Orange County helps students walk, ride and thrive this summer

With summer in session and kids out of school, it is important to remind everyone to stay safe.  Last week, 120 children attending an Orange County summer camp at Barnett Park learned all about safe biking and walking. The event was coordinated by Darryl Johnson, the Assistant Project Manager of Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive initiative, and was a huge hit at the summer camp.

The kids, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, got the opportunity to watch a bike rodeo demonstration and were then fitted with their very own bicycle helmet to take home, free of charge. They also watched fun videos about safe walking and biking and later won prizes based on their new-found knowledge. Attendees left with a head full of safety information and a new helmet to protect it.

Thank you to Darryl and the Walk-Ride-Thrive team for allowing BFF to take part in this great event.


Orange County Sheriff’s Office releases Best Foot Forward PSA video

Since 2012, Best Foot Forward (BFF) has been diligently planting its grassroots seeds all over Central Florida.  It started with a small group of concerned citizens, politicians, and police officers but quickly grew into a larger initiative.  When Sheriff Jerry Demings and other Orlando and Orange County law enforcement launched the first enforcement crackdown several years ago to change driver behavior, a mere 17% of drivers yielded at crosswalks on streets under 35 mph.  Five years after the formation of BFF, that number has increased to 56% of drivers yielding (a 36% increase).

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) recently conducted an enforcement crackdown at six busy crosswalks on June 13, 2018.  Thirty-eight citations and six warnings were given at these crosswalks, adding to the grand total of 7, 566 total citations and warnings given out by the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office through BFF alone.

With the help of Officers like Sheriff Demings, BFF has grown into a powerful coalition that reaches thousands of people in Central Florida with its simple message:  yield to pedestrians. The original goal of BFF remains the primary goal today:  to increase driver yield rates at pedestrian crosswalks by focusing on the 3 E’s: education, enforcement and engineering.

A huge thank you to Sheriff Demings for putting together this video recap and reminding drivers and pedestrians alike to stay safe and alert.

Let’s talk Operation BFF – citations, coverage and conversations

A few times a year, the Orlando Police Department (OPD) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) join forces for Operation Best Foot Forward (BFF), a high-visibility crosswalk enforcement operation where officers sporting their everyday clothes face a dangerous obstacle – crossing the street in a crosswalk. When drivers fail to stop, putting the person walking at risk, they are pulled over and issued a $164 citation – a small price to pay in comparison to taking a life because they ignored their driving responsibilities at a crosswalk.

On June 13, 2018, law enforcement conducted this crosswalk crackdown at six locations across Orange County. OPD and OCSO handed out a total of 44 citations and warnings at these crosswalks, reminding drivers of the law and how important it is to stop for people walking. Thank you, OPD and OCSO, for all of your hard work.

At face value, it is easy to assume that Operation BFF is all about enforcement. In reality, the event also focuses on another one of the ‘E’s in BFF’s Triple E Approach – Education. While OPD and OCSO were able to educate 44 drivers, local coverage through traditional media outlets and social media garnered over 960,000 estimated impressions (AKA, views). That means that almost one million people heard a very important message – stay alert and stop for people crossing the street.

Some of our great media coverage included:

A round of applause to our local stations and outlets – WKMG Channel 6, WFTV Channel 9, Spectrum News 13, WESH 2 News, Orlando Sentinel, Bungalower and 96.5 WDBO – for spreading the word and starting the conversation about what we, as drivers, need to be doing when we see someone crossing the street.

One of the biggest and most important pieces of the education puzzle involves you, our readers. Our followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram made sure to spread the word and asked all of the right questions about Operation BFF. Our partners at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office even put together this great video for Facebook. Thank you for sharing with your friends and family and for commenting with your concerns and questions.

BFF also had some special guests at some of our crosswalk locations. We were glad to see Adriana Patel, a trauma nurse at Orlando Health, who sees first-hand the end result of a car vs. person collision. We were also joined by Frank Gilbert, a Bike/Walk Central Florida board member, who is no stranger to the danger of cars on roads – he wheeled into our crosswalk location on his recumbent bike.

If BFF measured success in terms of reach, we’d definitely call this one a win. But, BFF measures success by yield rates – how many drivers are yielding to people crossing the street in marked crosswalks. Now that enforcement is over, our data collectors are visiting these crosswalks to see how drivers are doing. Stay tuned! In the meantime, check out our full recap of all things Operation BFF below.