Redesigning a street, while not always cheap or easy, is one of the most effective ways to prevent loss of life—saving drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Best Foot Forward intentionally chooses the crosswalks monitored based on whether or not engineering changes are needed. The addition of a pedestrian crossing sign, advanced stop lines or yield markings, RRFBs, or school crossing signs lead to a leap in driver yield rates at crosswalks.
Engineering – typically consisting of signs, road striping, medians, signals, and signal timing – provides visual cues pedestrians rely on at busier intersections to determine who has the right of way.
When Best Foot Forward launched in 2012, senior consultants from the Center for Education and Research in Safety (CERS) worked in cooperation with Orange County engineers, City of Orlando engineers and Best Foot Forward staff to conduct a crosswalk audit to identify the most problematic crosswalks and those to be upgraded with low cost engineering improvements.
Below are their general recommendations of low-cost engineering enhancements that have been used in Orange County as well as both Osceola and Seminole Counties. The numbers correspond to the graphic below.
- In-street sign on center line or refuge island (1)
- In-street yield sign in gutter pan or curb (1, 2, 3, 7, and 8)
- Yield sign at advance stop line or yield marking (5)
- Prompting sign telling peds to extend arm to cross
- Optional – Install RRFB devices at high traffic midblock crosswalk with low driver yielding compliance (7 and 8)
Learn about the importance and usage of Pedestrian Flashing Beacons from the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Highway Patrol and WKMG’s Trooper Steve.
- Remains 65-70% or above driver yield rate without wavering
- Has a large increase in driver compliance
- Community members report anecdotally that drivers are yielding, and they feel safe using that crosswalk
What are RRFBs and how do they work?
RRFBs are high-intensity warning lights, activated by the person wishing to cross. It is important to know that RRFBs are not traffic control devices but, rather, are advanced safety features that help pedestrians alert motorists to their presence within the crosswalk The RRFBs warn drivers that a person is entering a marked crosswalk, where the pedestrian has the right-of-way.
RRFBs work well at crosswalks that are not controlled by a traffic signal or stop sign. They allow city and county planners to make quick, cost-effective improvements to active transportation infrastructure. And RRFBs have become an important part of the toolkit for those seeking to improve walking safety and develop complete streets.
Lake Underhill Road & Palmer Street
Lake Underhill Road & Palmer Street, City of Orlando
The crosswalk at Lake Underhill Road and Palmer Street is a busy crossing with an established neighborhood on one side and the popular Lake Underhill Park on the other side. The park features a trail along Lake Underhill and beyond. In 2016, the City of Orlando reported an average of 670 daily and 20,354 monthly users of the 12-foot-wide Lake Underhill Path.
The crosswalk had a history of safety concerns, which included a resident struck by a driver in September 2014. Best Foot Forward sent a data collector out to monitor the number of drivers yielding to people crossing. At that time, the number of drivers yielding was only about 15 out of 100.
The city installed “stop for pedestrian” signs in June 2015 and rectangular rapid-flashing traffic beacons (RRFBs) in December 2015 to alert drivers of people crossing. The Orlando Police Department (OPD) stepped up enforcement and education in the area as part of Operation Best Foot Forward, reminding drivers of the Florida law requiring them to stop for people in marked crosswalks. OPD’s increased enforcement of the crosswalk has resulted in 116 citations there to date. Best Foot Forward has invited local media, who have covered and even broadcasted live from the enforcement operations to aid in increasing awareness.
Best Foot Forward continues community outreach in the area, including recent events at Dover Shores Community Center. Following these improvements, the driver yield rate has steadily increased to more than 70 percent. Now area residents have a clearer and safer crossing to a favorite Orlando trail.
Virginia Drive & Orlando Urban Trail
Virginia Drive & Orlando Urban Trail, City of Orlando
Heading outdoors for exercise should be fun, not dangerous, but crossing the street at Orlando Urban Trail and busy Virginia Drive was precarious for runners, walkers and bicyclists using this popular trail in the Mills 50 District. In 2013, Best Foot Forward data collectors found that only six of every 100 drivers were yielding to people trying to cross the street.
“Our office was near there, and it was crazy watching the drivers just race past me when I tried to cross while out for a run or walk,” said Kim Capps, Orlando resident and frequent trail-user.
The City of Orlando’s 2016 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Program showed more than 5,000 people on average each month attempting to cross on foot or bike at this location. With Best Foot Forward enforcement and education alone, the yield rate had increased to about 55 percent, still not high enough given the amount of foot traffic. With that in mind, the city decided to install rectangular rapid-flashing traffic beacons (RRFBs) to alert drivers of people crossing. The combination of Best Foot Forward enforcement, education and engineering worked. After installation of the RRFBs, the driver yield rate increased from the baseline of six percent to an average of 92 percent, making the Virginia Drive and Orlando Urban Trail crosswalk safer for all.
