Orange County Students Create Award-Winning PED Safety Posters

WalkSafe poster winners honored at Orange County School Board meeting

When it comes to talking about safety, Lake Sybelia Elementary must be doing something right. Three students from the school won their category in this year’s WalkSafe Poster Contest, each taking home first place in the county.

It was a busy couple of days for the three young artists. On April 9, 2019, Angel (first grade), Yael (third grade) and Sophia (fifth grade) were recognized in front of the Orange County School Board and Board Chair Teresa Jacobs, during their April meeting, receiving certificates from the group and scoring a WalkSafe goody bag.

WalkSafe poster winners and BFF

The next morning, BFF joined WalkSafe’s Erin Norman at the school to announce the kids’ achievement live on the school news and present them with an “iY4Peds” pin. They were all smiles in their WalkSafe shirts as they posed for pictures with Principal John Dobbs, who thanked BFF and WalkSafe for their efforts to educate kids about pedestrian safety.

The contest, which students enter each October, is part of the WalkSafe curriculum in Orange County Public Schools. Students at participating schools learn about pedestrian safety using this curriculum during the week leading up to Walk to School Day. To learn more about WalkSafe and their curriculum, click here.

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Media Release: Operation BFF in Osceola April 2019

Law enforcement from three agencies will fan out across Kissimmee and Osceola County this week, for a crosswalk crackdown. Dubbed Operation Best Foot Forward, officers and deputies will be enforcing Florida’s driver yield laws at five crosswalks. See our media release below, as well as a list of the crosswalks and why they were chosen.

Buenaventura Boulevard & Briarwood Drive

Pre-enforcement Yield Rate: 12% (April 2019)
(12 out of 100 drivers yield for pedestrians in the crosswalk)

Tracked since: April 2019

 Buenaventura Boulevard & Florida Parkway

Pre-enforcement Yield Rate: 41% (April 2019)

Tracked since: April 2019

Why BFF chose these crosswalks: These two crosswalks are both located in the Buena Ventura Lakes area, which has been the subject of numerous speeding complaints to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office. These complaints, coupled with the fact that Buenaventura/Briarwood is one of the top-three highest crash intersections in District 2, earned these locations a spot on BFF’s 2019 crosswalk list. With two elementary schools, LYNX bus stops, a public library and community park nearby, there are plenty of reasons for people to be out on foot.

Michigan Ave & Garden Street

Pre-enforcement Yield Rate: 11% (April 2019)

Tracked since: February 2019

Why BFF chose this crosswalk: The Tupperware SunRail station and several LYNX bus stops are within close walking distance of this crosswalk, which is in one of the top-three highest crash locations in District 4. For people walking, the design of this road creates a dangerous situation. This is a four-lane road with a middle turning lane known as a “suicide lane,” in which pedestrians can be trapped by vehicles passing in either direction, unable to finish crossing the road. While OCSO enforces with Operation BFF, Osceola County planners and engineers work behind the scenes to discuss and identify what low-cost engineering changes could improve safety at this crosswalk location.

Thacker Avenue & Kissimmee Trail

Baseline Yield Rate: 17% (March 2018)
Pre-enforcement Yield Rate: 26% (Feb 2019)

Tracked since: March 2018

Why BFF chose this crosswalk: People biking and walking the Kissimmee Trail cross the busy Thacker Avenue at this location. Additionally, this crosswalk is surrounded by neighborhoods, LYNX bus stops and schools. Last year, the Kissimmee Police Department had their work cut out for them, giving out out 107 warnings and 24 citations during Operation BFF at this location. Let’s see if drivers are learning to stop for people in crosswalks.

311 W. Oak Street

Pre-enforcement driver yield rate: 11% (February 2019)

Tracked since: February 2019

Why BFF chose this crosswalk: The crosswalk at 311 West Oak Street is in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic, where many people have also complained to the City of Kissimmee about drivers. KPD officers will be reminding drivers that they’re required to stop, educating them on the Florida driver yield law and hopefully causing a ripple effect throughout crosswalks in the area.

