As Orange County grows and becomes more populated, traffic congestion has spiked, which increases the risk for pedestrian and bike accidents. According to statistics, the Metro Orlando region consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous cities for pedestrians in the country.
That’s one reason why Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs recently launched the Walk-Ride-Thrive! program. This pedestrian safety initiative focuses on creating an environment where local residents, businesses and visitors are able to enjoy safe pedestrian and biking options throughout the region.
“These statistics – which represent real people – are simply unacceptable,” Mayor Jacobs said. “We must protect our most precious assets – our children – and launch a concerted effort to make our streets safer for everyone.”
As part of Mayor Jacobs’ Walk-Ride-Thrive! pedestrian safety initiative, Orange County employees are in the community providing free helmets and fittings. According to County officials, ongoing safety initiatives are being implemented to establish and maintain a coordinated, comprehensive and consistent response to Orange County’s pedestrian and bicycle safety issues moving forward. The Walk-Ride-Thrive! initiative will address barriers to making local streets safe and convenient for everyone, improve roadways and complete roadway maintenance to boost pedestrian and bicycle safety, as well as educate and enforce proper road use and behavior by all residents.
Over the next five years, $15 million will be allocated locally for pedestrian safety and intersection improvements, providing sidewalks, crosswalks, signals, turn lanes, updated signage and other necessary safety enhancements for citizens.
“Roads will be designed with all users in mind,” Orange County Transportation Planning Manager Renzo Nastasi said. “So whether people are in a car, on a bike or on their feet, they can have peace of mind knowing their local roadways were created with their safety in mind.”
Mayor Jacobs is also participating in the United States Department of Transportation’s Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets, which aims to make roads more pedestrian and bike-friendly by incorporating safe and convenient walking and biking facilities in transportation projects.
“We’re honored to be working alongside other state, regional and local entities in order to address pedestrian safety concerns,” Mayor Jacobs said. “We want our community to be safe in every way, and there’s a lot to look forward to in 2016 and beyond when it comes to our roadways and pedestrian safety.”
Mayor Jacobs is also encouraging local residents and visitors to make pedestrian improvement suggestions by calling 311 or using Orange County’s 311 mobile app. The app allows users to photograph, pinpoint and report problems — such as potholes and cracks in sidewalks — from their smartphone and send the information directly to Orange County’s 311 Service Center.
“Making roadways safer for everyone is something we need to work toward as a community,” the Mayor added. “We can’t achieve our pedestrian safety goals without the help of our community partners and the cooperation of our residents. The more we hear from local pedestrians, drivers and bike riders, the more effective we can be in improving the problem areas.”