skip to Main Content

Now the Largest Grassroots Coalition for Pedestrian Safety in the Country, a Small Group of Visionary Leaders Stepped up to Form Best Foot Forward in 2012

Founding members of Best Foot Forward in 2012

The Statistics Are Alarming

Best Foot Forward was born out of the belief that the status quo is unacceptable.

Across the country, there is an epidemic of pedestrian deaths. In 2017, a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes nationwide. In 2009, the Dangerous by Design report named the Metro Orlando MSA the #1 most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians. In 2019, we were still at the top of the list. Central Floridians deserve and expect safe streets.

Best Foot Forward for pedestrian safety was launched on May 30, 2012, with two goals: to increase drivers’ yielding behavior to over 70% and reduce injuries and deaths by 50% over five years.

BFF uses the “Triple E” behavior change approach. We combine community education, low-cost engineering and high-visibility enforcement to get more drivers to yield and stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks.

The Situation in Central Florida

No. 1 for all the wrong reasons.

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford was ranked the number one most dangerous metro area in the nation for pedestrians, according to Smart Growth America’s 2019 Dangerous by Design report. The top six most dangerous metro areas in the report are all in Florida.

That fact made national headlines in 2011. Orlando was on the front page of The New York Times… for all the wrong reasons.

Even as traffic deaths of people in cars have decreased, pedestrian fatalities have increased from 2008 to 2017, the report shows.

Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford MSA recorded 656 pedestrian fatalities over a ten-year period from 2008-2017. In 2018, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties reported a total of 961 crashes including 70 fatalities.

On average, three people are injured every day in pedestrian/driver crashes and at least one is killed each week in Central Florida. The failure of drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks is a common contributing factor cited in crash reports.

Florida law is clear: Drivers approaching a pedestrian legally crossing the street in a crosswalk, must yield–slowing or stopping–to allow the pedestrian to cross. F.S. (316.130)

But, data on the national, state and local level proved that the need for a comprehensive approach to improve pedestrian safety in Central Florida was needed.

National Data

  • Federal reports estimate more than 142,000 pedestrians are injured and 5,000 are killed each year.
  • 92% of pedestrian crashes involve a single car.
  • Pedestrians are 1.5-times more likely to be killed in a crash than car passengers on each trip.

Florida Data

  • Pedestrians make up more than 20% of all the traffic fatalities.
  • Florida accounts for nearly 11% of all the pedestrian fatalities in the country.
  • Florida metropolitan areas were ranked as the most dangerous places to walk in the nation (including Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford).

Metro-Orlando Data

  • On average, 3 pedestrians are injured every day, and at least 1 person is killed each week for crossing the street.
  • 14% of pedestrian fatalities occur in marked crosswalks
  • In the next 5 years, Central Florida (Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties) will invest $595 million into the region’s pedestrian, bicycle and transit network.

Stepping Up to Address a Very Real Need

Best Foot Forward was launched to reverse the conflict between pedestrians and drivers by focusing on one specific behavior change.

Ask yourself what kind of community do you want to live in. Do you want to live in a community where people look out for each other, or do you want to live in a community where drivers are angry and distracted and something as simple as crossing the street is fraught with peril? Unfortunately, the data tells us we have chosen the later.

That’s why in June 2012 decisive action was taken. A group of visionaries gathered and declared the status quo is unacceptable.

Best Foot Forward launched in Orange County and the City of Orlando by Bike/Walk Central Florida, under the leadership Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, MetroPlan Orlando Executive Director Harry Barley and former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin.

MetroPlan Orlando, along with Winter Park Health Foundation and Bike/Walk Central Florida sought a long-term behavior change initiative with an overreaching goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries by 50% during the next five years. They spent a year conducting market research and studying other municipalities to localize an actionable plan to improve pedestrian safety.

BFF was determined to bring the same concerted effort and resources that reduced drunk driving and increased seat belt usage to upwards of 85% compliance.

