Operation Best Foot Forward wrapped up its most expansive enforcement to date last Friday, with…
by Jenna Mousseau, Outreach Specialist
The Orange County Library System is a hub for everyone in our community. It not only serves as an amazing resource for families and senior citizens, but also as a safe space for the most vulnerable members of our community. This library system can be accessed through multiple forms of transit, including walking, biking, and public transportation. In the downtown area, for instance, the Orlando Public Library not only has many LYNX bus stops nearby but a SunRail stop as well.
However, many of these library branches are located on multi-lane high-speed roads with very little infrastructure to keep pedestrians safe. For instance, the Alafaya Branch Library in University Park is located on State Road 50, which stretches six lanes (not including turn lanes) with a speed limit of 45 mph. There are long sections of this road without crosswalks, which forces pedestrians to walk half a mile or more to reach the next safe crossing. And even at the signalized crosswalk in front of the library, pedestrians must wait through long traffic lights and cross eight lanes before the pedestrian signal ends.
We can look to the South Trail Branch Library on Orange Blossom Trail for a similar example, located in a shopping plaza with a very large parking lot. It is also on a six-lane road with a speed limit of 40 mph, and in May of 2023, a pedestrian was struck and critically injured by a driver nearby. But changes are happening here: an FDOT project is underway to improve the three existing pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) and add three additional PHBs to the road between Holden Avenue and 34th Street. The project also involves lowering the speed to 30 mph throughout and adding fencing and median landscaping as a traffic calming measure.
According to a recent annual report, the Orange County Library System documented 2,587 community members who received assistance from the library’s system’s social worker. In addition, over 27,000 attended technology classes and more than 300,000 people attended events across the 16 library branches in 2022. Just imagine how improvements in road infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists alike could increase those numbers while improving the safety and accessibility of our local library branches in Orange County.
So what can the average person do to help make the library system in Orange County more accessible? One way to accomplish these goals is by being vocal about making dangerous streets and intersections safer. Contact your city or county public works department to report any hazardous intersections or to request additional sidewalk and crosswalk connections. Another thing you can do is get involved at your local library! Attend events, classes, and check out the available resources at your local library branch. By showing your support, you can make it known to our community that everyone deserves safe and equitable access to these valuable resources.