Osceola County, City of Kissimmee, their respective law enforcement agencies, MetroPlan Orlando, LYNX, Osceola County Public Schools, Florida Health Department and local safety advocates have joined forces to launch Best Foot Forward (Click for Central Florida News 13 Coverage), a grassroots pedestrian safety initiative, to reverse escalating pedestrian injuries and fatalities by changing driver behavior at pedestrian crosswalks. The official launch took place on Monday, October 30 in the Osceola County Commission Chambers in Kissimmee, FL.
According to the Dangerous by Design report, the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (Metro Orlando metropolitan statistical area) has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous regions in the nation for pedestrian deaths and injuries for the last ten years. Last year in Osceola County, 148 people were injured and 19 were killed in crashes, a 30 percent increase from 2014 to 2016, as reported by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Best Foot Forward is a data-driven, multi-prong approach to combining education, engineering, and enforcement to get more drivers to stop and yield for people at crosswalks as Florida law requires. Short-term success is measured by the percentage of drivers yielding to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. The ultimate measure of success, however, will be the reduction of pedestrian deaths and injuries.
“Pedestrian safety is a complex issue, and it takes a comprehensive solution to address the challenge.
We’re pleased to help the Best Foot Forward coalition grow into a regional program, starting with expansion into Osceola County,” said Harry Barley, executive director for MetroPlan Orlando, a founding coalition partner of Best Foot Forward. “Driver yield rates have steadily increased in Orange County and City of Orlando since the program was launched in 2012, and we hope to see the same success in Osceola.”
“We are thrilled to bring Best Foot Forward’s proven strategies to our City, shining a spotlight on the need to look out for each other whether you are a driving a car, riding a bike or walking across the street,” said City of Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez. “By joining together and putting our Best Foot Forward, we are changing a mindset and making lasting improvements that will, in turn, save lives in our community.”
Osceola County and Kissimmee transportation planners and law enforcement have identified 15 crosswalks to pilot monitoring of driver yield rates, enforcement of the driver yield law and improvement of engineering treatments. At the same time, Best Foot Forward will educate the public through outreach programs in the community and education in Osceola schools.
Pedestrian injury and fatality facts
In 2016, the tri-county area saw 911 pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and 148 of those pedestrian injuries and fatalities were in Osceola County. According to the Center for Transportation at the University of South Florida, 14 percent of Florida pedestrian fatalities occur in marked crosswalks. Contrary to popular belief, residents, not visitors, account for more than 90 percent of injuries, with males outpacing females. Additionally, Florida’s senior population is not overrepresented compared to the national average.
Speakers at BFF Launch Ceremony
Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, Osceola County
Linda Clarke, Nursing Program Specialist, Florida Department of Health in Osceola County
Harry Barley, Executive Director, MetroPlan Orlando
Edward Johnson, CEO, LYNX
Mayor Jose Alvarez, City of Kissimmee
Osceola County Sheriff Russell Gibson (at podium) and Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell
Amanda Day, Executive Director, Bike/Walk Central Florida
Launching the Triple “E” BFF Program – Combining Engineering, Education & Enforcing the Driver Yield Rates at these crosswalks in 2018.
WFTV was on the scene during the Best Foot Forward Osceola Launch, helping to spread the message of the expansion and the push for safer streets.
Other local media covered the Best Foot Forward Osceola launch as well. View the recap below, or click here.
Osceola County Sheriff Russell Gibson talks BFF