Building a Program to Measure Behavior Change

Best Foot Forward provides measured results. Keyword Measured.

The first Best Foot Forward coalition laid out a set of objectives and strategic action steps to create a program that would scientifically measure one behavior change – how many drivers yield or stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, as Florida law requires.

Once defined, the BFF Program was built in three phases, starting with forming a strong coalition of BFF champions.

Phase 1: Forming a Coalition

  • Seek resolution of support from each coalition member – such as cities, counties, local law enforcement agencies, police chief associations, metroplanning organizations, transit agencies, public schools, health departments and non-profits.
  • Recruit BFF champions from key stakeholder groups, including elected officials, traffic planners, law enforcement, public transit, tourism, trauma, education and advocacy to be ambassadors – write opinion pieces, website content and newsletter articles; serve as a media spokesperson; speak publicly; host events; become an ambassador.
  • Schedule and commit to monthly face-to-face meetings with the coalition staff (steering committee).
  • Develop a branded, grassroots campaign to encourage and persuade individuals to choose to do the right thing and stop for people crossing the street using crosswalks.
  • Stand-out in a sea of safety slogans with the attention-grabbing campaign name: Best Foot Forward. It’s positive, short and grabs attention.
  • Bring the same concerted effort and resources that propelled seat belt usage to 85% compliance. (Time & Money)

Phase 2: Building the Program

  • Identify five to fifteen marked crosswalks to enforce, track and measure driver yielding behavior. Read more about how BFF chooses crosswalks.
  • Calculate the number of drivers yielding to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk to determine baseline data.
  • Determine engineering changes needed at observed crosswalks.

Phase 3: Implementing the Program

  • Conduct enforcement training that follows the High Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance with Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws, watch roll call videos and conduct a training operation.
  • “Bring messaging home” for residents of Orlando/Orange County by partnering with existing neighborhood safety organizations, homeowner associations and local schools.
  • Leverage emerging media to extend the brand, establish dialogue and build good-will in the community.
  • Issue warnings at the observed crosswalks a minimum of five times prior to the first HVE; Give all drivers stopped for a violation a flyer about the driver yield law.
  • Invite media to enforcement operations, giving warnings to drivers.
  • Leverage all media across multiple platforms, ensure that all BFF coalition partners are interviewed and/or cited in media.
  • Produce content for website, social media and newsletters to celebrate BFF coalition partners role and commitment to getting more drivers to comply with Florida’s right-of-way law.
  • Measure the results.

BFF Program Objectives Defined

  1. Build a powerful coalition of community leaders
  2. Elevate pedestrian safety to a top community concern
  3. Get more drivers to yield at marked, but uncontrolled crosswalks

Long-Term Objective

Reduce severe pedestrian injuries and fatalities within a 1-mile radius of observed crosswalks. Read more about our evaluation process.

Methodology

Adopted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance with Pedestrian Right-of-Way Laws,” the “4-Year Follow-Up,” and NHTSA’s “Countermeasures That Work.” Read more about our methodology.

Strategic Approach

  1. Develop a branded, grassroots pedestrian safety initiative focusing on Orange County drivers in year one.
  2. Recruit safety champions: elected officials, traffic planners, law enforcement, public transit, tourism, trauma, education, non-profit, business and advocacy leaders.
  3. Implement the proven “Triple E” method, consisting of educational outreach, low-cost engineering and high-visibility enforcement to foster long-term behavioral change.
  4. “Bring the message home” via presentations to neighborhood safety organizations, community workshops and events.
  5. Leverage traditional and social media to establish dialogue and build a community.

Launching the BFF Program

Best Foot Forward launched on May 30, 2012 at a standing-room-only press conference hosted by Orlando Health, timed to coincide with National Trauma Awareness Month.

More than 150 attendees were present and the launch was advanced in print and video by the Orlando Sentinel, leading that day’s paper and was followed up the next day with an article, plus a column and editorial. It was covered by all local television stations, all news radio, in English and Spanish, and picked up by the national NPR blog “Transportation Nation.” Read more about the launch here.