Spring has Sprung: BFF Makes Changes to Reflect New Growth

Spring is known as the season of new beginnings. The days are getting longer and warmer, little green shoots are pushing out of the dirt, soon to become beautiful flowers. In a similar way, the Best Foot Forward Coalition is growing and changing.

When we first planted the seeds of our program in June of 2012, the coalition was made up of groups throughout Orlando and Orange County. With the help of our partners, we started to see real change happening. We could document more drivers stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Five years later Best Foot Forward took another step forward—into Osceola County. The County, the school district and the Sheriff’s Office, along with the Cities of Kissimmee and St. Cloud and their respective police departments joined us for an official launch on October 30, 2017.

But we’re not done growing in Central Florida. Where will we launch next? Seminole County (and we’re so excited).

As we look to our future and reminisce proudly on our roots, we decided to make an important change. As our beloved Best Foot Forward program expanded from its origins in Orlando and Orange County to Osceola County and soon to Seminole County, we decided we needed a social media brand reflective of our budding partnerships across Central Florida.

Best Foot Forward is proud to announce that we are changing social media handles from @BestFootOrlando to @BestFootCFL – across all mediums: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. This branding change was decided upon for two reasons: 1) the handle will now match the handle of Bike/Walk Central Florida, @BikeWalkCFL; and 2) most importantly, the new handle will now represent our dedication to spreading our message across all of Central Florida and show appreciation toward our program partners throughout Orange County, Osceola County, the City of Kissimmee, and the City of St. Cloud in addition to the City of Orlando.

In the light of this new season, we are taking a moment to smell the flowers, to be proud of our growth, and look forward to continued blossoming to come.

Follow us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @BestFootCFL


Drive Like You Work Here; Yield Because They Work Here

Do you have your orange on today? Across the nation, advocates of work zone safety are wearing the color orange as part of National Work Zone Awareness Week. Go Orange Day is hosted by the District Department of Transportation as part of the week’s events.

Each year during NWZAW, public agencies, organizations and individuals across the country come together to advocate for the women and men who risk their lives in work zones each day to build and maintain our roadways. This year’s theme is: “Drive like you work here.”

According to the CDC, on average, more than 120 road workers are victims of fatal crashes, annually. More than 60 percent of these fatal crashes occurred when a driver hit a worker in the work zone.

Additionally, the Dangerous by Design 2019 report showed that Florida, Central Florida to be exact, is the number one most dangerous place for people walking. Combined, these statistics mean Florida recorded the second-highest number of fatal work zone crashes in the nation. 35 percent of those fatal accidents took place in the presence of roadway workers.

Best Foot Forward joins advocates across the nation urging drivers to use extreme caution when driving through a work zone. Be extra attentive to the road, be patient in your commute, and help ensure that roadway workers make it home safe and sound to their family for dinnertime.

UCF Police Chief’s Message of Caution for Drivers and Peds

“You should never drive distracted, but especially on a campus with a lot of pedestrian traffic.”

That’s just one of the important messages from the University of Central Florida’s police chief. UCF police have  been working to make campus safer for pedestrians and cyclists. As part of their campaign, chief Carl Metzger narrates a video, released in January, explaining the rules of the road to drivers on campus.

“You [drivers] must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks,” he says in the video, “Even if you have a green light”

Metzger also encourages pedestrians to put away their phones, always use marked crosswalks, and pay attention to drivers.

On March 20, Orange County deputies held a crosswalk crackdown, dubbed Operation BFF at seven crosswalks, including one at Alafaya Trail and University Drive. During the operation, a plainclothes deputy walked across a marked crosswalk. Other deputies watched for drivers that didn’t yield to the pedestrian– and gave them a $164 citation. Records show that between 2006 and 2014, nearly 260 crashes were reported at University Boulevard and North Alafaya Trail — 207 of which involved injuries and eight of which involved fatalities.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners and UCF’s board of trustees are teaming up to make improvements to the area. But in the meantime, Best Foot Forward joins Chief Metzger in the message to pay attention and stay safe.