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Rotary Clubs in Central Florida Welcome Best Foot Forward and Commit to Help Change Unsafe Behaviors

The Rotary Club’s vision states that they “see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change,” and Rotarians have committed to help Best Foot Forward change unsafe driver and pedestrian behaviors in Central Florida. In the past few months, 18 clubs have welcomed Best Foot Forward (BFF) to speak about pedestrian safety and Florida’s driver yield laws in person, via Zoom and a hybrid of both. BFF also took note of Rotary members’ concerns and shared these insights with our partners. Below are highlights from some of these meeting.

Rotary Club of Apopka

The Rotary Club of Apopka (est. 1927) sees a lot of pedestrian and bicycling activity in the “club’s own backyard” as they meet where the West Orange Trail crosses E. Main St. in Apopka.

  • Members of this friendly, interactive club – including long-time BFF supporter and Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson and former Apopka Police Chief Robert Manley – asked many questions about the program and provided some valuable feedback.
  • Feedback included some suggestions for crosswalks to observe, recommendations for safer crossings near the farmer’s market, downtown and community park and a request for more bike/pedestrian education at local schools.
  • Other trails in this area include the Apopka Loop, Lake Fran Bike Trail, Greenway Bike Trail and Seminole-Wekiva Trail.  Orange County is also focusing on sidewalk improvements surrounding Apopka.

Rotary Club of Avalon Park

Avalon Park Rotary Club president Greg Meunier got his fellow members’ attention when he introduced BFF’s Roni Wood, who has been struck by a truck in an Orlando crosswalk. He announced that Central Florida is the most dangerous place in the nation for people walking.

  • Roni shared a few tips and reminders when driving and walking to help change the deadly trend.
  • Nearby BFF-monitored crosswalks include Avalon Park South Blvd. & Red Mangrove Drive by the school and the newest crosswalk at Avalon Park West Blvd & Cygnus Drive between the Publix & Encore Assisted Living Facility.
  • Some feedback included a suggestion for flashing lights at the Avalon Park West Blvd & Cygnus Drive crosswalk at the roundabout because it is quite a dark there at night for a pedestrian.
  • Another member discussed the need for signage at the Lake Champlain Drive & South Chickasaw Trail. He said he walks here often and when he crosses the crosswalk he has to point at the crosswalk obnoxiously to get drivers to acknowledge the crosswalk there.

International Drive Rotary

International Drive Rotary Club lives up to its name with several members from other countries, who all have a genuine concern for pedestrian and bicycle safety for visiting tourists’ safety.

  • Roni informed how BFF works to keep people walking safe in the I-Drive area, including at locations such the currently monitored crosswalk on Westwood Blvd. west of International Drive near where the club would meet.
  • Robert Glinka, an avid bicyclist, shared that he was struck by a driver near Bay Hill County Club and suffers from back injuries. He also shared a story of friend who was killed while riding on Goldenrod Rd. near Orlando Int’l Airport. His friend was the last rider in a pack of cyclists and was struck from behind. The driver left the scene.

Rotary Club of Maitland

Maitland Rotarians were already familiar with Bike/Walk Central Florida, the BFF program and BWCF’s Bike 5 Cities event from a previous presentation. They were happy to welcome BFF back for an update on the program and provide some of their insights.

  • A member suggested that Seminole County should take a look at the Florida Trail crossing on Longwood Hills Road. She said this area needs signage or indicators for the trail.  She said the pavement paint is an unusually bright paint so it draws attention but if you don’t know what it is then you won’t know what to do there.
  • A member suggested that crosswalks should be audible. His brother is deaf and suggested that we work with Lighthouse Central Florida to coordinate safer streets for the deaf. Roni shared that BFF does work with Lighthouse and will continue to do so.
  • Maitland is one of the five cities in the Bike 5 Cities ride that shows where people can comfortably ride in an urban setting. Roni invited members to roll with us this fall.

Rotary Club of Celebration

Take a walk through Celebration and you’ll encounter an active community with lots of people walking, bicycling and driving golf carts in addition to vehicles. Celebration Rotary members voiced genuine concern for all of these road users and welcomed BFF to present about the program and pedestrian safety and Florida’s driver yield law. Here are some of the member’s concerns:

  • BFF shared several BFF crosswalks in the Celebration area
  • Member Jane said that there are children in real need for helmets at their K8 school.
  • They said bicyclists in their area need education on rules while bicycling.

Seminole County South Rotary

BFF presented virtually to Seminole County South Rotarians, who were extremely interested and asked great questions. The closest BFF crosswalk to them is the International Parkway & Westin Hotel in Lake Mary with a driver yield rate that increased from 70 to 88% in 2020. Concerns raised were:

  • Alafaya Trail & E. Champman Rd., Oviedo – A member mentioned that he went to the Seminole County School Board to support efforts for students’ safety here, due to the fact that elementary school students have to cross fifteen lanes of traffic to get to school. He said there are seven lanes on one side and eight across the other.
  • Another member had concerns for pedestrians crossing (Orange County) E. Colonial Drive & Goldenrod Road.

Rotary Club of Casselberry

 A small but mighty club, the Rotary Club of Casselberry works hard to make a difference in the community.

  • Members expressed concern for pedestrian safety especially for disabled individuals in their community. They currently build ramps for handicapped people at their homes to help.
  • Roni also shared information about the upcoming Operation BFF in Casselberry and asked them to spread the word to their friends and family about looking out for and stopping for people walking.

Rotary Club of Oviedo

This rotary meets not far from several BFF crosswalks and also close to UCF campus.  Members were particularly concerned for student pedestrian safety at and around UCF Campus.

  • One member asked if there will ever be a pedestrian bridge considered for students to cross Alafaya Trail?
  • Another member recalled at least seven UCF student pedestrians being struck and killed in this corridor. The member, AJ, used to be in charge of student safety on campus until he retired. He gave BFF a contact at UCF to reach out for more programs focused on UCF student pedestrian and bicycling safety.
  • Another member said she plays golf at Winter Park Pines (Orange County) and asked if we would look at the crosswalk at Range Avenue as the view of the crosswalk is obstructed from the drivers’ perspective. She almost struck someone there recently who “just appeared out of nowhere.”

 

Other Rotary Club Meetings

BFF would like thank these and several other Rotary Clubs who have welcomed BFF to present over the past few months including:

  • Kissimmee Bay Rotary
  • Poinciana Rotary Club
  • St. Cloud Rotary
  • Dr. Phillips Rotary
  • College Park Rotary
  • Winter Garden Rotary
  • Lake Buena Vista Rotary
  • Rotary Club of Orlando
  • Horizons West Rotary
  • Lake Mary Rotary

 

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