Orlando, the Capital of Pedestrian Fatalities, Tests a New Approach to Street Design

Orlando will repurpose car lanes to create protected bike lanes and safer pedestrian crossings for a trial project on Curry Road. Rendering: City of Orlando
Orlando will repurpose car lanes to create protected bike lanes and safer pedestrian crossings for a trial project on Curry Road. Rendering: City of Orlando

Florida routinely ranks as one of the most dangerous states in the country for walking. And walking in Orlando is deadlier than in any other major city in Florida — and the nation.

But the city’s new transportation director, Billy Hattaway, is a reformer. And he’s trying to change the wide, high-speed roads that put people at risk.

First up is Curry Ford Road, which locals describe as a “race track.” The city is planning to test out a redesign using low-cost materials on half a mile of this four-lane street, according to the Jacksonville-based blog Modern Cities.

By trimming it down to two through lanes for motor vehicles with a center lane, the city will have room for curbside bike lanes separated from cars by vertical posts. A similar road diet on Orlando’s Edgewater Drive (without the bike lanes) reduced traffic injuries 71 percent, but that was nearly two decades ago.

During the four-week pilot on Curry Ford Road, the city will collect data on safety, vehicle speeds, and walking and biking volumes. If the results show the redesign has made a difference, the city may extend it and make it permanent.

Currently, Curry Ford Road is a wide open speedway.
Currently, Curry Ford Road is a wide open speedway.

In addition to the Curry Ford Road project, Orlando is planning two permanent street redesigns downtown, according to the Orlando Sentinel, but those are capital projects expected to take years to implement.

Keep an eye on Hattaway’s initiatives in Orlando. If this city can turn its dangerous streets into safe places to walk and bike, anywhere can.

More recommended reading today: The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia reports thatMayor Jim Kenney has approved two long-sought protected bike lanes through Center City. And the Dallas Morning News says DART has to take bus service seriously, or else systemwide ridership will continue to decline.

5 thoughts on Orlando, the Capital of Pedestrian Fatalities, Tests a New Approach to Street Design

  1. I can’t believe that they’ll reverse it after such a short time (or at all). It occurred to me that this was a way to sell it to skeptics (it’s only a few weeks!) until people see how great it is.

  2. The car wash will complain about the lack of street parking. All the plastic bollards will be crushed by dump trucks after five days. Talk radio and the Fox affiliate will devote 24/7 coverage to this pending disaster and usurpation of the right to speed, park, and drive over bicyclists and distracted pedestrians who shouldn’t be looking at their phones (though I was just checking for messages when I hit the woman on the bike–I never saw her.)

  3. I hope part of the impact study will be the reduced revenues for business in this corridor. I also am [not] looking forward to the massive traffic jams that will result from vehicles turning from Ferncreek onto Curry Ford only to be gridlocked as people fight to merge at Bumby (since most current-day drivers don’t know how to “zipper merge”).

    I live in this area. I (used to) walk to the Wawa and the local Mexican restaurant and the Cuban restaurant (not impacted by this project except for traffic jams). I am all for safer streets but it’s the pedestrians who don’t honor the crossing signals and the drivers who don’t care about pedestrian laws. I can’t count how many drivers I watch stop well over the crosswalk markings. The traffic WILL DEF be slower creating more gridlock on both ends of Curry Ford outside of this test portion of the roadway.

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