Will Florida DOT Pull Off a “Culture Change” and Make Streets Safer?

Holding the distinction of being the most dangerous state for biking and walking seems to have inspired a real reform effort in Florida.

Billy Hattaway, Florida DOT District 1 Secretary and bike and pedestrian coordinator, is responsible for reducing the state's horrible pedestrian fatality rate. Photo: BikeWalkLee
Billy Hattaway, Florida DOT District 1 secretary and bike and pedestrian coordinator, is responsible for reducing the state’s horrible pedestrian fatality rate. Photo: BikeWalkLee

Darla Letourneau at BikeWalkLee recently attended a talk by Bill Hattaway, the Florida DOT’s new statewide bike and pedestrian leader. Hattaway said a multi-pronged “culture change” is underway within the Florida Department of Transportation. As part of that effort, the state is pursuing seven reforms, Letourneau reports:

As we’ve learned from our experience in Lee County, a shift from “business as usual” requires modification to lots of policies and guidance documents.  The state is tackling this by undertaking the revision of many of their guidance and policy documents, as well as adding a bike/ped element to the statewide overall Long Range Transportation Plan and requiring bike/ped statewide plans. In a much anticipated move, FDOT has now approved a complete streets policy and implementation plan which will be incorporated into the various planning and policy manuals and guidelines.

Another tool in the toolbox is road diets, and Hattaway announced that FDOT will be issuing guidance to promote the use of road diets on the state system. He gave as an example the project underway on Robinson Rd. in Orlando which has only 1400 cars day. This state road is being converted to a road diet (from 4 lanes to 2 lanes plus a turn lane). Hattaway noted the national statistics that road diets result in a 30% reduction in crashes…

Land use development patterns is a big part of the roadway safety problems we face, and as Hattaway said, “we can’t create complete streets without land use decisions to support it.” He stated his goal of encouraging the creation of networks of streets so that every trip doesn’t have to put people on arterial roads. Hattaway used Baldwin Park in the Orlando area as an example of a community that has done it right, which is clearly an economic success.

Speed is the critical factor in bike/ped fatalities and FDOT’s strategy is focused on addressing this in a couple of ways. First, they are planning a much needed change from the current design speed standard to picking a desired speed based on context.

All of this sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Now it’s time to see how committed Florida DOT is to this effort.

Local advocates like Letourneau seem to have a lot of faith in the new leadership. “Billy Hattaway is truly leading a statewide transportation paradigm shift with a focus on improving facilities and safety for pedestrians and cyclists,” she said.

Elsewhere on the Streetsblog Network today: Greater Greater Washington‘s David Alpert has a piece in the Washington Post about how local governments can let services like Uber operate legally while ensuring transparency for users. Bike Portland reports that a board member at the San Diego Bike Coalition is in critical condition after being struck from behind by a motorist. And Stop and Move wonders if California High Speed Rail might have saved Fresno’s AAA baseball team.

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