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The statistics are alarming.

On average, a pedestrian is killed every week in Metro Orlando, and two are injured every day. This, for doing something as simple, and necessary, as crossing the street. In fact, Metro Orlando has ranked as the MOST dangerous community in the country for pedestrians for more than a decade. With gas prices rising, and SunRail expected to put even more pedestrians on our streets, this problem is likely to only get worse.

As a former Mayor of Orange County, and a concerned citizen, I think we should address this problem – today, before anyone else gets hurt. It’s time for us to come together as a community and put our best foot forward for pedestrian safety. After all, whether we drive, bike, or ride the bus as our primary transportation, we’re all pedestrians at some point every day.

The Winter Park Health Foundation and MetroPlan Orlando agree with me, and have generously combined resources to help get this project off the ground. With their financial backing, and the day-to-day operations support of Bike/Walk Central Florida and the Florida Bicycle Association, we set out to save lives and reduce injuries by personally pledging to use appropriate crosswalks, to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks when driving and to encourage others to do the same.

Our goal is simple: To reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries by ten percent annually over the next five years.

Our methods are sound: Other cities, including Gainesville and St. Petersburg, have found that a “Triple E” approach (combining low-cost Engineering with community Education and high-visibility Enforcement) can significantly reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries and that this positive effect can be sustained with continued vigilance.

The City of Orlando and Orange County have already embraced this cause, along with the Orlando Police Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The Cities of Winter Park, Maitland, Ocoee and Winter Garden, along with the towns of Eatonville and Windermere have passed resolutions of support and their engineering departments have been taking steps to improve the visibility of crosswalks within their jurisdictions. The police chiefs of Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville have offered to work with other law enforcement agencies to educate drivers and pedestrians.

Lynx and the Florida Department of Transportation are also actively working toward this common goal, along with the Level One Trauma Center at Orlando Health. These are the doctors, nurses and first responders who know, too well, what happens when cars and people collide, and they too are making prevention part of their mission. We are also in discussions with Orange County Public Schools about introducing pedestrian safety curriculum for grades K-6.

It is going to take the support of the whole community to turn this condition around, and I would like to thank those businesses that have already stepped up to show their support: Orange Cycle, David’s World Cycle and Track Shack. It is community-minded entrepreneurs like you who make me proud to call Central Florida my home.

Thank you for putting your best foot forward.

Linda Chapin
Best Foot Forward For Pedestrian Safety
A Community-wide Coalition

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