At UCF, an alarming number of traffic accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists has had the Orange County Community, Environmental and Development Services Department teaming up with the school to put together what they called the UCF Pedestrian Area Study to see what they can do to curb accidents. As of March 2016, it’s nearly done, according to Chief Transportation Planner Brian Sanders.
Sanders said the process has been an intricate search for details. He described it as a fact-finding mission full of interviews with students, collecting data on the stats and assessing where the problem areas were.
Sanders said there were 11 fatalities around the UCF area between 2006 and 2014 that involved a vehicle hitting either a pedestrian or a bicyclist. He noted that in most of those incidents, it was the pedestrians that were at fault in the accidents.
Some of the more bizarre instances that shone a light on what the problem is, Sanders said, were when a man was sitting on a bench and was hit by a car, and when someone wearing all black clothes laid down in the middle of the road and was hit.
A big part of the problem is how congested the area is, and how many tourists there are, he said.
“Alafaya and McCulloch are incredibly tourist focused,” he said. “Pedestrians can cross at any point, as long as they feel comfortable doing so, they will try doing that – not necessarily at where we’ve put crosswalks.”
When Sanders was a student at UCF, he said the area was much simpler – it only had a McDonalds and a shopping center.
One thing already improving the numbers of accidents around the area, he said, was the UCF shuttle program.
“That really saved the day,” he said. “Conditions would have been much worse had shuttle not been in service. It’s carried two million riders per year, and the headway goes down about 15 minutes. It’s been very reliable for students there.”
Sanders said the problem area has generally been around the Alafaya, McCulloch and University areas, though several smaller roads like Gemini Drive have seen traffic accidents, too.
The plan moving forward involves constructing enhancements at the major intersections in the area, adding crosswalks with enhanced pedestrian features and adding general corridor-wide improvements.
There is another public meeting scheduled April 5. Sanders said they will also be briefing the County Commissioners about their findings next month.