There’s a song in the musical Hamilton titled, “The Room Where It Happens.” Part of the lyrics include: “No one really knows how the game is played; The art of the trade; How the sausage gets made… No one else is in the room where it happens.”
Well, we at BFF want to bring you INTO the room where it happens. To show you just how we make the sausage. On May 13, about a dozen people broke into groups and put their heads together. They included elected officials, city and county planners, sheriff’s deputies and more. Their goal: to identify troublesome crosswalks to start monitoring, enforcing and engineering to make them safer for pedestrians.
Best Foot Forward is excited to launch BFF in Seminole County this fall. We’re planning a fun kick-off event and a multi-agency crosswalk crackdown to help get people’s attention and spread the word that drivers should stop for pedestrians.
But before any of the fun stuff… a group of people sit in the room where it happens and put their heads together.
Identifying crosswalks may not sound very exciting—and it’s not. But it’s incredibly important. BFF Seminole’s short-term goal is to get 60% of drivers to yield for pedestrians in crosswalks on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or less. That’s a big goal. In other crosswalks we’ve tracked, the initial data often shows less than 20% of drivers yield when they should.
Representatives came from Seminole County, Sanford, Longwood, Altamonte Springs, Winter Springs, Casselberry, Oviedo, Seminole County Schools, Seminole County Crossing Guards, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, Casselberry Police, Longwood Police, Oviedo Police, Sanford Police, Altamonte Springs Police, Winter Springs Police, MetroPlan Orlando, the Florida Department of Health, the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and LYNX.
They were looking for crosswalks near schools, LYNX bus stops or SunRail stations, ones around high-crash corridors (or ones with a large number of complaints) and ones with engineering elements or countermeasures already planned. They gave preferential treatment to crosswalks with no signal (often in a mid-block location), because those can be the most dangerous. It’s important for city engineers and law enforcement to work together to choose crosswalks that both agree need monitoring/enforcement.
Best Foot Forward works with law enforcement to make sure crosswalks are “enforceable.” Enforceable crosswalks meet two important criteria: 1) there’s a safe place to pull over drivers to ticket them, 2) drivers must be able to see the pedestrian in the crosswalk and have enough time to safely stop.
After a few hours, every table had its list. The next step is for our data collectors to go out to each crosswalk and track how many drivers yield for people in the crosswalk—called baseline data.
But for now—everyone left the room where it happened.
A few potential crosswalks for monitoring: