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One person at a time

BFF project director Amanda Day talks about safe walking with local crossing guards.

It’s the money, as in a $164 fine motorists are issued for barreling through a crosswalk while a pedestrian is using it.

Publicize the tickets, hand out a bunch of them and motorists will get the message and stop, contends a crossing guard who attended a continuing education course at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office last week.

Actually, that’s been part of the strategy of the Best Foot Forward program, which has been promoting pedestrian safety since 2012 in Orange County and Orlando. BFF is moving into Osceola County and Kissimmee as well.

More than 3,700 warnings have been issued and more than 1,800 tickets written in Orange and Orlando since BFF was founded.

So far, BFF’s work at monitored intersections has increased the driver yield rate from 12 percent in 2012 to 45 percent in 2014 on roads 35 mph or less and from 1.2 percent in 2012 to 23 percent in 2014 on roads 40 mph or above.

Studies show that if 60 percent of drivers yield for pedestrians, others will quickly follow suit.

Another key to success, said BFF project director Amanda Day, is getting drivers and pedestrians to understand that they are one in the same.

“We need to get away from us versus them,” she told 30 people attending the crossing guard course.

After all, people must walk to and from their cars, making them pedestrians as soon as they get out and close the door. Right?

Right now, BFF is working on 29 intersections in Orange and Orlando and has made hundreds of presentations to school, homeowner and civic groups.

Although BFF is making progress, lots of work remains to be done before Central Florida can shed its reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the country for people to walk and ride their bikes.

“It’s almost like you have to talk to one person at a time,” Day said.

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