For the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the biggest challenge in erasing Orlando’s reputation as one of the worst cities in the country for pedestrians could be educating and compelling the very people they’re trying to keep safe.
On Tuesday, Mayor Teresa Jacobs ordered county staff to seek solutions, including community outreach, safety audits, and capital planning improvements such as the $15 million dollars set aside for pedestrian safety in Jacobs’ I.N.V.E.S.T infrastructure project.
Many of commissioners agreed that no matter how accessible were measures like crosswalks, or how easily safety signs could be seen, they would be useless if pedestrians didn’t acknowledge them.
“As a driver, it’s incredible how stupid pedestrians can be.” said District 5 Commissioner Ted Edwards. “People riding bikes against traffic. Someone crossing 436 in rush hour traffic. I don’t know how many times I’ve been at a light that turns green and people just keep walking into the intersection.”
District 2 Commissioner Bryan Nelson said he would see up to 10 jaywalkers per day on his commute from Apopka to Downtown Orlando. He suggested an analysis of accidents that occurred outside of safety areas such as crosswalks.
County officials believe education was needed for both drivers and pedestrians; spot enforcement by police officers might be needed.
Jacobs offered a kinder assessment of pedestrian behavior.
“The wonderful thing is that we have a climate, where people feel comfortable using their bikes and walking,” she told reporters. “A big part of this campaign is going to be education and to make people aware. To have both the drivers and pedestrians think twice about their behavior on the roadways.”