Florida Invites Motorists to Bully Pedestrians

Oh, Florida. Already the most dangerous place in the country to be a pedestrian, Sunshine State officials have said they want to make walking safer. But then along comes a story like this.

A new Florida law lets motorists off the hook for making incursions into the crosswalk. Photo: ##http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2008/07/crosswalk_sting_nets_800_in_mo.html##NJ.com##

Keri at Network blog Commute Orlando reports the legislature recently passed a law that encourages right-turning motorists to infringe on crosswalks, saying “a traffic citation may not be issued… if the driver of the vehicle came to a complete stop after crossing the stop line before turning right.” Ugh, says Keri:

While FDOT, local governments and law enforcement agencies are working on initiatives to improve pedestrian safety — to rid our cities and state of the dubious distinction of being the pedestrian-killingest place on earth — the Floriduh Legislature is changing statute to allow right-turning motorists to drive into active crosswalks without stopping first. What the hell were they thinking?

It turns out this is related to red light cameras. Apparently right-turning motorists were getting tickets for running red lights. The staff analysis cites concern over a survey conducted by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles in which 45 of 73 law enforcement agencies using the red light cameras were issuing citations for right-on-red violations. Only 16 of those agencies had a policy defining the statute language “careful and prudent manner.”

In other words, the statute language was too vague, so the legislature decided to define “careful and prudent” as stopping anywhere you want, even if you blow past the stop bar — which is there to PROTECT PEDESTRIANS who happen to have a walk signal.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland puts forward a number of theories about the cause of the city’s bike boom. Half-Mile Circles takes a high-level look how cities are coping with epidemic levels air pollution caused by transportation. Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space wonders if new toll roads will continue to induce traffic in an era when Americans are driving less.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Pedestrians Caught in the Crosswalk

|
Finding a safe place to cross can be hazardous to your health. (Photo: jr????? via Flickr) Today on the Streetsblog Network, reports of obstacles for pedestrians from two states. First, from Massachusetts, some observations about crosswalk design. In theory, a crosswalk with a signal and a button for a pedestrian to activate the signal should […]

Ohio Puts the Squeeze on People’s Right to Walk

|
As this video from Transit Miami shows, crossing the street on foot can be hazardous. A new law in Ohio is a step in the wrong direction. The country’s seventh most populous state is rolling back pedestrians’ right-of-way within crosswalks when they have a walk signal. The state of Ohio recently updated its Manual on […]

Orlando Looks to Halve Pedestrian Deaths

|
It’s good to know it’s not just Chicago thinking about new ways to protect pedestrians. Sunny Orlando, the country’s most perilous place to travel by foot, is cracking down on motorists who pose a threat to the most vulnerable class of road users. This East Orlando Sun article was referenced today by Network blog Baltimore Spokes, with the […]

Louisville Removes Sidewalk “For Safety”

|
Louisville is in the middle of a three-year, federally-funded safety initiative to reduce the city’s high rate of pedestrian fatalities. Per capita, four times the number of people are killed walking in Louisville than in Washington, DC. Some good improvements are in the works, but the people in charge of Louisville’s streets clearly need to get over some bad habits. Branden Klayko […]