Osceola & Kissimmee BFFs wrap up first year, gear up for 2019

What do you call a room full of traffic planners, communications professionals, police officers, engineers, sheriff’s deputies and community outreach specialists? Here at Best Foot Forward, we call them BFFs – the diverse and well-rounded team that make up our Best Foot Forward (BFF) for Pedestrian Safety Steering Committee. This week, the group gathered at the Kissimmee Police Department to chat all about the program’s progress and plans for 2019.

The BFF Steering Committee is made up of some of the most passionate, dedicated people in Central Florida transportation planning, engineering, education and enforcement working together to reverse the deadly trend of drivers striking people walking and bicycling. Attendees of our recent workshop included the City of Kissimmee Transportation Planning and Police Department, Osceola County Transportation Planning and Sheriff’s Office, MetroPlan Orlando and Bike/Walk Central Florida.

To kick off the workshop, MetroPlan Orlando’s Mighk Wilson shared an overview of Osceola County pedestrian crash factors and trends. The good news is that fewer people are being killed or getting injured while walking on Osceola County roads – from 2017 to 2018, pedestrian deaths decreased 55% and pedestrian injuries decreased 14%, according to MetroPlan Orlando. Of course, there’s still a ton of work to do. You can view Mighk’s slides here.

The committee then took some time to review BFF’s 2018 progress, a big year, since it was the first year of the program in Osceola County. Highlights include:

Osceola County law enforcement officers are working hard to crack down and educate drivers on the Florida Driver Yield Law.

  • The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Kissimmee Police Department and the St. Cloud Police Department gave out a total of 429 citations and warnings during 16 enforcement details.
  • The City of Kissimmee’s Access Osceola and the Kissimmee Police Department put together a great PSA to educate drivers on the Florida Driver Yield Law.

When it comes to getting more drivers to stop for people in crosswalks, we’re making progress. On average, more drivers in Osceola County are yielding to people in BFF crosswalks, compared to the number of drivers who were yielding in 2017.

  • 39% of drivers yield to pedestrians at monitored crosswalks on roads 35 mph and lower in Osceola County – an increase from the 37% baseline gathered in 2017.
  • On roads 40 mph and higher, 49% of drivers are yielding, up from the 2017 baseline of 38%.

We’re seeing the same trend in the City of Kissimmee. On average, more drivers in Kissimmee are yielding to people in BFF crosswalks, compared to the first time that we collected data at those locations.

  • In the City of Kissimmee, 50% of drivers yield to pedestrians on roads 35 mph and lower – a jump from the 39% 2017 baseline.
  • On roads 40 mph and higher, yield rates increased 2% from June 2018 to November 2018. (Click here for a complete 7-year list of all BFF crosswalks monitored, including yield rates.)

The needle is moving in the right direction, but these rates still have a long way to go. That’s why the BFFs wrapped up the meeting by discussing crosswalk locations for reviewing in 2019. Crosswalks must meet certain criteria to be selected for monitoring:

  1. Crosswalk is enforceable.
  2. Recent or planned engineering changes to the crosswalk.
  3. Low level driver compliance.
  4. Close proximity to schools, LYNX bus stops or SunRail.
  5. Located near a high crash corridor.
  6. Cross section of road speeds for all crosswalks.
  7. Geographically dispersed throughout the City of Kissimmee, City of St. Cloud and Osceola County.

The BFF Steering Committee will finalize the 2019 list and choose dates for Operation BFF crosswalk enforcement in January. Stay tuned!

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