As a pedestrian safety initiative, Best Foot Forward focuses on one simple, measurable goal: to get more drivers to yield and stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, as Florida law requires. Best Foot Forward works to accomplish this goal using the proven, “Triple-E” approach of combining community education with low-cost engineering changes and high-visibility enforcement.
Best Foot Forward was determined to bring the same concerted effort and resources that reduced drunk driving and increased seat belt usage to upwards of 85% compliance.
Best Foot Forward provides measured results. Keyword: Measured.
The 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 – more drivers yield or stop for pedestrians in marked crosswalks, as Florida law requires.
Once defined, the Best Foot Forward program was built in three phases, starting with forming a strong coalition of Best Foot Forward 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 Best Foot Forward champions from key stakeholder groups, including elected officials, traffic planners, law enforcement agencies, public transit organizations, and groups focused on 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; actively represent Best Foot Forward in their communities.
- 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. (Investment of time and money.)
Phase 2: Building the Program
- Identify five to fifteen marked crosswalks to enforce, track and measure driver yielding behavior. Read more about how Best Foot Forward 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 goodwill in the community.
- Issue warnings at the observed crosswalks a minimum of five times prior to the first High Visibility Enforcement; Give all drivers stopped for a violation a flyer about the driver yield law.
- Invite media to enforcement operations, where law enforcement gives warnings to drivers.
- Leverage all media across multiple platforms, ensure that all Best Foot Forward coalition partners are interviewed and/or cited in media.
- Produce content for website, social media and newsletters to celebrate Best Foot Forward coalition partners’ role and commitment to getting more drivers to comply with Florida’s right-of-way law.
- Measure the results.
No. 1 for all the wrong reasons.
Floridians deserve and expect safe streets. Nowhere else in the nation do walkers and drivers collide more often than on the streets of Central Florida.
In 2009, Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design report named the Metro Orlando MSA (Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford) the #1 most dangerous place in the country for pedestrians.
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 2019, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties reported a total of 988 crashes including 91 fatalities.
On average in Central Florida, three people are injured every day, and at least one person is killed every week for doing something as simple as crossing the street. 14 percent of those fatalities occur in marked crosswalks.
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.
Best Foot Forward was born out of the belief that the status quo is unacceptable.
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 of Bike/Walk Central Florida and Former Orange County Mayor
- Graciela Noriega-Jacoby, chief of staff, Orange County Government
- Harry 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
Best Foot Forward coalition partners include county and city governments, local law enforcement agencies, public school districts, transportation agencies, transit authorities, health departments, hospitals and non-profits working systematically to improve the safety of our streets.
Regional partners include: MetroPlan Orlando, the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Health, Orlando Health and LYNX.
Orange County partners include: Orange County Government, the City of Orlando, the City of Apopka, the Town of Oakland, the City of Winter Park, Orange County Public Schools, Orange County Walk-Ride-Thrive, Orlando Stops, as well as law enforcement from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Apopka, Oakland, Orlando, and Winter Park Police Departments.
Osceola County partners include: Osceola County Government, the City of Kissimmee, the City of St. Cloud, the 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 City of Casselberry, the City of Longwood, Seminole County Public Schools, Seminole County School Crossing Guards, and local law enforcement including the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement from the Casselberry and Longwood Police Departments.
About Bike/Walk Central Florida and Best Foot Forward
Bike/Walk Central Florida (BWCF) is a 501(c)(3) that promotes walkable and bikeable communities through raising public awareness and advocating for safe, active transportation and recreation.
Bike/Walk Central Florida manages the Best Foot Forward for pedestrian safety program for its partners in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Best Foot Forward is one of the largest grassroots programs of its kind in the nation.
Bike/Walk Central Florida coordinates the Bike5Cities program and its annual bike ride to promote safe bicycling routes and enhanced multi-use trails throughout Central Florida. The organization supports building, expanding and linking regional trails and completing Florida’s Coast-to-Coast Connector trail. Bike/Walk Central Florida encourages transportation corridor planning and design by using Complete Streets principles to benefit all transportation users.
To learn more, donate, or join the cause, go to http://bikewalkcentralflorida.org/.
The original Best Foot Forward 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.