Best Foot Forward continues to remind drivers to yield to pedestrians in the area at recent events like the Mills50 LoveFest and presentations to organizations such as the Colonialtown North Neighborhood Association.
Mercy Drive, North of Kalwit Lane
Mercy Drive, north of Kalwit Lane, City of Orlando
Location matters. Orlando planners wanted to know where people were crossing on Mercy Drive, and where was the right place to install infrastructure to increase safety. These were main considerations the City of Orlando examined when it reviewed the best place to install new rectangular rapid-flashing traffic beacons (RRFBs) on this 25-mph strip where drivers weren’t yielding for people crossing the street.
At the time, there was a Best Foot Forward (BFF)-monitored crosswalk nearby, where Kalwit Lane ended at Mercy Drive. This location had a baseline driver yielding compliance rate of 12 percent. And even with several Operation Best Foot Forward enforcements and education in the area, the recent average had increased to only 24 percent of drivers yielding.
One BFF data collector speculated that “perhaps frequent drivers in the area weren’t expecting to see people walking because they never saw people crossing there.” However, about 500 feet north, a considerable number of people were crossing from a LYNX bus stop to either a convenience store, Winsor Cove Apartments, or homes along Colony Way.
In 2019, the city decided to add a crosswalk closer to the LYNX stop and install the RRFBs there. The result? An average of 62 percent of drivers are yielding to people crossing.
Edgewater Dr. & Shady Lane Dr.
Edgewater Drive & Shady Lane, City of Orlando
Edgewater Drive was the City of Orlando’s first attempt at a complete street aimed to calm traffic and make biking and walking more comfortable. The city took an opportunity to turn a simple resurfacing into a project that converted four lanes to three, added bicycle lanes, a center turn lane, and wider on-street parking. But Orlando hasn’t stopped there.
The results of the conversion project were phenomenal. Total collisions dropped 40 percent. The crash rate was cut in half. Injuries fell by 71 percent. That’s all the more impressive considering reducing the lanes only decreased automobile traffic by 12 percent, while bicycle counts increased by 30 percent and pedestrians by 23 percent. More bicyclists and pedestrians – fewer crashes? It really works. Drivers are more likely to operate carefully and safely around cyclists and walkers when they’re used to seeing them.
Even after the improvements, Orlando planners acknowledged that more could be done. While reducing crashes is important, Orlando has a goal of zero fatalities and is continually looking to make streets safer for all road users. For example, in 2014, even after the conversion, Best Foot Forward data collectors found only 26 percent of drivers were yielding to people crossing in a marked, mid-block crosswalk at Edgewater Drive at Shady Lane. The city added some additional signage and Orlando Police enforced the driver yield law there during Best Foot Forward operations. More drivers, about 42 percent, were yielding, but this wasn’t enough for a 30-mph road with plenty of foot and pedestrian traffic.
So, in 2019, Orlando added rectangular rapid-flashing beacons or RRFBs to the crosswalk while Best Foot Forward continued high-visibility enforcement and community education. In September 2019, 70 percent of drivers yielded to people using the RRFB and crossing here. While the Best Foot Forward steering committee has deemed this particular crosswalk “graduated,” the City of Orlando will persist in its Vision Zero goal.
Sea Harbor & Sea World Drive
Sea Harbor Drive & Sea World Drive, Orange County
Crossing the street to go to work shouldn’t be a hazard of the job, but Sea World employees were finding the crosswalk at Sea Harbor Drive and Sea World Drive a physical peril. When Best Foot Forward first monitored the crosswalk in 2014, only 26 percent of drivers were stopping to let them cross from either an employee parking lot, the human resources office or a LYNX bus stop.
An Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) deputy on the Best Foot Forward steering committee noted a high volume of people exiting and walking from the LYNX busses amid the high vehicle speeds in the area. The crosswalk was selected for Best Foot Forward education, enforcement, engineering, and evaluation.
OCSO conducted an Operation Best Foot Forward (BFF) law enforcement detail here to remind drivers of the Florida law. The coalition also increased education in the area. Best Foot Forward efforts in this tourist destination included presentations to rotary clubs, chambers of commerce and distribution of a BFF educational flier to more than 75,000 International Drive area employees. And, Orange County installed rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFBs) at the crosswalk.
The result? The driver yield rate rose to 64 percent, and Sea World employees, bus riders and even guests at the Renaissance Inn now have a safer crossing to the park.
Lancaster Road & Voltaire Drive
Lancaster Road & Voltaire Drive, Orange County
Imagine you live at the Lancaster Villas Apartments at Lancaster Road and Voltaire Drive. You want to go to the grocery store, or a restaurant or church. The good news: all those things are right across the street. The bad news: that street is five lanes wide and cars often fly down it, traveling much faster than the 45-mph speed limit.
