial crisis virtually dried up credit. This caused the housing bubble to burst putting Florida's housing industry sales into free fall. Unemployment, foreclosures and outmigration rippled through the economy. And for the first time since the end of World War II, Florida's population declined. Oil and gasoline prices fluctuated wildly which caused drivers to cut back driving, to stop buying gas guzzling trucks and SUVs, and to create long waiting lists for fuel sipping hybrids.

Traffic on our roads, interstates and toll roads declined. Money available for transportation improvements became scarcer as revenue from gas taxes declined. The federal government pumped massive amounts of money into the system to keep the economy from collapsing, with only a small portion making it to local transportation infrastructure improvements. Global climate change caused by man's activity, primarily the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, became a reality for the majority of citizens who in turn looked to their political leaders for solutions. And the Greater Orlando area was cited in a national report as being the most pedestrian unfriendly metro area in the country. All these events and their repercussions created new and difficult issues for Central Florida transportation planners.

But these events have also fostered unique opportunities to improve transportation in Central Florida. Consider the positive aspects:
  1. Declines in road usage and miles traveled have altered the need for additional road capacity. Projected traffic increases are not being realized causing at the least, postponement of capacity needs, and, depending on future events, perhaps elimination of some.
  2. The long and much anticipated Metro Orlando transit system with north-south commuter rail as its backbone is approved and construction will start soon. This new system will create opportunities to offer commuters viable alternatives to single passenger vehicle use previously unavailable.
  3. Increased awareness of Greater Orlando's position as the most pedestrian unfriendly metro area has created demands for changes to the system to increase pedestrian convenience and safety.

With less travel on our roads, more viable transportation alternatives, and public pressure to give the pedestrian a better break, transportation planners have the ability and franchise to devote more resources to more walkable streets and pedestrian safety.

Transportation planners and researchers have found out much about the relationship between the type of roads we build and pedestrian safety.

  1. Most of the urban/suburban pedestrian crashes occur on multi-lane, high speed roads that are difficult and dangerous for pedestrians to use and cross. These roads were built to move vehicles quickly and making them safe for pedestrians was not a priority.
  2. Studies have also shown that increasing a road from four to six lanes doubles the pedestrian crash rate on the road, and there are indications widening increases the vehicle crash rate as well.
  3. The process of making existing urban roads safer will be expensive, time consuming and will involve making choices among trade offs between pedestrian safety and vehicular convenience and travel speed.

And the need to resort to widening roads as a routine response to congestion is being increasingly scrutinized as planners have found that:

  • There are proven ways to increase traffic flow without resorting to widening roads, including better signalization to achieve maximum throughput, eliminating bottlenecks, improving intersection turning movements, and improving intersection stacking and throughput capacity.
  • Many transportation planners have come to believe that increasing road capacity does little to change peak time congestion on any given road. Once the road is widened, traffic increases to fill the additional road capacity and congestion reaches equilibrium at the old level.

The Metroplan Orlando 2030 Long Range Transportation Plan has as a desired outcome less growth in vehicle miles traveled by cars and trucks on our road system, and more use of transit and other alternative means of transportation. To accomplish this some of each of the following is required:

  1. Smart Growth planning and growth management to create more walkable, transit-friendly communities.
  2. Providing viable alternatives to vehicle/road use.
  3. Making vehicle/road use relatively more expensive than alternatives in terms of cost, time and convenience.
  4. Providing education to change motorist's expectations through use of media and public relations.

In response to these challenges and opportunities a moratorium should be placed on construction of six lane roads. Such a moratorium would stop the construction of, or widening to, all roads of six lanes or more. Limited access interstates and toll roads would be excluded.

The immediate benefits of a moratorium would:

  1. Allow the reallocation of funds committed to such six-lane construction and widening to alternative forms of transportation such as transit – bus, rail, car pooling, and paratransit - bicycles, and walking.
  2. Promote the evaluation and use of alternatives to six lane roads such as increased connectivity, use of grid road systems, increased efficiency of existing roads through better traffic management, and use of incentives for drivers to use alternative transportation.
  3. Provide an opportunity to increase pedestrian safety on the existing road system without the addition of more six lane roads that increase the pedestrian crash rate, negating any safety improvements on existing roads.
  4. A moratorium will provide base data points from which the pedestrian danger index can go down rather than stay the same or go up.

Turning challenges into opportunities frequently involves changing the paradigm or shifting emphasis to cause people to consider things in a new way. If the desired change features a common goal or focal point that the public can identify with and rally around, then change becomes easier to communicate and put into effect.

A moratorium on six lane roads in the Metro Orlando area would provide such a rallying point. The word moratorium itself communicates urgency and action. In this context it means to stop doing something in order to halt its deleterious effects, and to examine closely the tradeoffs between the benefits and harmful effects of the activity in order to determine whether to continue it in the future.

A moratorium on six lane roads will focus a spotlight on issues that heretofore have not had much public exposure and debate:

  • Issues of excessive single occupant vehicle use
  • Never ending spending on roads that are always full
  • Lack of alternative travel modes
  • Wasteful and emissions-producing combustion of hydrocarbon fuels
  • The effects of urban sprawl on lifestyles, productivity and energy use
  • The danger to pedestrians caused by multi-lane, high speed roads in urban and suburban areas

As with any rule there will be exceptions. Projects already underway that cannot be reasonably stopped would be allowed to continue. Projects in the pipeline that are deemed to be absolutely critical would be allowed to go forward. But the very act of examining and approving these exceptional projects will give greater insight into alternatives and to the criteria that should be used to evaluate future projects. The previous concept of build and ask questions later will be replaced with careful evaluation of need and alternatives before building.

The current environment of economic hardship, shortage of infrastructure funds, unconscionable pedestrian accident rate, global climate change, and the dawn of a new era for transit in Central Florida calls for bold and imaginative leadership. Imposing a six-lane moratorium now is one way to show such leadership, and will demonstrate that the leaders in Metro Orlando are serious about achieving Metroplan Orlando's transportation goals.