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Osceola County is putting its best foot forward

Osceola County, City of Kissimmee, City of St. Cloud, their respective law enforcement agencies, MetroPlan Orlando, LYNX, Osceola County School District, Florida Health Department and local safety advocates have joined forces to launch the Best Foot Forward for pedestrian safety program.

Last fall, community leaders kicked off the program with the aim of increasing driver yield rates through education, engineering and enforcement. Since then, Kissimmee, St. Cloud and Osceola County law enforcement have begun issuing warnings to educate drivers failing to yield to people walking. More than 145 warnings were issued in January during an enforcement warning phase running from mid-January through the end-of-March. The next step? Tickets to drivers who fail to yield.

At a packed house of community leaders, representatives from partner organizations voiced their support of the program during the official launch ceremony. “The Best Foot Forward program is a good fit for Osceola County,” Sheriff Russell Gibson told Orlando Sentinel reporter Ryan Gillespie. “This county is growing at such a rapid pace and many of these folks need to walk using our crosswalks and intersections, and we want them to get there safely.”

Last year in Osceola County, 148 people were injured and 19 were killed in crashes, a 30 percent increase from 2014 to 2016, as reported by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.  “That’s just not acceptable,” said Gibson. “We want to make sure those numbers are going down.”

Osceola County BFF partners are drawing on best practices from Orange County’s BFF program, which has seen driver yield rates jump from an average of 17% to 60% at crosswalks with speeds 35 mph and lower and from 2% to 34% at crosswalks with speeds of 40 mph or higher since 2012.

County and City planners and law enforcement have identified 14 crosswalks for initial driver yield rate monitoring and enforcement and possible low-cost engineering enhancements.

City of Kissimmee Crosswalks

City of St. Cloud Crosswalks

Osceola County Crosswalks

At the same time, BFF will reach out to residents through schools, businesses, local organizations, events and the media. Through grassroots community outreach, BFF educates drivers on their responsibility to yield to pedestrians and gives everyone tips on how to be safe when out walking and bicycling.

Want more details or to read about media coverage of the launch? Visit BFF’s Osceola County page.

And here’s a look at the launch from the Orlando Sentinel’s Ryan Gillespie: Osceola rolls out program to protect cyclists, pedestrians.

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