“We use the word ‘coalition’ here today, because we have an army of people working on this problem from all angles.” (Gary Huttmann, CEO, MetroPlan Orlando)
“If you look around this room, you’ll find a group of passionate, dedicated people.” (Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Seminole County)
“Our staff has been eagerly awaiting this expansion into Seminole County.” (Mayor Charlene Glancy, Casselberry)
“I want to encourage everyone to go back to your cities with ideas to raise awareness.” (Commissioner TiAnna Hale, Winter Springs)
“It’s not unusual to see all of us officials in the same room for a good cause like the one today.” (Dr. Walt Griffin, Superintendent, Seminole County Public Schools)
And so it went, on the morning of October 2, at the podium of the Seminole County Commission Chambers… speaker after speaker stressed the value of working together to make the streets safer for pedestrians. The strength of a coalition was clearly the theme with motivating comments of Commissioner Bob Dallari, Gary Huttmann, CEO of MetroPlan Orlando, special guests Roni Wood and Wendy Goodrich, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith, Casselberry Mayor Charlene Glancy, Commissioner TiAnna Hale, Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin, Venise White of the Florida Health Department: Seminole County and Lisa Portelli, Founder and Board Member of Bike/Walk Central Florida.
Behind the speakers was a large yellow poster with an oversized “147”—the number of pedestrians killed in Seminole County in 2018. Central Florida (comprised of Orange, Seminole, Osceola counties) is ranked the deadliest area in the country for people walking, according to Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design report. It’s a sad statistic we often quote when talking about the importance of the Best Foot Forward program and pedestrian safety.
With such daunting numbers, it would be easy to think “the problem is too big,” or “can doing small things really make a difference?”
Yes! That is the mantra of Best Foot Forward: Tackle the big, overwhelming problem by focusing on something smaller, tangible, trackable. Start there and make a difference.
One of the exciting things about the launch of Best Foot Forward in Seminole County, is that we’ve got the “A” team committed to the cause: Seminole County government, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Casselberry, the Casselberry Police Department, the City of Lake Mary, the Lake Mary Police Department, the City of Longwood, the Longwood Police Department, the City of Oviedo, the Oviedo Police Department, the City of Sanford, the Sanford Police Department, the City of Winter Springs, the Winter Springs Police Department, Seminole County Public Schools, the Seminole County School Crossing Guards, the Florida Department of Health: Seminole County, MetroPlan Orlando and the Florida Department of Transportation. It’s enthralling to think about the difference these civic giants will make as they come together for a common cause—pedestrian safety.
With our new 17 Seminole County partners, October 2 was also the day Best Foot Forward became the largest grassroots coalition in the country focused on pedestrian safety.
More than 100 people attended the Seminole County launch and heard the messages from their elected leaders in person. Another 800 watched online. The message: people’s lives are too important NOT to do something to keep them safe.
Over the next year, each city in Seminole County will focus on making 2 to 4 crosswalks safer with the help of Best Foot Forward. Our team will collect data from these crosswalks over time—measuring how many drivers yield for people in those crosswalks, as Florida law requires.
To increase the driver yield rate—or get more drivers to yield to people crossing in the crosswalks, BFF uses the “Triple E” method of applying consistent education, low-cost engineering and high-visibility enforcement. Our education outreach team will be advancing year around presentations to neighborhood groups in Seminole County while we work hand-in-hand with our municipal and law enforcement partners to ignite safety engineering and on-the-street enforcement.
We cannot wait to see how the numbers improve, showing that we’re making a tangible difference in Seminole as we have in Orange and Osceola counties We cannot wait to see how our 17 new partners are able to multiply the already significant impact of Best Foot Forward in Central Florida.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” –Andrew Carnegie