Best Foot Forward Launch Speakers

Mayor Buddy Dyer, City of Orlando Mayor Ken Bradley, City of Winter Park Mayor Howard Schieferdecker, City of Maitland

Linda Chapin, co-chair Bike/Walk Central Florida and Former Orange County Mayor

Graciela Noriega-Jacoby, chief of staff, Orange County Government

Howard Barley, Executive Director, MetroPlan Orlando

Patty Maddox, CEO/President, Winter Park Health Foundation

John Lewis, CEO of LYNX

Ronald Blocker, Retired Orange County Public Schools Superintendent

John Promes, MD, Trauma Medical Director, Orlando Regional Medical Center

Sheriff Jerry Demings, Orange County Sheriff’s Office

Chief Paul Rooney, Orlando Police Department

Original Coalition Members

The original BFF coalition consisted of Bike/Walk Central Florida, MetroPlan Orlando, the Winter Park Health Foundation, the City of Orlando, the City of Winter Park, the City of Maitland, the Town of Eatonville, Orange County, Winter Garden, Orlando Regional Medical Center Trauma Center, the police departments from Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, LYNX, David’s World Cycle, Track Shack and Orange Cycle.

BFF Expands, Spreading the Message of Pedestrian Safety

In 2017, the program expanded to Osceola County, and in 2019, Best Foot Forward launched into Seminole County and seven new jurisdictions. Read more about Osceola and Seminole Counties.

BFF Osceola coalition at the launch ceremony in 2017
BFF Seminole coalition at the launch ceremony in 2019.

Best Foot Forward is a now 36-member coalition involving county and city governments, local law enforcement agencies, public school districts, transportation agencies, transit authority, health departments, hospitals and non-profits working systematically to improve the safety of our streets.

Region-wide partners include: MetroPlan Orlando, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Health, and LYNX.

Orange County partners include: Orange County Government, the City of Orlando, Orange County Public Schools, Orlando Health, Winter Park Health Foundation, Orange County Walk-Ride-Thrive, Orlando Stops, as well as law enforcement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orlando Police Department.

Osceola County partners include: the Osceola County Government, the City of Kissimmee, The City of St. Cloud, Osceola County School District, and law enforcement including the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and the Police Departments of Kissimmee and St. Cloud.

Seminole County partners include: Seminole County Government, the Cities of Casselberry, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford and Winter Springs, Seminole County Public Schools, Seminole County School Crossing Guards, and local law enforcement including the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and the Police Departments of Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Longwood, Oviedo, Sanford and Winter Springs.

Timeline of Key Milestones

Our Results To Date

Measurable Progress

Speed Limit

Avg. Baseline Yield Rate

Avg. Current Yield Rate

35 mph and lower

17%

50%

40 mph and higher

2%

40%

Click here to learn more about our impact.

Bike/Walk Central Florida's Roll

Bike/Walk Central Florida advocates for bike pedestrian safety trails and complete streets

Bike/Walk Central Florida manages, administers and operates the Best Foot Forward program among the coalition partners. BWCF is responsible for tracking, measuring and evaluating progress of driver yield rates for selected crosswalks. BWCF is also responsible for all BFF communications, including traditional, social and web media, newsletters, presentations and workshops, trainings, community events, etc.

About Bike/Walk Central Florida

Bike/Walk Central Florida was formed in 2010 as a local chapter of the Florida Bicycle Association, a 501(c)(3) not‐for‐profit.  The organization’s goals are to:

  • Reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries by engaging and educating road users, leaders and law enforcement
  • Foster civility and respect among pedestrians and operators of vehicles – both motorized and human‐powered
  • Promote “complete” streets designed for all users
  • Encourage biking and walking for fun, fitness and transportation
  • IMPACT through Engineering, Education & Enforcement
Back To Top