Then one day, you go out to cross the street and notice a big change—Orange County crews have installed a new sign with strobe lights on it. If you want to cross the street, now you push a button, the strobe lights start flashing, and the drivers stop to give you time to walk across Lancaster Road using the crosswalk.
Orange County had identified the crosswalk at Lancaster Road and Voltaire Drive for installation of rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFBs) to improve walking safety. Prior to installation, Best Foot Forward determined that the number of drivers yielding to pedestrians was under 25 percent. To further remind drivers of their legal responsibility, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office conducted an Operation Best Foot Forward (BFF) at this crosswalk in March 2019. Education is important. BFF has presented to several organizations in the area including Pine Castle Safe Neighborhoods and attended events such as Pine Castle Pioneer Days. And most importantly, the RRFBs were installed by Orange County in 2019. The latest driver yield rate at the location crosswalk averaged 83 percent. With results like this, you can’t argue with the effectiveness of these additions.
Forsyth Road & Wheeled Coach Industries
7100 Municipal Drive
Donegan Avenue & Coral Avenue
Donegan Avenue & Coral Avenue, Osceola County
Crossing Guards across our region do a stellar job of keeping our children safe directly before and after school. But what happens when they leave and aren’t there to help students and parents cross?
School officials and nearby residents were reporting that drivers weren’t stopping, when people were using the crosswalk at W. Donegan Avenue and Coral Avenue in front of Highland Elementary School when the crossing guards weren’t around. Stats from Best Foot Forward data collectors backed up these complaints, showing only about 24 out of every 100 drivers stopping at this crosswalk during hours when a crossing guard wasn’t there.
Osceola County Commissioner Cheryl Grieb was stunned as she watched Osceola County Sheriff’s Office deputies pull over driver after driver at the county’s first Operation Best Foot Forward (BFF) in April 2018. “I can’t believe these drivers aren’t stopping right in front of an elementary school!” Commissioner Grieb told a BFF staff member.
Since that time, Osceola County installed rectangular rapid-flashing beacons (RRFBs) at the crosswalk and the yield rate rose to 75 percent. We won’t be giving up our beloved crossing guards around school arrival and dismissal, but we are happy to see that drivers are mostly yielding at this crosswalk.
Virginia Avenue & 10th Street
Virginia Avenue & 10th Street, St. Cloud, Osceola County
Seeing is believing, and Best Foot Forward (BFF) data collectors saw a drastic change in driver yield rate right before their eyes, when a rectangular rapid-flashing beacon (RRFB) was activated mid-data collection. Tony Calabro, BFF data collector, was at a newly installed crosswalk at Virginia Avenue and 10th Street in St. Cloud in February 2020. Less than 59 percent of drivers were stopping for him as he attempted to cross Virginia Avenue, again and again, to establish a baseline driver yield rate.
Tony learned that turning on the power makes a difference. “When I arrived at the crosswalk, the RRFB was not working, and a majority of the drivers weren’t stopping for me,” reported Tony. “Around 11:15, the beacons came to life, and the drivers noticed.”
Coincidentally, when the newly installed RRFB was activated while Tony was collecting data that day, the number of drivers who stopped for him rose to 86 percent after the RRFB was turned on. When data collectors went out the following month before and after March’s law enforcement operation in Osceola County, driver compliance remained high at around 95 percent.
What a difference a few hours and a well-placed RRFB can make!
Old Dixie Highway & Sawdust Trail
Old Dixie Highway & Sawdust Trail, Osceola County
Concerned citizens often bring to light pedestrian safety issues and ultimately make a difference for the entire community. That was the case when complaints to the Osceola County Commissioners’ offices about Old Dixie Highway and Sawdust Trail got the attention of Osceola County planning and engineering and the Best Foot Forward (BFF) steering committee.
Osceola County added the crosswalk to the list of BFF crosswalks in early 2019 after learning that residents were complaining that the crosswalk, only a few hundred feet from Marydia Community Center, wasn’t safe. When children weren’t in school, the crosswalk was used by youth to get to the community center, that also hosts after-school programs. Drivers, including some of large trucks, were speeding down the road and not stopping for people trying to cross. These complaints were validated when Best Foot Forward collected data there and found only 17 percent of drivers were stopping.
Law enforcement issued citations to drivers failing to yield at this crosswalk during the June 2019 Operation Best Foot Forward. The BFF community outreach team also shared safety information with teens, parents, and staff at the Marydia Community Center.
Upon reviewing the driver yield rate, pedestrian counts and other criteria, Osceola County determined a rectangular rapid-flashing beacon (RRFB) was warranted. The RRFB was installed early fall 2019, and the driver compliance rate jumped to 85 percent. Enforcement, education and engineering do make a difference.
In the hustle and bustle of Central Florida's diverse landscape, the quest for safer streets…