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!

Media Alert November 7: Crosswalk Enforcement scheduled in Orange and Osceola Counties


For media inquiries, please contact Erika Beerbower at (407) 758-2727 or ebeerbower@daycommunications.com

Getting dark earlier puts pedestrians at greater risk of being run over

ORLANDO, Fla – Getting darker earlier puts pedestrians at greater risk for injury or death according to the National Association of Highway Safety (NHTSA). That is why the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Kissimmee Police Department and the St. Cloud Police Department are combining resources to conduct the first multi-jurisdictional crosswalk enforcement operation at 11 specific locations starting at 7 am on Wednesday, November 7, the week clocks switch to standard time.

Dubbed Operation Best Foot Forward, the crosswalk enforcement aims to increase safety by reminding drivers Florida law requires them to stop and remain stopped for the person crossing a street at a marked crosswalk. To enforce this law, plain-clothed officers will cross at the marked crosswalks while uniformed officers will be nearby to pull over drivers who fail to stop. The cost for violators is a minimum of $164 and three (3) points on the driver’s license. To date, over 4,655 warnings and 3,323 citations have been issued to drivers in Orange and Osceola at 393 crosswalk enforcements.

Operation Best Foot Forward is part of a comprehensive effort in Orange and Osceola county to improve street safety by educating drivers about the laws and behaviors that promote safe drive habits. Studies show that consistent crosswalk enforcement, combined with grassroots education and low-cost engineering, result in increased driver yielding behavior. In 2012, approximately 15% of drivers stopped for people when crossing the street at targeted crosswalks in Orange County and City of Orlando. Today, that number hovers closer to 60% at those locations.

Operation Best Foot Forward Crosswalk Enforcement Schedule

Crosswalk Approximate Start Time Agency Enforcing

Nearby School(s)

S. Thacker Ave. & W. Ernest St.

City of Kissimmee

7:00 AM

KPD & SCPD

Thacker Avenue ES, Osceola HS

S. Doverplum Ave. & San Remo Rd.

Osceola County

7:00 AM

Osceola County SO

New Dimensions HS

N. Thacker Ave. & Kissimmee Trail

City of Kissimmee

9:00 AM

KPD & SCPD

Thacker Ave. ES, Renaissance Charter School at Tapestry

Koa St. & Laurel Ave.

Osceola County

9:00 AM

Osceola County SO

Koa ES

Pine Hills Rd. & El Trio Way

Orange County

9:30 AM

Orange County SO

Rolling Hills ES, Ridgewood Park ES, Meadow Brook MS, Evans HS

Waterford Lakes Pkwy. & Coquina Rock St.

Orange County

9:30 AM

Orange County SO

Audubon Park ES, Glenridge MS, Winter Park HS

International Dr. & Austrian Ct.

Orange County

9:30 AM Orange County SO Dr. Phillips HS, Southwest MS, Tangelo Park ES
Landstar Blvd. & Misley Dr.

Orange County

9:30 AM

Orange County SO

Oakshire ES, Wyndham Lakes ES

Apopka Vineland Rd., just N. of Lake St.

Orange County

9:30 AM

Orange County SO

Sand Lake ES

898 N Hoagland Blvd.

City of Kissimmee

11:00 AM

KPD & SCPD

Trinity Lutheran School,

Thacker Ave. ES, Osceola HS

3233 Polynesian Isle Blvd.

Osceola County

11:00 AM

Osceola County SO

Indian Wells Rec Center

About Best Foot Forward for Pedestrian Safety Program

The Best Foot Forward pedestrian safety program is administered by Bike/Walk Central Florida and first launched in Orange County in 2012. It expanded to Osceola County in 2017 and will be launching in Seminole County in 2019.

