Florida is Dangerous by Design
Yet another study shows Florida is dangerous by design for pedestrians, bike riders, and well anyone on the road, yet there is still pushback when efforts are being made to change that.
Florida maintains its status as one of the most ‘Dangerous by Design’ states
Study after study shows that Florida is one of the worst states for pedestrians, and add another study to the mix. Smart Growth America released its 2022 “Dangerous by Design” report, covering 2016-2020, with Florida coming in as the nation’s second worst state for pedestrian safety. Florida topped the list in the 2021 report that looked at the years 2010-2019.
Worse yet, almost every metropolitan area in Florida ranked in the top 20 of the most dangerous metro areas, with 4 in the top 10 and 6 in the top 15. Many of these dangers are shared for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Naqiy Mcmullen stated it perfectly in a recent guest column for the Orlando Sentinel:
“The planning process reinforces the status quo by valuing community engagement over effective action. It should not be left up to the people who scream the loudest about parking spaces and traffic whether pedestrians deserve to be able to safely walk to their destination.
Moving large volumes of cars at high speeds and preserving on-street parking should not be prioritized above people’s lives, yet this is the current reality for local and state transportation planning agencies.
FDOT and [Orlando] MetroPlan claim to care about safety, yet continue to widen roads and expand highways without hesitation, promoting a car centric transportation system that is unsustainable, unhealthy, and unsafe.
We need a comprehensive redesign of our entire street system, placing safety first.”
Yet pushback greets efforts to redesign Miami roads in an effort to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety
Within the last year or two Miami has begun stalling protected bicycle lanes around downtown to better protect bike riders from drivers. Downtown real estate is limited, so installing the bike lanes down means taking away street parking.
Channel 7 News in Miami recently covered complaints from the business owners claiming the new bike lanes were decreasing their walk -in business.
There are public parking lots a block or two away, but business owners here say many of their customers can’t afford to pay to park.
Edgar Polo, owner, L&L Men’s and Boy’s Clothing Store: “They cannot spend, you know, $15 in a parking lot for one hour. They call me and they say, ‘I’m sorry, but I’ve got to go another place.'”
The metered street parking that was taken away from this particular business was maintained by the City of Miami Parking Authority, which also maintains a parking garage just a half block away. The Parking Authority should be asked why it’s charging higher rates for separate parking only a block away, and if that can be changed to help downtown business patrons.
The way downtown Miami has developed over the years factors greatly in the problem. This particular area has little to offer for residential buildings so the patrons of whatever businesses that have remained over the last 40 years typically drive to the location. As downtown builds more residential buildings, this should increase foot traffic and business, as studies have shown.
Carlos Cruz-Casas of the Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works responded to these and similar complaints: “There’s still a lot of buildings under construction near the downtown area, so we should be expecting is, moving forward, we have a lot more people walking and biking, and I think this is critical for us to understand that, that’s what drives business.”
Similar debates have popped up in San Diego. As covered by Retail Wire:
“Studies show that complete streets equipped with features that make travel safer for pedestrians and bike riders are good for business, public safety and quality of life,” said Dave Rolland, deputy director of communications in the office of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.
And David Zipper, visiting fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, recently wrote in Bloomberg that local business owners often underestimate the share of their customers who arrive by walking, biking, or using mass transit because they themselves drive everywhere.
The numbers and studies are clear, but will the political will power remain to see these projects through as we try to redesign dangerous Florida?
Lime turning to AI for e-scooter safety
Micromobility operator Lime announced that it is unveiling new safety technology with the goal of preventing incidents like crashes, serious injuries, drunk riding, and pavement riding, before they occur. The new system is headlined by Line Vision, which Lime states is “the industry’s first AI-enabled computer vision platform built in-house by an operator….”
According to Auto Futures, Lime Vision will use on-board cameras to offer, "‘Advanced Sidewalk Detection’ which can accurately detect when a rider is using a scooter on a pavement in less than a second.” The scooter will then reduce its speed to a low speed and alert the rider to move off the pavement. The idea would be to reduce conflicts between pedestrians and scooter riders on sidewalks, likely in cities that restrict sidewalk riding. The new system will soon incorporate a late-night rider test, which will gauge reaction time to deter drunk riding.
Lime will be rolling out this new system in six cities later this year but no word on if it will include Tampa or Orlando, where Lime operates in Florida.
Add another 25 riders to a life of bicycling independence
Last week 25 students at the North Florida School of Special Education will be graduating from the iCan Bike summer camp where they learned how to ride a bicycle. According to News 4 Jax, the five-day camp uses indoor roller bikes instead of training wheels. These bicycles use a wide roller for the back wheel instead of a regular wheel.
At graduation the kids will receive a bicycle they can take home, along with a graduation certificate, medal, and newly found independence.
“Not only are we teaching them to ride a bike here at camp, we’re teaching them to conquer life, to go home learning that ‘I can learn something new, I am not afraid, I am not scared.’ ‘I can ride a bike’ transitions to so many other aspects of their life,” Kelly Barns of iCan Shine, said.
What I’m Reading
“The distracted pedestrian is a new version of an old trick — redirecting focus from a dangerous condition to an individual mistake. Automakers first learned it from a campaign waged during an earlier rise in ‘accidental’ deaths — those in the workplace.”
— There Are No Accidents by Jessie Singer.
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