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.

  • Tooscrapps

    Four weeks is too short for any meaningful data collection on a pilot like this.

  • AMH

    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.

  • Rex Rocket

    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.)

  • Rock

    true, pretty easy for most places to go more than 4 weeks without a pedestrian death.

  • Brian Becnel

    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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Streets Without Sidewalks Are Killing Florida Pedestrians

|
Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America. More than 5,100 people were killed while walking in the state between 2003 and 2010, and four Florida cities rated among T4A’s list of the most dangerous for walking. But to its credit, the Florida Department of Transportation is trying to change that. A new study […]

Why Pedestrians Sometimes Do “Stupid” Things

|
People are often blamed for doing “stupid” things while walking, like “darting out in front of cars.” Why would anyone “dart” in front of a moving vehicle? Seems strange. But that’s the way it could seem, if you’re driving past pedestrian crossings at high speeds. Nathan at Carfree With Kids explains how poor street conditions […]

Can Oklahoma City Become a Great Cycling City?

|
Portland. Minneapolis. Oklahoma City? Ok, so you probably won’t find that last one on any lists of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S. But with a little bit of effort, the city could change, says Eric Dryer at Bike OKC. In a lot of ways, Oklahoma City has all the right ingredients to be a […]

How You Can Tell Your City Doesn’t Care About Pedestrians

|
If you live in a town that doesn’t consider pedestrian safety a very high priority, the signs are probably pretty obvious if you spend any time walking. James Sinclair feels like he’s being beat over the head with signs — sometimes actual, literal signs — in the Fresno suburb of Clovis, California. He writes on Stop […]