Best Foot Forward was launched to reverse the conflict between pedestrians and drivers by focusing on one specific behavior change – getting more drivers to yield and stop for pedestrians at marked crosswalks as Florida law requires. More than a campaign, Best Foot Forward is a behavior change-based program designed to reduce injuries and fatalities through consistent and persistent education, high-visibility enforcement and low-cost engineering changes around the region’s most dangerous crosswalks.

Fast Facts about Best Foot Forward: 2014 – 2017:

  • 60% of drivers yield to pedestrians at monitored crosswalks on roads 35mph and lower in Orange County & City of Orlando – a jump from 17% in 2012
  • 21% of drivers yield to pedestrians on roads 40mph and higher in Orange County & City of Orlando – a jump from just 2% in 2012
  • Over 3,323 citations and 4,655 warnings given in Orange County and Osceola County combined
  • 85: Number of marked crosswalks monitored by BFF in Orange and Osceola

Best Foot Forward Coalition

Initiated and administered by Bike/Walk Central Florida, the Best Foot Forward coalition includes: MetroPlan Orlando, City of Orlando and Orlando Police Department, City of Kissimmee and Kissimmee Police Department, City of St. Cloud and St. Cloud Police Department, Orange County Government, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Orange County Public Schools, Osceola County Government, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County School District, Lynx, Orlando Health, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of Miami’s WalkSafe program, Winter Park Health Foundation. To learn more, visit www.iyield4peds.org.

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Operation BFF in Osceola & Kissimmee promotes safety during back-to-school

Last week, over 72,000 students headed back to the books for a new school year in Osceola County. With kids back in school and more people walking to the recently-opened SunRail stations, it’s important that drivers are reminded of the Florida driver yield law that requires them to stop for people walking in marked crosswalks. That’s why the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), Kissimmee Police Department (KPD) and the St. Cloud Police Department (SCPD) hit the crosswalks on Wednesday, August 15 for another enforcement known Operation Best Foot Forward (BFF).

KPD Sgt. Berrio prepares to step into the crosswalk.

Here’s the drill – officers in everyday clothes attempt to cross the street in marked crosswalks. Motorists who fail to stop for them face a $164 ticket and three points on their motorist’s license. Despite local media reminders and signs notifying them of the operation, over 60 citations and warnings were handed out to drivers who didn’t stop at a total of five crosswalks throughout the county. Shout out to our BFFs at OCSO, KPD and SCPD for braving the Florida heat to help keep people safe.

Operation BFF is a time to educate as well. Each of those stops started a conversation about a driver’s role when it comes to keeping our roads safe for people walking. When it comes to social media, our partners hit it out of the park by helping spread the message. Kudos to the City of Kissimmee, Mayor Alvarez and Commissioner Fisher, KPD Chief O’Dell, Osceola County and their Commissioners Grieb and Janer and MetroPlan Orlando for the shares and retweets which helped spread the word to an estimated 31.8K people online.

Melissa Zayas-Moreno with the City of Kissimmee talks to WFTV about the importance of safe crossings for people walking.

Plus, we were able to spread the message far and wide via radio, print and television thanks to our local media stations. Their coverage of the story reached an estimated 619K viewers and readers, boosting the Operation BFF impact far past the limits of the crosswalk location. You can check out some of this great coverage on our YouTube channel.

Three cheers for all of our BFFs – law enforcement, partners, media and everyone in between. Without these passionate folks, the roots of this very important grassroots movement would not be growing so rapidly.

For a full recap of all things Operation BFF, you can check out our overview below. Our next step is to see how many drivers are stopping for people in crosswalks – stay tuned for a report on driver yield rates.

News 13’s Ryan Harper talks to Osceola Commissioner Grieb about Operation BFF

News 13 Traffic Reporter, Ryan Harper, joined law enforcement officials at W. Donegan Ave. and Coral Ave. during Operation Best Foot Forward on August 15, 2018. Osceola Commissioner Cheryl Grieb was there to support the push for creating safer streets for all road users. Check out her interview in Ryan’s ‘Getting There’ news segment above, and see more great coverage on our YouTube channel.