Gulf Coast Safe Streets Summit: We Are a Get Up and Go Population
The wheels on the vehicles, the pedals on the bike, the footsteps of walkers – we are a getup and go population. Few of us, unless personally impacted, give little or no thought to the potential transit-related dangers of getting around or the energy and efforts our communities are investing in reducing transit-related challenges.
Now more than ever, people of all ages are learning about the benefits of walking or riding bikes to improve physical and mental health. Not as readily available is the data reporting the growing number of transit-related injuries. Also, less publicized, the partial solution of enhancing the mass transit which lacks the necessary funding to expand its services to meet today’s needs.
At a recent Gulf Coast Safe Streets Summit, more than 200 professionals from businesses, government and nonprofit organizations came together for the better part of a day to explore the possibilities of reducing or eliminating severe transit-related injuries and fatalities. Here are a few ideas:
- Adopting Complete Streets – an approach for meeting the needs of all users, including bicycles, pedestrians, freight, transit, and motorists.
- Joining the Vision Zero Coalition – a national campaign to eliminate deaths and serious injuries caused by traffic. The network believes that death and injury on city streets is preventable. In other words, these aren’t accidents, but the result of poor, aggressive driving behaviors combined with unforgiving roadway designs.
- Exploring options for reducing vehicle-related injuries and fatalities through
– the installation of pedestrian walkways that shorten the crossing distance by extending the street crossing time based on community needs identified by tools like the AARP walk audit;
– Red Light Safety Cameras (FL Bill 316.0083 ) that significantly reduce right angle/t-crashes by issuing violations without points and $158 tickets with % going to the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund; and
– constructing protective bike lanes.
Age-friendly transportation passionaries each challenged the audience to take their shared information and explore the possibilities of reducing transit injuries and fatalities. There are solutions. Adoption of a targeted plan can result in a significant percentage decline in the number of injuries and deaths.
Individuals take getting from place to place for granted – mentally mapping walks, turning on the car ignitions, positioning the pedals, and off we go. Sounds simple, but according to the 2016 Dangerous by Design report, Florida is home to 11 out of 20 most dangerous metro walking areas and is the seventh most dangerous state based on the number of injuries and fatalities caused by transit.
Given this reality, Florida Department of Transportation is aggressively working on remediating the dangers by approaching the challenges with short and long-term plans so living, working and playing in our communities will no longer be a challenge #ForAllAges.